Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Dopes about John Hope

The New York Times appears to have been asleep at the wheel on the passing of John Hope Franklin, the great historian. This was a significant moment in American life, but you wouldn’t know it from the Times, which didn’t front page the death, and (in my edition, at least) ran its obit on B12. ...

587444_090326_hoperesize2.jpg
587444_090326_hoperesize2.jpg

The New York Times appears to have been asleep at the wheel on the passing of John Hope Franklin, the great historian. This was a significant moment in American life, but you wouldn't know it from the Times, which didn't front page the death, and (in my edition, at least) ran its obit on B12. Contrast that with the performance by the Washington Post, which ran an appreciation by Wil Haygood on page one, an editorial, and a fine op-ed by Walter Dellinger, who had called Franklin from the Democratic convention in Denver last summer after Obama received the presidential nomination. The Times' negligence appalled my wife, who relied often on Franklin's work, especially From Slavery to Freedom, when writing her own book on the biggest attempted slave escape in American history.

The lapse by the Times is significant especially because, in an age when newspapers often follow breaking news by many hours, their role has become  to provide context, scope and meaning. 

The New York Times appears to have been asleep at the wheel on the passing of John Hope Franklin, the great historian. This was a significant moment in American life, but you wouldn’t know it from the Times, which didn’t front page the death, and (in my edition, at least) ran its obit on B12. Contrast that with the performance by the Washington Post, which ran an appreciation by Wil Haygood on page one, an editorial, and a fine op-ed by Walter Dellinger, who had called Franklin from the Democratic convention in Denver last summer after Obama received the presidential nomination. The Times’ negligence appalled my wife, who relied often on Franklin’s work, especially From Slavery to Freedom, when writing her own book on the biggest attempted slave escape in American history.

The lapse by the Times is significant especially because, in an age when newspapers often follow breaking news by many hours, their role has become  to provide context, scope and meaning. 

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

More from Foreign Policy

An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.
An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.

Is Cold War Inevitable?

A new biography of George Kennan, the father of containment, raises questions about whether the old Cold War—and the emerging one with China—could have been avoided.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.

So You Want to Buy an Ambassadorship

The United States is the only Western government that routinely rewards mega-donors with top diplomatic posts.

Chinese President Xi jinping  toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.
Chinese President Xi jinping toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.

Can China Pull Off Its Charm Offensive?

Why Beijing’s foreign-policy reset will—or won’t—work out.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.

Turkey’s Problem Isn’t Sweden. It’s the United States.

Erdogan has focused on Stockholm’s stance toward Kurdish exile groups, but Ankara’s real demand is the end of U.S. support for Kurds in Syria.