This will be a short entry. Not because there isn’t a lot to say from here, stranded with The New York Times as my only source of news, just twelve days from returning to a blogging world of 24-hour news saturation (that doesn’t suck).
It is Fantasy Football draft cut-down day, the latest in a series of mass distractions for me on my relative news-fast. So, rather than devoting loads of time to writing about the injustice of war coverage, or war itself, for that matter, I am going to plop my butt on the couch like a fine war-supporting American, and watch NFL pre-season games. I have already seen a couple of war-tie ins on the NFL network, where they are reading letters about football from their most patriotic fans, the soldiers in Iraq. It made me want to gack. I may even crack open a beer and eat Doritos. Anything to help fight the War on Terror.
Before I get to my battle station, however, I needed to pass along these two quick things.
One, an observation about today’s edition of The New York Times. On the front page is an article about a verdict against Merck for roughly $255 million, for their role in the death of a man taking Vioxx. My wife took Vioxx. I was happy to see the verdict. I am getting pretty tired of giant pharmaceutical companies pissing down our collective backs and telling us it is raining. That verdict represents less than five percent of the profit they have made off these dangerous drugs, I believe. I can’t wait for them to get sued into oblivion, not that such a thing is possible, because Congress will surely be close by to pass some type of immunity for Merck’s (and others’) actions in these cases.
My problem, as an observer of the Times, comes on the front of the business page. The lead story bears this headline: “Can Painkillers Recover? Cox-2 Drugs Are Looking a Bit Battered But Their Makers Remain Unbowed.” The photograph that accompanies the story is callous, if you consider it from the perspective of the widow in Texas whose husband gave his life as a guinea pig in the great Vioxx experiment. (It may be callous if you consider it from any human perspective, for that matter). It is a picture of a bottle of Vioxx in a wheelchair. The bottle is wrapped in ace bandages, and covered in band-aids.
The New York Times’ devotion to profit over people had never so clearly dawned on me, until the other day, when I started thinking about the existence of a daily business section, with no daily labor counter-part. I gathered from the comments, that others shared my questioning of this structural flaw in the Times. What is liberal about a paper whose focus is on business and commerce, and not so much on humanity? But, the concern about the price of Merck stock taking center stage over the human tragedy that the company has wrought in its drive for drug profits is really over the top, if you just stop and imagine you are a human being for a couple of seconds.
The other point I wanted to make today is a self criticism. I, like the object of my news information strike, The New York Times, have some structural problems in writing this “Fit To Print Me” series. Yesterday, I wrote a piece about Iraq war coverage. One helpful reader suggested I change the title so that I could get the story better exposure. I want to thank that reader, first off. As part of the confines I have placed around myself in this little experiment, I am not blogging per se. While I do read comments on my diaries, and am thankful to hear from anyone (out of vanity, I am sure), I am not responding for the duration of the experiment – set to end on September 1, 2005. I thought the suggestion was a good one. I just couldn’t let go of the confines of my experiment. Like the Times has a business section, and keeps real Iraq war news mostly on page 8, I will continue to write under the “Fit To Print Me” banner until I come out of blog exile. We are stubborn creatures, the Times and I.
Have a good day. And, take your battle stations for the War on Terror. You there, get to shopping. Somebody order a pizza. We’ve got incom–