Tim Rutten Goes After Howell Raines, Yet Again
So we see, not to our great surprise, a Rutten book review this morning on Raines' new book, "The One That Got Away," which is preoccupied with fly fishing, a favorite Raines pastime.
Rutten seems to feel that Raines should retire quietly. He snipes away at mostly dead subjects.
But, just to put myself on record again, I still don't feel the Raines dismissal was either smart for the New York Times, nor really justified. Raines was embarked on a great effort to make the NYT a more dynamic newspaper and in many respects was succeeding.
The benefits of doing so are underestimawted. In the period after the Sept. 11 attacks, the NYT was an exciting paper, with special sections for weeks on the attacks. Raines fell afoul of the Jayson Blair scandal and a weak kneed publisher, when he could have made adjustments that would have corrected problems he had and lead the way to his becoming a truly great editor.
In a rather insulting and condescending review, Rutten writes, that Raines is "mean-spirited" toward a predecessor, Joe Lelyveld, and comments, "There's something slightly alarming about a man of this age and experience (Raines) carrying around this sort of class resentment like Alabama clay on his boots."
Rutten grew up in Banning, California, and Raines in segregationist Birmingham, Alabama, and that, of course, makes for quite a difference in view. Though I'm an admirer of Rutten, and he does acknowledge some of Raines journalistic efforts since his dimissal as "first rate," Rutten simply does not have the broad, varied experience as Raines, and it would be more seemly if he, at least, let sleeping dogs lie.
The New York Times is not sacrosanct. Rutten would do better reviewing Raines' accomplishments and critiquing the paper's shortcomings rather than dumping on Raines.
There are stories this morning that the FBI wants to look at the late Jack Anderson's private papers to glean out classified materials. This is yet another Bush Administration attempt to restrict a free press, and ought to be resisted by journalists everywhere.