There was time in our Nation’s history when the hallmark of excellence in journalism was The New York Times. While the excellence and certainly the integrity of that paper have fallen on what can diplomatically be called ‘hard times,’ it appears that things are even worse for ‘The Old Gray Lady’ (aka – the New York Times) than we knew.

While its legendary editorial page has long thrown its weighty opinion around without abandon, it seems that when you go to respond to it with hard-cold facts, including actual reference to law, the Times does not have the guts to share the stage (or a portion of its editorial page) to allow a response.

DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff sought what can only be called ‘equal time’ in providing a response back to several of the Times’ editorials, but the paper refused the Secretary space to respond. Talk about insightful. Rather than allow an informed debate to go on to its editorial pages and bring additional facts and reference to its readers, the Times’ Editors chose cowardice over the courage of having real discourse.

In response to their action, Sec. Chertoff posted his response via his own blog off of the DHS webpage. It’s now up to readers to consider the merits of his points and decide for themselves.

Many in the mainstream media – including many of the Times’ own editors – have bemoaned the use of ‘new media’ (the Internet, blogs, etc.) and the competition it offers by expanding the number of available information outlets. They also blame new media for the continuing decline in newspaper circulation numbers – which are dropping nearly as quickly as the value of the US dollar.

New media can be reckless and suspect at times. But when a newspaper refuses to allow a response from the very people and organization that it targets, it is even more reckless and suspect. Recklessness and hypocrisy seem to be the standard for today’s New York Times. From the fiction of Jayson Blair to the well-chronicled chaos of its other reporters and management team, the Old Gray Lady seems to be beyond the restorative care of a top of the line rehabilitation center.

What a shame. The one thing we could all use in discussing immigration reform ( the topic Secretary Chertoff addresses in his blog posting) or any other major issue is an informed debate with integrity. Instead, the Times further digressed into journalism’s bowels (National Enquirer, Weekly World News – which is now tragically defunct) where pot-shots and drive-by reporting have become the norm.

Thank God for new media. Without it, editorial pages such as the Times would be unaccountable and unchallenged – that’s the last thing we need today.

Rich Cooper blogs primarily on emergency preparedness and response, management issues related to the Department of Homeland Security, and the private sector’s role in homeland security. Read More