Thursday, May 19, 2005

Okrot, Okrot we all run from Okrot

The title of this entry was thought up by Kara who e-mailed today to ask how many of the over 1500 e-mails read Tuesday were specifically on Daniel Okrent. Over two-thirds. Probably over three-fourths. I also want to note at the top that half-way into the many hours of pulling from these e-mails (there was no copy and pasting, I was working with the printed e-mails -- any typos should be assumed to be mine and not the person sharing their opinion), Dallas and Shirley checked in to see if they could help in any way. They tracked down links and verified quotes. (When citations could not be found because not enough information was given in the e-mail, those comments were not included.) So a big thank you from me to Shirley and Dallas.

Visitor JS e-mailed today that he saw the entry and read the automated reply so he was giving permission to be quoted from his Tuesday e-mail. So we'll start with him (serve the guests first, Lori advised "it's good manners").

JS feels that Daniel Okrent has done a "fantastic job as the ombudsman of NYT. He's kept the reporters on their toes and he's let them know he's the readers' defender. He's stayed on the side of the readers from the first day."

Ben: Danny Okrah-head has no right to the title of "public editor" and certainly not to "readers' represenative." He chose to gang up on "George" to curry favor not with readers but the whiney Ad Nags [Times' reporter Adam Nagourney]. People who shine him on reveal their own stupidity. Gloria Cooper [CJR] earned her dart for waxing about how great Okrah-head art. He aren't.

Fifteen visitors who sing Daniel Okrent's praises sent the exact same identical e-mail, word for word. Which leads me to believe they were (take your pick) cribbing from an article, part of an organized effort or all the same person. Regardless none of the fifteen (or "fifteen") asked to be quoted. They did speak strongly in favor of Okrent and note what a difficult job he faced.

Kara: Okrot never did his job. His job was to write about what readers were concerned with. They were concerned with the campaign coverage. Where is that article to this day? The one he promised would be forthcoming when Ad Nags took out the hit on "George?" Never came down the pick, sort of like WMD. He's completely useless and has been from day one. "What I want to write about" sums up his time at The Times.

Felicia: I think the nicest way to put it was that the job required skills (including good old fashioned common sense) that Mr. Okrent never possessed. He was a miserable failure. As a subscriber of the paper, I had a number of issues I wanted addressed when the position was announced. By his second column, I knew they'd never be addressed. Column after column, I read him put down readers and dismiss concerns. I also saw him play chatty Cathy about himself. I don't think he ever understood that the space wasn't about him. When the Times picks the next public editor I hope that they will choose someone with less self-love.

Ken: The outing of "George" told you exactly which camp Okrent was in and there was no coming back from that fall. He's disgusting and the paper should have fired him.

Erika: I don't believe the psychological damage done to "George" can be overlooked. He was an individual engaged in a private correspondence and Daniel Okrent used the name, prestige and power of the paper to humiliate him. That sent a message, intended or not, to all readers. He cannot truthly claim to be a free speech "absolutist" anymore. What he did was unseeminly. He disgraced himself, his position and the image of the paper.

Donnie: He was an old gas bag farting on the page repeatedly and trying to pass it off as "information."

Tammy: I can't get over what was done to "George" and the shiners are obviously of the belief that it's a small matter and of no importance but it is true that he was the representative of the readers. When he carried Adam Nagourney's water, he stopped being the representative of the readers.

Steven: He should hang his head in shame for the rest of his life. His "apology" consisted of using a term, not for outing the reader. He behaved in a vile and unbecoming manner. Anyone trying to rewrite history is as guilty as he is.

Rob: Can we also note that the paper is not a liberal paper. The editorials lean left. The paper itself curries to Republicans in their reporting. We saw that with the 8 year war on Bill Clinton and we've seen it with regards to the Bully Boy. But there was scaredy cat Okrent trying to curry favor with the right by showing how "mainstream and balanced" he was by calling the paper "liberal." The New York Times is not a liberal paper and only an asshole would make such a stupid call.

Lance in New Jersey: When witty bitty Danny declared war on the Tonys, he demonstrated the only culture he knew of was the athletes foot that had spread to his brain. Truly the lightest of the light weights to ever be given a column.

Zach: He came off like William Safire Junior. A cranky old fool prone to make huge errors, settle personal scores and embarrass the paper throughout his tenure.

