Tied to the mast
…but orange now and black

On bureaus in Tehran, Ctd.

Roger Cohen is rapidly becoming my favourite columnist out there, the one whose name I’m excited to see in the top right corner of the NYT’s frontpage. As for his colleagues, I find it hard to muster the patience anymore for the bitter pettiness of Dowd, the goofiness of Friedman, or the predictable hystrionics of Rich. Though I’m withholding judgment until he gets his feet, Douthat’s column today, as Tom points out, is douche-y to the extreme. Although I like Brooks and Krugman, and tend to find their perspectives both enlightening and interesting (if not always beyond dispute), neither manages to hit the deep and resonant chords in me that Cohen has managed to in his columns for the past few weeks. This week’s is no exception. Sample:

Yes, journalism is a matter of gravity. It’s more fashionable to denigrate than praise the media these days. In the 24/7 howl of partisan pontification, and the scarcely less-constant death knell din surrounding the press, a basic truth gets lost: that to be a journalist is to bear witness.

The rest is no more than ornamentation.

To bear witness means being there — and that’s not free. No search engine gives you the smell of a crime, the tremor in the air, the eyes that smolder, or the cadence of a scream.

I confess that, out of Iran, I am bereft. I have been thinking about the responsibility of bearing witness. It can be singular, still. Interconnection is not presence.

No news aggregator tells of the ravaged city exhaling in the dusk, nor summons the defiant cries that rise into the night. No miracle of technology renders the lip-drying taste of fear. No algorithm captures the hush of dignity, nor evokes the adrenalin rush of courage coalescing, nor traces the fresh raw line of a welt.



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