The Times published a bodice-ripping account of its performance during the Trump administration and settled for a number of self-effacing platitudes.
The article, headlined “Times Change In the Trump years, the New York Times became less dispassionate and more crusading, sparking a raw debate over the paper’s future.” The link can be found here.
Perhaps I missed the crusading
It’s a tough time economically to run a newspaper today and a pretty good case can be made that without an election every two years, the New York Times would fold. In 2019, they earned $1.8 billion, paid a little over $19 million in taxes and cleared $250 mil.
Good on ‘em, but as to crusading (however you define that term) I saw a good bit more attempts at fair and balanced than strapping on armor and lowering a spear at the gallop. But that metaphor aside, what fair and balanced bought us over four years was The Donald dominating their front page.
Does anybody know how to play this game but Fox News?
Sean Hannity, Maria Bartiromo, Tucker Carlson, Steve Doocy, Laura Ingraham, Dana Perino and Jeanine Pirro are a long way from balanced, but at least they contribute as advertised. Fox captures a 90% conservative audience. The above pundits represent truth in advertising—I get that. Head and shoulders, they dominate TV.
The New York Times on the other hand has a subscriber base that’s 91% liberal, yet they continued over four years to cover President Trump as if he was not actually severely damaged goods and dangerous to America as well as our international allies.
What does fair and balanced mean during an unbalanced presidency?
If a tree falls in the forest and there’s no one there to hear it, does it make a sound? If a lie is told and there’s no one there to call it, is it still a lie or does it become an alternative truth? Two times two is four, was four last week and has always been four. Agreeing that it may sometimes be five and calling that an alternate truth is not only incorrect and dumb, it borders the edge of madness.
But we have heard that. It’s the basis for being called fake news and unable to mount a reasonable defense.
Quoting the Times article, “a divide had become increasingly tricky for the Times: a large portion of the paper’s audience, a number of its employees, and the president himself saw it as aligned with the #resistance. This demarcation horrified the Old Guard, but it seemed to make for good business. “The truth can change how we see the world,” the Times declared in an advertisement broadcast at last year’s Academy Awards, positioning itself as a bulwark in an era of misinformation.
So, why the hell didn’t they tell those truths?
Standing up to power is today’s rarest vintage
That’s as true in politics as it is in newspapering.
Thomas Jefferson (that old slave-owner) said "The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them.”
One can but wonder if the NY Times feels it has lived up to that responsibility in its present day configuration.
It seems to me…
…that the NY Times should be as true to its liberal readership as Fox News is to its conservative audience—each with the caveat that their positions carry the responsibility for truth in reporting.
There is a place—a necessity—for both points of view to be given a decent walk in the public park, lest conspiracy theories take over the jibber-jabber that serves as online discourse. And I don’t mean to cast a shadow at either left or right, but in political matters I equate ‘education’ with the freedom to make reasoned choices among facts rather than fictions—from either camp.
Media, like politicians, are no longer independent
Sinclair Broadcast Group (right wing) owns most of the small-market newspapers and TV stations across America. They’re pretty much the only media source for 72% of U.S. households in 46 states. Murdoch (right wing) owns Fox News and the New York Post. There’s no shame in that, it’s merely a fact.
The New York Times and Washington Post are liberal newspapers and they ought to start acting like that. Pussy-footing their way through a scheme to be everybody’s print and online news media is both disingenuous and borderline shameful. Like The Guardian in London, both papers have a reputation for representing the more open-minded branches of society against conservative power structures.
Take that bit in your teeth and run with it.
What does conservative even mean anymore?
I’m pissed in a major way at what’s happened to the word conservative. It once defined those who were dedicated to conserving such worthy institutions as the environment, the middle class, job creation, our inborn entrepreneurial spirit and a support base for the less fortunate among us.
Present-day conservatives can’t even preserve jam in a jar. They’ve dedicated the last four decades of their ratty political lives on the destruction of each and all such worthy goals.
But changes are coming
Millennials and GenZers are rising forces in the political arena and the young, who always saw politics as unworthy (good case for that, actually) are beginning to see where the levers to power reside. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her young supporters broke that reputation wide open in 2018, proving that it’s not only the young that are on the march, but mostly young women.
AOC brooks no paternalism, be it from politicians, the media or from her various committee chairs in the House of Representatives. Her intellect, skilled use of language and sense of humor have no match among detractors.
NYTimes, are you watching?
Are you listening?
That’s your future in print and online media speaking.
Kevin Prichard Photography