Howell Raines lost his executive editor's job at The New York Times for promoting the career of Jayson Blair, a black drug addict and fantasist who invented entire stories describing the hills of West Virginia from a saloon down the street in New York. But somehow, Raines still imagines himself a media Bigfoot who can pronounce on the State of Journalism, a one-man Pulitzer Prize panel. This is a little like a White House chef who poisoned an entire state-dinner crowd mounting a soapbox to lecture that the new chefs can't be trusted.
Of course, that soapbox must be provided first. So who would give this naked man a fig leaf of respectability? The Washington Post would.
The Posties awarded Raines their marquee venue -- the Sunday Outlook section -- to denounce Fox News Channel and its owner, Rupert Murdoch. Announcing this was tugging at his "professional conscience" (thus suggesting he has one), Raines demanded to know "Why can't American journalists steeped in the traditional values of their profession be loud and candid about the fact that Murdoch does not belong to our team?"
What has Murdoch done to break with the "team" of American media? Raines lamented his "blatant political alliances started our slide to quasi-news. His British papers famously promoted Margaret Thatcher's political career." No! But wait, this one's even more rich; he also declared, "For the first time since the yellow journalism of a century ago, the United States has a major news organization devoted to the promotion of one political party."
Raines expects people to believe you can say "news media" and "Barack Obama" and not think "blatant political alliance." On Sunday, his New York Times published a half-page "photo illustration" of Obama's head at the center of a cross, surrounded by a halo glow of white light.
But let's continue. Raines then indicted Fox News president Roger Ailes. "Through clever use of the Fox News Channel and its cadre of raucous commentators, Ailes has overturned standards of fairness and objectivity that have guided American print and broadcast journalists since World War II."
After sentences like that, conservatives have to put the paper down. The laughter is beginning to deprive oxygen to the lungs.
Raines cannot be serious, and he isn't. This article makes much more sense if you read it in Raines Code. What he's saying is this: The "old-school news organizations" are the exclusive venue for liberals and liberal activism. Who let these fair-and-balanced pretenders in here to create the "news" differently? He charged that Ailes has torn up "the rulebook that served this country well as we covered the major stories of the past three generations, from the civil rights revolution to Watergate to the Wall Street scandals."
Raines Code translation: Damn you, Ailes. You broke us.
Do the liberal media remember civil rights, Watergate and Vietnam as events they covered with objectivity? Do they deny (and deny warmly recalling) how their passionate advocacy defeated segregation, militarism and Richard Nixon?
Even when he's so dishonestly trying to wrap himself in an objectivity blanket, Raines still can't help but spew his leftist opinion. His liberal-media team "bore witness to a world of dynamic change, as opposed to the world of Foxian reality, whose actors are brought on camera to illustrate a preconceived universe as rigid as that of medieval morality."
The media are, in his view, dynamic activists in the Hope and Change business. He is outraged that Fox News has stalled health "reform." In his Orwellian Raines Code, liberal bias is objectivity, and the refusal to banish Fox News from the media is surrendering "the sword of verifiable reportage."
It's certainly not "verifiable reportage" to insist the media haven't been partisan in 100 years, or that Fox News is currently conducting an anti-presidential "campaign without precedent in our modern political history." Decrying president-bashing sounds a little tinny from a man who viciously charged after Hurricane Katrina that President Bush protected Big Oil "while the poor drown in their attics and their sons and daughters die in foreign deserts."
The most important rebuttal to Raines is this: In a free country -- which America still is, barely, despite the designs of liberals -- media elitists do not get to decide who is allowed to report, and who is banished from the briefing room. They don't get to select a unanimous liberal "team" and a rigidly liberal "rulebook."
Fox News exists. It can't be legislated away by Nancy Pelosi, and it can't be wished away by Howell Raines. It's popular with millions of Americans who've spent their entire lives being pelted by the mudslinging of the Fox-hating media "team."
Poor Howell Raines. His New York Times is crumbling while the Fox News Channel was just named the most trusted news network in America by the public. Those ... peasants!