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14
Fri, May

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The ’60s saw the end of that elaborate black beast, the hot lead linotype machine, and the end also of many newspapers, as cold type lithograph, offset and computerized printing revolutionized the dailies. But the two standard formats remain broadsheet and tabloid. Broadsheets retain an elite cachet that the New York Times, in particular, has sought to project and protect since Adolph Simon Ochs stamped “All the news that’s fit to print” on his masthead 123 years ago. That motto implies there’s no other news worth reading and alternative news sources are not fit to appear in polite society. It’s the perfect dismissive expression for “elitists’’ fond of destructive marches aping China’s Cultural Revolution. But, despite its lofty slogan, trumpeted from its perch as “the nation’s most important journalistic platform”, the “newspaper of record”, copied by the majority of ‘mainstream media’, the Times kneels to power. This I first realized in 1985 when that paper recalled back to New York reporter Jo Thomas, then being groomed as London Bureau Chief, after she insisted filing a Times Magazine feature from Northern Ireland sympathetic to Irish Catholics suffering a despotic British occupation.

Currently the Times is tangled in scandal over firing editorial writers James Bennett and Bari Weiss, who’d been hired by the paper surprised and embarrassed by 2016’s election results. Weiss and Editorial Page editor James Bennett were to bring more diverse voices to the Times and include Americans living beyond the the cloistered mindset of left-oriented big cities.



It’s instructive to mention another Times scandal in 2003 when young black writer, Jayson Blair, was caught in gross plagiarism and fabrication of news articles. The Times then created special position, The Public Editor, a kind of ombudsman, to supervise journalism ethics and identify critical errors or omissions. That post ended abruptly on April 22, 2017, after Liz Spayd wrote a Public Editor piece reminding Times’s executive editor Dean Baquet and publisher A.G. Sulzberger that following the election they had signed “an unusual joint letter to readers, promising… to report ‘without fear or favor, striving always to understand and reflect all political perspectives and life experiences in the stories that we bring to you.’” Spayd called it “An admirable goal considering the hermetic bubble that The Times and other news media are often accused of living in… Now, as the 100-day mark of the Trump administration approaches, it’s time to ask: Is the Times following through on its promise to put an outstretched hand toward Red America? And, just as crucially, are readers ready for it?”

A month later the answer from the Times’ “hermetic bubble” was a resounding “No!”. Spayd’s job was eliminated abruptly on May 31.

The Times then reached out, hiring leftist Atlantic’s editor-in-chief James Bennett as Editorial Page editor. Bennett in turn hired columnist Bari Weiss and her fellow Wall Street Journal Pulitzer Prize-winning alum, Bret Stephens.  Weiss is hardly a doctrinaire conservative.  She expressed frustration over her last year at WSJ: “I was no longer able to write for the op-ed page because I kept getting stonewalled… told that my pieces were too critical of Trump and Trump supporters.”

But the beginning of the end for Times diversity of thought came in early June, when an op-ed by Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton was published, suggesting the President send troops to American cities to end violent and destructive protests. According to a Morning Consult poll, such a policy is supported by 58% of Americans. However, some Times staffers, led by Black journalists, reacted strongly. Bennet “resigned”. Weiss followed.

Apparently, one of Weiss’ sins at the Times, owned by the Jewish Ochs-Sulzberger family, was her defense of Israel. Incidentally, Weiss became a bat mitzvah at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh where, on October 27, 2018, eleven Jews were gunned down as they prayed- the deadliest attack on Jews in American history.

Weiss wasn’t the only high-profile writer to resign that day. Liberal New York Magazine writer Andrew Sullivan tweeted: “A critical mass of the staff and management at New York Magazine and Vox Media no longer want to associate with me… They seem to believe, and this is increasingly the orthodoxy in mainstream media, that any writer not actively committed to critical theory in questions of race, gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity is actively, physically harming co-workers merely by existing in the same virtual space… Two years ago, I wrote that we all live on campus now. That is an understatement. In academia, a tiny fraction of professors and administrators have not yet bent the knee to the woke program — and those few left are being purged. The latest study of Harvard University faculty, for example, finds that only 1.46 percent call themselves conservative. But that’s probably higher than the proportion of journalists who call themselves conservative at the New York Times or CNN or New York Magazine. And maybe it’s worth pointing out that ‘conservative’ in my case means that I have passionately opposed Donald J. Trump and pioneered marriage equality…” (Sullivan listed his support for a litany of other leftist policies, including police reform and his support for Obama and Biden). “I have no idea what version of conservatism could ever be tolerated.”

This problem affects all American fonts of knowledge: mass media outlets, online search services and academic institutions. The latest study of American campuses shows nearly 40% of the colleges surveyed did not have one professor on faculty who identified as Conservative. That is way out of line with America. Gallup last year reported 37% of Americans identify as conservative, 35% as moderate, and only 24% as liberal.

Weiss said the Times had not learned the lessons of “the importance of understanding other Americans, resisting tribalism, and the centrality of the free exchange of ideas to a democratic society.” A Jew, she said colleagues at the paper “have called me a Nazi and a racist… employees publicly smear me as a liar and a bigot on Twitter… Showing up for work as a centrist at an American newspaper should not require bravery …intellectual curiosity—let alone risk-taking—is now a liability at The Times. …The paper of record is, more and more, the record of those living in a distant galaxy (where) the worst caste systems in human history include the United States alongside Nazi Germany.”

© 2020 Michael P Morley
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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