January 26, 2004


Iowahawk locates an earlier draft of Maureen Dowd's notorious poodles 'n' lackeys column:

Once Michael Dukakis got in trouble when he failed to get angry when asked how he would react if his wife were raped and murdered.

I once posed the same question to Michael Douglas, and that's when he filed that restraining order.

Complaints about Dowds characterisation of US allies as fluffy little dogs were earlier brushed aside by Arthur Bovino, a lackey for NYT Public Editor Daniel Okrent. Now Okrent himself responds:

The opinion columns are governed by different rules than the news pages. In fact, the guidelines are very, very broad -- the Times doesn't allow obscenity, nor does it countenance libelous material. But opinion writers are, in fact, allowed to express their opinions. Nonetheless, I do feel that the issue is a substantive one, and will look further into it as I get more comfortable in this difficult job.

Yours sincerely,

Daniel Okrent
Public Editor

In other ombudsman news, the OmbudsGod covers a moral crisis at The Guardian:

The Guardian is torn. They recently carried an advertisement for a 2 for 1 offer on flights to US, which encouraged people to pollute the earth by riding in airplanes. Should they forego revenue and refuse to carry such ads in the future? According to ombudsman Ian Mayes, No one I have spoken to in the Guardian believes the curtailment of such offers, let alone airline advertising, is a serious option.

This from a newspaper that wants the Kyoto Protocol ratified immediately.

Posted by Tim Blair at January 26, 2004 01:54 PM

The U.S. will ratify the Kyoto Protocol only if Dennis Kucinich and the Green Party sweeps to power. In other words, about the same time that Michael Moore wins the Olympic gold medal in the 100 meter sprint.

Posted by: Randal Robinson at January 26, 2004 at 02:21 PM

Think of the savings of the world's resources in paper, ink, electricity and so on, if The Guardian ceased to print a daily newspaper!

And do all The Guardians employees walk to work, and is the paper entirely distributed by bicycles?

Even more savings!!!

Posted by: Peggy Sue at January 26, 2004 at 04:59 PM

Randal, don't tempt fate. What if the Michael Moore's trainer put the world's biggest hamburger at the end of the finish line?

Posted by: Sortelli at January 26, 2004 at 05:25 PM

What if the Michael Moore's trainer put the world's biggest hamburger at the end of the finish line?

Michael would lose, complain about the race being "ficitious" and having a "fictious" winner. Then he would call the winner a deserter and top it off with:

The IOC lied, my burger's fried, man I'm tired.

Posted by: Quentin George at January 26, 2004 at 08:12 PM

Hopefully, leftists will start a voluntary suicide movement to reduce the impact of humans on the planet. They should call it "sustainable suicide".
It will certainly reduce the impact of leftists on the planet.

Posted by: Reid of America at January 26, 2004 at 10:06 PM

Ya got me, Quentin. (You could have at least edited out the stray "the" I left floating in there by accide--I mean, on purpose. Yeah.) I suppose he'd still get the burger in the end anyway.

Regarding the Dowdinator, is it too much to hope that too many more opinionated readers expressing their opinion that Maureen is a tactless poodle mover will lead to a third letter that says "Fine!! You're right. The woman writes like a spastic hamster and shouldn't be getting paid by us for it"? As defensive as the responses have been, I'm somewhat hopeful that Howdy Dowdy's future is not bright.

Posted by: Sortelli at January 26, 2004 at 10:31 PM

{Eloquence ON}

What in fuck's name is that crazy bint on about ??

{Eloquence OFF}

Posted by: Johnny Wishbone at January 26, 2004 at 11:09 PM

Here's what I initially got:

Thank you for your message.

Unless there's evidence of ethical misbehavior of factual error, individual columnists can say what they want to say and individual readers can like the ones they like and dislike the ones they don't like.

Please email us with your concerns on any specific articles with which you take issue.

Arthur Bovino
Office of the Public Editor
The New York Times

To which I responded, of course, with the old Dowdification chestnut from last May, as that issue was never satisfactorily resolved. In response, I received the identical e-mail that Tim posted.

I think the poor guy (Okrent) is really trying but will shortly be sinking in the quicksand of institutional apathy. Or beating his head against the wall of institutional conformity. Pick your metaphor.

Posted by: Tongue Boy at January 26, 2004 at 11:14 PM

Jeez, you'd think a freaking editor could put together a form letter that will be used thousands of times that didn't include a goddam typo.

That's ethical misbehaviour or factual error.

Bovino's version sounds almost like Engrish. Come to think of it, Maureen's columns have been sounding like something spit out of a cheap translation program. I'm beginning to think the NYT has offshored its writing and editing. It would explain a lot.

Posted by: R C Dean at January 26, 2004 at 11:36 PM

Um, what's a "bint?"

Posted by: Gary at January 27, 2004 at 06:16 AM