Trying to cancel my New York Times subscription

June 2, 2020 • 10:30 am

After a year of taking the New York Times at a reduced rate ($8/month), I had enough. The paper is just too woke, too mired in identity politics, and too close to HuffPo. As my monthly subscription rate would double on June 6, I called up the relevant number last night to cancel my subscription.  They asked me why, and I told them what I said above, adding that I thought the 1619 Project, while well motivated, was shameful and duplicitous in execution.

At first the guy tried to tell me this: “Well, we have a lot of non-racial content,” which just made me mad because I don’t object to racial content, but to the paper’s take on it, and its seeming adherence to Critical Race Theory. I said I wasn’t interested, so then he offered me a new rate which was half of the old one and a quarter of what I would be paying normally: a new rate of $4 per month. Well, I couldn’t pass up an e-subscription at that rate, but I do feel that I somehow betrayed my principles. I did get assurance, though, that my comments about the “woke” paper would be passed on, and the guy said yes, the paper was very interested in why people want to cancel. (This won’t, of course, change the wokeness.)

I’m very sad the way the NYT has changed, become a social justice paper instead of a Left-wing paper with some social justice op-eds. Wokeness infuses it all, and, for reasons I can’t fathom, it’s even becoming soft on woo and astrology.

But before I tried to cancel the Times, I did subscribe to the Washington Post, as they had a deal (now expired, I think) for $29 for an entire year of unlimited access. I haven’t read the Post much lately, though that’s where I’ve written most of my book reviews in the last few years, but I’m hoping it’s less woke than the NYT. I do feel I need a liberal source of news, but one that doesn’t try to insinuate its wokeness into school curricula.

Actually, I just found the Washington Post offer is still on: $29 per year. That’s a deal, and click on the screenshot below to get it.

61 thoughts on “Trying to cancel my New York Times subscription

  1. Hahaha. I’m 100% with you on the NYT, and don’t really blame you for continuing, but couldn’t help but chuckle at you weighing your principles in one hand and the $4 discount in the other 🙂 Forgive me 🙂

    1. That reminds me of an old Jewish joke, which I can tell because I’m Jewish. And Morris and Bernie happened to be the names of my uncles!

      Morris and Bernie met in a restaurant for a business lunch.

      Morris said, “I have a good deal for you, Bernie. When I was at the San Diego Zoo recently, I happened to pick up an elephant they didn’t need any more. I could let you have it for three thousand dollars.”

      Bernie sipped his gin and tonic and said, “Morris, what am I going to do with an elephant? I live in a third floor apartment. I barely have room for my furniture. I can’t even squeeze in a card table. So you think I’m going to buy an elephant?”

      Morris said, “I could let you have three of them for two grand.”

      “Aha,” said Bernie, “now you’re talking!”

      1. Reminds me of the one about the schmendrick on Miami Beach who bought a camel. His wife starts to give him a hard time about it. He says, “I’ll have you know, this is a very well-hung camel.”

        “Maury,” she says, “what do you know from camels? For that matter, what do you know from well-hung?”

        “All day long,” he says, “I ride this ride this camel up and down Collins Avenue. Everywhere I go, people stop; they stare; they point. And they say, ‘Look at the schmuck on that camel.'”

        1. I love this web site because it is so educational. Yesterday I learned O. unilateralis does not invade its host’s brain. Today I learned that schmuck is a penis based insult.

      2. “which I can tell because I’m Jewish.”

        I do not care, not being Jewish never stopped me from telling my favorite Jewish jokes.

      3. I’m curious about your stance on “self-joking”. Isn’t telling a joke about jews while being jew a form of self-perpetuation of clichés ?

        Because if I loved you joke, and repeat it (I’m not jewish), I’ll do so because it was funny… and because I thought it was on point.

        But isn’t that contradictory ?

        Personal anecdote : I’ve always been introduced to people (or ethnicities)’s quirks through jokes. Almost never myself directly.

        1. Any good self-deprecating joke is essentially about the human condition, thus it is universal, hence I love Jewish jokes.

