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The David Shipley I Knew

Posted by GayPatriotWest at 7:52 pm - July 25, 2008.
Filed under: 2008 Presidential Politics,Media Bias

When I first read that my Williams classmate David Shipley had taken over as Op-Ed editor of the New York Times, I saw it as a sign of improvement on the editorial page of the Old Gray Lady. Even though David had worked in the Clinton Administration, I had always known him as an even-handed, level-headed kind of guy.  At college, he never showed any particular disdain for conservative ideas — and this in the heyday of the Reagan Revolution.

Indeed, I assumed it was David’s doing when the Times tapped such thoughtful conservatives as David Brooks and William Kristol to write regular columns for its Op-Ed page.  He is the kind of guy who would welcome diverse viewpoints, including conservative ideas intelligently expressed.

At Williams, David was well-liked among his classmates, at least those of us who knew him. He kept a pretty low profile on campus. I recall he was soft-spoken. We rowed together freshman year.

But, David wasn’t one of those angry left-wingers (yes, we even had them on college campi even in my day), railing against the latest action by the Gipper. He may have had left-of-center political views, but he kept them pretty much to himself, at least in his conversations with me. And I was a pretty outspoken undergraduate, particularly during my sophomore and junior years.

Actually, I was kind of surprised when I learned that David had taken a job in the Clinton Administration. I knew he leaned left when we had lunch in the summer of 1993 when we both worked in Washington, D.C. But, he didn’t seem the partisan sort.  

We discussed politics and life since college, he recalling my leadership roles on campus, I recalling his English major and interest in writing. He seemed curious about my date (two years prior to that lunch) with his then-boss, Andrew Sullivan.

Most of all, I recalled that David listened, as he had listened in class and listened to our classmates when we discussed whatever it was we discussed in the now lost (alas, alas) snack bar in Baxter Hall.

Thus, I was surprised to learn that he had personally rejected (or at least written the e-mail rejecting) presumptive Republican nominee John McCain’s column for the New York Times.

The David Shipley who so readily listened to his Williams peers was now dictating how one party’s candidate should write about our nation’s Iraq policy. I want to believe David’s distinction between accepting Obama’s piece and rejecting that of his Republican rival, that the Obama essay “offered new information.”  Given the increasingly biased record of the Times, I am skeptical, even of a man whose even-handedness I have long respected.

It’s sad that David who clearly had a hand in bringing two thoughtful conservatives to his paper’s editorial page would so readily reject the essay of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. Is the David who once got along so well with his Williams’ peers now especially eager to get along well with the liberal New York media élite?

I hope David still shows the same respect for conservatives he did at Williams and in our 1993 lunch.

His failure to publish this editorial shows the decline of the paper whose Op-Eds he now edits. Given the controversy this rejection generated, the essay will likely get wider attention than it would had the paper printed it.

It may well be that the bias shown in this rejection accounts for the 82% drop in the paper’s profits.

B. Daniel Blatt



  1. What comes to mind in Condi Rice. These institutions are much powerful than the individual no matter how strong the person is in his/her own convictions.

    I wouldn’t call it brainwashing but resistance is futile.

    Comment by Leah — July 25, 2008 @ 8:00 pm - July 25, 2008

  2. My favorite excuse for the liberal media bias came from Queerty who said that it was traditional (I believe that was the word) for the media to focus all of their attention on the leading candidate.

    Holy bejeezus! If that’s not one of the smelliest pile of BS on the internet, I don’t know what else could be. It only amazes me that Pinko the Arrogant Bear or Kevin didn’t come up with it first.

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — July 26, 2008 @ 6:04 am - July 26, 2008

  3. My favorite excuse for the liberal media bias came from Queerty who said that it was traditional (I believe that was the word) for the media to focus all of their attention on the leading candidate.

    But they’re right. That explains why every election the Democrat always seems to lead in the polls.

    Comment by Vince P — July 26, 2008 @ 6:14 am - July 26, 2008

  4. Shipley’s ascendance: Ow, that’s gotta stick in your craw.
    Interesting post.

    Comment by Jeremayakovka — July 27, 2008 @ 1:32 am - July 27, 2008

  5. not at all, Jeremy, the David I recall is a good guy. I’m delighted to see him succeed, just wish he had acted more responsibly, aware of his paper’s reputation for bias, when he considered the McCain Op-Ed.

    Comment by GayPatriotWest — July 27, 2008 @ 5:41 am - July 27, 2008

  6. Dan, why don’t you contact David Shipley and get his personal side of what happened and why. It sounds like he would trust you to be accurate in passing such information on to us.

    Comment by Trace Phelps — July 27, 2008 @ 4:15 pm - July 27, 2008

  7. […] Blatt recalls his classmate David Shipley. When I first read that my Williams classmate David Shipley had taken […]

    Pingback by Blatt ‘85 on Shipley ‘85 » EphBlog — July 27, 2008 @ 4:24 pm - July 27, 2008

  8. Trace just beat me to the punch, Dan. I was also going to suggest that you contact him and get his side. Maybe there is more to this story, and that maybe he did act in a fair manner (or maybe not). Or maybe he did want McCain’s column to appear, but since his name isn’t Sulzberger, he wasn’t able to make it happen.

    Comment by Pat — July 27, 2008 @ 4:35 pm - July 27, 2008

  9. Given what you know about the guy I’d be willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, but, given what we know about the NYT’s “journalism standards,” I’d be willing to guess the guy you knew no longer exists.

    Comment by DoorHold — July 28, 2008 @ 10:37 am - July 28, 2008

  10. #9 – I concur. The guy got sucked into that libtard environment known as the NYT and just lost all reason. Sort of like crossing over into the dark side of the Force in Star Wars.

    My condolences on your loss, Dan. It is always hard to lose a friend.

    Peter H.

    Comment by Peter Hughes — July 28, 2008 @ 11:11 am - July 28, 2008

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