Swans Commentary » swans.com August 11, 2008  



The Gray Lady's Muzzle


by Gilles d'Aymery





"Ralph Nader is not a protest candidate. He is not for sale and neither is my vote."
-Posted by steve conn [comment #179, July 31, 2008, The New York Times]
"I am NOT voting for a 'third' party or a 'third' person. Nor is my vote a 'protest' vote. And Obama has the support of DEMOCRATS, not necessarily LIBERALS.

LIBERALS like myself are backing Ralph Nader"
-Posted by terry [comment #17, July 30, 2008, The New York Times]


(Swans - August 11, 2008)  On July 29, 2007, The New York Times published on its Web site a column, "The Power of the Protest Vote," written by Andrew Kohut, the president of the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, in which he contended that "third or fourth party presidential candidates [could] garner enough votes in November to make a difference in some of the hotly contested swing states." Kohut went on to analyze the defection of Hillary Clinton's supporters and the "liberals" who think that Obama has moved too much to the center, and the conservatives who are unhappy with McCain and take a serious look at Bob Barr, the Libertarian Party candidate. He did not miss the opportunity to associate Ralph Nader with the spoiler syndrome; and he ended asserting the "protest" vote could be a decisive factor on the November electoral results. Comments surged. The New York Times staff kept the commenting flow as they saw fit. My comment did not make the cut.

Ironically, following the usual dicing of Nader-the-Spoiler, which meme is so prevalent in the antechambers of the corporate media and the more obscure progressive outfits, Kohut inserted a small graphic of a series of Pew polls indicating the level of enthusiasm for the respective candidates in 1996, 2000, 2004, and 2008, to prove that Senator McCain had a serious enthusiasm gap in comparison to Senator Obama. But that small graphic, which I cannot reproduce without risking the lightning thunders of the paper's counsels, had the merit to show that in 2000, 46% of Democrats expressed enthusiasm for Al Gore, and only 40% had strong enthusiasm for him. I am surprised that no one has yet accused Nader of being responsible for the absence of Democratic support for Gore (over 200,000 registered Florida Democrats voted for Mr. Bush in 2000), or for causing about 100 million potential voters to go fishing on election day. As Gelett Burgess once quipped, "To appreciate nonsense requires a serious interest in life."

Kohut's column generated a lively debate -- over 180 comments -- ranging from Clinton's supporters refusing to vote for Obama to people adamantly defending their right to vote for a third-party or independent candidate (like the two I cited at the top), and of course, the partisans of the trite line, "not voting for Obama is voting for McCain, imbeciles." Here is what I wrote and posted to the site, which is moderated:

Dear Mr. Kohut,

Ralph Nader did not "spoil" the 2000 election. The true "spoiler" is the electoral system. 1) Please tell the Republicrats in Congress to pass an Act implementing IRV, and kindly explain to the NYT readers why they have consistently refused to pass such an Act. 2) Please mention this polite request to Mr. Keller: Could he assign a reporter to cover the positions of Ralph Nader on the many issues our nation faces.

We, supporters of Nader-Gonzalez '08, are not voting to "protest" but FOR the issues and values Ralph Nader defends, advocates, and represents. And we are not "kooks" or "hysterical leftists." Actually, Chris Hedges, a former NYT reporter does support, and will vote for Nader. See below:
We were watching C-Span yesterday.

And came across Brian Lamb interviewing former New York Times reporter Chris Hedges.

Lamb asked Hedges who he's going to vote for this year for President.

Hedges did not hesitate.

"I'm going to vote for Nader," Hedges said.

"I can't vote for anybody who doesn't call for an immediate end to the war in Iraq."

"The war under post Nuremburg laws is a criminal war of aggression. It's illegal. We have no right as a nation to debate the terms of the occupation. We have no right to be there."

Hedges is a beacon of morality and courage in swamp of corruption, dishonesty and cowardliness.

And Hedges stands with Nader/Gonzalez -- the anti-war candidacy in 2008.
More at votenader.org

Thank you.

Gilles d'Aymery

I waited patiently. After one hour, during which I went about my life, I reloaded the page. The comment had not showed up yet. I decided to send it back. I got a pop-up message stating that the comment had already been sent (these IT people are good!). I should acknowledge that over 20 years none of my letters or comments has ever been published in The New York Times, either in its print or Web iteration. None. Go figure.

I decided to send another message, this time to the Editor (or moderator):


I fail to understand the reason why you chose not to publish my comment.

It was neither abusive nor off topic. I actually checked your FAQ before posting the comment. I quote the FAQ: "A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence and SHOUTING."

