September 14, 2016

VIA PAUL RAHE, Observations on Pravda-on-the-Hudson from an old liberal.

So let me tell you about what the New York Times has been doing in its silo recently. In its editorials it has — repeatedly — thoroughly condemned Trump and passionately endorsed Clinton. I would expect no less on the editorial page of a liberal New York newspaper and, as a private business, the Times certainly has a right to express its opinion. But — ?מה לעשות — the Times still claims on its masthead that it will print “All the News That’s Fit to Print,” in which case it still claims to print what is true, yes? But that principle has gone out the window, and with it, in my opinion, the journalistic excellence that used to characterize much of political reporting in the Times.

Here are recent headlines from the International New York Times, where the original articles (not editorials) come from the New York paper. “Trump Losing Support of G.O.P Women” (August 11); “One Backer Stands Firmly With Trump: The N.R.A.” (August 12); “Trump’s Lapses Hamper Him in Key States” (August 13-14); “Inside the Operation to Save Trump From Himself” (August 15); “Secret Ledger in Ukraine Lists Cash for Trump Aide” (August 16); “Psychiatrists Are Torn Over Weighing in on U.S. Race” (August 17); “Big Break: Trump Casinos’ Tax Debt Cut Under Christie” (August 18).

Every one of these articles started on the front page, except for “Inside the Operation…” which appeared on p. 6. Every one of them projected a negative image of Trump, either for his odious character, his perverse remarks, his deranged supporters, or his incompetent staff. And this happens every day, some of it fed by what Clinton says about her opponent while she offers little beyond opaque platitudes about where she stands. I am still wondering, for example, exactly what she “got done” (encouraging Bill to support NAFTA? advising Obama to bomb Libya?) in order to justify saying that “I am a progressive who gets things done” (as opposed to Bernie Sanders, who was naïve and unrealistic, right?)

Posting articles which blast Trump is a form of editorial promotion on the page where news rather than opinion is supposed to appear. But beyond that, the truth is that — substance-wise — many of these same articles flow from rumors, innuendoes, gossip, libelous accusations, malicious put-downs, partisan contentions, and anonymous sources. Such articles are less like top-notch journalism than they are like character assassinations.

Well, the NYT ran a bogus story claiming an affair between John McCain and a lobbyist in 2008, so, you know. . .