What is Arthur "Pinch" Sulzberger's main qualification for being publisher of the New York Times? According to Huffington Post blogger, John Ridley, it is living through birth. Although generally liberal, Ridley sometimes refreshingly breaks from the leftwing party line as I have noted when he accused the Democrat presidential candidates of being cowardly for refusing to appear at debates sponsored by Fox News. Now Ridley's ire is directed against Pinch Sulzberger in his Huffington Post blog of yesterday, "How the New York Times Betrays Us."
According to the Times own public editor, the MoveOn/Betray Us ad the Times ran on Monday, Sept. 10 has officially gone from being an ugly spectacle to a full on scandal of bad judgment, poor oversight and ideological favoritism.
Over at Atlantic.com, Andrew Sullivan writes that if the Times wants to do something about the body shot its rep has taken, it needs to fire someone.
Um, yes and no. The Times needs to fire someone, but not just anyone. It needs to give the sack to its own publisher, Arthur Sulzberger Jr..
Ridley doesn't hold back as he goes on to punch Pinch:
Sulzberger is part of "The Trust," the family that owns the controlling interest in the Times. "Young Arthur," as he's often called (or "Pinch" as he's also often called, but rarely to his face) was literally given control of the paper in 1992 by his daddy Arthur O. "Punch" Sulzberger. Since then, Pinch has presided over scandal after scandal -- Wen Ho Lee and Jayson Blair and Rick Bragg and Judy Miller (X2). His unwavering -- some would say blind -- defense of Miller in the Plame Affair was frankly a low point in American journalism. However, with a personal connection (read that as conflict of interest) to Miller he couldn't do otherwise. And on the scandal tip, it was little more than five weeks ago I wrote about the sordid Kurt Eichenwald mess.
So what was that "personal connection" that Ridley is referring to? Don't leave us in suspense, John. Inquiring minds want to know. Unfortunately Ridley provides us with no more clues but does list the downward slide of the NY Times due in large part to poor leadership at the top:
The paper's circulation continues to slide, with 1.12 million current readers, which is down 1.9% from last year. In the last five years its market share in the New York metro area has contracted from 29% to 24%. As of 2006 the Times still has got a grip on a massive 49.6% chunk of all national newspaper advertising, but even that's trending downward from 51.8% in 2004.
Ridley then leaves us with a parting shot against Pinch. Of course, to maintain his liberal credentials, Ridley also includes Bush in his slam against Pinch's utter ineptitude:
I have no doubt that Sulzberger means well, cares about his family's paper and wants to do good things. But this is the problem with institutionalized affirmative action (the "other" affirmative action conservatives never talk about when they're getting on government for insuring a level playing field). Much like, say, George Bush or Paris Hilton, Pinch has never had to truly work for anything in his life. As a result, he does not now have the leadership skills necessary to run a family business. No big deal if the family business is a corner deli. A real big deal if the family business is "all the news that's fit to print."