View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Thursday, July 10, 2003

I now have two reading joys in the morning: Lileks, and the New York Times corrections. The Corrections, though, are always at least a day behind, since they were written at the end of yesterday, describing something wrong at least a day prior to that. Still, it gives one a sense of calm confidence in the world to see the Old Grey Lady slowly coming apart at the editorial seams, like that scene at the end of the animated Metropolis where the whole city collapses to the strains of Ray Charles and "It's a Wonderful World." Today, they've got four corrections from business stories. I honestly can't believe that anyone who's serious about business in New York even read the Times business section any more, with a WSJ one stand over.

Still, this morning's headliner is a real attention-grabber:

A subheading yesterday with an article about President Bush's visit to Africa quoted a phrase incorrectly from the president's comment about slavery. As the article noted, the president called it "one of the greatest crimes of history" — not "of the century."

Well, of course. The Crime of the Century was the Lindbergh kidnapping, 1932. (Strangely, though, there are several contenders for Trial of the Century - Bruno Hauptman for the aforementioned Crime, The Monkey Trials, Sacco and Vanzetti. The Game of the Century happens every year.) Still, they don't say which century, but slavery was spread out over a few, so take your pick.

The Times did get the text of the speech right, apparently, and it was a terrific speech. Hugh Hewitt played the whole thing on his show a few days ago. It wasn't groveling or pathetic like the Apology Tour Bill Clinton led a few years back. It was dignified, spoke of the crimes of slavery but also of how much progress our country has made since then, and both prodded and encouraged the African countries to do the same. Paraphrasing: if freedom doesn't belong to one race in America, neither does it belong only to America. A great piece of work, and whoever wrote it should get a promotion and a raise.

The problem with the Times making a mistake like that is that it immediately turns off all the people who claim to care so much about Africa, and who might be impressed with a speech like that. You know, the NEA Members who think we elected Ray Bolger in 2000. They take one look at the subhead and write off the whole article, figuring that Bush is just embarassing himself and the country in front of the natives. Instead, they should read the whole thing, and learn something about how a President should act when he's on tour.

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