Karen: Judging by his writing, his brain long ago fell out of his head. It is my hope that his appendage falls off, the one he aims at readers and the printed page. That is my hope. I understand that Okrot doesn't grasp the difference between a hope and a threat so I can make up some flash cards for him like I do for my five-year-old though, honestly, they might be too advanced for Okrot.

Garner: Dan-O. It was as though he was Adam Nagourney's sidekick and the two roamed the halls of the paper in really bad Hawaiian print shirts with Nagourney bellowing "Book 'em, Dano!"

Theresa: Thank you for underlining and underscoring that Okrent is not the ombudsman. The position does not exist. Those who rush to shine him on prove they not only lack the ability to properly evaluate, they also have a problem with the English language. But the praise for him is total fiction so why shouldn't the title they give him be as well?

Seth: Was there a promise he kept in his tenure? He said he was there for the readers and he broke that to play body guard and wet nurse for [Adam] Nagourney. He said he was a free speech absolutist but he outed "George" because he didn't approve of his e-mail. He said he wouldn't write about anything that happened before he became public editor. Then he goes on to trash past coverage of the Tonys. He said he would address the campaign coverage but after making us wait months, he offers up a superficial critque that sounded like he tossed it off while getting a pedicure. He never explored the serious factual errors in the arts coverage or in the book reviews. He wrote, from day one, about exactly what he wanted to, readers be damned.

Pru: If he lived here [England] he'd be working for one of Rupert's [Murdoch] tabloids. Reading him online I had to worry about the press across the Atlantic. The job required someone with mental strength and analytical concepts. He wrote as though the next page carried a photo of some overly stacked woman starkers. I have often been amazed at what The New York Times misses and does not carry but I've been led to believe that it was the best your country had to offer. The fact that it would pick the mental midget Okrent for that position goes along way to explaining all that is wrong with the American press. Were I inclined to conspiracies, I'd argue that he was chosen precisely because the tasks were so far beyond what he was capable of.

Brad: He was a smart ass without the smarts. As you would say "translation," he was just an ass.

???: How many interviews did the paper need to do with Daniel and, if they were needed, why did they always pop up in the public editor's space. Is it normal policy for a public editor to repeatedly interview himself?

Marcia: Vanity, thy name is Daniel Okrent.

Krista: He was just so mean and nasty. I never felt like I could write him because he was just so mean and nasty.

Ramone: He always talked down to readers like we were children. It's bad enough that he dismissed serious issues and did so many other things. But in each column, he talked down to us. It was the most useless space the paper gave away in 2004. (I stopped reading him in December.) This was supposed to be something given to the readers so why did he always come off so above everyone?

Lucy: Like Michael Signorile, I never accepted his "reasoning" why Susan Sontag's sexuality and apparent long term relationship with a woman could not be noted in the obit on Sontag. Okrent's "answer" didn't get to anything resmembling his thoughts on what the policy should be which is rather strange since no one asked him about the Tonys but he wrote an entire column on that. Readers did ask about the Sontag obit. He attempted to deal with this issue slightly and via e-mails. Not only was the Timid eager to "in" Sontag, Okrent thought a very serious topic was something to be addressed in e-mails which, compared to addressing it immediately in his column, was akin to whispers.

Maggie: I loved hearing about Jack Shafer all the time in his columns. He was such a whore.
It was like he thought if he tossed out Shafer's name often enough he'd be exempt from serious criticism by Shafer and he'd also piggy back on Shafer's name.

Nora: It needs to be noted that he wrote without any grace or style. He's supposed to be a professional writer, correct? He came off like a dancer with two left feet.

Rod: If nothing else, he made Elisabeth Bumiller look like a first rate reporter by comparison.

Terry: I would love to read Rebecca's sexual analysis of him.

Terry, I passed your request on to Rebecca today. She says she'll try to have it up at Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude by tomorrow night.

Lucas: Can I quote from [Bob] Somerby? At The Daily Howler, he wrote this on April 21, 2004:

FROM THE DESK OF THE GOOD SHIPWRECK OKRENT: Yesterday, we emitted mordant chuckles about public editor Daniel Okrent (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 4/20/04). As you’ll recall, HOWLER readers had written Okrent, asking why his New York Times keeps printing Elisabeth Bumiller's fawning "White House Letters." Okrent's "answer" completely failed to address these readers' complaints.
Our post inspired other readers to share past exchanges with Okrent. Yesterday afternoon, in fact, one more reader wrote to Okrent, raising the matter of Bumiller's fawning. He made his point abundantly clear:
Dear Mr. Okrent,
Ms. Bumiller recently published another "White House Letter."
These "articles" are thinly veiled propaganda for the Bush campaign. Virtually every one of them is a fawning piece of bunk.
Why on earth is the Times publishing what amount to advertisements for the Bush campaign?
If you insist on continuing this one-sided advertising for Bush’s team, will you at least have the sense of fairness to publish similar pieces about John Kerry?
Please, do the right thing.