          One day, coming back from trading in the
          town, a village’s men find a beggar sitting at the side of the road leading into the village.
          ‘Moishe’ they say, ‘What are you doing out here?’ He told them ‘The rabbi appointed me as the
          village watchman. I sit here all day watching for the messiah.’ ‘What kind of job is that!’ they
          say. ‘Well,’ Moishe said, ‘the pay is not too good, but it’s steady work.’

        2. I felt comfortable, as a goy, telling the slightly off-color joke above only because it’s NOT based on an ethnic stereotype; it’s based solely on wordplay — on the phallus, er, fallacy of equivocation, if you will, regarding the dual meaning of the Yiddish term “schmuck.”

      4. (I am a Jewish atheist). Sammy and Moishe are walking down a NYC street and they pass a window sign that reads: Convert to Christianity and we’ll give you $1,000. Moishe says: well,I’ll think about it. A week later they meet again and Sammy says: So did you convert? Moishe says: yes, I did. Sammy says: And did they pay you $!,000? Moishe says: You Jews, all you think about is money.

      1. I also cancelled digiral NYT this year, variation on same reason, and had trouble getting it correctly cancelled. All online… no phone call. But I don’t remember the $4 offer.

  2. I have been playing the charge game for several years with the NY Times digital subscription. Every year they say it is now doubled, so I say then cancel it and they say we will extend the rate for another year. Same game is play with Sirius XM radio and others.

    I have spoken with people who do the same thing with home insurance. Every year the introductory rate for the current company expires so they go to a new company, year after year.

  3. I defended the 1619 Project in the past and still do. Rather than comment directly on it once again, I urge readers to take a look at an article posted at the Foreign Affairs site by Harvard historian Annette Gordon-Reed. Written before the 1619 Project was published, it is nevertheless a magnificent rebuttal of the critics of the 1619 Project as it presents a concise, but accurate summary, of the role of race and slavery in American history. Other historians may disagree on some of her interpretations, such as whether the Constitution, as drafted, was or was not a pro-slavery document (I agree with her that it was). She says:

    “The document they fought over and signed in 1787, revered almost as a sacred text by many Americans, directly protected slavery. It gave slave owners the right to capture fugitive slaves who crossed state lines, counted each enslaved person as three-fifths of a free person for the purpose of apportioning members of the House of Representatives, and prohibited the abolition of the slave trade before 1808.”

    Perhaps at some future time, I will have the opportunity to present my view why the right-wing attack on the 1619 Project is a smokescreen to advance its current agenda. In the meantime, the Gordon-Reed article pre-confirms (is there such a word? 😊) the basic argument of the 1619 Project.

    1. For the record, though I have been critical of the ulterior motives and (sporadic) dishonesty in the 1619 project, I welcome your defense of it.

      From the article you cited; “Those who wish to revel without reservation in good feelings about their country feel threatened by those who note the tragedies and oppression that lay at the heart of this period.”

      That is where much of this dispute arises, doesn’t it? On the one hand you have the American exceptionalists who take umbrage at any hint that our founding wasn’t a pure, pristine advancement of the human condition and those who want to say that it was entirely driven by a desire to maintain a peculiar institution. The truth, as always, is much more complicated than a binary like that.

    2. And what of the left-wing attack on the 1619 Project, including most famously the criticisms presented on the World Socialist Website by Gordon Wood, Victoria Bynum, James McPherson and others? Are they a smokescreen for some sinister agenda, or simply an expression of dismay at a tendentious and incompetent series of essays published and endorsed by the Times?

      1. The historians McPherson and Wood are hardly left wing radicals. I do not know about Bynum. Another historian who criticized the Project and you didn’t mention, Sean Wilentz, is perhaps best known to the general public as a long-time supporter of both Clintons. A left wing radical? Hardly. In any case, they criticized specific contentions of the 1619 Project, such as whether or not the Revolution was fought to protect slavery. They did not attack the basic thrust of the 1619 Project, which is to reveal the great role slavery and race placed in the unfolding of American history, a fact much of the American public, in their historical ignorance, is unaware of and what the right wing would like to keep that way. The Socialists, about as marginal group as you can find, are upset with the Project because it highlights race instead of class in explaining American history. A good history of the United States would need to emphasize both themes among many. The 1619 Project has done an immense public service that through its publication in the NYT has raised public awareness of the significance of race in American society, a fact that is all too apparent at this very moment.

