At the end of last month, I shared with you an excellent grassroots effort undertaken by the Republican Governor’s Association in advance of a hotly-contested and extremely important gubernatorial race in New Jersey. On May 27, the RGA unveiled The Corzine Times, a Web site designed to provide a one-stop shop for news on the Garden State’s tax-happy, big-government-loving, fast-driving governor.
Today, I received word from RGA communications director Mike Schrimpf that the Mark Sanford-chaired group has received a cease-and-desist letter from The New York Times, claiming that The Corzine Times is “clearly intended to be nearly identical to NYTimes.com in terms of font, layout and overall design. In the letter, the Times’ Deborah Beshaw threatens “to pursue all available legal remedies” if the site as it stands now is not removed in three days.
Schrimpf was understandably cautious about the matter, offering only the same statement the RGA offered to the Washington Post — albeit an absolutely phenomenal one, as statements go:
It’s amusing to see The Gray Lady standing up for The Gray Beard, but we were hoping the Times would send a cease and desist notice to Corzine telling him not to hike taxes by another $1 billion.
The way I look at it, if the RGA was truly looking to emulate the New York Times in its Corzine Times project, it would have made an op-ed section virtually indistinguishable from its front page, fabricated stories, and attacked national politicians and presidential candidates with allegations of infidelity without providing a single named source. Right now, the only resemblance between the two is layout. Well, that and likely Web traffic.
The fact is: the New York Times used to contain All The News That’s Fit to Print. Now, it’s spin. It is the culmination of everything communications and journalism students like myself were taught not to do in Journalism 101. It has been sad to see the venerable Old Gray Lady go down the tubes in terms of objectivity and quality, and its decline is evident in the paper’s shrinking circulation numbers and declining financial health.
The Times would not have sent the letter if the folks at the RGA did not strike a nerve. Liberals confront dissent by shouting louder — it’s the same thing we see with the Fairness Doctrine, with ABC’s refusal to air opposition advertisements during next week’s Obamacare infomercial, and more. In this case, I wish the RGA all the best.