The writer--a doctor--kept his post short and sweet. His complaint could not have been more clear. He complained about "propaganda for the Bush campaign," "advertisements for the Bush campaign," and "one-sided advertising for Bush's team." Just in case Okrent missed his point, he also slammed Bumiller's "fawning."
The doctor will have to try it again. Here's what he got for his trouble. Sound trumpets from hills before reading:
Dear Dr. S--,
Several readers have voiced their concerns about the White House Letter.
I include Mr. Okrent’s response below:
"As for the White House Letter, it's part of a longstanding Times practice of trying to provide a glimpse into the personal side of newsmakers' lives. I do think the paper could do a better job of labeling these pieces and making clear that they are not about, nor meant to be about, life-and-death issues."
Sincerely, Arthur Bovino

Office of the Public Editor
The New York Times
Hopeless! Bovino sent the good doctor the same non-response he had sent to our other readers! He completely ignored what the doctor had said. Meanwhile, several frustrated readers sent us their past exchanges with Okrent. The details are too much to go into now. But like the good doctor, these readers got scripted, word-for-word replies that completely avoided their questions.
Life is good if you're a Times scribe. Life is good if Daniel Okrent is the gumshoe you have on your tail.

Lucas (con't): That was typical Okrent. He never wanted to address anything he didn't "want to write about."

Sarah: May 29th I will be singing "Ding-Dong, the wicked witch is dead . . ."

That's the day Okrent's supposed to have completed his "gig" (that's what he's treated it like) as public editor.

Oliver: He should go back quickly to Cape Cod and to writing those books that no one ever reads.

Max: He struck me as disinterested and unegaged throughout.

Tad: I want to note what Atrios said about Daniel Okrent's outing of George:

Kudos to the Nyt's Okrent for violating the privacy of a reader. That really seems like an appropriate role for the ombudsman of a newspaper -- posting up the names of people who have sent private emails to journalists. Nice job, Okrent! Looking out for your readers! 10 points team leader! We'll have to consider the new standard for privacy that you've set.
[. . .]
Nonetheless, they've decided it's appropriate to intimidate readers who react critically, something I've never done to people who otherwise don't have a public profile.The reporter who has received angry email is Adam Nagourney. The reporter who feels that he, with a circulation of about a million, cannot handle criticism without attempts to damage his critic is Adam Nagourney. The fact that the NYT's public editor, the person who is supposed to represent the *readers*, has chosen to publish the name and a clipped quote from a reader who never intended his name or comments to be published, and made that desire clear multiple times, is disgusting. It doesn't matter what the person wrote to the reporter.
[. . .]

Please note, Tad sent Atrios post in full. Due to fair use guidelines, I doubt we can quote it in full. Also note, I've edited out a link. That's not a slam at Atrios. You can go to Atrios' entry at Eschaton and find the link. But our policy here has been not to name "George." It's a silly policy in many ways, I know. Okrent named him. His name it out there on the web. But he was a private citizen until Okrent outed him and I am uncomfortable with giving his name in this space. If you go to link and you're curious, you can find it by clicking on Atrios' link. I hope if you go to the link, you're going there to read the complete entry which is very strong and worth reading. (I'm aware that most members know "George"'s name and have for some time. I just don't feel comfortable naming him since he was stripped of his privacy by Okrent.)

Ryan: I'm glad you noted Sam Seder's strong voice on the outing of George. I know that The Majority Report is one of the shows that speaks to you on Air America so you're probably aware of Seder's post on what happened when he began speaking out against Okrent outing George. But could you share it with the community? Here it is:

Here's my email: [. . .], I live in New York. My name is Sam Seder. Nagourney, that piece of cowardly s**t, has my cell phone number. Okrent, feel free to use it and publish it --
you cowardly piece of s**t. It was given to him the day he called a major voice on this network to cry about me.
Then he had a media reporter call my bosses and threaten this network and threaten me. I know who it was that called here. Have I outed that piece of garbage? I might. That reporter knows why his call was inappropriate and probably a violation of the ever- shrinking sense of ethics at his paper.
The coward Nagourney was given my number he has been repeatedly invited on our show to explain how he can write outright lies! Lies about how many us soldiers are dying in Iraq. You want people who have had to be subjected to your paper's drumbeat for a useless war to pity one of your reporters. Take a walk down to a VA hspital and cry into your morning copy.
The days of
intellectually embarrassing you into doing your jobs is over- you ended them.