        1. We certainly are lucky that the 1619 project will cure American’s ignorance and teach them that slavery existed in the USA. I suppose they also need to be taught that there was a Civil War; that horses used to pull wagons before trucks were invented; and that there was actually a time before cellphones.

          I understand that one sometimes thinks that the ignorance of the American public cannot be overstated. But, Historian, you may be
          overstating it just a little.

            1. It is undoubtedly true that most of my fellow Americans would never be mistaken for an historian of any sort, but the test alluded to in your cite doesn’t test a knowledge of history but of civics. Questions like “what’s an amendment”, “who is in charge of the executive branch”, “how many houses of congress are there”, those kinds of questions. It’s appalling that only about 1/3 of Americans can pass that civics test, but it isn’t really a test of their knowledge of American history,

              1. Thanks for the link, Historian. Among other things, it notes that “less than a quarter of Americans know why we fought the British during the Revolutionary War”. If the 1619 Project’s acolytes claim that the reason was only to defend slavery, they are not exactly helping to dispel ignorance.

                On the other hand, the article notes that 60% of Americans don’t know which countries the US fought against in WWII. That certainly is discouraging, inasmuch as: (1) WWII wasn’t that long ago, and (2) Television is crammed with documentaries about WWII. Speaking of which, the Left is not without its own kind of historical ignorance. I wonder how many self-described “progressives” know what the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was.

        2. Given the current events in cities in the USA, do you think there is an American who is not aware of the significance of race in their society?

          The problem is not awareness, it’s how people of non white races are treated.

    3. You are repeating what all should already know about the original Constitution. Counting slaves (property) as 3/5th and all of that. So What? It was done for compromise. Without it there would have been no constitution. What does that have to do with going to war with Britain? So you know what is in the constitution, you just do not know why it is there. Why did they come up with the idea of 2 Senators for each state instead of basing it on population, like the House of Representatives. Again, it was a compromise with the small states. Had nothing to do with slavery but it was one big mistake we are paying for today.

      1. The problem, Randall, is that it wasn’t just a “mistake”, like they just accidentally enslaved people. It was an integral part of society then. There is no doubt that oppression and slavery was a factor in our countries founding and its subsequent history, in a variety of ways. The dispute is just how important those ways were. By the mid 19th century they got so bad they drove us to kill each other by the tens of thousands. It reverberates today.

        My feeling is that the 1619 project overplayed it and did so with intention misrepresentation. But the events of this past week show that despite the BS in it, it points to an important and significant hole in our national memory and consciousness.

        1. I am not arguing that slavery was not a big part of our history. I read history and I know all of that. But the idea that our going to war (revolution) with England was because of slavery is the argument. That is what the 1919 project claims. And to say the counting of slaves as 3/5th a person for purposes of establishing representation in the house would somehow relate to the revolution/slavery idea is not correct. It was a compromise with the slave states so they would stay in Philly and agree to establish a government in the first place. Several states were against this but they were outvoted. There were also several people at the convention were spoke up to do something about slavery but they did not get anywhere either. The final question was, do you want a government and a country or not.

          1. I wish with all my heart that the the states which abhored slavery had stood up for their principles at that moment and formed their own country. This would have kept them from being hypocrits (“All men are created equal…” said the slaveowning founding father…), would have prevented the Civil War, and would make sure that it was only the red states that would suffer the consequences of the idiot governments that such states would elect. And it is not too late. What’s the drawback of letting the red states form their own country and leave the rest of us alone?

            1. The drawback? For who? If I was black and lived in Georgia I don’t think I would like that idea.

            2. At the time of the Constitutional Convention, slavery was still legal in most of the northern states, although they contained only a tiny fraction of the slaves in the South and the institution was dying out there.

