November 15, 2019 by hotminnie
Since Donald Trump won the 2016 election, America’s paper of record has become a house organ for his resistance. Pet issues like polyamory have received too much attention, while important issues like Hunter Biden’s corruption have received scant follow up.
That’s how the New York Times looks from the outside. From the inside, it looks much worse.
Most other Timesfolk don’t know us. We do not participate in the paper’s Slack channels or town hall meetings. After new software was installed to gauge what the paper’s staff was reading online, we have begun to print out copies off site of Bret Stephens and Ross Douthat columns. Inside the paper’s bureaus and newsroom, these printouts are a kind of samizdat, reminding us of what America’s most important newspaper could be, but too often isn’t.
We are not the deep news. We are the steady news. We do what we can to prevent the Times from publishing errors, fictions, and ideological imbecility. We have sabotaged style rules and regulations when we can to save what’s left of the Times‘s integrity. But it is an uphill struggle and one I fear we may not win.
In 2018, the Times came very close to eliminating all gendered pronouns in their news copy. A similar proposal, which required the preferred pronouns for bylined reporters and subjects of news stories, nearly became house style had our team not stolen the proposal from Dean Baquet’s desk last summer.
That same year, following a Bari Weiss tweet that incorrectly quoted a line from the musical Hamilton, the paper nearly printed a 14-byline op-ed from staffers revoking Weiss’s status as a millennial. We prevented its publication by arguing that revocation of generational status (which should only be determined by the year of one’s birth) was akin to revoking citizenship. Three of those 14 bylines have since been promoted.
Speaking of op-eds, it gives me no pleasure to report that the Times was going back and forth in edits and revisions with Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi before the Delta Force ended his life last month. The working title of his op-ed was “Why I hate Donald Trump, but Love His Syria Policy.”
By now, you’ve already heard about the maladroit attempt to suppress the fact that Senator Elizabeth Warren lies about her personal backstory.
These are some of the worst examples. But nearly every day, the steady paper subtly tries to save the Times from itself. For example, we nearly published a two-star review of Lin Manuel Miranda’s rather mediocre Hamilton.
Don’t get me wrong. There have been bright spots in the last few years. Ken Vogel’s coverage of Hunter Biden’s corruption has been top notch. But even these journalistic triumphs have come with a cost. Vogel was almost featured in a New York Times Magazine cover story on Journalists Enabling Trumpism.
We hope that the Times will rediscover its mission of performing excellent and fearless journalism after the Trump presidency ends in 2025. Until then, please know that there are still editors and reporters at the old gray lady who put paper first.