Politics

Racism and Power Politics at The New York Times

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In the latest issue of the New York Review of Books, Russell Baker takes a long look at My Times in Black and White, the new posthumous autobiography from former New York Times Managing Editor Gerald Boyd, who was fired in 2003 and later died of cancer in 2006. As Baker notes, Boyd was "the first black ever to reach such a dazzling position in the Times hierarchy," and it sounds like his liberal colleagues weren't exactly happy about it. Here's some of the dirt:

It is mildly surprising, to be sure, to find that the Times, so famous as a bulwark of liberalism, was still bogged down with backwater racial passions. These made Boyd a central figure in the uprising since one cause of the newsroom's epic discontent was the muted displeasure some white employees felt toward the paper's "diversity" program. As a black giving orders in the newsroom, Boyd was the human manifestation of "diversity," hence a vulnerable figure once rebellion required a few executions.

The Times had been grappling with its race problem since the 1980s when Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr., not yet the publisher but preparing to be, started talking about his desire for "diversity," a euphemism for affirmative action in hiring and promotions. Whether the Times newsroom was a more exclusive white male enclave than that of most other metropolitan dailies is doubtful, but its prominence made it a natural target for blacks, gays, and women hungry for a crack at high-end journalism, and Sulzberger's support for "diversity" was an attempt to bring the paper into the modern social order.

Boyd was recruited for a management position in the 1980s by Max Frankel, then executive editor. By that time, Boyd had already established himself as a top-of-the-line reporter during an exemplary career with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Times's Washington bureau. Frankel told him that the Times "severely lacked minorities to promote to management," that it was hard to find "suitable candidates," that increased "diversity" was not just one of his own priorities but one of Sulzberger's too, and that Boyd's "help toward the effort would mean a lot."

Read the rest here.

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  1. RACIST!
    first

  2. So how’d all that diversity stuff work out for the Times?

    1. They got a brand new building through eminent domain and wrapped it in a cage.

  3. Why’d you bring up Jayson Blair, Pip?

    1. I used to read the times everyday, back when it made your hands, shirt cuffs and desktop dirty. I noticed that the quality of the writing seemed to decline as the number of by-lines with funny names increased. I’m not saying it was causal, just that if the newspaper’s goal is diversity, then it’s likely going to diminish the paper’s commitment to the goal of quality writing.

      1. by-lines with funny names

        oh the irony

        1. Well, his Christian name is Phillip, and his family name is Pirrip, so Pip is actually less funny than his full name.

      2. There are those who would characterize your post as raycyst. Of course, such characterizations would be utterly absurd.

        A committment to diversity, in and of itself, is a committment to mediocrity.

        1. I’d characterize his post as linetumor, personally.

  4. This is funny because supporters of affirmative action can’t see the condescending/contradictory nature of the “diversity” mindset.

    What I mean is, these reporters probably support affirmative action but, as soon as a black man is their boss his credentials fly out the window and their own prejudices come to the forefront. He’s just another n to those fucking hypocrites.

  5. I admit it, I’m to blame.

    1. You’re just one of my many minions Whitey. Now kiss my ass some more and maybe you can bring your fuck toy and demon spawn to the company weenie roast.

  6. What the racialists don’t seem to realize is that aff-act tars every minority with the same brush, and gives an EZ grievance to everyone passed over for a position.

    Like anti-discrimination laws generally (which lead rational employers to avoid hiring hard-to-fire “lawsuits” unless they are head and shoulders the best for the position), aff-act has a big batch of counterproductive unintended consequences.

    1. You mean like this little nugget?

      This expressed a patronizing idea that Boyd had always detested: that guilt for a racist history obliged white people to do special kindnesses for the undeserving black.

  7. Most people (of all races) are racist on some level. This is a fact. (Imagine if you have a teenage daughter and she brings home somebody from another race as her first boyfriend. A very large portion of the population (again, of all races) would treat her date differently than if he was of the same race as her, and are therefore racists.)

    This, of course, means, through no fault of their own, blacks and other minorities are less likely to be hired or promoted, since most work places are run by whites. Diversity programs and affirmative action are therefore needed. Unfortuantly, such programs also tend to reinforce the inherit racist tendencies in people they don’t help, for obvious reasons.

    1. Uh, really? We need these programs? Did professional sports need affirmative action programs?

      1. Professional sports definitely needs affirmative action programs!

        RAMBIS YOUTH!
        RAMBIS YOUTH!

      2. Pro sports definitely needs affirmative action programs.

        Rambis Youth Forever!