    4. Gordon-Reed’s article is not a rebuttal of the critics of the 1619 Project.
      Liberal critics (and quite a few centrists and several conservatives) had the following criticisms of the Project:

      * The project asserts that the founders declared the colonies’ independence of Britain “in order to ensure slavery would continue.”

      * The project claims slavery was the primary driver of American economic growth in the 19th century, and that it infused its brutality into American capitalism today.

      * The project criticizes Abraham Lincoln’s views on racial equality but ignores his conviction that the Declaration of Independence proclaimed universal equality, for blacks as well as whites. The project also ignores Lincoln’s agreement with Frederick Douglass that the Constitution was, in Douglass’s words, “a GLORIOUS LIBERTY DOCUMENT.”

      * The project claims that “for the most part,” black Americans have fought their freedom struggles “alone.”

      If the aim of the project had been to call attention to the sinister role of slavery in the country’s founding, as Gordon-Reed does in her fine article, then it wouldn’t have garnered so much controversy.

      But the central message of the project was that the US was primarily founded to protect slavery and that capitalism in the entire US was primarily built on slavery. Not surprisingly, even liberals and Marxists think that is bad history.

      1. I have addressed several of your comments previously and will not do it again here. I will address your comment on Lincoln’s views on slavery and race. They were often contradictory and tailored for his particular audience. After all, he was a very ambitious politician, always trying to gain votes. This is why both contemporaries and historians have come to different conclusions regarding what he actually believed. However, these things are incontestable: Lincoln was anti-slavery in that he considered it immoral and that blacks were entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of property. However, for almost his entire life, he denied that blacks could be the social equals of whites. That is, he did not believe in equality as we use the term today. Also, for most of his life and into the opening years of his presidency, he was a strong supporter of colonization of free blacks, i.e. since they could not be equal to whites, they should be shipped to a foreign land to live in their own country. Finally, during the period between his election and inauguration, he supported a constitutional amendment that would have forbidden the federal government from outlawing slavery. Perhaps, Lincoln should not be blamed for his views. After all, the North was overwhelming racist, even amongst those who opposed slavery. In other words, many people were both anti-slavery and racist. But, then again, Lincoln did issue the Emancipation Proclamation, which if there had been a different Republican president this may not have taken place. So, Lincoln was a complex character and simplistic descriptions of him are bound to fail.

        Regarding the fact that Lincoln and Douglass thought the Constitution was anti-slavery actually means nothing. This is because it is easy enough to pick through the document and find parts that were pro or anti-slavery. At the moment, historians are hotly debating this question, which will never be resolved, because whatever position a person takes is largely based on opinion. My conclusion, as stated above, is that the document was pro-slavery for the reasons Gordon-Reed cites. By 1860, the southern slaveholders didn’t think it was pro-slavery enough and decided to secede to protect the institution

  4. I have just TOO MUCH TO READ!!! I did subscribe to the Washington Post and I find I read it more than the NYT.

    I should call the Times. If they lower the price for me I will keep it. I do read some of the articles. But if they don’t lower my price I may just let it go.

    Ditto the New Yorker. I read fewer and fewer of their articles. I have just too damn much stuph to read…

    1. Is “stuph” stupid stuff?🤣
      Ditto here. Still mostly love The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and Harper’s. The April (yes, I’m behind) Atlantic had an excellent (long) article By George Packer (the cover story] on how Trump’s destroying America.

  5. I used to read at least the ‘front page’ of the NYT and WashPo daily, online, before the online service went behind paywall. Since then, I’ve shifted to CNN and BBC online, which use the ‘it’s free but you get Ads on the side’ business model instead. I like that model much more than a subscription.

    In terms of national and global news coverage, I don’t really miss them (NYT or WashPo). I bet all four regularly just republish articles from AP or Reuters source articles anyway. But for more local east coast news, where I am, I do miss them a bit.

    Seems to me that in this day and age, there’s no reason not to offer both: Ad-full webpage for the cheapskates like me, and the Ad-free version for those whose utility function finds a clean page worth the extra $2/month or whatever it is.

    1. Had never thought of BBC for global coverage but just signed in with it. Thanks for the comment.

      1. You’re welcome! Check out their science section. It’s a bit more ‘science trivia’ than anything like Science News, but it’s been a good source of ‘fun science fact of the week’ for me to give to my kid.

