You can't see this on the web site, but if you were to look at the dead tree Times, you would see something unusual: below the fold there is what looks like two articles twinned with one another, it is given so much space (including two pictures) but it is actually only the tease paragraphs for each placed side by side (with the two photos placed side by side) but given enormous prominence, both because of the size of the photos and because of a large headline over both: DUTY, LOSS AND HARDSHIP: TWO SOLDIERS' STORIES. The story teased in the left column (with the photo you see here) is the death of Pat Tillman.
But the story in the right column is that of a young woman who returned home after serving in Iraq, and after a "disastrous" reunion with her family, is now homeless, wending her way through the city's shelter system with her baby daughter. And you see that picture here.
Are you getting the point?
Look, not every soldier comes home to yellow ribbons and waving flags, and a loving family and a glowing future. And good for the New York Times for telling that story. But Pat Tillman was a hero and what he did deserves to be acknowledged and celebrated, and it is a slap in the face to him and to what he stood for to do this, to make the suggestion that his death is only getting attention because he was a famous guy, while the poor, the black, the disadvantaged, are simply ignored once the government's used them up.
Some people slip through the system and we should do everything we can to find those people and honor them and make sure they are better taken care of. But that is not because the country doesn't care about soldiers unless they were famous, which is, to my mind, the clear implication here. It is because with this many people, some people will slip through. Fine. Lets find them and fix things. Lets not use that fact to dishonor what a man like Tillman stood for.
Unfortunately the New York Times is not capable of understanding of what a man like Tillman stood for or why it matters so much to so many of us. So they do something like this. They play it both ways like they always do. They get to say, hey, look, we put his death on the front page. Right. Under the exact same headline as the woman who came back from service and was left homeless. And we're supposed to assume you aren't making an argument when you do that?
The whole reason Tillman matters is that he didn't want to be treated differently because he had been a rich and famous man. The Times' attempt to imply otherwise is cheap and demeaning and low.
If they had wanted to put this woman's story on the front page (a decision I think is wholly appropriate) they didn't have to do it today (unlike Tillman's death it isn't spot news) and they certainly didn't need to link it so explicitly to Tillman's death.
This is what the New York Times thinks about your heroes. They are telling you that you are mistaken, that you are saying one thing about why this man's death matters -- but thinking or feeling another. And that's what the New York Times really thinks about you.
If you normally read the Times off the web, sometime today when you're out and about doing your errands, stop for a second at the store and take a look at the front page -- see what your impression is of this, of the visual argument that gets made by this layout.
Update: Here is the promised Patterico post with the screen grabbed image of the front page.