Today The New York Times placed on its front page a story by Jodi Kantor, who months ago was up and down the PR circuit on the meme of Michelle Obama, you know, that angry black lady with so much power.
Michelle Obama and her friends fumed with anger over portraits of the First Lady in Kantor's book on the Obamas. Many said the sections about Michelle were nothing but stereotypes, and they furthermore maintained that meetings said to have taken place between the First Lady and others never actually occurred.
CNN's reporter, Soledad O'Brien, interviewed Kantor in January and couldn't hold back her disgust and actually criticized Kantor for claiming to know the Obamas when Kantor did no interviews with them expressly for the book. (Listen here.)
Today's story takes the cake. It puts the Times's whole pretense of objectivity in the trash can.
I began reading the story innocently enough. I got about a quarter of the way throught and said to myself about Obama, "Damn, I'd really hate this guy, I'm sure, if I ever got to meet him."
Then I kept reading and started to have doubts. The quotes seemed murkey, the identification of sources too vague, and the picture of Obama too consistently negative.
Barack Obama comes off as the most irritating, hostile, untrusting and (yes) disgusting politician in the realm. Kantor merely calls it arrogance.
Then, when I finished, I looked at the byline and saw it was Jodi Kantor!
Of course Kantor would deny making Obama out to be the angry black man that right-wingers and Tea Party types call Obama. "I never called him an angry black man," she would say.
But, come to think about it, that's just what she said about Michelle, right? replacing the "him" with "her," of course.
This reporter pumps out stories about the Obamas the way a pitcher throws curve balls, grabbing the leather and tossing them toward the catcher, all the while waiting for the cheers and, especially, the paycheck.
You see, Kantor, via The New York Times, has been marketing her book all these months, as she boasted of all the gum-shoe reporting she did, as all Times reporters do (Judith Miller included), in the interests of justice and democracy.
But here's a relevant question: Didn't a piece like today's belong in a column somewhere, or labeled as the work of a controversial player on the political scene?
To have it on the front page, as a news story, without any disclaimer or note about Kantor's background with the Obamas, is deceptive, another indication of the Times's arrogance and unconcern about true truth.
Let's say here that we don't really sulk or fret, being resigned as we are to the reality laid out by A. J. Liebling, who said, "Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one."
But another question: Is this the fairness and balance we should be expecting from new Times editor-in-chief Jill Abramson as we head into the November election? Today's piece, you know, was an intro to the coming Democratic National Convention.
Oh, by the way, I was searching and saw that weeks ago Kantor was on MSNBC, speaking of Mitt Romeny and praising him as a church-going Mormon who believed (more than the most patriotic Americans do) in American exceptionalism. That's the way Mormons are, Kantor said.
So I say the following to that higher power who looks over us all: May you God, there on the planet Kolob, watch over us during these troubled times and protect us from the hypocrisy and duplicity that surround us.
And most of all, may you bring triumph and riches to those who seek their salvation in the blogosphere.