The New York Times responds to attacks on its writers by saying it’s the victim of a right-wing conspiracy to discredit the paper

Three days ago I reported about the decade-old tweets of New York Times senior staff editor Tom Wright-Piersanti, who when younger issued a spate of anti-Semitic and anti-Indian tweets that were pretty vile.  Although another Times writer had been fired for tweets just as bad, the paper also decided not to fire Sarah Jeong, a senior tech editor who also wrote a fair few bigoted tweets. (Her apology came with the excuse that she was just responding in a humorous way to the attacks she’d received as a “woman of color.”)

At any rate, I didn’t feel strongly about whether the NYT should fire Wright-Piersanti, but they certainly should let us know what they think about the issue. Now they have—twice. First, the paper’s publisher, A. G. Sulzberger, issued a statement, and the paper also has a long article on today’s site. Both pieces are in the screenshots below, and you can read them by clicking on the shots.

It’s sort of ironic that the response of the paper is to argue (correctly) that the attacks on Wright-Piersanti are part of a right-wing campaign by “Trump allies” to discredit the paper by finding a history of bad behavior of its writers. (This campaign is apparently orchestrated by Arthus Schwartz, a friend an “informal advisor” to Trump.) And of course it’s news to show that the Right is going after Times writers. But this isn’t Watergate: at least so far, there is no known involvement of Trump or anybody in government.  In other words, the paper is beefing that it’s being victimized by the same sort of tactics used by the Authoritarian Left to discredit its enemies, even though the paper itself is slowly joining the authoritarian Left.

The reason for the attack from the Right is presumably because the paper has been a constant annoyance to Trump and his minions.  And that’s almost certainly true, but if the discrediting of the writers is also true, then I lose some sympathy for the Times‘s beefing.  But of course a campaign to discredit the paper, conducted by people on the Right close to the President, clearly is news. It would be even more newsworthy if what the Right dug up on the Times were lies. But they apparently aren’t.

Well, read the statement and the article:

Sulzberger couches this in somewhat apocalyptic terms given that no involvement of Trump or government employees has been found. He also emits a lot of self-praise for the paper.

We published an article today revealing a coordinated campaign by President Trump’s allies to attack hundreds of journalists in retaliation for coverage of the administration. This unprecedented campaign appears designed to harass and embarrass anyone affiliated with independent news organizations that have asked tough questions and brought uncomfortable truths to light.

The New York Times, which has distinguished itself with fearless and fair coverage of the president, is one of the main targets of this assault. Unable to challenge the accuracy of our reporting, political operatives have been scouring social media and other sources to find any possibly embarrassing information on anyone associated with The Times, no matter their rank, role or actual influence on our journalism. Their goal is to silence critics and undermine the public’s faith in independent journalism.

This represents an escalation of an ongoing campaign against the free press. For years the president has used terms like “fake news” and “enemy of the people” to demonize journalists and journalism. Now, the political operatives behind this campaign will argue that they are “reporting” on news organizations in the same way that news organizations report on elected officials and other public figures. They are not. They are using insinuation and exaggeration to manipulate the facts for political gain.

The statement goes on, lauding the paper and its writers for “braving this type of pressure daily to bring essential information to the public.”

Is this worthy of a statement from the editor? Who knows? It’s worth noting that the statement contains no specifics about the attack (the news piece does), and fails to mention Tom Wright-Piersanti, though the article below notes that “The Times said it was reviewing the matter and considered the posts ‘a clear violation of our standards’.”

But Sulzberger does say this, without giving specifics:

But I also want to be clear: No organization is above scrutiny, including The Times. We have high standards, own our mistakes and always strive to do better. If anyone — even those acting in bad faith — brings legitimate problems to our attention, we’ll look into them and respond appropriately. It is imperative that all of us remain thoughtful about how our words and actions reflect on The Times, particularly during this period of sustained pressure and scrutiny. We all play a part in upholding our commitment to “give the news impartially, without fear or favor.”

Fair enough. Let’s see what they do with Wright-Piersanti.

The much longer article in today’s paper:

An excerpt from the article:

WASHINGTON — A loose network of conservative operatives allied with the White House is pursuing what they say will be an aggressive operation to discredit news organizations deemed hostile to President Trump by publicizing damaging information about journalists.

It is the latest step in a long-running effort by Mr. Trump and his allies to undercut the influence of legitimate news reporting. Four people familiar with the operation described how it works, asserting that it has compiled dossiers of potentially embarrassing social media posts and other public statements by hundreds of people who work at some of the country’s most prominent news organizations.

