Mums The Word

For journalists, the NYTimes certainly seems tight-lipped as of late. First, they’ve largely been silent on this whole Judith Miller thing and now their lips are sealed over the success/failure of TimesSelect. From BusinessWeek:

    Keller hailed early returns on TimesSelect, which grants online access to the paper’s columnists only to Times subscribers and those who pay $49.95 a year, saying a “couple hundred thousand people” have signed on for the service. However, a Times spokeswoman later clarified this figure, explaining that it includes current Times subscribers, who get TimesSelect for free, saying that the paper was not disclosing how many people were paying for TimesSelect.

Mickey Kaus reads our mind: “Why not?

More “Mums the Word” after the jump.


Speaking of remaining silent, Kaus also finds it curious that Maureen Dowd and others have avoided opining about Judith Miller and thinks it could be due to her well-known disdain for being held prisoner behind TimesSelect’s walls.

    It is odd that Maureen Dowd hasn’t written a word about Judith Miller’s jailing and release, isn’t it? As the omnipresent J. Hamsher notes, the Miller story presents a protoypical Dowd subject, rich with mockable human pride and folly. … Is the refusal to analyze the Miller circus another form of Dowd’s apparent post-TimesSelect work slowdown? Or is Dowd in a double prison: 1) Cut off from her vast audience by the TimesSelect subscriber wall; 2) Even within her remaining, limited media space, precluded from writing about one of the two or three juiciest topics of the day for fear of deviating from the company line? … P.S.: As Hamsher also points out, the entire premium-priced Times op-ed corps has been oddly silent on Miller. The last reference I can find was a one-sentence aside on July 26, months before Miller’s release, in a Nicholas Kristof in a column on Darfur. (He was “outraged” at the jailing.) … P.P.S.: Is this collective silence the product of direct censorship or self-censorship? And if it’s self-censorship, as is likely, isn’t that worse? If you avoid saying things you think might annoy the boss, you may avoid saying more things than if the boss makes it clear, through direct communication, what actually annoys him and what doesn’t. That’s one reason there was more self-censorship when I worked at Newsweek under the benign, tolerant and non-interfering Katharine Graham than at the New Republic under the contentious and opinionated Martin Peretz. You never worried that Marty might be privately upset with you.