For the past two years, Arthur S. Brisbane has been the “public editor,” or ombudsman, of the New York Times. He penned a final column, in which he said some interesting things. Referring to the paper’s headquarters, he said “the hive on Eighth Avenue is powerfully shaped by a culture of like minds — a phenomenon, I believe, that is more easily recognized from without than from within.” He also said that “a kind of political and cultural progressivism . . . virtually bleeds through the fabric of The Times.” Developments such as the Occupy movement and gay marriage are treated “more like causes than news subjects.” The Times’s chief editor, Jill Abramson, objected to all this, as you might expect. But it would be better if she would say, “Yes, the paper has a bias, and we have a right to it. People are welcome to buy other papers.” Or she could say, “Yes, we have a bias, and we’ll see what we can do to curb it.” She has instead picked the path of denial. In America, part of being an elite journalist is denying what everyone else knows to be true.
Almost anyone who was alive then remembers it: the glare of the sunlight; the bulky figure descending the ladder; the scratchy voice: “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.” Then, for two hours, Neil Armstrong and the second man on the Moon, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, set up a plaque and a flag, collected rock samples, bounced about in the low gravity. The white eye, which had glared over cavemen and inspired poets, had human footprints on it. Armstrong’s path to the Moon led through an archetypal American career as engineer/pilot: flying in the Korean War, testing supersonic aircraft, a prep mission as a Gemini astronaut. Perhaps he was also an instinctive dramatist: After he made history, he kept mostly quiet, working briefly for NASA, teaching, holding some corporate directorships. How do you follow such an achievement, except by letting it speak for itself? Dead at 82. R.I.P.
When Sun Myung Moon, a Korean, was 15, Jesus came to him in a vision. In the 1940s he began to preach, but since he lived in the Communist north, he was jailed, freed only by American troops during the Korean War. Moon earned footnotes in the history of religion, and of American conservatism. His creed was a Christian-ish mishmash, with a dose of megalomania: Jesus had failed, Moon would be the successful Messiah. But his personal history impelled him to fight Communism. In 1982 he founded the Washington Times as a conservative alternative in a capital dominated by the Washington Post. The Times scooped the Post on occasion, and forced it to cover local news, hitherto neglected; it provided a roost for D.C. conservatives. But that roost was too clubby, and the paper never had enough daylight between it and its peculiar owner. Moon’s faith suffered the succession crises of most sects, even before the founder died, age 92. R.I.P.