The group has already released information about journalists at CNN, The Washington Post and The New York Times — three outlets that have aggressively investigated Mr. Trump — in response to reporting or commentary that the White House’s allies consider unfair to Mr. Trump and his team or harmful to his re-election prospects.

Operatives have closely examined more than a decade’s worth of public posts and statements by journalists, the people familiar with the operation said. Only a fraction of what the network claims to have uncovered has been made public, the people said, with more to be disclosed as the 2020 election heats up. The research is said to extend to members of journalists’ families who are active in politics, as well as liberal activists and other political opponents of the president.

It is not possible to independently assess the claims about the quantity or potential significance of the material the pro-Trump network has assembled. Some involved in the operation have histories of bluster and exaggeration. And those willing to describe its techniques and goals may be trying to intimidate journalists or their employers.

But the material publicized so far, while in some cases stripped of context or presented in misleading ways, has proved authentic, and much of it has been professionally harmful to its targets.

And apparently the campaign has hit home, for what’s below sounds like ideology (or rancor) bleeding into the news:

The campaign is consistent with Mr. Trump’s long-running effort to delegitimize critical reporting and brand the news media as an “enemy of the people.” The president has relentlessly sought to diminish the credibility of news organizations and cast them as politically motivated opponents.

Journalism, he said in a tweet last week, is “nothing more than an evil propaganda machine for the Democrat Party.”

Well, consistent with Trump’s behavior, perhaps, but the White House denied that Trump or anyone in the White House knew about this campaign. If that’s true (and who knows?), then the two paragraphs above are not journalism, but part of a rancorous media war between the NYT and the President. And this, too, seems more like editorializing than news—and remember this is a news piece:

The operation has compiled social media posts from Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and stored images of the posts that can be publicized even if the user deletes them, said the people familiar with the effort. One claimed that the operation had unearthed potentially “fireable” information on “several hundred” people.

. . . “Two can play at this game,” he [Sam Nunberg, a former aide to Trump and friend of Schwartz] said. “The media has long targeted Republicans with deep dives into their social media, looking to caricature all conservatives and Trump voters as racists.”

But using journalistic techniques to target journalists and news organizations as retribution for — or as a warning not to pursue — coverage critical of the president is fundamentally different from the well-established role of the news media in scrutinizing people in positions of power.

“If it’s clearly retaliatory, it’s clearly an attack, it’s clearly not journalism,” said Leonard Downie Jr., who was the executive editor of The Post from 1991 to 2008. Tension between a president and the news media that covers him is nothing new, Mr. Downie added. But an organized, wide-scale political effort to intentionally humiliate journalists and others who work for media outlets is.

But who pretends that this campaign is “journalism”? What has happened is that the Right, stung by the paper’s coverage of Trump, has used the playbook of the Left to discredit reporters. Who cares if it’s journalism of the Times stripe? And, anyway, doesn’t the Times want to know about the history of its writers? After all, they’ve never said that such histories are irrelevant to the credibility of the writers; and they even apologized for what Sarah Jeong tweeted.

To be fair, if Trump or anyone in government is conducting a campaign against the press, I’d deem that clearly wrong, and an attempt to intimidate the free press that’s necessary in a democracy. In fact, Trump has been trying to discredit the liberal media from day one, and that’s wrong, too. But this may be an independent action of Trumpies, in which case I find it harder to criticize, especially if real information about the writers—information that’s useful to know—comes out.

I don’t have much of a dog in this fight, but I do find it ironic that the main journalistic organ of the Left is beefing about being a victim of tactics perfected by the Left: demonizing people by digging through their social-media history.

57 Comments

  1. GBJames
    Posted August 26, 2019 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    sub

    • Filippo
      Posted August 26, 2019 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

      sub

  2. BJ
    Posted August 26, 2019 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    As Jenny Haniver and I both noted regarding the latest editor to have extremely racist tweets unveiled: facts are facts, no matter their sources. Just because someone on the Right revealed facts that are embarrassing to a Left institution doesn’t make the facts a “right-wing smear,” just as criticizing “The Gang’s” antisemitism is not an attack on women of color who have the temerity to speak up, but rather an attack on antisemitism. Facts are facts, and they don’t make me like the people or groups who revealed them any more or less, but they also don’t suddenly become fiction or “smears” based on their sources. If you don’t want embarrassing facts like this revealed, try not hiring racists and sexists or, in the case of the Democratic Party, supporting them merely because they’re part of your tribe and Republicans happen to be criticizing them (I’m particularly worried about this latter situation, as Trump has managed to get Democrats to tacitly back the antisemitism of the gang simply by opposing them himself. Sometimes, when your enemy is right, you have to agree with them, or you’re forced into a box you shouldn’t be in).

