FRIDAY, JANUARY 18, 2013
One way to improve the Congress: We know, we know:
The New York Times is widely seen, at least among liberals and mainstreamers, as our smartest newspaper. In some areas, the Times may even do some good smart work.
But good God! The types of things which make sense to the Times! We thought we’d mention the Sunday Dialogue the paper ran last week.
In some ways, the Sunday Dialogue isn’t a half bad idea. Each Wednesday, the Times publishes an “invitation to a dialogue”—a short piece by some assistant adjunct associate professor on some issue, concern or obsession.
Readers are invited to offer reactions. On Sunday, the original piece is printed again, along with a bunch of responses.
In theory, that sounds like a decent format. But uh-oh! Last Wednesday, readers were asked to respond to this idea:
The House of Representatives should have 3,100 members, not the current 435.
No, we’re not making that up. That’s the proposal which was chosen to spark the Sunday Dialogue.
On Sunday, the first two responses ridiculed this notion. (“Hopelessly undoable.” “Perhaps the worst vision of the future I have heard.”)
After that, the Times published five responses from readers who managed to act like this proposal wasn’t absurd on its face. Then, the original author responded.
In part, she said this:
“The idea of 3,100 representatives becomes less outrageous when one considers that the House already employs 10,000 staff members.”
Reputation and marketing to the side, the New York Times is a very strange newspaper—a strange, routinely dysfunctional artifact of a new gilded age.