  6. I don’t believe that one needs a “liberal” (or a “conservative”) source for *news* (as opposed to commentary). Call me old-fashioned and blind to systemic this-and-that, but I believe that objectivity and honesty should be the aims–and a tough-minded skepticism the approach–of publications purporting to present and analyze the news. The NYT has abjectly failed to provide that. (I also find its moral preening insufferable; that approach inevitably infects and distorts its news coverage and analysis of events and issues). I think the WSJ’s news department–that is, not its editorial and opinion pages–does a good job of presenting the news. Its news reporters and news editors are overwhelmingly “liberal,” by the way.

  7. It is interesting, and more than a little ominous, the way wokeness is osmosing into places like the NYT and elsewhere. Consider the history.

    A generation ago, the academic world welcomed obvious projects of social activism sprinkled with a little language borrowed from Sociology: Critical Race Theory, Critical Gender Theory, and various related “theories” dressed up in pseudo-academic, postmodernist word salad. These enterprises staked out a near sacrosanct position in academia, and then trained generations of
    Diversicrats and “consultants”. And in the last few years, their memes have begun to spread into the NYT, the NYer, Google, and—well, when they reach Walmart, Exxon-Mobil, Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s, it will be time to take notice.

  8. I live in a suburb in southeastern va and had subscribed to nyt home delivery for years..even as the price crept steadily upward…and as a number of its editorial positions (though certainly not all) steadily diverged from my views. I do not recall the final straw exactly…maybe yet another price increase; maybe another woke viewpoint that i disagreed with. So i called to cancel (i would be changing to wapo which i could also have delivered to my house) and got the same great type of offer that jerry got. I rejected it based on not agreeing with more and more of the content over time and the price, even the latest increase being not a full deal breaker, but rather being maybe a tie breaker. The wapo intro subscription was very cheap (natch) and i find its content, while not totally to my liking as it was in my grad student days (you kids get off my lawn!), to be generally acceptable. Also wapo carries virginia news in its metro section which keeps me aware of state political issues. My opinion is that both the nyt and wapo have some great content and both have some annoying (to me) content. But i like reading a hardcopy print newspaper delivered in the morning and i also feel obligated to help keep at least one of our traditional national gadflies in business. I think it was my college newspaper masthead that quoted mencken that a good newspaper is ceaselessly arrogant bellicose. Neither the nyt nor the wapo is that, but they still,often enough, seem to ask the right questions.

    1. Please make that “querulous” and bellicose..sorry memory fades over fifty years. It struck me just after i hit “post”.

  9. I subscribed to the NYT at a cheap rate last fall because I (1) wanted to see more reporting on how the run up to the election would go, and (2) to read more of the vast archive, especially the science articles. I added the Washington Post when they offered a cheap rate and it became very clear that the pandemic was coming.
    Having read part of Laurie Garrett’s The Coming Plague years ago, and watching the coming of SARs, West Nile, Ebola, and Zika, (and also the White Nose Syndrome in bats – but that’s a different story) it seemed obvious once I heard about the coronavirus in Italy, that the virus was going to be transmitted everywhere.
    I also figured a lot of craziness was in store between the start of 2020 and the election, and wanted to keep up.
    We can hope for less craziness, but it seems unlikely. And we have not even reached the end of term Supreme Court decisions.

  10. I also used to subscribe to the NY Times … and cancelled it for their hyperbole, among other things.

    I have subscribed to the Washington Post for a couple of years now and I like them quite a bit. I also like a lot of their extra newsletters, like the Animalia one.

    The $29 offer is quite common & repeated often.

  11. I read the NYT lightly. Cheap intro subscription. I manly read headlines, science section, and a few features. I simply skip the weird stuff like 1619 and the horror-scope.

  12. My own solution to the political bias in the national press is to subscribe to both the NYT and the WSJ. First I read the NYT and get infuriated by its left-wing wokeness. Then I read the WSJ and get infuriated by its right-wing apologetics. In the end, the two infuriations cancel each other out, and I have a better feel where the truth lies.

