March 31, 2008

"There is no repentance on the part of The New York Times. There is no integrity when it comes to The Times."

Writes the Reverend Jeremiah Wright to Jodi Kantor of the NYT in a letter published at
Out of a two-hour conversation with you about Barack’s spiritual journey and my protesting to you that I had not shaped him nor formed him, that I had not mentored him or made him the man he was, even though I would love to take that credit, you did not print any of that...

... I spent approximately five to seven minutes on Barack’s taking advice from one of his trusted campaign people and deeming it unwise to make me the media spotlight on the day of his announcing his candidacy for the Presidency and what do you print? You and your editor proceeded to present to the general public a snippet, a printed “sound byte” and a titillating and tantalizing article about his disinviting me to the Invocation on the day of his announcing his candidacy.
The letter is dated March 11, 2007. Since then, no doubt, Jeremiah Wright has learned a whole lot more about how people extract sound bites (or "sound byte"). (But it's hard to believe he was so innocent even back then.)

The NYT responds to Times's printing of the old letter:
Ms. Kantor conducted herself professionally and honestly throughout her dealings with Mr. Wright. She did what any journalist would do: She brought the news he conveyed during the interview to the attention of her editors, including me. We decided to do what a newspaper does: to present that news to our readers, accurately, fairly and as quickly as possible. Ms. Kantor in no way misrepresented the nature or purpose of the interview; as soon as it was ready for publication, we published exactly the longer story we told Mr. Wright we were working on and that he referred to in his letter.

Putting aside the question of why a letter that is more than a year old is suddenly getting new circulation, it is worth noting that at no time has Mr. Wright challenged the accuracy of either story written by Ms. Kantor – both of which, given the events of the last several weeks, seem remarkably prescient about the potential political peril in the Obama-Wright relationship.”
Good answer!

ADDED: Instapundit links here and also points to this post by Ed Morrissey, speculating that Wright's letter caused the Times to go easy on Wright when it ultimately published the long piece Kantor was working on. He notes that her article has a very tame presentation of Wright's sermons. She wrote:
Mr. Wright preached black liberation theology, which interprets the Bible as the story of the struggles of black people, who by virtue of their oppression are better able to understand Scripture than those who have suffered less. That message can sound different to white audiences, said Dwight Hopkins, a professor at University of Chicago Divinity School and a Trinity member. “Some white people hear it as racism in reverse,” Dr. Hopkins said, while blacks hear, “Yes, we are somebody, we’re also made in God’s image.”
Ed says:
That’s about as close as Kantor ever got to the incendiary rhetoric offered by Wright. She apparently didn’t bother to research the videos and copies of sermons easily available, and so missed the exhortations that 9/11 was America’s “chickens coming home to roost”, that black people should sing “God Damn America”, and that the US had created HIV-AIDS as a tool for genocide against people of color. One wonders why Wright bothered to complain about the minor issue at hand while all of these political land mines remained just below the surface — and why Kantor and the Times never bothered to research Wright in more depth.

... [D]id the Times pull its punches because Wright complained about their early coverage?
Good question!


Brent said...

Sigh . . .

The New York Times actually getting something right?

This day is starting out badly . . . .

Simon said...

I think it's kind of amusing that Wright is upset over the lack of "repentance" by the Times, given that both he and Obama have a lot more to repent for, and have thusfar not even begun to do so.

Peter V. Bella said...

The NYT and Jeremiah Wright arguing over integrity is like Eliot Spitzer lecturing on ethics and morality.

But, in this case, the Times gave a justified defense.

Unknown said...

Interesting that the Times refers to him as Mr. Wright and not Rev. Wright.

Roger J. said...

Can they both lose?

Ann Althouse said...

"The NYT and Jeremiah Wright arguing over integrity is like..."

Define "integrity." I think he has it. You might not like his world view, but it has integrity.

the quietist said...

It's this kind of stuff that forces otherwise smart people on the left to jettison reality and facts in favor of inane leftist rhetoric and posturing. It's an old ritual: when one person on the left calls another leftist "right-wing," it is a challenge -- that person must show proof of their true faith, and must adopt, in rhetoric if not in practice, an even more extreme position. It's the left's own fun little Inquisition!

