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SHIPWRECK! We’re off to deliver a speech to the kids. Meanwhile, a meltdown continues:


GONE SPEAKIN’: We’re speechifyin’ at a midwestern college. Incomparably, we return Monday morning.

COMING CLEAN ON KLAIN: Through the miracle of e-mail, we’ve chatted with Ron Klain, who feels we committed a howler ourselves when we said, in an otherwise sterling report, that he delights in beating up fellow Dems. We agree with Ron, as we’re happy to announce; that part of our piece was flat ill-advised. However, our judgment stands on his Los Angeles Times op-ed column; Democrats had not been “laughing at” or “belittling” Bush’s religion, as his piece repeatedly claimed. With pseudo-con commentators standing in line to launch such bogus attacks against Dems, we hardly need Democrats doing it too. But we went beyond the particular in our comments on Ron, who has worked hard for the Democratic Party. Of course, if he ever turns up as a “Fox news consultant,” we reserve our own God-given right to revise and overstate once again.

SHIPWRECK: We commented several times this week about the Good Shipwreck New York Times. With that in mind, we suggest you look at a few more e-mails sent by the Times “public editor” office. (Let the Monthly’s Kevin Drum be your guide.) Readers wrote public ed Daniel Okrent about last week’s presidential press conference. Had reporters from the New York Times submitted their questions to the White House in advance? Arthur Bovino replied to these questions, and his answers were simply amazing; he showed no sign of understanding that such a practice would constitute grave misconduct. We thought our readers were getting weird mail from Okrent’s office—until we saw the remarkable e-mails sent out on this topic.

What’s going on at the New York Times? Call it an ongoing meltdown. On Monday, for example, Jodi Wilgoren covered Kerry’s Meet the Press session; her insistence on typing a Tired Old Script was, simply put, an embarrassment. Meanwhile, Elisabeth Bumiller penned her latest “White House Letter”—the latest in a string of fawning epistles directed at lovable Bush. The Washington Times would be laughed out of town if it published such serial nonsense. Meanwhile, when readers complained about Bumiller’s fawning, Okrent’s answers completely evaded their questions; frankly, the public editor at the New York Times seems unable to read. And of course, Katharine “Kit” Seelye is constantly lurking about in the shadows; last week, she penned one of her standard bizarro reports, a piece in which she trashed Kerry’s religion. She made a joke of Election 2000, and seems prepared to do so again. In short, the New York Times is an utter wreck, at least in its political coverage; increasingly, it’s hard to believe that the paper’s strange election reporting is some sort of coincidence. (More on this odd matter next week.) Meanwhile, you’ll read about this in few other places; career writers hate addressing these topics. But the ongoing meltdown at the Times should be a point of the greatest concern. Our society can’t function without a strong press. As we look at the Times’ strange work, that “strong press” is more and more just a dream—something children read about in eighth-grade civics texts.