Monday, March 13, 2017

The New York Times can’t possibly rededicate itself to the truth because they never cared about it in the first place

Rather than broadening its appeal, the Times seems to be pursuing more of the same old crowd that already buys The Old Gray Lady—snobby liberals
writes Benny Huang.
It isn’t difficult to guess which target audience the New York Times was aiming for with its new advertising campaign launched during the ultra-politicized (and ultra-liberal) Academy Awards. Rather than broadening its appeal, the Times seems to be pursuing more of the same old crowd that already buys The Old Gray Lady—snobby liberals.

The ad features black letters across a white screen blaring “The truth is our nation is more divided than ever” followed by a series of claims all beginning with “The truth is…” Some of these assertions might originate in the mouth of a liberal (“The truth is women’s rights are human rights”), while others might be uttered by a conservative (“The truth is we have to protect our borders.”) The ad’s message, if I understand it correctly, is that the New York Times stands ready to help its readers navigate a churning sea of competing truth claims. The ad concludes: “The truth is more important now than ever.”

Lurking within the Times’s slick new sales pitch is the insidious implication that the value of truth fluctuates over time in the same manner as cattle futures or precious metals. Right now that value is at an all-time high. I can only conclude that the New York Times didn’t value truth as much in days gone by.

Naturally I would expect the Times to defend its sacred honor. They might say that they cared about the truth in the past—but they care even more now. In true Spinal Tap fashion, the Times has cranked up the truthiness from ten…to eleven! And I’m sure that’s how their new slogan was intended to be understood.

But that’s not how comparatives work. If truth is “more important now than ever,” it must have been somewhat less important in the past. When might that have been? Perhaps it was when the New York Times’s very own Walter Duranty was concealing the horrors of Stalin’s Soviet Union from its readership—and won the Pultizer Prize for it? No, I don’t think that’s what they meant. Or was it when their affirmative action baby Jayson Blair was caught making up whole stories? That can’t be it either.

So what did they mean? The ad’s subtext isn’t difficult to interpret: Barely more than a month into Donald Trump’s presidency, the most circulated newspaper in the country suddenly promised its readers even more “truth.” The New York Times was clearly promoting itself as a Trump Administration Survival Guide of sorts. It’s going to be a long four years, so curl up with the newspaper of record and let their crack team of reporters get you through till 2021!

Will the New York Times concern itself as much with truth (or “truth”) four years from now? Well, that all depends. If Donald Trump wins reelection the New York Times will only increase its already considerable regard for the truth. But if his Democratic challenger wins, the Times’s passion for truth won’t burn so hot anymore. Has there ever been a better definition of journalistic bias? When the value that journalists place on truth rises and falls with elections, that’s prima facie evidence that the news is slanted.

Even if the Times doesn’t realize it, their “now more than ever” mantra is an admission of guilt. Deep down they know that they let the last guy off easy—but now things will be different! To be sure, the Times and the larger media establishment fought a few battles with the Obama Administration. Former editor Jill Abramson called the previous administration “the most secretive” she had ever dealt with. In the twilight of the Obama Administration the paper ran a scathing editorial entitled “If Donald Trump Targets Journalists, Thank Obama.”

But the New York Times never advertised itself as an Obama Survival Guide, either overtly or by innuendo. They spun the news his way most of the time because they largely shared his agenda. President Obama, however, was not satisfied with only 98% positive coverage. He wanted the newspaper to read like a White House press release every morning without exception. Obama picked a fight with the press but the press picked a fight with Trump.

I should mention that I totally support a vigorous free press. It wouldn’t bother me at all if the Times started caring about all those things they didn’t care about when Obama reigned supreme—enumerated powers, checks and balances, and federalism, for example. As long as the truth is their only agenda, I believe some robust journalistic oversight of this administration is in order. Unfortunately, I don’t think truth will be their agenda because it never has been.

The Times lies. A lot. There are many considerations it elevates above the truth but none more than their own deranged sense of “justice.” A telling example can be found in its coverage of the transgender bathroom wars. That story heated up again in recent weeks when a gender-dysphoric Virginia teenager, Gavin Grimm, seemed on the verge of taking her case to the Supreme Court. The court recently decided that it will not hear her case.

In story after story the Times has referred to Grimm with male pronouns and as “Mr.” They seemed to go out of their way to tell their readership that this confused 17 year-old girl is actually a boy. A naïve reader might think that the whole story is about a boy who isn’t allowed to use the boy’s bathroom, which is the exact deception that the propagandists want people to internalize. This story is about the freedom to pee, don’t you know? Except it isn’t. It’s about the freedom to speak the truth when powerful forces demand that you believe a lie.

Gavin Grimm’s femaleness is a fact—not an opinion, viewpoint, prejudice or conceptualization. It is not a social construct and it wasn’t “assigned” to her by the obstetrician who stamped her birth certificate. When people use male pronouns to refer to her they are consenting to a lie—which is itself a form of lying. If the New York Times wants to demonstrate its new and improved truth focus, it could start by not lying to its readers about Grimm and her story. That might hurt Grimm’s feelings, but so what? The New York Times is, or claims to be, concerned with truth first and foremost.

One of the Times’s premiere liars is its chief White House correspondent, Glenn Thrush. Thrush only began working for the Times in 2017 and he was hired for the prestigious position despite (or because of) the fact that he was caught submitting portions of an article he was working on to Clinton surrogate John Podesta for his approval. (In the email, Thrush even called himself a “hack” which is probably the most truthful thing he’s said in a while.) He recently penned what was supposed to be a factual news item about Trump’s second attempt at a temporary travel ban from terrorist hot spots, though it wasn’t subtle in its attempt to downplay the threat of Islamic terrorism.

According to Thrush, “Muslim extremists have accounted for 16 out of 240,000 murders in the United States since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.” Wow! There’s wrong and then there’s crazy wrong. Even if we assume Thrush’s self-serving baseline (since 9/11), which necessarily excludes the largest terror attack in American history by design and by default, Thrush’s nifty factoid isn’t even close to the truth.

Omar Mateen, the infamous Pulse nightclub shooter, killed more than three times that many people (49 in total) all by himself. A Muslim married couple in San Bernardino killed 14. And that doesn’t include the Chattanooga and Little Rock recruiting station shootings, the Boston marathon bombing, the Fort Hood shooting, the St. Cloud mall stabbing, and the Ohio State rampage. Even the Beltway Sniper case had an Islamist (and racist anti-white) angle and could be counted as Islamic terror.

How could Thrush have gotten the number so wrong? Was it just an honest mistake? I doubt it. Whenever bias rears its ugly head, claims of mere error can usually be laid to rest by asking one simple question—what are the odds that this writer would have made a proportional mistake in the other direction? It stretches credulity to think that Thrush might have overblown his number by a factor of five or six instead of minimizing it by the same factor.

Glenn Trush lied to advnce his agenda. The Times’s factcheckers must have been on vacation or something because they also failed to catch this obvious falsehood. Or are they similarly unconcerned with the truth?

The New York Times can’t possibly rededicate itself to the truth because they never cared about it in the first place. It’s a newspaper written by liars for audience that likes being lied to. It’s Fake News™ of the worst variety and should be treated as such.

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