No one was surprised when top executives at the New York Times
publicly exonerated diversity from any role in the scandal involving African-American
reporter Jayson Blair. That was a foregone conclusion from day one. Publisher
Arthur Sulzberger Jr. said early and often that race had nothing to do with
the scandal. He told a gathering of Hispanic journalists, "I don't think
the problem with Jayson Blair was that he was African-American."
no one said it was. The problem wasn't his race. The problem was the system
that compelled managers to look the other way because of his race. Diversity
advocates like to muddle the two.
weeks following Blair's dismissal for plagiarism, lying and other transgressions
-- or, perhaps more accurately, for being exposed too publicly to be retained
-- the scandal actually galvanized diversity's supporters, buoyed partly
by Sulzberger's public absolutions but mostly by supporters' feelings of
resentment and indignation that diversity had been mentioned at all. By the
time the paper released its official report July 30, what should have been
a cautionary tale about diversity gone awry, which is clearly what Blair
represents, had evolved into a battle cry for the removal of still more whites
from the Times' newsroom.
itself could have been written by Sulzberger (except, of course, for those
parts in which diversity actually is implicated). At one point the authors
encourage staff members to "recommit ourselves fervently to diversity of
all backgrounds and varieties in our newsroom." Obviously, the fervor for
political correctness needs no recommitment. The statement sounds so wonderfully
inclusive one almost overlooks its absurdity. (Just what is a "variety" anyway?)
goes on to recommend that any department head who considers hiring a white
man should first "assure" a newly created Career Development Editor that
a "good-faith effort" had been made to recruit a better-colored candidate,
or at least a woman. Raises should be based on just how good the manager's
faith had proven.
"A Note on Affirmative Action," written by one of the report's authors, race
activist Roy Wilkins, harkens back 400 years to when people without color
first landed in the Americas, stole the land and set up "lily-white" newsrooms,
crimes for which colorless people today owe hued people lots of jobs -- and
for a report on a scandal that had nothing to do with diversity, there's a
lot in it about diversity. Even the report committee explained that there
was no need for a separate chapter on the subject because the "committee believes
that issues of diversity pervade all our separate discussions..." They
certainly pervade a lot of their pages, including one with this enigma: "The
commitment of the Times' leadership to diversity must be embraced from top
to bottom and institutionalized as part of all journalistic conversations."
so much diversity pervading the place it's remarkable that Jayson Blair managed
to skate through without being affected by any of it. But that he did, according
to Executive Editor Bill Keller, who replaced scandal casualty Harold Raines.
In the introduction to the Times' report, and later in a story in
the paper, Keller states that "outside" journalists had examined the case
-- one of the three outsiders being former Times' columnist Wilkins -- and
answered the charge of "some of our more partisan critics" that the scandal
had been a consequence of misguided diversity. Proclaims Keller: "That charge,
they make clear, is wrong."
make clear no such thing, quite the contrary, and Keller knows it. They didn't
say critics' charges were wrong; they said they were "simplistic." Diversity,
they write, was "one of a collection of factors" precipitating Blair. Actually,
in light of the report's findings, it is those judgments, issuing from this
pro-diversity trio, that come across as partisan and simplistic. Only by
deliberately circumscribing diversity's influence can the other factors be
asserted as independent.
it have been smarter and more principled for Sulzberger, Keller, et.al.,
to simply have acknowledged what they know to be true, that race and diversity
did play a role in the affair? The unwillingness to deal truthfully with
the scandal is symptomatic of the institutionalized pathology that beget
the problem, that pathology issuing from the diversity ideology itself. Blair
lied for personal reason: they lie for political ones. (Raines himself would
later question the truthfulness of Sulzberger and the Times concerning reports of his own departure.)
obstinate refusal to connect the dots is driven by an almost preternatural
fear that openly admitting even the slightest problem with diversity would
collapse the entire diversity project, ravage minorities' fragile sensibilities
and revert the entire industry to pre-Civil Rights, if not pre-Civil War,
days. The least hint of criticism is deemed betrayal and pounced upon with
denunciations and accusals of racism. Truth itself is intimidated into accommodation.
statement encapsulates much of what is unsavory about this ideology. First,
you employ specious reasoning, selective history and a high moral tone to
evoke emotions of guilt, resentment, victimhood and entitlement (consult
Thomas Sowell's The Quest for Cosmic Justice for a good critique of
this thinking). Then you demand that compensatory hiring be pursued "aggressively"
and that supervisors be equally aggressive in managing minorities "in ways
that assure their retention." Finally, Wilkins could have added, you protect
diversity at all costs. If ever embarrassed by an aggressive hire, muster
as much righteous fury as possible and disavow that diversity had anything
to do with it. And do so quickly.
