By Thomas Lifson, editor and publisher of The American Thinker
Forwarded by Spence Eggleston in San Antonio

The New York Times Company is facing an abyss, and seems to be doing its best to hurtle faster into the realm of public scorn and business disaster. For a company whose most valuable asset is its prestige as a news source, the now-frequent willing publication of distortions and outright lies makes no business sense. Marquee names Paul Krugman, Jayson Blair, Alessandra Stanley, Maureen Dowd, Bob Herbert, and especially hereditary publisher and ex-Sixties radical Pinch Sulzberger are emerging as cartoon figures in the public eye, driven mad with their hatred of conservatives and President Bush.

Today, a different kind of line was crossed. The Times has messed with Texas. You don't tug on Superman's cape, you don't spit in the wind, and most of all you don't mess with Texas if you have even a shred of common sense.

KTRK-TV, the ABC affiliate in Houston has caught the New York Times Company slurring Houston's rescue efforts in a sneaky yet stupid maneuver. How do like this for the first sentence in a story about Houston's sheltering efforts on behalf of the evacuees, by Houston-based NYT reporter Simon Romero?:
“No one would accuse this city of being timid in the scramble to profit from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.”

Excuse me? The City of Houston has thrown open its heart, pocketbook, homes, churches, schools, and all public facilities to its neighbors in need. The Astrodome was prudently stocked with disaster supplies because nearby Galveston might need them in the event of a big hurricane. Without a thought, Houston stepped up and became evacuation central. It will cost Houston taxpayers a lot of money, but nobody is giving a thought.

And you paint this city as a crass profiteer on its neighbor's misery. That is beyond despicable. It is crazy.

These offensive words did not appear in the above-the-fold story printed in America. But Romero's story was printed with these words as the lead in its Paris edition, quaintly still known as the International Herald-Tribune, even though it is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the New York Times Company, and is in effect the European edition of its flagship paper.

So the New York Times Company has an editorial policy of pandering to the sneering European image of Houston and Texas, while bowdlerizing the domestic editions of the patently offensive language. Apparently the theory is that nobody in Houston has a computer, and that all those passengers on the Air France and Continental jumbo jets coming in from Charles De Gaulle Airport to Bush Intercontinental every day won't bring a copy home with them.

Bad bet, Pinch. They have a pretty sophisticated city, take it from me.

I know that you can't bear to hear it, but Houston is on the rise, and has been for a century. No other American city (except those other Texans in Dallas-Ft. Worth) can hold a candle to it in growth, real world importance, and contributions to our (gasp!) culture. Without the continuous pushing of the frontiers of oil exploration technology (mostly done in Houston), the world would almost grind to a halt. Without the space exploration effort managed from Houston, your worldwide publishing empire would not be able to coordinate its operations. Without Houston-pioneered medical innovation, you might not be alive today.

Houston is the example New Orleans should have learned from decades ago. While New Orleans and its insular elite made it difficult for outsiders to gain social acceptance, its banks focused on local established borrowers, and its government proved more interested in squeezing taxes out of companies than encouraging their growth, Houston established itself as the headquarters of the world oil industry. There were plenty of reasons to have expected New Orleans to claim that crown.

My guess is that tens of thousands of Louisianans, forced to leave their beloved New Orleans, will settle down in Houston. They will find jobs, housing, and a vital community which welcomes newcomers. In no time there will be many New Orleans-style restaurants enhancing Houston's formidable culinary scene. New jazz clubs will join then honky-tonks, the Houston Grand Opera, and many other musical adornments of Houston's civic culture.

They will augment the large numbers of Mexicans, Central and South Americans, Chinese, Indians, Europeans, and other immigrant groups, now populating and enriching Houston. There are even many people from New York City, and they have brought their own exotic cuisine.

That's the way it works with dynamic cities. They grow, thrive, and attract talented and energetic newcomers, who keep the virtuous cycle going. Houston is spiraling upward. It will only get more important in the ranks of world cities.

Houstonians are a proud lot, but they are not indifferent to slander. I don't think they will forget, Pinch. You can write off any circulation growth for your national edition in the nation's seventh or eighth largest market.