      3. Uh, really? We need these programs? Did professional sports need affirmative action programs?

        Oh Epi, that’s because blacks are superior athletes to their white counter parts. It’s true…Jimmy the Greek said so. So they didn’t need aff. action. And the white owners are basically treating them like chattel. Working them like horses until they are physically broken down. It’s basically modern day slavery (except that the slaves are being paid millions) 🙂

        I’d say professional sports could use some affirmative action — for whites. It’s getting harder and harder to find a caucasion player on basketball rosters, and all the best non-quarterback football players are minorities.

        Seriously though — I do think Geotpf has a point. Although I don’t agree with the analogy.

        Bringing someone home to date my child is quite a bit more personal than hiring someone to do a job for money. In fact I have lots of prejudices — that have nothing to do with race — that would probably creep up if my child brought home someone who I didn’t approve of.

        But thats quite different than who I would hire or be comfortable working with.

        Now, as a liberal, do I think that diversity is an admirable goal. Absolutely.

        But that doesn’t mean that less applicants should get some kind of preferential treatment based on their race/culture.

        If two people are similarly qualified, and a workplace is quite lilly white, I don’t think it is objectionable to say “you know what, Im gonna go with the minority to diversify my workforce”

        1. But Tom, what difference does it make what color the people in the workplace are? Aren’t you being inherently racist by specifically choosing one of two equal candidates based on skin color?

          1. Aren’t you being inherently racist by specifically choosing one of two equal candidates based on skin color?

            Yes.

          2. But Tom, what difference does it make what color the people in the workplace are?

            Well for one thing, if my clientele is mixed races/cultures, then I think it would be quite valuable to have a diverse staff. To have people who have intimate knowledge or experience with a culture is a big plus to make inroads with that demographic and to be able to appeal to them or to offer products and services that they would like. If my staff is made up of a bunch of similar cultured individuals, we could suffer from a myopia when it comes to business strategy.

            Aren’t you being inherently racist by specifically choosing one of two equal candidates based on skin color?

            I don’t think so.

            If I value diversity over some other arbitrary criteria (like say going to an IVY league school) then it isn’t racist to acknowledge that someone is from a different culture.

            What I think would be racist would be if I were to make race the primary criteria, or to be so consumed by diversity (or unwilling to hire minorities) without any regard to their qualifications and skills and ability to do the job.

            it’s not inherently racist to acknowledge and put a value on culture/race/religion etc.

            This is what I don’t get about the libertarian attitude about this issue. You guys want to pretend like anyone who acknowledges race is somehow a racist.

            People can put subjective values on anything else, but if it comes to diversity or culture, than anyone who thinks it has a value must be a racist. That’s absurd.

            1. CT-

              I’m with ya on the Ivy criteria. I do have a few Ivy friends and they know that I must really, really like them cuz I do not conceal my anti-ivyness.

        2. I’d say professional sports could use some affirmative action — for whites. It’s getting harder and harder to find a caucasion player on basketball rosters, and all the best non-quarterback football players are minorities.

          Well, if the white players can’t cut the mustard for the job for which they are applying, tough shit. The point of sports is to win games, especially at the professional level, not some grand social engineering experiment.

          If two people are similarly qualified, and a workplace is quite lilly white, I don’t think it is objectionable to say “you know what, Im gonna go with the minority to diversify my workforce”

          Yes, Tom, it is totally objectionable because you have selected the minority precisely because of race in the name of PC diversity. If you are the business owner, fine, hire whomever you wish. But would you be comfortable telling said candidate “Oh, it was close, but I hired you because you are the minority?”

          1. If you are the business owner, fine, hire whomever you wish. But would you be comfortable telling said candidate “Oh, it was close, but I hired you because you are the minority?”

            yes why not.

            At some point a decision has to be made, and if I as an owner feel that it is valuable to have a diversity group of employees and that is why I chose the minority over the white person — there is nothing at all wrong with that.

            As to whether or not I would be uncomfortable saying to someone — “the reason I chose you over a white applicant, who had very similar qualifications, but I chose you because we don’t have any minorities and I wanted to diversify our workplace” — no I wouldn’t be uncomfortable.

            But realistically, the most employers don’t say those types of things. I;ve never been told why I was hired over others.

            1. You have yet to identify what value, if any, that being a member of a particular race has in terms of hiring.

              My workplace is about 98% white, not because of any hiring preferences, but because of the lack of candidates interested in working in the performing arts. (And also why we have a plethora of gay men working there.) I’ve hired most of the blacks who have worked there over the past few years, not because I thought we needed some brown sugar in the place, but because they were the best qualified applicants, period.

              Your own statements here show that you share largely the same attitude that the Times has: negroes need a hand up from whitey.

              1. I think that in a hypothetical situation where two candidates for a particular position are equal in all respects, any criteria that you use in your choice is completely arbitrary. So the decision you make is entirely personal preference at that point. So, whomever you hire is employed because of your biases, whether race based or not. The race issue just brings some controversy to this situation.

