When reader Linda sent me this link from the respected magazine The Nation (free read; click on screenshot below), I was delighted, thinking that writer Dan Froomkin was going to call out the NYT for its one-sided ultraprogressive Leftism that has begun seeping into its news coverage as well as having led to the newsroom’s dominance by social-media loudmouths.
Froomkin thinks that the papers’ “both-side-ism” and its failure to call out Republican lies as the lies they are is going to hurt the Democrats during the midterm. His summary:
Under Baquet, the Times has treated the upcoming midterms like any other. Reporters have glibly asserted that Republicans are in great shape to sweep, and win back a majority in one or both houses of Congress. They have unquestioningly adopted the conventional political wisdom that midterms are a referendum on the president, and since Biden is underwater, it doesn’t matter what the Republicans stand for.
But that’s not what these midterms will actually be about. They won’t be about Joe Biden, or putting a “check” on his agenda. They won’t be a “protest vote”.
It’s not just that the GOP has become an insurrectionist party that traffics in hate-filled conspiracy theories and lies. Now the Supreme Court has evidently decided to repeal Roe v. Wade, and Republicans are planning to force pregnant women to term against their will.
For decades, the history of America has been of expanding human and constitutional rights. At this moment, however, we appear to be headed the other way—unless a supermajority says no at the ballot box. Starting in November.
That’s the real story of the midterms.
The goal of a responsible news organization is not to get people to vote a specific way. But it is to make sure that everyone understands what’s at stake.
[JAC: what Froomkin means is “that everyone agrees with me’]
This potential tipping point is what New York Times journalists should be reporting the hell out of. Even more importantly, they need to be putting every daily political story squarely in that context.
Maybe I’ve missed something, but it seems to me that the NYT journalists have been doing that. They would regularly enumerate and point out Trump’s lies, and except for their few token conservative columnists, most oop-eds were precisely about the dangers of the Republican Party and platform.
Apparently not. Froomkin wants every political story to be slanted towards the perfidy of the Right. But is that objective journalism? Here’s a list of how Froomkin says the Times has failed in its reporting (his quotes) and what the new editor, Joe Kahn, must fix lest our Republic dissolve in acrimony:
- False equivalence or both-sidesing (“lawmakers from the two parties could not even agree on a basic set of facts”)
- Focusing on what works instead of whether it’s true or false (“Republicans are using fears of critical race theory to drive school board recalls and energize conservatives”)
- Attributing the most obviously true characterizations to “critics” or Democrats (“Rufo…has become, to some on the left, an agitator of intolerance”)
- Spectacular understatement (“in a move that has raised eyebrows among diplomats, investors and ethics watchdogs, Mr. Kushner is trying to raise money from the Persian Gulf states”)
- Pox on both your houses (“Democrats, without much to brag about, accuse Republicans of being afraid of competitive elections”)
- Giving both parties credit for solving problems entirely created by Republicans (“Senate Democrats and Republicans neared agreement…to temporarily pull the nation from the brink of a debt default”)
- Denial and gaslighting (Republicans “have been intent on rehabilitating themselves in the eyes of voters after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol last year”)
And more of his solution:
. . . The Times also needs to report aggressively and plainly on the racism, misogyny, and Christian nationalism that fuels the right, rather than covering it up with euphemisms.
Real independence manifests itself in exposing racial injustice and the civilian toll of US air strikes. It manifests itself in holding accountable institutions like the Supreme Court, the Department of Homeland Security, the Centers of Disease Control, major corporations, and, yes, both political parties—without fear or favor.
What he means by “both political parties” is apparently “one political party”—Republicans. God knows they ar the major danger to our democracy, but the solution to a Democratic victory cannot lie in slanting a paper whose news reporting is biased to the progressive Left towards the even farther left. Or in calling those who vote for Republicns racists, misogynists, or Christian nationalists. For THAT is disinformation!
For one thing, most Americans who vote for Republicans don’t read the New York Times. It would seem a far better for the Democrats to beef up their message to the people on immigration, the economy, and other issues that people care about than for one guy to hector the new editor of the NYT. Face it—we’re near the usual midterm downswing anyway, and it doesn’t help that the Democrats are fractured and Biden often appears senescent, with an all-time low approval rating.
But Froomkin’s solution to the wokeness of the New York Times appears to be for it to become more woke.