Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Re: Journalistic Schizophrenia, The Times

----- Original Message -----

Sent: Friday, January 27, 2006 3:46 PM
Subject: Journalistic Schizophrenia

Dr. Velvel:

Me thinks the liberal side of the equation in American politics is engaged in eating its own. I agree that Alito will be confirmed, the Dem do not have the votes to stop the process by filibuster and they also know that they would cause more damage to their cause by engaging in one. Is that not what politics is all about, compromise and chosing battles? To attack those who are your most likely allies because they will not run off a cliff makes no sense. You demonstrate the social and cultural suicidial tendencies that seems to be growing within liberal western society (especially advanced in Europe: decreasing birthrates, unwillingness to defend one's culture and values in the name of diversity etc. ) that are clearly evident. Guilt I think.

As far the the Times or WSJ is concerned, I think as subscriptions go down they have to be careful about maintaining readership (I know that sounds ignoble, but to ignore the winds of change in print media is a disservice to the organization and shareholders).

Last, I have heard the "dictatorship" comment from many lately. The reference to Germany also seems to follow. These comments result in the author being dismissed as "radical" or "extreme" by most people. The reason is: we have elections and while you might think they have been fixed, we still have them, Bush will not be President in a few years and there seems to be a mood of change back towards Dems. Most people just don't see the "dictatorship" comment as anything other than slinging shit out of anger.

You do sound angry or perhaps petulant is a better word?

I am neither a Liberal or Conservative, but an American hoping my children have a better world than the one my generation (Boomers) will leave them.


----- Original Message -----

Sent: Tuesday, January 31, 2006 10:53 AM
Subject: Re: Times

Dear Lawrence Velvel,

I just wanted to say how much I've enjoyed your recent missives in Counterpunch. I think you've laid out a damning case.

I, too, have been obsessed with editorial policies at the New York Times for many years, since, once you see something posted in the Times, chances are pretty good that other journalists at other papers will follow suit.

My own obsession has been with science reporting: with how the Times science section signed on to bioreductive accountings of human nature, to the exclusion of sociological ones. This was especially true during the 1990s, that decade of hype around the Human Genome Project, but it continues to this day. These bioreductive accounts are pernicious in two ways: they detract considerably from what social scientists have already established about human social life; and they encourage varied forms of political fatalism, social nonsense, and pseudo-science.

I can recount a recent development that might strike you as interesting. After years of promoting racialized genomics, the Times published a fairly outrageous op-ed piece, to which the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) responded, offering to develop a principled and painstaking letter of response. The Times refused to run the letter, or to allow op-ed space for the airing of reasoned alternatives to the genomania in which the paper has wallowed for more than a decade. So the SSRC published a scholarly web site responding to the op-ed piece, and the notion of racial genomics in general: "Is Race 'Real'?"


My reading of subsequent Times reportage suggests that these efforts have had some effect. Now when the Times reports the race/gene beat, the writers grudgingly draw in a social scientist (often Troy Duster) to dissent from the prevailing genetic fetishism. But this comes too little, too late, after the damage to the public conversation has already been done....

Thanks again for those interesting and informative articles!

BOOKS: The Trouble with Nature: Sex in Science and Popular Culture http://www.ucpress.edu/books/pages/9833.html The Gender/Sexuality Reader http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0415910056/qid=1100630514/sr=12-2/102-4613686-0596967?v=glance&s=books Life is Hard http://www.ucpress.edu/books/pages/6017.html

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