    I would also note that it’s the Times’ own adopted philosophy that people like this latest editor must be punished severely. Normally, that’s supposed to mean losing their job and being hounded out of their industry, but, in the case of Piersanti, it apparently only means a demotion, and in the case of Jeong, it apparently means being hired to be an editor (though her tweets were racist against white people and sexist against men, so they don’t count according to this philosophy).

    • Michael Scullin
      Posted August 26, 2019 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

      Very smug. Don’t injure yourself too badly patting yourself on your back.

      • EdwardM
        Posted August 26, 2019 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

        Uncalled for and rude.

      • BJ
        Posted August 26, 2019 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

        I don’t know what was smug, besides your response, nor what was uncalled for, considering it all related to the topic at hand. But whatever.

        • darrelle
          Posted August 26, 2019 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

          I think EdwardM was criticizing Michael Scullin.

          • BJ
            Posted August 26, 2019 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

            Ah, yes, I accidentally thought Michael said “uncalled for” as well. Apologies to EdwardM, I wasn’t trying to address him.

      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted August 26, 2019 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

        Where did that come from? If you’ve got a criticism, make it – don’t just tone police.

  3. BJ
    Posted August 26, 2019 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    “The operation has compiled social media posts from Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and stored images of the posts that can be publicized even if the user deletes them, said the people familiar with the effort. One claimed that the operation had unearthed potentially ‘fireable’ information on ‘several hundred’ people.”

    OMG! NYT, say it isn’t so! They’re taking pictures of these racist, sexist posts in case the people who made them try to erase their bad behavior? What horrifyingly unscrupulous treachery!

    “But using journalistic techniques to target journalists and news organizations as retribution for — or as a warning not to pursue — coverage critical of the president is fundamentally different from the well-established role of the news media in scrutinizing people in positions of power.”

    Ah, I see. This is interesting. So, the media can use facts and uncover stories to delgitimize and/or criticize others, but others can’t do the same to them. The media can even do it with a political angle, but others with a political angle can’t do it to them. “Using journalistic techniques” here simply means “uncovering facts,” and, apparently in the NYT’s estimation, only journalists are allowed to expose facts embarrassing or damaging to others.

    This is insanity.

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted August 26, 2019 at 11:07 am | Permalink

      I think the guy in question is an asshole. I don’t know whether he should be fired or not since these tweets were from almost a decade ago, and I haven’t seen enough context, but they certainly look anti-Semitic at the very least.

      But let’s not pretend that this behaviour, as outlined, is how the press normally operates vis-a-vis politicians, and that it’s simply the same tactics being reflected back at them. This isn’t a case of politicians(or allies of politicians) using legitimate press tactics on the press itself; this is the unearthing and archiving of material by political operators so that they can use said material to blackmail journalists in the future. That’s the claim being made at least.

      If the press did something like that you’d be up in arms, and rightly so. When the press has done that kind of thing in the past they have been roundly criticised for it. It’s considered scummy, crappy behaviour.

      You can say that the NYT should have criticised their writer for his anti-Semitism, and perhaps fired him, but these are not morally legitimate tactics that Trump’s allies are using, and it would be “apocalyptic” if they ever became legitimate.

      • BJ
        Posted August 26, 2019 at 11:16 am | Permalink

        “This isn’t a case of politicians(or allies of politicians) using legitimate press tactics on the press itself; this is the unearthing and archiving of material by political operators so that they can use said material to blackmail journalists in the future.”

        I’m honestly not sure I see the difference. If an editor at one of the largest and most influential papers in the world tweeted horribly antisemitic and racist things, even if they were nine years ago, how is it different to report on that than it is to report on the improprieties of a politician from a decade or more ago? The press does that regularly. One doesn’t even need to archive things most of them time. Hell, even if archiving/taking photos of tweets and other posts of reporters for use later is what Trump’s team is actually doing (and, right now, there is zero evidence for this beyond the NYT’s convenient claim of it), it’s very, very unlikely that this practice started before he became the nominee for President. I would agree that, if they’re doing this, it’s slightly more insidious than what the press does, but the only difference is not reporting on it immediately. And it isn’t “blackmail” unless they’re keeping it secret and demanding something in return. We know of no episode where some journalist or news source was secretly contacted with a message saying, “stop criticizing Trump or we’ll release this horribly damning information about you.” It’s just delayed reporting.