In the liberal world -- like the university, where I work -- your credibility ("coolness" for adults) depends on being identified as progressive, liberal, leftist, or whatever. Conservatives or Republicans are the archetypal Uncool, and though you may be a complete loser in all other ways, you automatically gains social cred by positioning yourself against conservatives and Republicans, no matter what the issue. It's a reactionary attitude, because you have to wait to see what the Uncool say before you adopt your own stance, but it's very easy for the morally uncourageous and the intellectually mediocre. (See, for example, the ridiculous attachment by "progressives" to the obsolete and discredited 150-year-old philosophy of Marx.)

Leftism is a fashion more than a coherent philosophy, something to be worn and shown off for others to see. It has nothing to do with facts or reality, or even politics. It's better understood as middle-school social hierarchies, where Alpha Males (Wright) bully the wannabes (the NYT) into following them by challenging their coolness. It's been called the Community-Based Reality.

Tony said...

Re: "integrity"

The Rev. Jeremiah Wright grew up in the Germantown section of Philly, in what used to be one of the nicest neighborhoods in the city when he was living there. His father was a pastor for 62 years at Grace Lutheran Church there, and his mother was a teacher and vice-principal at Girls High School, a top Philly school.

Rev. Wright himself went to the most prestigious high school in Philly, Central High. This was a merit selection school, the most elite and exclusive of all of Philly's public high schools.

After Central, Rev. Wright went to college for a couple of years before dropping out and joining the Marines, where he spent six years in the early Sixties. At that time, our military was by far the least racist and most determinedly unprejudiced institution in the US, the armed services having led the way in integration and fairness from the 40's onward. The military was "politically correct" for decades before that term was invented.

To explain Rev. Wright's widely proclaimed hatred for white people and America in general, Senator Obama put it in context for us in the "The Speech" this way: "This is the reality in which Reverend Wright and other African-Americans of his generation grew up. They came of age in the late fifties and early sixties, a time when segregation was still the law of the land and opportunity was systematically constricted. ... For the men and women of Reverend Wright's generation, the memories of humiliation and doubt and fear have not gone away; nor has the anger and the bitterness of those years."
- From "The Speech" at HuffingtonPost

And now Obama and his fellow Yale Law School grad wife are raising their children in Rev. Wright's church, to perpetuate these "memories of humiliation and doubt and fear" even though they, like Rev. Wright, have enjoyed lives of exceptional privilege, success and personal freedom in America.

Daryl said...

chris wrote: Interesting that the Times refers to him as Mr. Wright and not Rev. Wright.

It is interesting.

Does the NYT have a neutrality policy of never using religious titles?

Does the NYT have a policy of referring to former religious leaders as "Mr."?

In the bad old days, racists would never use "Mr." to address blacks, but would use "Rev." for black preachers, because it was felt that to refuse that title would dishonor God. Hmmm . . .

Google gives the following results:

"Mr. Wright" + "Jeremiah Wright" 20,100

"Rev. Wright" + "Jeremiah Wright"

"Mr. Wright" "Rev. Wright" "Jeremiah Wright"

"Jeremiah Wright" + "Mr. Wright" - "Rev. Wright"

"Jeremiah Wright" + "Rev. Wright" - "Mr. Wright"

"Jeremiah Wright" "Mr. Wright" -"new york times"

"Jeremiah Wright" "Rev. Wright" -"New York Times"

There are more than 17x as many pages using "Rev." but not "Mr." as pages using "Mr." but not "Rev."

33% of web pages that have "Jeremiah Wright" and "Mr. Wright" also have "New York Times" on them.

BUT more than half of web pages that have "Jeremiah Wright" and "Rev. Wright" also have "New York Times" on them.

Most probable explanation: the people who refer to "Mr. Wright" are illiterate forum-dwellers, whereas bloggers who link to the NYT in a sidebar fastidiously refer to him as "Rev. Wright."

Solution: liberal bloggers should stop linking to the NYT in their blogrolls.

Daryl said...

Althouse wrote: Define "integrity." I think he has it. You might not like his world view, but it has integrity.

How do you square that with moving into a gated, overwhelmingly-white community?

Consistency in repeating the same hateful rhetoric over decades and decades is not the same thing as integrity. Words are important, but they are also easy.

Simon said...

