<i>The New York Times</i> is a lousy paper
If you have been reading it, you already know this. If not just read here and here and then follow their links for extensive insight in the Times's Tuesday front-page story about women allegedly rejecting careers for marriage. This story was a total crock on so many levels, one wonders if the paper hopes it can boost circulation by printing stories so outrageously bad that everyone has to read them -- whether it can market its own demise to a public nostalgic for a time when the paper stood for something and too fascinated with the horror of its decay to turn away. Join this to the routine blind quotes from Bush administration flunkies presenting their spin as news, the ludicrous ongoing defense of the warmongering and potentially treasonous Judith Miller (not to mention her abhorrent reporting) and the pandering to a conservative audience with respectful profiles of nitwits like Rick Santorum, and you have the media equivelant of a total trainwreck.
In the Slate piece, Shafer discounts the idea that the paper has a specific antifeminist agenda and argues instead that they are lazy reactionaries, looking for ways to push people's buttons. (That's easy when you eschew any pretense of commenting on reality.) He's probably right, and that's somehow more depressing than the existance of an anti-progressive cabal -- who could theoretically be reeasoned with or defeated. Instead, the watercarriers for the antiprogressive agenda don't even think they are doing anything to help anybody's agenda. They probably think their decisions are "apoltical" because the regressive nature of what they do is built in to the institutions they serve without reflection. The momentum of these institutions entrench such ideological tendencies without anyone ever having to consciously assent to them -- what Foucault argues in Discipline and Punish and The Birth of the Clinic, etc.