None of the above can be found in my comment. And, if I may, let me point out that a) you did publish some pretty idiotic comments, b) some "shouting" comments, and c) some comments that were longer than mine.

What conclusion should I make? That you are killing my thoughts for ideological reasons? That I dared include a link to votenader.org?

I know you will not answer me -- don't worry I know. You are gatekeepers, the guard dogs of the status quo, after all.)

Pretty distressing (and disgusting), to say the least.

No worry, my initial comment and this one will be published on the Web soon -- August 11, 2008 to be exact -- on our 12-year-old publication, Swans Commentary, ISSN: 1554-4915, http://www.swans.com/

Gilles d'Aymery
Swans Commentary

There was evidently no shouting on my part. Nor was I selling anything commercial. In short, my comment did not include anything remotely approaching "personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence and SHOUTING." None. Yet they killed it.

Here is an example of a shouting and rather moronic post that was accepted (reproduced as is):

(Comment # 113, July 30, 2008)

What a bunch of SHEEP you are!


Im gonna vote for generational war. No,wait,dont want that.Im going to vote for an empty suit.

Keep voting 2 party instead of voting your conscious and you're right,we will NEVER have a 3rd party option.

Waste YOUR votes on the 2 Party LOSERS who will continue to ruin America,Brilliant! And oh so courageous too.


- Posted by C Chetlan

In regards to length, check comment #154 by some "Christle" -- full names are no longer required by the gatekeepers at the Gray Lady (or is it "Lazy"?). They are only interested in adding to the general noise like Cable News, and generating ad revenues that the print edition cannot sustain any longer. Her comment had 588 words (in three paragraphs). Mine had just about 250 words, including the quote about Chris Hedges.

Evidently, The New York Times has the right and privilege to refuse to publish or post anything they do not consider appropriate, even if the content carefully follows the guidelines. This is not a matter of free speech, only an issue of muzzling people's views and opinions that do not espouse the mantra of the duopoly of which they are a card-carrying member and a gatekeeper (watchdog). But for the lobotomized crowd everybody knows that the alleged spoiler syndrome would not exist, were Congress, controlled by the duopoly, to bring about IRV (Instant Runoff Voting). Everybody knows, except for the lobotomized crowd again, that the electoral college is an obsolete abomination, that access to the ballot is utterly corrupt and tilted toward the duopoly, that "campaigns and parties often use dirty tricks to suppress the vote" on Election Day (NYT editorial, August 9, 2008), and that third-party candidates are anathema to the gatekeepers.

I think I committed three major sins in my initial post. I talked about IRV. I asked that Bill Keller, the Executive Editor of the NYT, assign a reporter to cover Ralph Nader's campaign, and I mentioned Chris Hedges who, as a former NYT reporter and a critic of its editorial and ideological line, has become persona non grata in the executive suites of the paper. This ought to inform you about the poverty of the political discourse in the Citadel that controls our destinies.

Or do they?

Take action.

Please contact Bill Keller at executive-editor@nytimes.com and politely ask him:

1) To report faithfully on Ralph Nader and the policies he advocates on the issues that confront our country.

2) To editorialize on the fairness and civic obligation of having Ralph Nader included in the presidential debates.

You may want to also contact Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the publisher of The Times, at publisher@nytimes.com to politely demand fair coverage of the Ralph Nader campaign and call for the paper to advocate including Nader in the presidential debates.

After all, if they think that Nader is a lightweight candidate, they should expect that Senators McCain and Obama will have an easy time confronting him and dismantling his stand on the wide range of issues he espouses.




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Internal Resources

Ralph Nader: Character and Integrity

Green & Independent Politics

US Elections & Democracy

America the 'beautiful'

Patterns which Connect


About the Author

Gilles d'Aymery on Swans (with bio). He is Swans' publisher and co-editor.



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This Edition's Internal Links

Devolution: The New Terrible "Norm" - Carol Warner Christen

Blips #72 - From the Martian Desk - Gilles d'Aymery

Patrolling The Fringes - Martin Murie

Misplaced Blame Undermines Democracy - Joel S. Hirschhorn

Message To Friends And Supporters - Ralph Nader

Ralph Nader: An Unreasonable Man - Charles Marowitz

Zen Rides Again - Book Review by Peter Byrne

Mondana Commedia n.3: Paradiso (World Comedy n.3: Paradise) - Poem by Guido Monte

A Heavenly Satire: Satan Repents - Short Play by Karen Ritenour

Song Of The Gone - Polesy by Marie Rennard

Orange Blossoms - Poem by R. Scott Porter

Letters to the Editor

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Published August 11, 2008