Tuesday, October 03, 2006

DEPT. OF EXEGESIS I'm a day late in raising this, but it's bizarre enough that I can't quite let it go. Namely:

On Sunday, more than two days into the Foley scandal, the story was gathering steam: Salient questions remained unanswered (many of them still remain unanswered) about the role of the House leadership; about the scope of Foley's contacts with pages; and about the legality of his actions. In short, there was a lot of reporting to be done.

As the story developed throughout the day on Sunday, editors at The New York Times were faced with a choice: What kind of piece should the paper run on page A1 in Monday editions?

They answered that question by fronting a story headlined, "Former Pages Describe Foley as Caring Ally." That story, as its title suggests, focuses on the heartbroken reaction of several pages to the Foley revelations.

In other words, it's a story written mostly from the perspective of Foley's fans, rather than one that shed any light on recent developments. Indeed, it's a full seven paragraphs into the story that Friday's revelations are even mentioned.

Now, I'm not saying that this type of reporting has no place. But with facts rapidly accumulating, with the scandal snowballing, with so many juicy, newsy questions still unanswered--what kind of news judgment puts this story on A1?

Was this the most important news that The Times had for its readers about Foley as of Sunday evening--that several people liked him? That some pages thought of him as a "caring ally"?

I'm totally perplexed.

CONTRAPOSITIVE is edited by Dan Aibel. Dan's a playwright. He lives in New York City.