                What I’m trying to say is that because their qualifications are the same the person getting hired is necessarily receiving preferential treatment. And, the person not getting hired is “discriminated” against.

        3. I’d say professional sports could use some affirmative action — for whites.

          This is why curling was created.

    2. blacks and other minorities are less likely to be hired or promoted, since most work places are run by whites. Diversity programs and affirmative action are therefore needed. Unfortuantly, such programs also tend to reinforce the inherit racist tendencies in people they don’t help, for obvious reasons.

      So, you are saying that the system, ANY system is stacked and rigged?

      I call an incredible level of horseshit on that one, not too mention logic FAIL.

    3. “This, of course, means, through no fault of their own, blacks and other minorities are less likely to be hired or promoted, since most work places are run by whites”

      Statements like this really should be backed up with some data or a link. Just because you state “This, of course, means,” doesn’t make it so. Something a little more substantial than ‘because I say’ is called for.

    4. Most people (of all races) are racist on some level.

      I fucking hate this. It is accepted truth but is not true. Racists are KKK, and their ilk (of all races). We DO have our prejudices, as anyone does, for race, economic class, education status, etc. We can all work on lessening our preconcieved notions about others, but that is not racism. Looking at a guy and thinking he’s gangbanger is prejudiced, not racist. Racist would be if you think ALL blacks are gangbangers and thus should be jailed or some crap. My daughter did bring home an Asian guy one time and it didn’t bother me. I did wonder if they would live in Hong Kong where he is from and I did wonder how her life would be different than what she is used to (white bread American). It’s not racism.

      1. Prejudice is having preconceived opinions about someone based on their race, religion, etc.

        Racism is when you harm someone because of their race (and religion I guess gets lumped in here too).

        1. What I’m saying is that most race relations is a matter of prejudice, not racism. I’m a white guy, I’ve walked into places in downtown Oakland and gotten sort of a look, “oh, whitey is here”. I’m sure blacks and other get that all the time, but to call every instance of racial relations racism is absurd. Racism used to be defined as hatred for other races, and holding your own race as superior. Now, it’s defined as every non-optimum racial encounter.

          I was only responding to the post that all people have some racism in them. I reject that. I am not a racist. I’m not so self-righteous that I can say I am without any prejudice but would like to think so.

          I run a business in Silicon Valley. I deal with all types of people, black, white, Indian, Arab, Jew, Mexican, so on and so forth. The only people I hate are assholes.

          1. So that means you hate Italians, right?

            I kid, I kid.

          2. Yeah, I know what you mean. I like a ROUND booty, and I went out with a black girl, and it turned out that the asian girl I was with actually had the better booty!!! Its TRUE! I lost the better booty due to sterotyping! serves me right. Though the really big tits on the black girl provided solice and succor.

      2. I would say that most people have occasional prejudicial thoughts but, aren’t racists or prejudiced. I think the difference between a racist and a rational person is how they deal with these thoughts. A rational person will step back, think about it, and realize that people are individuals and should be judged as such. Whereas a racist will embrace these feeling in the myopia of the moment for the surge of false superiority they feel for denigrating other humans.

      3. There have been many studies when people send out (fake) resumes with “white” or neutral names (Jason) and indentical ones with “black” names (Jerome) to various employers. The resumes with “white” names always get many more interview appointments than the ones with “black” names, even though everything else in the resume is identical.

    5. “Most people (of all races) are racist on some level.”
      It’s hilarious to watch Reason’s avowed atheists map the essentially Christian idea of original sin onto a discussion of secular politics.

      1. Sounds interesting, care to expound on this a little.

        1. Yes, like specifying who is doing what mapping.

          1. Also, knowing who these “avowed atheists” are will clue me in as to who will still be posting after the rapture.

            1. The Rapture already happened. The rest of us have continued posting for some years now.

      2. Everyone knows scientists insist on using complex terminology to make it harder for True Christians to refute their claims. Deoxyribonucleic Acid, for example… sounds impressive, right? But have you ever seen what happens if you put something in acid? It dissolves! If we had all this acid in our cells, we’d all dissolve! So much for the Theory of Evolution, Check MATE!

        1. ^ Me trolling Creationists.

        2. I’ve seen better; it’s quite difficult to achieve that level of dumb.

    6. Geotpf|4.8.10 @ 6:12PM|#
      “Most people (of all races) are racist on some level. This is a fact. …”
      I see no cite, but among others, Shermer in “Mind of the Market” points out that we are not far removed from tribal “us/them” dichotomies.
      But the same can be said about ‘most people are thieves’; one thing that separates humans from other animals is the ability to see that and choose to act other than ‘instinct’ would cause.