I remember this being discussed on the show, Ryan, but I don't think I've seen this post before, so thank you for sharing it. I've edited out Seder's e-mail address. I've also taken out the link to Okrent's outing (for the same reasons stated above about the Atrios excerpt). In addition, we try to be "work place friendly" to avoid a member getting written up over language. Seder "unedited" (including link to the outing, e-mail and words as written) can be found by clicking on the link. We've posted it in full because I'm seeing it as an announcement and because I think Seder deserves tremendous credit for addressing this issue.

I also think that the, to put it nicely, "pressure" put on Seder was disgusting and I want to be sure that everyone's aware of the pressure. In spite of the pressure, Seder didn't back down and hasn't backed down. (And we've noted, for instance, his refusal to accept non-answers on this issue when Randy Cohen, the Times' "ethicist," appeared on the program.) It would have been very easy for Seder to have "made nice" or to "shine on" Okrent (as so many people are doing these days). He didn't and he deserves credit for that.

Keesha: He had power that he never utilized. He was happy to slam readers and when it's time for the "shine on" they focus on WMD and act like he was public editor for one day. He could have had true influence and could have been responsive to the readers. He wasn't and he didn't. He was useless and I have no respect for any who try to shine him on as his departure grows closer.

Megan: I will never understand why he refused to seriously address the problems with campaign coverage including but not limited to the fact that Jodi Wilogren and a Washington Post reporter both covering the Kerry campaign somehow managed to observe Dick Cheney making remarks at another event and noted them in passages so strikingly similar that it borders on extreme coincidence if not plagarism.

Ty: Had the campaign coverage ever been seriously addressed, we might have gained some idea of why wind-surfing and other similar "issues" mattered so much more than one would imagine they should. That the paper's in house critic took a pass on this topic suggests how inadequately he performed in his role.

Third Party: I had only two questions and for him to answer them, he would have needed to explore the political coverage. Ralph Nader, during the campaign, wrote a piece for NYT. It ran not in the campaign area of the main section where most people would look for it or on the op-ed pages where most would expect it but inside the business section. Why was it run there? In retrospect, was it a wise move to run it there? Those were never answered and they couldn't be because he was too concerned with trashing a reader and whining about the level of conversation and debate. If he truly felt the discourse was lacking, his refusal to offer an informed analysis on the coverage certainly didn't help.

Pablo: That the issue of Juan Forero's writing was never dealt with in any form remains a sign of how little Okrent cared about his job.

Carole: I don't recall Okrent's scope being defined as the front page but that's what he focused on with the exception of his decision to go into battle with the Tony awards. I think his use of the term "racket" in that column was a sign of his hostility to the arts pages and why he never saw fit to comment on individual articles that needed a second look.

Usha: When a writer tells you that it's like a high school prom in India, she's suggesting that high school proms or dances are the norm in India when it is just as likely that boys and girls will go to different schools. I became a citizen of the United States eight years ago. I was born and raised in India. It is my understanding that the writer who regularly imposes an American pop-cultural lens on India is from India as well. Apparently she grew up in more westernized version of the country than I did. My comments on that received no response.

Portland: Let's be clear that at some papers the type of position Okrent holds makes a difference because the people take it seriously. Between shout outs to his buddies and back from vacation tales, Okrent never took the job seriously and seemed to believe that the readers' largest concerns were "What is Danny really like?"

Miguel: The coverage of Mexican President Vincent Fox has been as erratic in tone as the Bully Boy's shifting attitude towards Mexico. Questions regarding that were never answered.

