Our adolescent media

At least when Rosenthal has a problem with someone he lets that person know. Others at the Times specialize in the cutting remark muttered under one’s breath, the subtle message of exclusion from a particular social circle. Reading Kurson’s article, one notices parallels between the interpersonal behavior of New York Times employees and the conduct of liberal internationalists on the world stage: open conflict is always avoided, and retaliation confined to harsh words, meaningless gestures, appeals to impotent authorities.

Profiles in Courage this is not. In this vicious takedown, only two people risk going on the record: Joe LaPointe, a sportswriter who left the paper in 2010, and Timothy L. O’Brien, who left that year for Bloomberg View. And both of them are supportive of Rosenthal.

The nasty and meaty quotes all come from the newsroom equivalent of Internet trolls, commenters whose vitriol rises in direct proportion to the degree of anonymity that they enjoy: “A current Times writer,” “one staffer,” “one writer,” “one current Times staffer,” “another Times reporter,” “another former Times writer,” “yet another former Times writer,” “one former business reporter,” “a veteran reporter,” “one current staffer,” “another current staffer,” “another reporter,” and “one veteran reporter.” I like to think of these anonymous sources as constituting an amoeba, a sort of monstrous, blob-like super-source, known only as “one another veteran former Times business current writer reporter staffer.” Whoever he is, don’t get in his way.

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