There are a few bogeymen that often get mentioned in letters depending on the writer's political persuasion. Readers on the right might name-drop Saul Alinsky or William Ayers to connect President Obama to some revolutionary, left-wing fringe; those on the opposite end of the political spectrum are prone to citing business-aligned neoconservative conspirators or Fox News to impugn their opponents.
Both kinds of this often-deployed rhetorical tactic have the same effect: They make a letter less likely to get published, especially when the issue being discussed has no discernible connection to 1960s radicals or unsavory Bush family friends. Noting that Times columnist Jonah Goldberg, for example, has "friends" at Fox News -- as some of his critics regularly do -- is a helpful cue to skip to the next letter in hope of finding a good counterpoint.
But on Saturday, two short letters critical of Fox News ran in the print "Mailbag" column rounding up some of the snarkier reader reactions to the unfolding Brian Williams saga and news of Jon Stewart's departure from "The Daily Show." Those letters contrasted "NBC Nightly News" anchor Williams' suspension for embellishments related to the Iraq war with Fox News' practices, wondering what kind of punishment the cable channel's journalists would receive under the standards applied to Williams.
This didn't go over well with some readers, even though the introduction to the letters (which I wrote) noted that the submissions were published mostly to exemplify the kind of snark readers were using to react to the week's news about Williams and Stewart. One letter writer even identified an editor at The Times (me) who deserved harsh punishment.
Don Dennison of Fountain Valley calls for a staff change at The Times:
Letters editor Paul Thornton is a liar by extension. Readers Stacy Antler of Los Angeles and John Johnson of Carlsbad are both lying when they say in their letters, published by Thornton, that Fox News staff are liars.
Thornton publishes these letters with no evidence provided by these writers. Did Thornton and these two writers denounce our President Obama when he lied to the entire country with his statement that "if you like your healthcare plan, you can keep it"? Did they denounce Hillary Rodham Clinton when she lied to the country about arriving in Sarajevo under sniper fire?
Thornton should be fired because he is not capable of objectivity.
Pacific Palisades resident Pat Murphy says snarky comments on Fox News say more about the letter writers than Fox News:
The Times carefully selects letters reflecting the bias of its editors, who are left wing extremists. Only jealous haters of Fox News would spin the Brian Williams debacle into rants about a cable channel that continues to crush the rest of their sacred liberal outlets. It’s not enough this selfishly radical mindset still has a majority choke hold on the press that it’s enjoyed for decades.
The snarky and baseless comments published Saturday reflect sore losers acting like spoiled kids not getting their way. Only juveniles resort to insults when their rigid views are challenged. High school bullies lambast anyone outside their snotty clique to be cool and cover up their own inadequacies.
This explains Jon Stewart's phony success among like-minded ideologues.
Robert Chapman of Downey expresses bewilderment at those singling out Fox News:
Really? Not one, but two letters from readers weighing in on the Williams affair by attacking Fox News?
Even though no one at Fox News has been accused of doing what Williams did? Even though one of the most prominent people in the country -- Hillary Clinton -- did precisely the same thing as Williams with her imaginary story about landing in Bosnia under sniper fire? No analogies there?
Thanks for the "fair and balanced" reporting.