  13. This argument that the NYT isn’t good enough strikes me as being equivalent to the purity tests of the Left, and the excuses of those who refused to vote for Clinton in 2016 because she wasn’t progressive enough.

    Considering the vast amount of content that the NYT produces daily, it wouldn’t be hard to find something one disagrees with. I certainly do, as I do with every publication I read.

    And it’s fine to call them out on it. But consider what the country would be like without the resources of news organizations like the NYT to provide investigative journalism. Over 1,200 local papers have shut down across the country in the last decade. A lot of them were not great by any measure, but they were the only defense against a flood of misinformation at all levels of society, and the only ones to call out official corruption at state and local levels.

    Without subscription revenue these news organizations will diminish and fail. If you think the country’s in bad shape now, imagine it without any reputable news organizations. Which, of course, is exactly what Trump and his supporters want.

    1. This is a good take.
      I do agree with JAC that the wokeness has become a regular taint to some of the Times pieces. But there is a lot of content to enjoy like in the Arts and Living sections. Some of the Op-ed writers I can tolerate, the Science section is decent. I got a dollar a week deal for one year but I’ll cancel if it gets raised. I got the same deal on Wapo as you did. I agree that it is much less woke than the NYT and their Opinion section is far superior. George Will’s recent post on Trump was refreshing.

  14. Wise decision, Jerry.

    As much as it saddens me that traditional news media are struggling, I can’t counter the idea of funding anti-science, anti-fact nonsense and ‘woke’ Lysenkoism.

  15. I just looked to find out that I’ve been getting charged $17 a month somehow. So I called and asked to cancel. They offered me $8/mo. which I took

  16. $4/month might be part of the reason why the NYT is becoming like HuffPost – when they’ve transitionned completely, it might become free!! 🙂

  17. As a NYer I can’t cancel my subscription – I’d have no idea what fresh hell we have on next here, though I understand your sentiments. The woke sh*t doesn’t bother me as much as the astrology/woo though.
    On the bright side you won’t have to read that Catholic ayatollah and “The Paul McCartney of Wrong” Ross Douthert’s holy blatherings anymore.
    That’ll help! best
    D.A., NYC

  18. Couple of facts below and then a question below:

    Fact # 1: Just 2 examples out of many – the New York Times gave prominent coverage to blatantly pro-war views (eg: Judith Miller case). The NYT was also fully signed-on to the neo-liberal reforms imposed from the outside on Latin America after subverting democratically elected leaders in the region (eg: Chile, Allende and the ‘Chicago boys’ case)

    Fact # 2: The NYT has in recent years become ‘woke’ (let’s stipulate this as a fact – I don’t know how to measure this but it is very likely true)

    I wonder how many readers felt like unsubscribing from the NYT due to Fact # 1 above Vs Fact # 2? I assume to the extent most readers are upset at NYT, it is because of Fact # 2 (and not Fact # 1). Is it OK to ask why is this the case? One can argue that the worst effect of Fact # 2 is that what they are peddling is wrong and may create other issues (difficult to quantify) in society. But it is hard to argue that it is worse than the effect of Fact # 1 (deaths and destruction of life and livelihoods). When we are comfortable being a subscriber regardless of Fact # 1 but become offended due to Fact # 2, what does it tell us about ourselves?

    My own view is that the NYT is an imperfect newspaper (just like a democracy is imperfect, members in our own family are imperfect, etc) but it is one of the best we have. And to the extent it is wrong, one must criticise it as has been done. However I am curious behind people’s motivations and sense of priority while making these decisions – and hence this question.

    1. I, for one, unsubscribed from NYT during the GW Bush years because of the pro-war drum beating, Judith Miller, and Jason Blair.

      I resubscribed five or six years ago taking the Sunday paper physically on my wife’s behalf but really in order to get unlimited electronic access. The paper is imperfect but it is one of the few newspapers remaining that do investigative reporting and IMO it is critical to keep them alive despite their flaws.

      I also subscribe to online version of Washington Post. Locally I gave up on the Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel when they became just another USA Today outlet. Instead I pay for local online news sources.

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