New York Times Editorial Board
What must it be like, to sit on the Editorial Board of the New York Times? That is to know power, is it not? But what of fear? Is it to be acquainted with fear as well? Surely in the beginning some unease must accompany the newcomer into the room. In the early days there may be very little in the way of volunteered insights. Then, presumably, one adopts a way of thinking, an acceptable way of thinking that provides protection against the anxiety of a wayward vision. Should there be an off-track moment, an innocent expression of unleashed intellect, it would probably occasion some mildly nervous laughter and some embarrassment. A second similar moment might be overlooked, but it’s hard to imagine anyone sitting still for more than that. Or maybe all of the training, so to speak, goes on before such appointments are even considered. Either you are someone who knows how to think, or the editorial board is simply not a place for you.
After a time, one way or the other, one would find one’s framework, should it have been imprecisely understood beforehand, the outer border of permissible thought, and slouch comfortably into the chair of definition. Defining? Precisely that permissible thought, on a daily basis. Only in the beginning, and only in the most depressed moments, would there be a reconnaissance incursion into the dark shadowy foliage of one’s value system. The energy in the room, the overwhelming might of intellect and prestige assembled there, discourages even the skimpiest glance at what we once were and once thought. Assuming we once were or thought anything different from what we were supposed to be or think, maybe a doubtful assumption. After all, who do we want doing this work with us? People opposed to our mandate? People who think the unthinkable? People who have made efforts to conceal what they think?
So, the abundant clarity, is it occasionally obscured? Odd Wednesday, that sort of thing? Odd story, odd issue, that sort of thing? There was that problem of the 2000 election, where it turned out, had all of the votes been counted, not that that was Gore’s plea, Gore would have won. Problem? Page One? Hardly. Democracy subverted by a determined Republican post-election strategy amounting to theft? I’m sure there is another way to say that. Don’t want to angry up the blood of the masses.
Then came the far-from-inevitable investigation by the United States Civil Rights Commission. Not so much a problem keeping the testimony buried deep within the small print, but now this body is actually calling for a CRIMINAL investigation. The matter has been referred to the various prosecuting authorities in Florida and within the United States Department of Justice. Apparently, matters were not entirely kosher and people of substantial power and prestige are having their practices and strategies and, by God, their reputations called into question.
Certainly we can look forward to a complete vindication as the lie is ascribed to the merest suggestion of wrongdoing. And we at the Times will be able to report, bearing hard away from sanctimony, that those theorists, sometimes we don’t even need the other word, had their imaginations stretched way beyond the breaking point on this one, and all was, and is, just fine with the republic, an exhaustive and mind-numbingly boring investigation having been completed.
There you sit. The chair feels as comforting and value-reinforcing as ever. The looks on everyone else’s face appear as they ever did, self-satisfied and only mildly self-inflated. Can there be the suggestion of discomfiture, possibly? What is the play here, ladies and gentlemen? Of course, there was no investigation; a dithering dolt, a foul ball, a subcutaneous hemorrhage would have known the result. It shan’t be put that way, now shall it? Why couldn’t they have done the standard clamp-down, cover-up investigation? They have years of experience and positively tons of know-how in that area. Arrogance? They know we won’t hold their feet to the fire? What about the reputations of those honorable public servants that it is our job to protect? Will not the population be entitled to think that there was no investigation because of the obvious condemnatory nature of the evidence? What can we print that does not make that plain? Silence? Ignore it? Let the people who care figure it out for themselves?
All said, damn fine plan..