Friday, March 21, 2003

An Editor not used to editing....

Boris Johnson, who had an Op-ed piece in the NYT earlier this week, is now spilling the beans about the editing process, in an article for the (UK) Spectator. Since it's unflattering for the NYT, the article has already picked up some gleeful links from predictable sources and more are sure to follow. But there are some problems with this story. Boris is usually described as a Tory MP. But he's also the editor of the Spectator. So shouldn't he be used to editing? Well, it's in that capacity that he "edits" the risible Taki's column, who besides facing legal action over one recent column, is an expert at throwaway hints of prejudice, as in this sentence from this week's column:

It's apparently very patriotic nowadays in the Land of Free Speech for blacks, Jews, Hispanics, Orientals and Eskimos to call the French all sorts of epithets, the kindest of which is weasel, mother--er, yellow-bellied... you get my drift

Note the willfully archaic Charlie Chan era terminology, and anyway, has there been any specific ethnic component to the people engaged in bashing France? To what racial group do Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld belong? But all this stuff gets by Boris. Finally, is the Boris article even true? His entire conversation with the editor is reported as direct quotes. Was he taping? And does this exchange sound plausible:

[context is Rumsfeld's implication that Britain might not participate in the war]
So I began the piece with the words, "Gee, thanks, guys," and Tobin [the NYT editor] wanted those words removed. For the life of me, I couldn't see why....
"OK, Booris [sic], I'll tell you what the problem is. Our problem is that "Gee" is an abbreviation for Jesus. For a century this has been a Jewish-owned paper, and we have to be extremely sensitive about anything that might offend Christian sensibilities.

'We can say "God", "God" is fine, but we have to be very careful about anything that involves the name of the Lord and Saviour.'

Boris reports, you decide.