      “Diversity programs and affirmative action are therefore needed. Unfortuantly, such programs also tend to reinforce the inherit racist tendencies in people they don’t help, for obvious reasons.”
      So your argument is that programs which cause further harm are *required*!? Are you a lefty?

  8. So the subtext here is, when a company makes race a qualifying factor in its hiring and promotional practices, people get annoyed.

    Go figure.

  9. *to and HTML FAIL

  10. From the article:

    ‘The newsroom Boyd inherited was, he judged, a fair sample of white upper-middle-class America, mostly liberal on social issues and quick to endorse racial equality in principle. In practice, however, he found many slow to abandon the uptown white’s view that affirmative action was an unjust imposition on the innocent progeny of an older generation’s oppressing classes. Though the newsroom discreetly supported the publisher’s “diversity” program, he was quickly made to realize that many privately detested it. They seemed angry because it “not only opened a door for me but also gave me an unfair edge over the competition in climbing higher,” and he adds, “Perhaps they had a point.” . . .

    ‘[Executive Editor Howell] Raines’s response [to the Jayson Blair affair] included a suggestion that he might have treated Blair gently because, “as a Southerner, he believed that African Americans deserved opportunities.”

    ‘This expressed a patronizing idea that Boyd had always detested: that guilt for a racist history obliged white people to do special kindnesses for the undeserving black. “As I watched the faces of my colleagues,” Boyd writes, “I realized that if he had that view of Blair, he probably felt the same way about me. Could his decision to name me managing editor be rooted in nothing more than white guilt over four centuries of oppression?”‘

    Compare and contrast this NY Times editorial from 1998, endorsing affirmative action in colleges and praising a recent study which supported the practice:

    ‘The evidence collected flatly refutes many of the misimpressions of affirmative-action opponents. . . .

    ‘Instead of spreading racial resentment, diversity-enhancing policies were highly valued by both blacks and whites as being important to their college experience and helpful in their jobs.’

    It doesn’t provoke resentment at college, but it sure seemed to provoke resentment at the New York Times. I suppose that white NYT employees are just less enlightened than your average white college sophomore.

    1. quick to endorse racial equality in principle. In practice, however,

      no one seems to support AA if it personally affects them negatively. that’s why people who support it in principle never volunteer to step down from a position to allow someone more diverse to take over. How many non-white publishers have there been at the NYTimes Pinch?

  11. upper-middle-class America

    Okay.

    About 50% of Americans with incomes gross less than $25,000 a year, so “upper-middle-class America” can’t be making much more than that. 35k, maybe? That puts someone around the upper boundary of the statistical middle. But only people in the tiniest top sliver of incomes use the term to describe themselves. People at the Times, for example.

    I get that it’s a way for white people to go “I’m crazy rich, yo! BALLS IN YA MOUF,” without being that douche. But it’s totally that douche, because everyone knows it means that.

    Quit frontin’. Yo.

  12. You libertoid fucks are amazing. What about those racist newsletters the great lertarian hope Dr. Boring Fucking Ron Paul put out all those years? Jesus Christ!

    1. Yeah, well, fuck you too.
      Care to try to put your ‘argument’ into a form that warrants a response? Or just admit you’re an ignoramus?

    2. Why does Ed Weirdo change his name every six months, anyway? Is it to sneak through some people’s filters?

      1. Ooh, could it be Eddie?

    3. What racist newsletters did Paul write himself?

      Fuckface. Troll somewhere else.

  13. Wow, I had no idea the Times was so complicated.

    Lou
    http://www.surfing-anonymity.br.tc

  14. Can’t reason’s spam filter simply filter out any link with the word “anonymity” in it?

    1. But then how will I tell everyone about my exciting anonymous sex parties?

  15. At some point a decision has to be made, and if I as an owner feel that I enjoy having my ass kissed than what is wrong with expecting a little affection to come my way? Who is going to feel like he is in my greater debt to pluck his lips the deepest into my alimentary canal? The white guy who may or may not be the best qualified, or the black guy who I slap on the back a few times while I tell him he is the ‘best qualified’ with a wink and a nudge. There is nothing at all wrong with that so long as everyone applauds the magnanimity of this white liberal.

  16. The newsroom Boyd inherited was, he judged, a fair sample of white upper-middle-class America, mostly liberal on social issues

    So, he was a typical resident of the Upper West Side bubble.

    Although I laugh and laugh to read that the typical NYTer supports aff-act for other people. Typical.

  17. Blame it on Mel Brooks:

    As Baker notes, Boyd was “the first black ever to reach such a dazzling position in the Times hierarchy…”

    My first thought was: “What is a dazzling urbanite like you doing in a rustic setting like this?”

  18. God, I can’t believe this whole discussion occurred WITHOUT Avenue Q.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbud8rLejLM

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