Peter said...
"[F]or example, the ridiculous attachment by 'progressives' to the obsolete and discredited 150-year-old philosophy of Marx."

Why add the qualifier "150-year-old"? How old an idea doesn't bear on anything. And I don't think Marx is "obsolete" - that implies it was once valid and current. The problem with Marx, and the reason his philosophy is discredited, was that his assumptions were wrong, his analyses flawed, and his already untenable conclusions have been falsified by experience. (I do think, however, that "Das Kapital for Dummies" is long overdue - anyone can (and should) read The Communist Manifesto, but when I read Das Kapital years ago (concededly as a callow teen), it was heavy going. I do think it's worthwhile reading and understanding Marx, if only to more thoroughly and durably reject him. (The same goes for Roe, of course.)

And why the scare quotes around "progressives"? Seems to me that if they want to give up on the term "liberal," Hayek fans should rejoice at the opportunity to claim the term back from the planners.

George M. Spencer said...

"A lot of chickens I talked about for years have come to roost in Boston. They're roostin' all over in Detroit and San Diego and even some in Boston."

"And now they have created themselves a Frankenstein monster, and the chickens are coming home to roost all over this country."

Chickens! Comin' home!

Lambies, too!

From Inwood said...

The NYT has no integrity. I would check them when they say the temperature yesterday was Xº.

But Wright is a firm adherent to his mendacious code of vicious, Anti-American racism & victimization. "Integrity" is not the word I'd apply to Wright. Tho literally it could refer to some concept of "unity" or "completeness", one usually uses integrity in such discussions as this in the sense of "honesty" as MCG seemed to me to be doing.

And all this integrity despite the fact that he came from privilege in Philly &, while I'm sure he was called the "N" word in his lifetime, seems to have missed the Bigtime racism & poverty experienced by many of his contemporaries.

Please don't follow Obama & try to stretch this into Wright as somehow the more honest of two despicable evil guys. Even in this one instance.

And yes, I think that the NYT went easy on the execrable Wright.

Tony said...

Whoops, Rev. Wright's Dad was the Pastor at Grace BAPTIST Church for 42 years, not Grace LUTHERAN Church for 62 years. Sorry about my bad data. The rest of my post is more accurate than "The Speech" by Obama.

Michelle Obama's clings to this same victimhood as Rev. Wright does, as does Sen. Obama. It's the perpetual grudge against America that is the cornerstone of the Left.

From Inwood said...


You say:

"Das Kapital for Dummies" is long overdue - anyone can (and should) read The Communist Manifesto, but when I read Das Kapital years ago (concededly as a callow teen), it was heavy going. I do think it's worthwhile reading and understanding Marx, if only to more thoroughly and durably reject him. (The same goes for Roe, of course.)

Why not. And add Mein Kampf For Dummies, especially since so many today resort to a reduction ad Hitlerum when arguing about Bush.

But one doesn’t have to eat the whole egg to see that it is bad. A few paragraphs, which are never “out of context”, from these rants will turn one off immediately, just as a few rants of Wright will to anyone except a Wright apologist or someone like Obama to whom he’s an albatross.

The trouble with “XXX For Dummies” or “The Idiot’s Guide For XXX”, or for that matter “Cliff’s Notes” for bad novels is that by their efforts they make the subject seem more worthy than it really is. Or they oversimplify the subject to clichés & bromides. (Or fall into quips, such as Woody Allen’s “I took a speed-reading course and read War and Peace in twenty minutes. It involves Russia.”)

So, for Marx, who spent all his waking hours writing in the British Museum about ordinary things though there seems to be no evidence that he ever visited a farm, factory, mill, or capitalist workplace (great for his, shall we say, Prof A, integrity), a great guide is the chapter Karl Marx; Howling Gigantic Curses By Paul Johnson in his Intellectuals & for a primer on Economics if one is more than a dummy, an idiot, or a denizen of The UWS, one should try Basic Economics by Tom Sowell.

Fat Man said...

"[D]id the Times pull its punches because Wright complained about their early coverage?"

No. They didn't highlight the content of the sermons, because they agreed with them and thought them unexceptional.

Rocker 419 said...

I see where the NYT is laying off over 100 workers. Too bad they never figured out the truth talks and BS walks. And if Mr. Wrong wants to help his friend Obama, he should shut the **** up!

