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Bill Keller Mocks His Own Readership

John on April 2, 2009 at 5:05 pm

Update: Keller has now clarified his remarks, saying:

“I think it’s pretty obviously a reflection of my mild astonishment at the earnest fervor with which some people have suddenly embraced the cause of saving newspapers,” Keller wrote. “That’s matched only by my mild astonishment at the silly literal-mindedness with which some people read my occasional public comments.”

Yeah, got it Bill (see below). But like I said yesterday, it’s not taking your comments literally that interests me, it’s taking them in the spirit they were intended. Taken that way, I think it says a lot about your “high minded” readership that this genuinely is the most important thing on their agendas. [End update]

From Politico (via Drudge):

New York Times executive editor Bill Keller spoke at Stanford Thursday to mark the opening of a new building for The Stanford Daily — an event he acknowledged might feel a little like a “ribbon-cutting” for “a new Pontiac dealership.”

Among Keller’s observations about the “unnerving future” of newspapers:

On the NYT: Keller predicted that the Times will be “left standing after the deluge.” Noting that readers have offered to donate money to keep the Times alive, Keller suggested that GM probably isn’t getting similar offers.

“Saving the New York Times,” Keller said, “now ranks with saving Darfur as a high-minded cause.”

I understand that he’s making pithy, wry observations that aren’t meant to be taken seriously. Still, can you imagine the reaction if Rupert Murdoch had said something like this about FOX News? Screw nuance! MSNBC would be running it on a loop as an example of gross insensitivity.

But forget that sort of nonsense. Consider what really lies behind this statement. Every joke contains a kernel of truth. In this case, Keller has no doubt perceived a discomfiting level of concern among the paper’s “high minded” readers, a level that even he finds absurd. You see the joke is really on them. And given that he’s the paper’s executive editor, that tells you a lot about the people he’s surrounded with.

In the spirit of Keller’s remarks, I hope the high-minded are every bit as successful saving the Times as they have been at stopping the human misery in Darfur.

Related: Keller’s jest is a non-scandal of course. Instead, Democrats are in high dudgeon over this today. Double standard?

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Category: MSM & Bias |

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