Letter to the New York Times: Editorial Policy

Dear Mr. Feyer:

I read your essay on the role of the Letters Editor with some interest. Please allow me a few brief comments.

You note that "liberal opinion seems to dominate", at least in readers' perceptions. Remember that there's a "chicken/egg" factor at work as well: readers who see the NYT as having a "liberal bias" will be less likely to read it.

Also, the issues of today's complex world do not always reduce to a "liberal/conservative" paradigm. I'm a lifelong liberal, and - like Sen. Lieberman, the editors of The New Republic, and NYT's own Thomas Friedman - I have strongly supported the Iraq liberation. At the same time, I find that listening to conservative voices often broadens my understanding immensely - which is why I regularly read Safire, Brooks, and the National Review. And don't assume that all who support Bush's policies in the Mideast are "conservatives" and therefore (for example) oppose gay marriage, because that's simply not true.

I cringe when I hear complaints of the media's "liberal bias" because I know these complaints are partly justified - and at the same time, the "liberalism" of the media is too often a corruption of true liberalism (which was supposed to have something to do with freedom) and is instead merely an irrational anti-government vendetta.

I get most of my information from the internet nowadays, partly, as you've said, because we live in a fast-changing world. But it is also a matter of credibility. I have little reason to listen to a New York -based editor's interpretation of the supposedly "disastrous" course of events in Iraq when I can get much more detailed and relevant information from Iraqis like Zeyad and Omar. While they are sometimes critical of certain aspects of US policy, their attitude is: "This is a good thing. Let's make it work." I don't get a similar impression from the press.

There are also a few anti-American blogs like Riverbend and Salam Pax (although Salam is no longer as anti-American as he used to be). These have generated discussion and debate on sites like "Up A River" and "Cry Me A Riverbend II". If you spend some time here, you will see that most Americans genuinely want to help Iraq and are receptive to constructive criticism of Government policies - but we are also able to distinguish that from anti-American propaganda.

So these are some of the reasons why I get most of my information from the internet rather than the traditional press. And by the way, your article came to my attention through my fellow blogger Jane.

(By the way, the perceived hostility of the press to the struggle for freedom is not a product of the imagination of disguntled neocons. There has been very harsh criticism of the Western press from the Iraqi sites mentioned above, as well as the Iranian dissident website and many other international sources.)

Thank you for taking the time to read this message. I do keep a blog of my own, but I am a fan of print media and I believe that fine newspapers like the Times can continue to be relevant in today's world. But in order to retain their audience, they must demonstrate that they are in touch with the world.

Asher Abrams
Portland, Oregon