Farting in the Church of Liebling


Slate's Jack Shafer, who is to The New York Times what A.J. Weberman is to Bob Dylan, takes a break from documenting the shoddiness of the Gray Lady's weather forecasts long enough to play devil's advocate to the much-loved, little-read, and wildly overappreciated patron saint of blowhard press critics everywhere, A.J. Liebling:

By letting his politics determine his views of the press, he missed the biggest story of his time?the Cold War?and allowed himself to get too close to Alger Hiss to see his deceit. His inordinate love of print caused him to overworry about the consolidation of newspapers. For instance, he falsely predicted that New York City would become a one- or two-newspaper town by 1975, and because he held a static, zero-sum idea of markets, he could never have predicted how broadcast outlets, magazines, weekly newspapers, and finally the Internet would produce an editorial variety that dwarfs the New York newspaper scene of his youth.

The whole thing, which is well worth reading, is here.