Blair was hardly out of the Times'
front door when diversity advocates there and elsewhere began scrambling
to edit race out of the story line. How did they all know so quickly and
with such certitude that race had nothing to do with the scandal? An internal
investigation was weeks away, and the principal himself had fingered race
as an accomplice. Simple. Diversity has no negative potentialities or repercussions;
it could not have been involved. Furthermore, diversity has no nonracist
critics. Anyone attempting to inject diversity into the scandal could be
doing so for only one reason.
of the racist charge they proffered the now-obligatory equivalency argument,
this one heard repeatedly during the scandal: Race wasn't mentioned in plagiarism
incidents involving white reporters; therefore, race shouldn't be mentioned
in ones involving black reporters. (The popularity of equivalency arguments
today is itself a by-product of the diversity mind-set that pits one group
against another.) Of course, race had nothing to do with the rise and fall
of the white reporters (except to racialists who see racism behind
everything but their own motivations). Take race out of the Times'
scandal, and there would have been no scandal. Diversity bore Jayson Blair
to the paper and then protected him in ways that assured his retention despite
"periods of extraordinary inaccuracies" and other wrongdoing. Even Wilkins'
committee reports that the pivotal moment in the whole affair, the appointment
of Blair to the paper's regular staff, had "all the earmarks of a social
promotion." Metro Editor Jonathan Landman, the one person at the paper who
seems to have been paying attention during Blair's tenure, told the Wilkins'
group, "I think race was the decisive factor in his promotion." Landman states
that he "backed off" of objections to Blair because of the "racial dimension
of this issue."
(The Wilkins' committee then inserts two dubious quotes to conclude Landman's
interview. Discussing the Blair promotion, Landman states, "I thought then
and think now that it was the wrong decision, despite my belief in diversity
and my respect for our institutional commitment to it." The next quote is
accorded its own paragraph: "I emphatically do not believe that it is necessary
to promote weak or troubled people in the name of diversity." There's something
unseemly about these quotes, coming as they do immediately after testimony
that contradicts the official not-diversity party line. Is it just PC damage
control by the committee, or simple toadying by an anxious man who knows
too well the danger of telling the truth at the Times?) Keller's use of the pejorative "partisan" to slander persons who (rightly) identified diversity with the scandal reveals the Weltanschauung of Times'
managers. They are detached, unbiased, nonideological purveyors of truth
and goodness; their critics must willy-nilly be partisan bigots. But then
what do you call bosses who command subordinates not only to commit themselves
fervently to a favored social/ideological platform -- or else -- but also
to incorporate official dogma into every journalistic conversation?
In fact, all of the varieties the Times
wants to cram into its newsroom via diversity are unabashedly partisan. They
all share liberal or radical personal and political agendas. That largely
explains the Times' conspicuous shift to the left in recent years
from its traditional Democratic liberalism. (The paper isn't alone certainly.
Speaking at the same Hispanic conference as Sulzberger, Miami Herald
Chairman Alberto Ibarguen remarked that even though his editorial board was
rid of white males altogether the "real problem" now is that "it's
all left of center." The amazing fact here is not that the board is leftist
but that Ibarguen publicly admitted it.)
ethics once required a certain distancing from ideology and personal biases.
