Vahalla and the new editor of the New York Times

In a NYTimes article of June 1 (subsequently altered to eliminate the reference to religion) the writer quotes the newly named executive editor of the Times, Jill Abramson, as saying that her becoming editor of the Times was “ascending to Valhalla,” and that while growing up in her house, “the Times substituted for religion.”

Now many Blogsters have jumped on both the Times and Ms. Abramson (in particular see James Taranto in the WSJ), Ms. Abramson for envisioning the Times as a substitute for religion, and the Times itself for scrubbing out the reference to religion when doing a second posting of the original Jill Abramson article on the Web.

The Times was clearly wrong to alter the original quotation, but in regard to Ms. Abramson and what she said I find her words refreshing, definitely containing the ring of truth, at least the truth about her own and her family’s long devotion to the newspaper.

I see nothing wrong with that, and certainly nothing wrong with her frank admission of her family’s admiration for the Times, by which she herself was bitten as a child.

I myself turn much more to the Times, as well as to a number of other national and international information sources, than to any church or religion in order to find out about what’s happening in the world.

The irony is that the Times is anything but a religion, in fact, not at all like a religion especially in that the Times does not constantly try to hide the truth about itself, as, say the Catholic Church, or Islam, to give just two examples among many, of those religions that seem to go on living in the past, adhering to positions that ought to be confined to the past, who reject the world and the people as they are today, that world that the Times as much or more than any publication brings to our attention.

I suppose those who put down the Times, those who most denigrate the paper, do so in many instances because of their own “religion,” their own system of Gods, rewards, and punishments. They do so because of their personal and political belief systems, and in particular because of their being afraid for the survival of those systems if they were ever to “know too much,” themselves, to bite the apple as it were.

As a rule the judgments of those who judge the Times are not based on any objective analysis of the positions of the paper, nor do they, in whatever thinking they may display, demonstrate any remarkable faculties or powers of thought of their own, any reason or justice or fairness in their conclusions.

But now when I think about it, they’re probably “right” to put down the Times because through a regular and thorough reading of this publication (as well as that of other publications, including the Wall Street Journal, where for some ten years Jill Abramson herself worked as a reporter at the Journal’s Washington D C desk) many of their own beliefs and positions would lose their standing, and they would risk losing their own adherence to them.

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