Blogs > Liberty and Power > Reagan Obits Redux

Jun 7, 2004 11:27 am

Reagan Obits Redux

Jonathan Dresner, who blogs for Cliopatria on this site, commented on my criticism of the NYT's biography of Reagan on Sunday. He asked, I think quite fairly, why the Times' obit should be any different than the Bush's attempt to bask in the Reagan legacy even though both father and son will be probably called Great Miscommunicators.

First off, I'm not the only one who noted a pretty big difference in the coverage of the Times and the Post. Matthew Continetti from the Weekly Standard makes the exact same claim today. It's always nice to know that it's not just me who saw it that way, but it's considerably less comforting that it's the Weekly Standard........

No matter, so Dresner's question is a fair one - so what? I'd say it matters because Bush is a politician trying to score points. He's a source people look to for a particular perspective on Reagan, not"news." Without getting into a long discussion of what"news" is, it's clear that when people pick up a newspaper they are expecting something different then what they get from politicians. People don't come to blogs expecting objectivity for example, they want our opinions. An obit in the NYT should have, at least, the illusion of objectivity.

This, in my view, is not just about posturing. The Post is every bit as leftie as the Times (hence my normal reference to the Post as Pravda), but it managed to provide something the Post could not, a much more objective assessment of a president who helped to shape the world in which we live. With all the problems at the NYT recently, I'd list this as yet another troubling reminder of how badly managed and staffed this alleged"paper of record" is.

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Jonathan Dresner - 6/7/2004

Thanks for the clarifications. Personally, the Washington Times comes closer to the Pravda model than the Post, but that's a question of tactics v. content, I guess.

News "balance" is a tricky thing: I haven't read either obit (and the more I do read, the less charitable I feel towards his "legacy" frankly), so I can't comment directly, but I'm not convinced that there is a single definitive obituary truth to which the NYTimes should have hewn.