From Inwood said...

Fat Man

I think you've got it! My God, I think you've got it.

From Inwood said...


I'll come back when I read that the NYT has laid off 100 alleged thinkers.

Mark said...

Rather than waste time writing Das Kapital for Dummies, perhaps "The Naked Communist" by Skousen would be more directly applicable to the current situation in the US.

the quietist said...


You are right -- perhaps I shouldn't have used the word "obsolete" in describing Marx. I should have instead said "proven over and over again by history to be utterly wrong, and indeed contrary to the most basic rules of human nature and the fundamental laws of existence itself."

I do agree that we should continue to read Marx (I did). The problem is that so many in the university today read him not as a figure in intellectual history, but as a lesson in economics. To me, this is like studying Ptolemy and the medieval science of the "celestial spheres" in a modern Physics class.

And my scare quotes around progressives was just my way of pointing out the irony of the word. "Progressive" implies an open, forward-looking attitude -- yet those who call themselves such are the most likely to resist modernity and long for some sort of lost golden age (the 1930s?). When Paul Krugman waxes nostalgic for pre-1980s America, he speaks the same backward-looking "good old times" language that paleo-conservatives have used for decades.

I agree that we should reclaim the word liberal for those whom it truly describes -- free markets, free minds, and equal rights for all.

former law student said...

It is interesting.

Does the NYT have a neutrality policy of never using religious titles?

No, the NYT simply clings to established English usage standards:

Kenneth G. Wilson (1923–). The Columbia Guide to Standard American English. 1993.

Reverend, Rev. (adj.)

This honorific (Rev. is an abbreviation) is a title for a member of the clergy. Conservative usage specifies the forms The Reverend John M. Smith, The Reverend Mr. Smith, and in direct address, simply Mr. Smith, and sometimes proscribes as Substandard (The) Reverend Smith and in direct address, Reverend, and in third person reference, the noun the reverend. But some dictionaries now report these same Nonstandard forms as Standard, despite the continued objections of many conservatives.

The Columbia Guide to Standard American English. Copyright © 1993 Columbia University Press

Unknown said...

Looks like Wright's own chickens are coming home to roost.

His venomous persona is chilling. I pity the people who actually fall under his spell; Obama is just using him and his church so he's getting what he deserves.

Unknown said...

What is with his condescending tone regarding "her" religion? e.g.

When I told you, using one of your own Jewish stories from the Hebrew Bible...

I do not know why I thought The New
York Times had actually repented
and was going to exhibit a different kind of behavior.... Maybe it was my faith in the Jewish Holy Day of Roshashana. Maybe it was
my being caught up in the euphoria of the Season of Lent; but whatever it is or was, I was sadly mistaken.

This part just struck me as mysterious. It could very well be that, over the course of the interview, Jodi Kantor shared a fair amount about her own spiritual heritage. In that case, the language is understandable. Without that context phrases like "your own Jewish stories" sound a bit like a Ross Perot-style "you people" reference.

Fen said...

"Fomer Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell warned... that what we really need to focus on with this Obama/Wright flap are the tenets of black liberation theology and to what extent Barack Obama embraces them...

He suggested that responsible voters have a duty to inquire whether Mr. Obama subscribes to these views.

Blackwell warned that black liberation theology laid the foundation for many black pastors to embrace Marxism and a distorted self-image of perpetual "victim"

Even a tenuous connection to black liberation theology undermines Barack's self-description as a unifier"

- "Campaign Clutter" by David Limbaugh, Wash Times 3-31-08

Fen said...

Ann: Define "integrity." I think he has it. You might not like his world view, but it has integrity.

Agreed. In any credibility test, I'd have to favor Rev Wright over the NYTs.

Of course, I'm at the point where if the NYTs reported the sky was blue...

former law student said...

Terry Gross interviews the Revs. James Cone and Dwight Hopkins about BLT on Fresh Air today

Fen said...

Terry Gross is with NPR?

I'm wondering what you guys on the Left think of Democrat Strategist Bob Beckel, who appears on FOX. I don't agree with alot that he says, but he makes some good points. And he's aggressive in a "good" way. Just curious if you think Beckel is a strong advocate of the Democrat party.