If post-modernism shattered that "illusion," then diversity scatters the
pieces. When you institutionalize ideology and biases directly into the hiring
and management processes, require their expression in all staff interactions,
and thus encourage staff members to see themselves and others as varietal
proxies each with its own agenda, then objectivity and impartiality become
not only illusory but ethnically traitorous. Tribalism is the ethic of diversity
of that ethic's prevalence was provided by Managing Editor Gerald Boyd, a
key figure in the scandal and, with Raines, one of its casualties. Boyd,
who is black, is cited by many as Blair's mentor, the one person most responsible
for protecting and advancing the troubled reporter. Boyd dismisses the charge,
stating that he has "never bought into the concept of mentoring ... I didn't
feel I should take people under my wing and move them up the ladder." That
isn't how his ethnic colleagues felt about it, however. Because of his policy,
he says, "I incurred some criticism from journalists of color who felt I
was not looking out for them." They expected favoritism because that is what
diversity teaches them to expect.
Diversity always ushers in a stultifying political correctness, and there's no doubt PC considerations heavily influenced the Times'
response to the scandal. No one wanted to link diversity to Blair because,
as Keller states, that would be "an insult to our many talented minority
colleagues." Why? Blair was an "aberration," according to Keller. Why would
other minorities be insulted? Is patronizing them any less insulting? Diversity
creates this type of insecurity and hypersensitivity -- feelings are paramount
-- and then uses it to silence discussion. If staffers are so easily offended
by racial matters can the paper be trusted to report race topics fairly,
or at all?
continues: "The fraud Jayson Blair committed on us and our readers was not
a consequence of our diversity program, which has been designed to apply
the same rigorous standards of performance we demand of our staff. The problem
is, in the Blair case, we failed to measure up to those standards at numerous
steps along the way." He admits in the second sentence what he denies in
the first. It wasn't our diversity program, and we failed to measure up to
it. Only when perfectly measured up to is a program a program. With diversity,
this kind of failure may be endemic no matter how you measure it. Racism
is just that way, straight ahead or reverse.
report is unadulterated PC throughout. At one point, it summons employees
to "dissociate" diversity from Blair in order to prevent "legitimizing a
backlash in our newsroom against minority journalists in general." Apparently,
Blair and diversity were being illegitimately associated by many staffers
-- and keep in mind these include some of the most talented and respected
journalists in the country who were on the scene -- and the culture at this
pro-diversity flagship is such a racial tinderbox that whites will jump at
any inducement to turn against their minority colleagues. How about management
dissociating itself from this kind of racial slander?
As the report reveals, diversity seems to be having its usual effects in the Times
newsroom. The committee found a "widespread sense of favoritism and cronyism"
and observed that "some perceive subtle racial bias and gender bias." Diversity
programmatically sensitizes people to that perception. The committee continued:
"Attempts at diversifying the staff have generated discomfort among employees
of both genders and all ages and ethnic backgrounds. Current policies are
variously views as tinged with favortism, preferentialism, and discrimination."
could have been a wake-up call for journalists, an opportunity for the industry
to assess the impact this ideology is having on its newsrooms, newspapers
and communities. Unfortunately, nobody is going to be waking up, as the Times'
report makes clear. In fact, prospects for an honest appraisal of diversity
have grown ever more remote, and whatever partisans may be at the Times
have moved deeper into the closet. More than anything else, Blair has illuminated
the extent to which the diversity ethos has gained ascendancy over the industry
(though listening to diversity zealots one would think the entire business
was run by the KKK).
beginning of the report, the committee recommends that the newsroom be instilled
with a "respect for civility" and an "openness to dissent," or, as they put
it, "speaking truth to power." Of course they mean no such thing. Respect
for civility is a euphemism for political correctness, and the report itself
makes clear just how much truth they'll permit spoken. The odds of hearing
a critical remark about diversity are about the same as the odds that Jayson
Blair will win a Pulitzer Prize this year for Best Piracy.
No one in those journalistic conversations at the Times
is going to speak about the insidious affects the diversity agenda is having
on quality, circulation, staff attrition and the public discourse on race
and other issues. There won't be any mention of the blatant quota mongering
being forced upon the industry in regard to both staff and ethnic content
(in this industry, racial profiling is not only accepted, it's demanded and
monitored religiously). No one is going to refute the racist sophistry that
rationalizes diversity, specifically, assertions of "justice" and ethnic
"accuracy." And not one word will be heard about the socialization (colonization)
of private newsrooms by an ideology inimical to the very foundations of a
free press in America.
Richard Davis is a former journalist living in Florida.