Eric: I want to note Mother Jones on Okrent and his refusal to address the results of a lengthy report done by If America Knew:

A fair assumption, but not at all correct. Daniel Okrent of the New York Times recently wrote an editorial in response to accusations of bias on this issue. His basic argument was that the paper's doing its best, but its an emotionally charged issue, hard to be objective, and journalism is imperfect. The issue is emotionally charged and it's impossible to be objective. Nice dodge. But Okrent's response is more disturbing than the findings of the If Americans Knew report. Okrent compares the report with a boycott of The Times by the group Orthodox Caucus, referring to both as "less temperate groups on each side," as if these two things were equivalent.
Okrent notes, "After reading thousands of criticisms (as well as insults, accusations and threats) of The Times's Middle East coverage, I'm still waiting for one reader to say the paper has ever been unfair in a way that was damaging to both sides." Well, here it is: the Times' coverage of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has been damaging to both sides. Misrepresenting the death toll of the conflict could very well be leading to continued American support of certain Israeli tactics in the conflict that further prolong a push for a more effective and balanced approach to a peace process. Which means more Israelis and more Palestinians dead.

Eric (con't): That goes to the heart of the matter. Okrent pooh-pahs everything and refuses to address any issue. He meanders around in that boring manner and you wonder why you're wasting time read the nonsense.

To give credit where it's due, the excerpt's from the MoJo Blog (Mother Jones blog) and it was written by Onnesha Roychoudhuri.

Troy: I'd like to offer you a list of all that was wrong with Okrent's tenure but I'd need several days to compose such a list. If I was asked what Okrent did correctly, I could reply quickly that he always ... well. Sometimes, he ... Okay, there was this one time when ... I guess the answer would have to be "nothing." He did nothing correctly.

Keith: He went back and forth from column to the point that it almost seemed as though [Arthur] Bovino alternated the writing of the columns with Okrent. There was no consistency in coverage or critique.

KeShawn: He never once address the issue of race seriously. When you consider the various races and ethnicities in NYC, it's amazing to realize that the topic of how race influences coverage was not a multi-part series. At the end especially, when the paper offered a minimum of five articles a week on the Michael Jackson trial, you'd think race would be an issue worth covering. But he also took a pass on noting that the paper overwhelming blamed Janet Jackson for the exposed breast while letting Justin Timberlake off. Race and gender surely entered into the pass given to Timberlake. You'd think a public editor would want to address that. Readers wanted it addressed. He struck me as an old, white, centerist who thought the sixties ended all racial struggles and felt his readers did as well.

As we've noted at the request of a member, noted many times, Alessandra Stanley did not give Timberlake a pass. She stood largely alone at the Times on that issue. The worst piece may have been written by a reporter who took it upon herself to ponder the state of Jackson's career and the motives that led to the Superbowl without ever questioning whether male "starlets" might have a bit of desperation themselves. Her initials are "L.O." And her article was the worst example of bad reporting in the arts section. Members have commented on it repeatedly. And have noted that they complained to the corrections dept., to the publisher, to Bill Keller and to Daniel Okrent. The only thing that came from that was a correction on how many number ones Jackson got from the album janet. Many members have forwarded their copies of the e-mails they sent to the public editor when that story ran. The story was never addressed by Okrent.

Charlie: I would think that since the desire to run corrections comes during Okrent's tenure he might have written something on readers' opinions on whether or not corrections were done adequately. Many corrections I sent in were ignored. These were factual matters such as records and dates something occurred. The Times ignored those and Okrent also ignored the issue when I raised it with his office.

Lana: Here is the operating method Okrent has worked through from day one. Reader: "Bully Boy says the sky is green." Okrent responds, "The sky is blue. Scientists can tell you that. Your own eyes can tell you that. But we should also remember that green is made with blue and yellow. Therefore we should not utilize terms like 'wrong' because they are imprecise." He's supposed to make a call but he refuses time and again to do that. Wishy-washy would be a step up for him. I'm glad he's headed out the door.

Bruce: I do not believe I learned one thing from Okrent's columns and I read everyone. It was as though where a penetrating gaze was needed, Okrent resorted to guazey filters.

Jordan: I'll rest my case by noting what Mickey Kaus wrote on Okrent at Slate:

Er, what was Okrent's job again? Defender of the Times against the Public? Something like that. ... What's the use of an ombudsman who doesn't think his paper ever screws up, who is shy about naming names when it comes to finding fault, and who seems to hate those who complain to him? ... P.S.: Okrent does criticize the Times for overuse of anonymous quotes. Now there's a bold stand! Decrying anonymous sources in news stories is the Neutral Story Line of press criticism. It offends nobody and seems substantive. But another definition of "anonymous quote" is "the only interesting part of the typical NYT political piece." Even Okrent seems to think they're OK if the piece is tagged "Political Memo.") ...

