NYTimes Pleads For ‘Elevated Discourse’… But Same Old Talking Points
By: Warner Todd Huston
What is it about the New York Times where they can’t stay above their talking points even when trying to interest the people in a higher level of political discussion and debate?
The Times was bemoaning the current sad state of political discourse amongst political candidates today (and rightfully so, I might add) in a story reporting the interesting extended debate between Newt Gingrich and ex-Senator Mario Cuomo sponsored by New York’s Cooper Union Hall, the great room in which Abraham Lincoln first came to national prominence prior to his running for president of the United States.
The two “will appear together on the stage of Cooper Unionâ€™s Great Hall tonight for a discussion, to encourage todayâ€™s presidential candidates to spurn sound bites for serious discussion and debate” the paper informs us.
The Times has a solid point on the downward spiral of the discourse and oratory from today’s pols, but politicians are hardly alone to blame. Even in a story that is supposed to be urging us all to gain an interest in a higher level of debate, the Times cannot resist injecting at least one of their boogymen items, campaign cash.
Of course, If one were to read the debates from our forefathers it would seem to be nearly Shakespearian compared to the dumbed down rhetoric that we now get. However, as Lincoln scholar Harold Holzer pointed out to the Times’ reporter, â€œMaybe we shouldnâ€™t blame politicians for dumbing down the dialog if we donâ€™t demand more.â€ And he couldn’t be more right
We do not demand better and our news media facilitates the worst of them.
All that is well and good, but the Times just couldn’t resist interjecting their agenda into the discussion and it was an interjection that not only is unwelcome in this particular discussion, but one that in no way, shape, matter, or form FITS the subject.
Here was their first interjection of their tiresome talking points:
In recognition, however, that the language of this era is less often illuminating â€” expletives being more common than explication â€” the Cuomo-Gingrich dialogue, unlike Lincolnâ€™s speech, will be free.
“Free”? What does money have to do with this subject?
Then at the end of the piece they return to their well-worn theme of money in politics. Tarnishing this discussion with their tired campaign finance reform issue, the Times unseemly shoehorning of this ill-fitting subject into the story is jarring.
Even then, though, money was a campaign issue. Lincoln received $200 and the fact that tickets cost 25 cents opened him to contumely as a â€œtwo-bit candidate.â€
Again, why raise this issue of money? The Times’ “Even then, though, money was a campaign issue” subject did not belong in this story at all. Obviously, though, the Times needed to keep their agenda in play even in a story in which it has no business being.
An otherwise useful and interesting story is brought down by the Times’ constant need to push their nonsense on the reading public.
And they moan about a loss of higher discourse!?