December 7, 2000
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In a story in the national section today that is flagged with a front-page summary, the New York Times today reports on an interview that President Clinton granted to Rolling Stone magazine. The Times reports that, in the interview, Mr. Clinton blames the Republicans for outmaneuvering him on the issue of gays in the military.
"The Republicans 'didn't want me to have a honeymoon' in his first days in office, Mr. Clinton said, and so forced the issue of his campaign promise to allow gays to serve openly, knowing they had the votes in Congress to defeat it," the Times reports.
This is just ridiculous. It's not the Republicans in Congress who forced the issue of gays in the military; it was Mr. Clinton, his aides and gay Democrats in Congress. Consider an Associated Press dispatch that appeared on January 21, 1993 -- Mr. Clinton's first full day in office. The dispatch began, "President Clinton will act quickly to lift the ban on homosexuals in the military, ordering the Pentagon to stop asking recruits about their sexual orientation or discharging members of the armed services found to be gay, a congressman said today."
Who is this "congressman"? Was it a Republican eager to deny Mr. Clinton a honeymoon? No, it was a liberal, openly gay Massachusetts Democrat, Rep. Barney Frank, who told the AP, "Immediately, the policy of kicking people out of the military because they're gay will be out."
The AP story also quoted another source -- not a congressional Republican but Mr. Clinton's own White House press secretary, Dee Dee Myers, who said, "The president has said he will end discrimination against gays in the military and we'll announce the policy on that within a week."
It would have been a better article in the Times if, rather than simply parroting Mr. Clinton's strange recollection of events, the newspaper had provided its readers with some context with which to judge the accuracy of Mr. Clinton's recollections. The Times article also fails to note that the journalist who conducted the interview with Mr. Clinton for Rolling Stone, Jann Wenner, is a major donor to Democratic Party candidates and committees.
A Sound Conscience: An editorial in today's New York Times says that by disclosing on the Internet the provenance of paintings, art museums will gain "clear title to a sound conscience." It's just galling to see the Times pontificate on the topic of how art museums can have a "sound conscience" on the matter of art stolen by the Nazis. After all, the Times' former publisher, Arthur O. Sulzberger, when he was chairman of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, sent the district attorney of New York County a "Dear Bob. . .Sincerely, Punch" letter complaining that the Metropolitan's board, staff, donors and lenders were all "deeply disturbed" by the D.A.'s efforts to prevent two allegedly looted Egon Schiele paintings from being returned to Austria by the Museum of Modern Art. A "sound conscience," indeed.
We Print, You Decide: The New York Times today prints two different versions of a quote from a Florida state representative, Lois Frankel. In the lead front-page news article, she is quoted as saying of a Republican proclamation, "the only thing missing on the proclamation is the postmark from Austin, Tex." An article in the national section quotes her as saying, "The only thing missing from the proclamation today was a postmark from Austin, Tex." In the second version of the quote, the word "on" becomes "from," the word "today" is introduced, the word "is" becomes "was," and the word "the" becomes "a." If it was the Times that introduced these variations, the newspaper should be thanked; without the changes, readers might be bored by the redundancy.
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