        • Saul Sorrell-Till
          Posted August 26, 2019 at 11:35 am | Permalink

          That is the claim that is being made by the NYT, and that is specifically what I’m talking about. And of course there’s a difference between immediate;y reporting something as news, which is entirely legitimate, or instead hanging onto it so that in the future they will be able to use it against the journalists in question. One is reportage, the other is blackmail.

          And no-one’s going to explicitly say ‘stop criticising Trump or else'(well, some of them might, but then some of his allies are really jaw-droppingly thick). All they have to do is make it be known that they have this information. It’s as simple as that.

          I think the NYT should grow a moral backbone and get this guy to either come out and apologise in the paper, or fire him. Either way they should explicitly deal with it. But I’m not going to hop on some ra-ra bandwagon, as though they’re getting what’s coming to them, and the tactics, explicit tactics, of Trump’s allies to defame anyone who criticises Trump are legitimate.

          Now I think if you want to say there’s no proof that Trump’s allies are doing this, that’s a separate issue. Personally I find it not just plausible but entirely likely, and indeed there’s plenty of evidence that these are _exactly_ the kind of rank tactics that Trump and his allies use, but if you think otherwise, okay.
          But to argue that it’s entirely normal and acceptable to release damaging information solely about critics of Trump, and furthermore to argue that those tactics are exactly what the media do every day, and we’re okay with that when it happens…no. No that’s just not the case.

          • BJ
            Posted August 26, 2019 at 11:56 am | Permalink

            Then I think we’ll have to agree to disagree about nearly everything here because (1) there are plenty of outlets devoted solely to taking down Trump and his allies (and the NYT increasingly seems to be one of them); (2) the definition of blackmail according to Google is “the action, treated as a criminal offense, of demanding payment or another benefit from someone in return for not revealing compromising or damaging information about them,” and, unless these people are saying to the NYT “either stop being mean to Trump or we’ll release this info,” it’s not blackmail, it’s delayed reporting; and (3) I believe Trump and his allies are capable of most things, including what the NYT is claiming, but I’m not going to simply believe them (especially when they’re the ones who have something to gain from the claim) just because it’s possible.

            • Saul Sorrell-Till
              Posted August 26, 2019 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

              1. No, the NYT hasn’t got a history of doing anything remotely resembling what the Trump allies are accused of doing. But if they had, you would criticise them and you’d be right to do so. That was my point.

              2. The idea that blackmail doesn’t exist unless you explicitly demand payment or some kind of return from the person who’s being blackmailed is an entirely specious argument in this context. It might work in a court of law, but we’re not talking about that.
              If an ally of Trump tells a journalist they have damaging information on them, and then hangs up the phone, that’s blackmail by any reasonable definition of the word.

              3. I didn’t ask you to simply believe the NYT. Nevertheless, this is their claim, and, equally, to dismiss it isn’t rational either, especially given how closely it fits the MO of Trump and his grifting sewer of allies.

              …www.youtube.com/watch?v=DVsjJ6lHEm8

              • BJ
                Posted August 26, 2019 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

                I’d give you mostly the same responses (except on point 1, as I never said what you’re responding to), but, like I said, agree to disagree.

              • Saul Sorrell-Till
                Posted August 26, 2019 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

              • BJ
                Posted August 26, 2019 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

                Haha! If there’s one thing we can always agree on, it’s the brilliance of the Simpsons 🙂

                Thanks, Saul. I always appreciate the civility with which you conduct yourself in our discussions, even if we’re often disagreeing.

              • Saul Sorrell-Till
                Posted August 26, 2019 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

                Politeness is the curse of the Englishman. I’m trying to train myself out of it but it’s not really working.

                But yes, looks like we found an area of agreement…anyone who likes The Simpsons can’t be ALL bad.

              • BJ
                Posted August 26, 2019 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

                I disagree!
                Politeness is a blessing. Don’t change a thing.
                This is probably when Ken comes by to say, “get a room you two” 😛

    • Filippo
      Posted August 27, 2019 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

      ” . . . the well-established role of the news media in scrutinizing people in positions of power.”