Phil: Okrent has made a mockery of readers, reporters and most of all himself. The people shining him on must rest assured that, like Okrent, they too can avoid the public. I get the feeling if they ventured out from their self-enclosed environments, people would point and laugh.

Eddie: If there was a role for Okrent it was to take on the institutional problems so often used as excuses for problems in the paper's coverage. While the job required speaking truth to power, Okrent lobbed warm-fuzzies.

Martha: Gary Webb's death was the perfect opportunity for Okrent to evaluate the paper's treatment of Webb. I'm guessing it wasn't "what I want to write about." Okrent flaunted his fear and indifference in column after column.

Bernardo: I think it bears noting that "journalist" Okrent favors p.r. over facts. For any who've forgotten they can refer to the FAIR action alert.

Liang: Okrent chose to pick a fight with FAIR over the [Bully Boy's] hump. The paper killed the story about Bully Boy being wired and Okrent wants to justify it and argue, "You haven't seen what I've seen." How did he see it? I thought there was a wall? If he's able to see it, aren't the readers supposed to be able to see it? We were told there was a firm wall between Okrent and the paper from day one. Apparently it's a very small wall, about knee high, which Okrent can and does skip over at will.

Ed: When a public editor thinks he's the publicist for the paper, you're never going to get anything from him worth reading.

Natalie: Considering the Times reliance on "official sources," I find it ironic that the biggest issue as Daniel Okrent prepares to leave the paper is about why "news" is only "news" if you have a strong opposition voice, yet he's never devoted significant attention to that. It's as though he's been the weatherman for eighteen months and hurricans just started hitting in the last two. He pats himself on the back and others shine him on but the reality is that the topic on everyone's mind is one he should have seriously addressed early on but never took the time to do so. Many of the stories the Times doesn't cover do not lack importance, they lack an "offical source" from this country to weigh in on the topic. Should that really be the criteria for news worthy?

Billie: Jessica Wilson had a letter to Okrent that she posted at her site For the Record. I hope you'll note the last paragraph of it [:]

The Times is free-falling into irrelevance as far as educated-people-who-care are concerned. And Mr. Okrent, you presently face a similar danger. As you repeatedly provide unconvincing justifications for the inappropriate actions of the Times, you paint yourself not as the reader's representative, but rather as the official Times apologist. I want to believe that both you and the Times have higher aspirations. But your readers are waiting for you both to try---just try!---to fulfill them.

Dallas: Let's remember that in an entertainment article on Janet Jackson, quotes, from a web site, were altered by the author of the piece and Okrent was e-mailed about it and received a lengthy letter. He never addressed it. Recently, to Salon, he played Chinatown's my-sister-my-daughter scene solo as he went back and forth over [Jayson] Blair and [Judith] Miller before feeling that Blair was worse because he lied intentionally. And he leaves the impression that nothing of the sort happened under his watch. He isn't be forthcoming or truthful.

Lily: He praised the hideous videogame article by the hideous Dexter Filkins. That gives you an idea of both where he's coming from and how limited his knowledge base is. Everyone in Fallujah was designated as a target. Filken's couldn't drop the pom-poms long enough to ponder that and apparently the thought never entered Okrent's brain. People died. People who were trying to leave the city, including young boys, were turned back and not allowed to leave. This is truly the most embarrassing moment of the Times coverage of the occupation since it began. People speak of Judy Miller when they should be noting Dexter Filkins as well. One sided reporting that cheers on murder isn't journalism by any sane person's definition. Finally venturing out of the Green Zone Hotel circuit, Filkins was so dependent upon the military to protect him that objectivity flew out the window as he wrote of fearlessly peering over the shoulders of the big G.I.s. No doubt he rushed back to his hotel room, ordered liberally from room service and then hopped in a bubble bath thinking what a lucky boy he was.

Joni: Two words, Dexter Filkins. Okrent has acted not as a public editor or a journalist but as Filkins' p.r. man for his Iraq non-reporting. Filkins fancies himself a modern day Kim Aldrich.
She made a good childhood hero and I always enjoyed the books but I never mistook them for reality. Filkins has severe problems with reality and Okrent never addressed it. I wait for more revelations about Love in the Green Zone to emerge.

Wally: [Okrent was] a prolonged disappointment.

