THE NEW YORK TIMES VERSUS NADER--AND DEMOCRACY
its editorial, "Mr. Nader's Misguided Crusade" (June 30), the New York
Times assails Nader's candidacy and campaign on grounds that are partly
fraudulent and misleading (as I describe below). But it is also clear that this
attack is based ultimately on the owners-editors satisfaction with the political
and economic status quo, which Nader is calling into question. The editors claim
that the two parties offer voters a "clear-cut choice," so that there
is "no driving logic for a third-party candidacy this year." It
follows for them that Nader is just an ego driven "spoiler," even
though it is conceded that he has a "right to run."
to the Times, while Nader is close to Gore on the issues, he rejects him because
Gore is "too much of an incrementalist." This misrepresents the
serious differences on the issues, but it also ignores Nader's fundamental
argument--that Gore and Bush are both hostages to big money, so that just as
Clinton served the monied interests with only token gestures to the majority,
Gore is sure to do the same. It is not Gore's incrementalism, but rather what
Gore is likely to do given his and his party's financial obligations, that
differentiates Nader from Gore.
his excellent acceptance speech at the Green Party Convention on June 25, Nader
made numerous suggestions for needed policy changes--resting on
"peoples" rather than "corporate yardsticks"--that neither
Gore nor Bush have addressed. Among other matters, Nader mentioned: (1) An
ending to the support of foreign dictators and the introduction of "foreign
policies that support the peasants and the workers for a change." (2) A
sharp reduction of a bloated military budget that is badly out of control, a
situation resting on the fact that weapons manufacturers "foist weapons
systems on the Pentagon, working with a PAC-greased supine Congress." Nader
would finally declare that long elusive "peace dividend" that will
surely continue to escape Gore-Bush. (3) Labor laws that "facilitate the
organization of trade unions" and that provide the kind of statutory
"social wage" that most European countries have had in place for many
years. (4) Major public investments in schools, health clinics, mass transit,
drinking water systems and other services that directly benefit the majority.
(5) An attack on inequality via a revised tax system that no longer serves the
corporate elite. (6) An ending of the "epidemic of silent environmental
violence," that rests on corporate domination, as in the continued
subsidized logging of the national forests.
the board, Nader laid out a philosophy and program that was sensitive to
majority and not corporate needs. He also stresses the importance of relieving
America's children from "the most intense marketing onslaught in
history" and the dangers of "giving too much power to the merchant
mind...because its singular focus and its self-driven impulses run roughshod
over the more non- commercial values that define a worthy society." This
attack on advertising, consumerism, and the "let-the-fur-fly"
individualism and business culture that business domination has spawned must
have sent cold chills down the spines of the editorial board.
New York Times never reproduced Nader's acceptance speech, although it has found
endless space for trivial charges and counter-charges between Bush and Gore,
fine details of their personal histories, and the status of the horse race
between the approved duopolists. The blackout of Nader's speech made it easier
for them to make the false editorial claim of little difference between Gore and
Nader. But it also allowed the paper to keep the issues under cover.
of Nader's campaign aims was to force a discussion of major issues that the
duopolists and their backers don't want addressed. In their treatment of Nader
the Times has gone to some pains to evade those issues and to make like all the
real ones are being debated between Gore and Bush. Thus, in addition to failing
to give its readers Nader's acceptance speech, it has covered his campaign with
great superficiality, not discussing his criticisms and programs, but reporting
on his financial wealth ("Nader Reports Big Portfolio in Technology,"
June 19), his attack on the corporate financing of the presidential debates
(June 20), and the possible effects of his candidacy on Gore's electoral
prospects (June 22). So the Times not only refuses to evaluate Nader as a
candidate in terms of his relative integrity and intelligence, it is unwilling
to allow him to discuss basic issues in a public forum. It says his "only
realistic role" this year might be to throw the election to Bush--but that
may be because the Times (and its confreres) will not permit Nader to serve an
the Times's dismissal of Nader does rest in large measure on his policy
positions and democratic philosophy. The editors are explicitly satisfied with
the range of policy options Gore and Bush allow. When they claim that Gore and
Nader are not far apart on environmental issues, they do not discuss whether or
not Gore would follow up any promises with action--they do not review the
Clinton record in this regard, or analyse the effects of financial dependency on
the gaps between promises and realization. But that is because they don't care
that much about the realization of any populist promises.
Times does allow that Nader is different on "trade" policy, with Nader
the "protectionist" and Gore and Bush both allegedly better serving
the interests of the working class. "Protectionism runs counter to much of
what Mr. Nader has fought for over the years." (The editors note that
foreign competition has had beneficial effects on the auto industry.) The Times
bias here is long-standing, and so is their misrepresentation of the contesting
positions and facts. The paper has long buried polls that show the working class
opposed to the trade agreements that it and the corporate community favor. The
editors can never put it this way, but essentially they claim that the working
class doesn't recognize its own true interests, only big business and the Times
do, and that by a coincidence once again what's good for GM is good for us all.
They also distort Nader's position, which is not anti-trade, but is against
rules that take the right to control foreign investment and trade out of the
hands of democratic communities, in some cases giving them over to distant
bureaucracies without democratic accountability.
Times speaks for the plutocratic establishment; Nader opposes that
establishment; and the paper's news and editorial position hostile to Nader
follows accordingly. But it also notable, and a bit more sinister, that the
paper will not even allow Nader's positions to be honestly presented and the
issues he wants to address to be debated. The plutocracy reaches deeply into
constraining the public's right to know.