New York Times Hides DeParle Connection

What an odd photograph The New York times used to accompany its story about the selection of two new members for the Obama team!  The Times tells us that Governor Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas is to be nominated as the new secretary of Health and Human Services and Nancy-Ann DeParle has been made counselor to the president and director of the White House Office for Health Reform.  In the photograph we see the president making his announcement.  To his far right stand Representative Henry A. Waxman and Senator Max Baucus.  To the left of the president we see...a lock or two of the dark hair of a short woman who appears to be wearing a dark dress, and who is also wearing a string of pearls around her neck.  The photo's caption makes no mention of her, and the accompanying article has no explanation for the presence of the two congressmen.  They are nowhere to be found in the article.

If this were a high school newspaper, one might think that it was time for the faculty adviser to become a bit more involved.  Perhaps the photographer aimed his camera wrong, not knowing exactly what the story was to be, or he didn't take enough shots for the editor to be able to select one to match the story.  Or maybe the editor cropped the picture wrong, paying insufficient attention to what the story was about.  To see how easy it is to do it right, you only have to look at the photograph from The Washington Post of the same day.

But this is not a high school newspaper we're talking about.  This is the premier newspaper in the country, the "newspaper of record."  Could budget cuts have brought it down to this level of competence?  Maybe so, but I think there's a better explanation.  There's a reason for the newspaper to deprive Nancy-Ann DeParle of her day in the sun.  For what that reason might be, one need look no farther than the Wikipedia page for Ms. DeParle.  There we find the salient bit of information that neither The Times nor The Post has seen fit to share with us.  Ms. DeParle's husband, Jason DeParle, is a senior reporter for The New York Times.  More than that, he works in the Washington bureau of The Times, and he has just come out with a book on the welfare system.  That means that his beat is precisely where his wife will be working.  We can now forget about objective reporting from The Times when it comes to the health and welfare policies of the Obama administration.

You would have thought that The Post, at least, with no dog in the hunt, would have told us who Nancy-Ann was married to.  It would have given them a good chance to chide a competitor.  But from The Post's perspective, the less talk there is about the incestuous relationship between big media and big government the better.  This is the newspaper, after all, that for the past few years has given us the opinion pieces of former Bush speech-writer and continuing Bush war cheerleader, Michael Gerson, twice a week.  And as he continues to beat his verbal war drums, The Post byline provides no disclaimer concerning his former employment.  The content of Gerson's columns are such that one is almost reluctant to describe his Bush administration employment as "former."  It's very hard to see how he would have written anything different if he were, in fact, still on the Bush payroll.

"Conservatives" of the Rush Limbaugh ilk are fond of denouncing The Times and The Post as "liberal."  As what these two examples show, it is better not to think of them in left-right terms, but simply as handmaidens of the government.  In case one might be inclined to cut some slack for the DeParles as high-minded idealists whose affinity to the Democratic party comes from their great concern for their fellow man, consider the fact that Jason did some yeoman's work in the cover-up of the murder of Deputy White House Counsel, Vincent Foster:  

A week later, August 22, [1993] The New York Times does [The Post] one better with its syndicated article by its Washington correspondent, Jason DeParle. The title says it all: "Portrait of a White House Aide Snared by his Perfectionism" with the subtitle, "A Life Undone: A Special Report." DeParle tells us that his report is based upon "extensive" interviews with officials and with people close to Foster. "Some of them spoke about the situation for the first time on the condition of anonymity to correct what they called misleading impressions of earlier accounts." In other words, we are to forget the original story and are to believe the changed one, the one that stresses Foster's (thoroughly unproven) depressed mental state, built almost completely upon anonymous sources. DeParle even manages to give us, four years early, a look at the post mortem psychoanalysis that will dominate the final report of the Office of the Independent Counsel: "'This kind of perfectionism and purity is a kind of two-edged sword,' said Dr. Jerome Motin, a psychiatrist at the University of California at San Francisco and an expert on suicide." DeParle, too, leaves the loose ends hanging, seemingly perfectly content if no final report, including the autopsy, is ever issued by the Park Police.

Part I of the story line has, therefore, been developed within the first month, and it is primarily the construct of the national press. That line is that Vincent Foster's death was a pure and simple obvious suicide that any reasonable, normal, level-headed person should accept. Part II of the basic story line is that anyone who questions any part of the official version put out by the federal authorities and the derelict press can only be doing so either because he is somewhat mentally unbalanced, he is so unscrupulous as to exploit this awful tragedy for money through the sale of books and videos, or he is an extreme right-wing partisan undeterred by considerations of elementary decency. In due time the argument will be advanced that a number of official reports have been rendered concluding suicide, so that in itself should be enough to satisfy any legitimate skeptic, but that argument will ring hollow because the press seemed perfectly content from the beginning with an official suicide conclusion without even one published report to back it up, not even the most basic report of the autopsy doctor.  (David Martin, The Press and the Death of Vincent Foster, May 25, 2002.)

If one still has any doubt that The Times and The Post, for better or for worse, are simply government mouthpieces, regardless of which of our nominally rival parties are in power, one need only go to my home page and use the "Find" box there to search New York Times and Washington Post.

David Martin, March 8, 2009



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