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Balanced Fare: We Report, You Deride

Sunday, August 24, 2003

The NY Times Is Fair And Balanced?

Maybe the regular editors are on vacation. Maybe the critics (yes, I am one) have been wrong about media bias at the Times.

OK, I am backing the "vacation" theory. But the front page of the Sunday Dead Tree Times has me in a Twilight Zone.

The center picture connects to a very encouraging story about the occupation of Iraq, as noted below.

On the left, we have a story titled "New Kind of Electricity Market Strains Old Wires Beyond Limits", which tells us, starting in the second paragraph, that:

No single authority is in charge of the grid, and few have an incentive to invest the money needed to improve its reliability. Deregulation increased the vulnerability of the grid to failure, regulators and industry executives broadly concur.

Deregulation is actually a misnomer for the restructuring of the power industry, because only the generation of electricity was freed from strict government controls, beginning in 1992. Companies were allowed to charge market-based rates for generating electricity, creating the financial incentive to build more power plants.

But the transmission of electricity over high-voltage lines and the distribution into homes and buildings remained regulated. Power companies received only a relatively low, government-set return on their investment in the grid, so they allocated far less money to improving transmission reliability than to building power plants.

As a result, much more electricity is moving over virtually the same transmission wires, pushing them to carry loads they were not built to handle, according to many regulators and experts.

My goodness. Deregulation not the exclusive problem? I am agog.

And my "agogagolity" continues over on the upper right, with "Rumsfeld Seeking to Bolster Force Without New G.I.'s".

WASHINGTON, Aug. 23 — Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, seeking to increase the nation's combat power without hiring more troops, is poised to order a sweeping review of Pentagon policies, officials say. It will include everything from wartime mobilization and peacekeeping commitments, to reservist training and incentives for extended duty.

The story actually describes Rumsfeld as in charge, and making sense. For example:

Another approach is asking allies to help shoulder the burden. Officials say 3,000 Germans now stand guard at United States bases in Germany, replacing Americans sent to Iraq. Before Mr. Rumsfeld asked Germany to provide those patrols, thousands of reservists were almost mobilized for the mission.

Say it with me, Times readers - "D'uh!". Germans on guard in Germany - works for me. And, in the same story, we see kind words for privatization of some administrative services currently performmed by uniformed troops. Disorienting - don't they read Paul Krugman?

Now, I happen to think that the Times has sensibly realized that, in the long run, a larger military is not how they want to see our nations resources expended. Don't anyone tell TAPPED, though.

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