Francisco: Okrent generously gives praise to hacks but he never noted the fact that for two weeks, while the big names were on vacation, real journalism made it into the paper. He never noted Amy Waldman or Marc Lacey or anyone who made real contributions to a story breaking in real time that was not dependent upon unnamed sources but on a very real human tragedy.
I e-mailed the Times to praise them during those two weeks. Okrent heard from me. But for once he didn't feel the need to play cheerleader for the paper and maybe that's because it proved that the big names are not necessary to solid, captivating reporting. Okrent gives props and shout outs only for the big names who can make it onto the chat shows. He's too busy wallowing in the basura to praise genuine achievements. Vergonzoso!

Polly: He's truly set the bar low for all who come after him.

Stan: He should have resigned when he outed "George."

Cedric: The man who would restore trust in the paper ending up inflicting more damage than anyone could imagine. Surely the of-course-it's-a-liberal-paper idiotic remark will haunt the paper for years to come and liberals be left having to explain why, no, it's not a liberal paper. His last day can't come soon enough for me.

Susan: I thought of a song written by Aimee Mann and Elvis Costello that describes how column by column Okrent destroyed all my hopes that a public editor could make a difference:

You're half-naked ambition and
you're half out of your wits
and though your wristwatch always works
your necktie never fits
Now it's so hard to pick the receiver up
and when I can. I never noticed
you could be so small
the answer was under your nose
but the question never arose.
I know it don't make a difference to you
But oh, it sure made a difference to me
When you find me here at the end of my rope
When the head and heart of it finally elope
You can see us off in the distance, I hope
at the other end
at the other end of the telescope.

That song, "The Other End (of the Telescope)," can be found on 'Til Tuesday's Everything's Different Now. And note, it's credited to Aimee Mann and Declan MacManus (MacManus is the birth name of Elvis Costello).

Even with Shirley and Dallas working hard to track down quotes and links (that sometimes were referred to but no quote included) , there are twenty-seven comments that aren't being included due to not being able to track down what was being referred to. If the e-mailers would like to track them down, we can do an addendum at some point. (And individual e-mails to those twenty-seven are written and will be sent out tomorrow morning.)

Of visitors who wrote in, one is summarized at the top because he appeared to offer his genuine belief that Okrent was worthy of praise. The fifteen who sent the exact same e-mail defended Okrent. They (or "they") were noted in case Okrent lovers all think exactly alike. There were nine additional e-mails defending Okrent. That makes for twenty-five total visitors who defended Okrent. If we estimate that two-thirds of the 1500 e-mails yesterday were about Okrent, that leaves us with one thousand (a conservative estimate) e-mails arriving on the subject of Okrent. Of that low-balled one thousand, we're left with twenty-five people (or ten people plus one who wrote fifteen times) defending Okrent.

In addition to those twenty-five, there were 378 e-mails from visitors (all weighing in against Okrent) that did not state they could be quoted. (378 is a precise figure and I recounted it twice to make sure.)
After the post on the Times went up, a number of members e-mailed to apologize for writing in when they didn't wish to be quoted. There's no need to apologize. You're input is always appreciated and this entry might have been shoved off to the weekend had so many not written in. The responses indicated that this is still a pressing issue to the community. Tommy's e-mail was not quoted (though he gave permission) because other than "Okrent" every word in his comments would require "*"s to maintain our workplace friendly environment.

The seventy five members (that figure is precise, I recounted it three times) who forwarded responses from Okrent should know that although their replies from Okrent were not put into this entry they were factored in as well and I attempted to convey them in a limited manner in my comments. I would sum those replies up as pats on the head that were supposed to make the reader feel that Okrent valued the issues they raised; however, Okrent never decided they were "what I want to write" so they were empty gestures in my opinion as well as the opinions of those who forwarded them.

If there is one message that comes through in all but twenty-five e-mails, it would be that Okrent did not serve the needs of the readers. That's something those rushing to shine him on continue to miss. Tonight, Shirley noted that anyone attempting to reflect on the success or failure of Okrent as public editor should be required to get input from readers.

Shirley: He was not hired to offer random musings. He was hired to address the concerns of the readers. Any criticism that doesn't factor in them in is acting as though he was hired to be a general interest columnist.

The e-mail address for this site is

Note: This entry was completed four hours ago. I held it to do a quick read through this morning to attempt to catch typos. The time stamp on the entry will reflect not when the writing of it began but when it went up.