When we remember the New York Sun, we'll try to remember the great local reporting and the fantastic sports page and the serious and smart arts coverage. Not so much the ideological inanity and loud constant taking of the precisely wrong side of every important issue of this miserable era. In trying to remember them that way, of course, one is best advised to skip most of their farewell edition. The goodbyes are not self-pitying, at least, but they reveal a newspaper that imagines it had some small role in the destruction of this country while turning a blind eye to the many myriad ways they could've continued on their crusade if they hadn't been so utterly out of touch. The opening of the farewell editorial sets the scene:
What a run. A newspaper founded by a company that was scheduled to be created on September 11, 2001, announces its last issue on September 29, 2008, the day of the largest one-day point drop in the history of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. It's easy to forget the boom years in between that were bracketed by the terrorist attacks and the financial crisis.
Who can forget the glorious boom years of fear, war, torture, scandal and ignorance that have led us to this miserable wheezing end of our second gilded age? Thanks, Sun! Their official history of the paper similarly ignores the things we loved about the scrappy daily in favor of reminding us of things like their idiotic call for the privatization of the New York subways in the very first editorial (followed by one announcing that some Washington Mall hippie demonstration was part of "The War Against the Jews"). The paper's founder and brainchild continues to impress:
When the paper was launched, a reporter of the Washington Post had asked its editor, Seth Lipsky, how the Sun would be able to compete against the New York Times, which had "eighty reporters" on its metropolitan desk. The Times might have 80 reporters, he replied, but they missed the story that taxes are too high, that the reason there is an apartment shortage is rent control, and that vouchers are a movement to rescue minority children from failing schools.
Yes, the Times missed that all-important local story on how taxes are too high, much as they missed the breaking national "hippies smell" scandal. We are trying to root for you here, Seth! But it's hard. It's oh-so-hard. It is sad to see a daily broadsheet with smart writing fail, but honestly it didn't have to. The paper "burned through an estimated $80 million in its six and a half years of operation," according to the Post (which is gloating about the failure, yes, but still). If they'd began, back in 2001, as the tiny modest paper Lipsky originally intended, and built a strong internet presence, they'd be the Politico of the Intellectual Zionist New York Right Wing right now. Do you know what we could do with $80 million??? But no. They launched their paper just as their world-view reached its peak influence (post-9/11!), not when it was still a burgeoning, growing movement. So then they were stuck with it as it failed and lost favor. They launched a newspaper—a daily broadsheet!—as the newspaper industry collapsed and the internet took off again. It's hard not to see this as yet another example of "the smartest guys in the room" coming out looking like suckers.
Situations change of course, and added to the mix has been the great debate over foreign policy and the war. We are struck with each crisis - including the one that has beset our markets, when the temptation is running strong for so many to take the statist bait, though not once did we consider asking Washington to bail out the Sun - of the importance of guiding principles.
If that bit about not asking for a bailout is a joke, it's a lousy, un-self-aware one. Their glorious market, like their generation-defining war, was built on lies and misplaced faith, sold to us by hucksters like them (but more successful ones), and the cleanup for both mistakes will take years. Good riddance. See you on the internet.