I am certainly no fan of Hillary Clinton, but here's the part of the controversial article that made me cringe:
When contacted for comment by the Times public editor, one of the writers (Amy Chozick) of the piece said:“I completely understand why people have a reaction to a story like this, and question what it has to do with Clinton or politics, or don’t understand why it should. But that’s not the world we live in.”Now, Mr. Weiner’s tawdry activities may have claimed his marriage — Ms. Abedin told him that she wanted to separate — and have cast another shadow on the adviser and confidante who has been by Mrs. Clinton’s side for the past two decades. Ms. Abedin was already a major figure this summer in controversies over Mrs. Clinton’s handling of classified information as secretary of state and over ties between the Clinton family foundation and Mrs. Clinton’s State Department.Mr. Weiner’s extramarital behavior also threatens to remind voters about the troubles in the Clintons’ own marriage over the decades, including Mrs. Clinton’s much-debated decision to remain with then-President Bill Clinton after revelations of his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. Ms. Abedin’s choice to separate from her husband evokes the debates that erupted over Mrs. Clinton’s handling of the Lewinsky affair, a scandal her campaign wants left in the past.
Readers had reacted so negatively to her article because not only did the story insinuate that Hillary Clinton and Huma Abedin are themselves partially culpable for the actions of this troubled, creepy little man, it received pride of place on the top of the front page. It was sexist guilt-by-association with a vengeance.
Amy Chozick and Patrick Healy then had to add gasoline to the fire by seeking out Donald Trump for his own expert comments. Needless to say, Trump added his own high octane to the gasoline by stating that Clinton's very association with Weiner is a matter of grave national security.
As is its wont, the Times is now doubling down and staunchly defending itself against criticism of its tabloid-style innuendo-rich coverage. Public Editor Liz Spayd herself added gasoline to the fire on Thursday by characterizing the paper's treatment of Weiner's compulsive sexting habit - which now even extends into the realm of child endangerment - as a "hot story."
Spayd as much as admits that journalism is a sport, with newsroom winners and losers and unforced errors and scorecards. Pretty flippant.It seems to me this story falls into a realm of news coverage that invariably has the media tripping over itself. There’s a sex scandal, politics and questions about how much one has to do with the other. And contrary to public suspicion, mainstream newsrooms of the type I’ve worked in don’t particularly enjoy these kinds of stories. It’s easy to get ensnared in them and hard to get them right.I don’t think The Times in this case was wildly off the mark. But it was not precise enough in what it was and wasn’t trying to say. Unfortunately, too many unforced errors can sometimes cost you the game.
And since I just couldn't get over Amy Chozicks's own flippant retort - that disgusted readers should simply get used to it - I submitted my own two cents:
“I completely understand why people have a reaction to a story like this, and question what it has to do with Clinton or politics, or don’t understand why it should,” she (Amy Chozick) said. “But that’s not the world we live in.”Much to my surprise, Amy Chozick responded to me - with a little more gasoline. It's not the media world, folks. It's the "political landscape". (And she seems to assume that since I was critical of her reportage, it naturally follows that I am a biased Clinton supporter) --
Ms. Chozick has just obliquely admitted that the mainstream media lives in a world all its own. It's a cocooned, careerist world dominated by horse race politics, clickbait, getting on the Most Popular and Trending lists, and beating the competition on the latest sleaze. It has little to nothing to do with journalism in the public interest.
Forgive me if I don't care to dwell in the world "we" live in, Ms. Chozick.
Hopefully the Times will get back to real reporting on the issues, once this hell of an election season is over. But I'm not counting on it. Coverage of scandals and palace intrigues and petty backbiting and ego-stroking among the elites of the incestuous political-media complex seems to be what passes for journalism these days.
Coverage of existential issues affecting everyday people apparently just doesn't sell papers or attract enough ad revenue.
Hi Karen, My comment wasn't about the world "we" (the media) live in, but about the political landscape that we cover. While Clinton supporters would like this to not be an issue, Donald Trump immediately made it one, and thus we have to cover it as such.
I'd also direct you to the numerous stories I've written about Clinton's policy plans, from taxes to criminal justice reform. Those far outweigh anything we've written about Anthony Weiner.
Thanks for writing.
Thanks for responding and clarifying your statement.
Yes, I have read and admired your many informative pieces on policy. Unfortunately, these are rarely placed above the fold where they belong (that valuable real estate seems to be Donald Trump's exclusive squatting domain lately.)
I look forward to reading your or another reporter's analysis of the very detailed mental health plan which Hillary Clinton unveiled just the other day. If there's already been coverage of it in the Times, and I missed it in trying to navigate the Trump landscape, I do apologize.
Cheers,I loved "Tinmanic's" response to Amy:
"While Clinton supporters would like this to not be an issue, Donald Trump immediately made it one, and thus we have to cover it as such."Having worked as a newspaper reporter myself in a previous life, I can only imagine the pressure that Amy Chozick must be under, what with Hillary Clinton being her sole defined beat for the last several years. Boredom must be her constant companion. And Hillary is certainly not known for being "accessible" and for treating the press graciously.
Whoa, whoa, whoa, Ms. Chozick. I'm flabbergasted at this statement.
Trump said it was an issue, and therefore it's an issue?
Problem number one: if the issue was because of Trump, why is Trump hardly mentioned in the article?
Problem number two: since when did New York Times reporters become mere stenographers for the Trump campaign?
You are letting yourselves be manipulated.
Amy Chozick's rationalizations remind me of the time I was assigned by my male editor to confront the wife of a U.S. Congressman about revelations that he had fathered a child with one of his staffers. (My boss opined that it's always more gently effective for a woman reporter to rub a scorned woman's nose in it.) I telephoned, and immediately informed the wife that I was making the call under duress. When she said she didn't want to air her family's dirty laundry in public, I totally agreed with her, murmured apologies, and quickly ended the call. My editor, who'd been hovering nearby, was furious with me at having wasted such a golden journalistic opportunity and for not being sufficiently cutthroat.
That was the business I had chosen to be in, but I always exercised my option not to obey all the rules of the game. (I refused, for example, to rush to the scenes of bridge-jumpers and landscapes of human beings mangled up in highway accidents). Such sporadic recalcitrance didn't make me many friends in all-male management. But, as has happened so often in the news biz over the past several decades, the paper was sold and folded before I actually got the chance to be fired.
It's the capitalistic, cutthroat world of creative destruction that we live in.