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(51,801 posts)
Fri May 10, 2024, 03:01 PM May 10

The New York Times Protests Too Much [View all]


It’s been a heck of a month for hating on the New York Times.

I won’t claim to be the elder statesman of Being-Mad-At-The-New-York-Times among professional Democrats, but I am certainly an elder statesman in this matter. I grew up loving the Times — growing up in a town of 300 people I literally saved up so that I could occasionally buy the Sunday edition of the New York Times when I happened to be in Ithaca on the weekend. Then I gained regular access to it, and my perception of the paper shifted dramatically: The paper’s obsessive, often wrong, and nearly-always misleading coverage of Whitewater, its cozy relationship with the sinister Ken Starr, its evident institutional crush on George W. Bush and even more evident contempt for Al Gore, its central role in helping Bush lie his way into war in Iraq — all of this and more added up to something very obvious that I was amazed more people working in Democratic politics couldn’t see. So while Media Matters for America has generally been best known for its essential work taking on the likes of Fox News and Rush Limbaugh, the news company that most motivated my work in helping create and lead the organization twenty years ago was the New York Times.1

Naturally, I read the recent Politico article about a simmering feud between the Biden House and the New York Times with great interest. And Times executive editor Joe Kahn’s interview with Semafor’s Ben Smith with great exasperation. I haven’t written about either because, frankly, I don’t have anything to say about the New York Times that I haven’t said a thousand times before over the last 25 years – and because over the last month plenty of others have been eager to take up the cause. That isn’t always the case, and although I’m more than happy to live with the downsides of being a persistent critic of the world’s most influential news company, I don’t mind taking the occasional break from repeating myself.

The thing is, though: I believe what I wrote a few months ago: Yes, Democrats should criticize the New York Times. So at risk of repeating myself …

The model of journalism the New York Times pretends to believe in is bad – and the Times knows it

A striking thing about this dust-up is that the partisans are delivering clear, principled statements about what journalism should be, and the journalists are responding like campaign hacks — inventing straw men to debate and offering an endless stream of vague platitudes.

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