"War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse." --John Stuart Mill (1806 - 1873)

Sunday, January 02, 2005

The New Year's First Example...

...of snarky media bias. In today's New York Times Magazine, Deborah Soloman interviews Jeanne Phillips, the chairwoman of the 55th Presidential Inaugural Committee:

Q: I hear one of the balls will be reserved for troops who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan.

A: Yes, the Commander-in-Chief Ball. That is new. It will be about 2,000 servicemen and their guests. And that should be a really fun event for them.

Q: As an alternative way of honoring them, did you or the president ever discuss canceling the nine balls and using the $40 million inaugural budget to purchase better equipment for the troops?

A: I think we felt like we would have a traditional set of events and we would focus on honoring the people who are serving our country right now -- not just the people in the armed forces, but also the community volunteers, the firemen, the policemen, the teachers, the people who serve at, you know, the -- well, it's called the StewPot in Dallas, people who work with the homeless.

Q: How do any of them benefit from the inaugural balls?

A: I'm not sure that they do benefit from them.

Q: Then how, exactly, are you honoring them?

A: Honoring service is what our theme is about.
Then Ms. Soloman returns to softball questions about whether the president likes to dance, and what he likes to eat.

I think we can forgive Ms. Phillips for being a bit flummoxed. She may have thought that Ms. Soloman was using "benefit" in the monetary sense. But can Ms. Soloman really be so obtuse as to not understand the concept of holding an event in someone's honor? Perhaps there is no honor among Times journalists.

I would have loved to see Ms. Phillips respond to the second question thusly: "As an alternative to your paper's current journalistic methods, have your editors discussed hiring reporters who write stories about things that actually happened, and keeping editorial content off the news pages?"