Sunday, October 16, 2005

The Sunday Times: Funny; you like armageddon, I like following treasongate...

Today's New York Times - as anyone who's read the blogosphere knows by now- has "its" story on Judith Miller, treasongate, etc.

While others have extensively commented on it, what strikes me about the story is the degree of denial and delusion present at the Times and their editors. Anybody who calls this paper a "liberal" paper after reading this story is basically being dishonest.

Ms. Miller said she was proud of her journalism career, including her work on Al Qaeda, biological warfare and Islamic militancy. But she acknowledged serious flaws in her articles on Iraqi weapons.

"W.M.D. - I got it totally wrong," she said. "The analysts, the experts and the journalists who covered them - we were all wrong. If your sources are wrong, you are wrong. I did the best job that I could."

In two interviews, Ms. Miller generally would not discuss her interactions with editors, elaborate on the written account of her grand jury testimony or allow reporters to review her notes.

No she didn't do the best job she could; from way back where I sit I could smell something out of place. If I, with only publicly available information could have my bullshit detector blinking red, why couldn't Miller's?

Well, the answer's contained in that article; rather than being skeptical, rather than endeavoring to find the facts, Ms. Miller - and by extensin the Times- were basically being sycophants to power, not speaking the truth about power, which, I submit, should be their mission.

Their objective was to cultivate powerful sources, to let them have their say, not to put the powerful sources in the context of reality.

This long article is well worth reading, because - unintentionally- over and over again this sub-text appears. There is no ethical requirement to protect a source unless you are engaged in the mission of actually, you know, finding out the truth.

And, if you think that speaking about power, but not necessarily putting power in the context of reality isn't part of the Times' game plan (and why you'd think that at this point is beyond me) all you have to do is consider their business plan. They get more money if they get more viewers of their content- just like Fox. The only difference is they start from different demographics and delivery systems.

Which brings me to their "Armageddon's Bustin' Out Everwhere" article.

Today, only about a third of evangelicals are truly dispensationalists, estimated Richard Cizik, vice president of government affairs for the National Association of Evangelicals, although he said he thought most evangelicals are generally pre-millennial, harboring a more pessimistic outlook on history.

But the dispensationalists remain the most vocal segment, Mr. Cizik said. Aided by books, television and the Internet, they have shaped a fascination in evangelical culture on the end of days, said Craig C. Hill, a professor of New Testament theology at Wesley Theological Seminar in Washington and the author of "In God's Time: the Bible and the Future," about biblical prophecy. Preaching on the end times is an obvious way to draw an audience, Mr. Hill said.

"It's inherently interesting," he said. "If you have a sign out for the sermon, 'Our obligation to the poor,' you won't get anybody. If you have a sign out for, 'The Internet and the Antichrist,' you'll bring them in."

And so it is with this brand of Evangelicals, which the Times has previously noted somewhere that it'd like to bring in to its demographic. They're interested in "bringing them in," in increasing market share, regardless of whether or not there's a good relationship to reality. When market share is your ultimate objective, fidelity to reality will suffer sometimes. Period.

Not unexpected, one or two bits of facts that annihilate dispensationalism are left out of the Times article; the most obvious one to me is the whole history of how Revelation got into the bible in the first place- traditionally explictly understood as an allegory, with most references explicitly to the Roman empire.

But that would ruin a narrative that brings 'em in...

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