Author Gay Talese, a man the media elite calls a “legend,” worked as a New York Times reporter in the Sixties and then wrote a book about the paper called The Kingdom and The Power, which Fox News president Roger Ailes has called one of the five best books about the news business.
From a new interview with Longform.org, Andrew Beaujon at Poynter MediaWire reportsTalese calls today’s Times “a much better paper than when I worked for it.” But he thinks it’s lost its radical Sixties edge. “It doesn’t have the anti-government tone that I want,” Talese sats, and says the Washington bureau is too “wimpy” with Obama, who’s a “disaster” as a president:
If I was editor, I would get people after Obama. I voted for the guy, but he’s a disaster as a president. And a disaster most through his Justice Department and muzzling the press. Succeeding. And nobody’s — there’s no [Harrison] Salisbury, [David] Halberstam to bust ass in Washington anymore. That Washington bureau is a wimpy place right now and has been since Obama’s election, or since 9/11 actually.
The press, when it comes to contending with government and censorship or the maneuvering that government has done because of the 9/11 and the Iraq War and allowing its reporters to be embedded with American troops. And the Times allowed that. That was a disgraceful thing. When you allow a journalist to ride in a tank that is owned by the Defense Department, you become a flunky of the Defense Department. You become identified with the troops that are saving your ass in Iraq.
The head of the "wimpy Washington bureau" right now is David Leonhardt. The Times isn't just eager to promote Obama's foreign policy. Clay Waters emphasized that Leonhardt’s columns in defense of Obama’s “stimulus” package and Obama-care health “reform” made him a very popular man at the White House and among congressional Democrats, who passed around his pieces via email and Twitter.
In 2009 he demonstrated “the upside of paying more taxes” and has twice claimed the big-spending Obama was in fact a “fiscal conservative.” In May 2010 Leonhardt called on Obama to break his promise not to raise taxes on those making under $250,000 a year, since he considers high taxes necessary in a modern society.