      From my reading of the paper, the NY Times does not restrict its scrutinizing to “people in positions of power.” It will write about/go after any private citizen, however (un)notable, it chooses to. The Times doesn’t like to be similarly scrutinized.

  4. Posted August 26, 2019 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    Trump’s goons may well be targeting the NYT’s writers. But reporting the facts (and Wright-Piersanti’s disgusting past tweets are, unfortunately, the facts) is not irresponsible journalism. Wright-Piersanti is now trying the “Kavanaugh defense” by claiming his tweets were just college kids having fun.

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted August 26, 2019 at 11:20 am | Permalink

      I don’t know, maybe I’m just a total saint, but I managed to live through my adolescence and college years without leaving a trail of anti-Semitism on social media. Weird.

      The tweets remind me rather strongly of similar comments that were unearthed and linked to a particularly awful human being whose name is banned in these quarters. They were the same kind of douchey shock-humour about race, and they helped to drive said twat-who-shall-not-be-named’s career off a cliff. He’s now working for North Korea’s in-flight magazine or something.

      • EdwardM
        Posted August 26, 2019 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

        eep. I don’t know who that is and I’m afraid to ask….

        • Saul Sorrell-Till
          Posted August 26, 2019 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

          He’s a terrible, awful, plagiarist arse with the initials ‘CJ’. I’ll leave it at that.

          • BJ
            Posted August 26, 2019 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

            Two things we agree on! You know, if we met in real life, we’d probably agree on 90% of things. It’s funny how the internet can amplify disagreements, although I imagine it also has to do with the content we specifically discuss here.

  5. Posted August 26, 2019 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    Indeed. What’s more critics of the woke hate-mob have warned them that it will come back and bite them. If they destroy the value of truth; make it not only acceptable but imperative to use the private against someone to get them fired or otherwise in hot water, then all of that will be used against them as soon as the Right has learned social media, too. (actually, Sokal warned of eroding truth a generation ago, and here we are in the post-truth). I’d deplore this development, but it’s also Karmic Justice.

    Only if Trump’s administration was actually involved, the NYT has maybe a leg to stand on. Otherwise, they make themselves ridiculous. Not only because they looked the other way before, and allied themselves with wokeness (which I maintain isn’t left, or liberal), but also because Conservatives are utter swine when it comes to political campaigning, famous mud-slingers and master of digging up dirt.

  6. Matt Young
    Posted August 26, 2019 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    The main journalistic organ of the Left? I have always considered the Times to be terminally centrist. I suppose they are leftist by comparison with those who pass for Republicans today, but by the standards of, say, a social democrat, they are pretty tame.

    • Posted August 28, 2019 at 11:46 am | Permalink

      And *I* regard the NYT as conservative.

      (As opposed to crazy, which things like Fox News, etc. are)

  7. Jon Gallant
    Posted August 26, 2019 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    If a Republican (or, worse yet, a Trump supporter) were to point out the existence of gravity, politically correct thinking would indignantly reject the evidence as signs of an alt-right conspiracy. I am continually reminded of episodes of many, many years ago, when I tried to direct the attention of a pro-Communist family member to first-hand testimony about the police state and the Gulag by emigrés who had fled the USSR. The family member rejected all such testimony on the unanswerable ground that such witnesses were “anti-Soviet”.

  8. dd
    Posted August 26, 2019 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    I think many longtime readers of the Times have noticed how much editorializing bleeds into its news reporting.

    It’s odd, and does not look good for the Times, that itself is trying to discredit revelations of true-events: a trove of nasty Tweets.

    I read enough of the right-wing press to know that it will skillfully milk this to the nth degree.

    At the end of the day, it’s largely the left that has made it fair game to dig thorough a person’s public and semi-public statements and use that as ammunition against people from all sorts of political and social backgrounds.

    And not only that, but to engage in historical revisionism and judge present day people and events by historical standards.

    Some willingness to be a bit forgiving would have gone along ways….think of Senator Franken and what was done to him.

    • darrelle
      Posted August 26, 2019 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

      “At the end of the day, it’s largely the left that has made it fair game to dig thorough a person’s public and semi-public statements and use that as ammunition against people from all sorts of political and social backgrounds.”

      I don’t think this is really the case. Gamergate is a classic example. These tactics have been around since humans lived in small tribal groups, many thousands of years prior to the internet and social media. The left is certainly making use of such tactics presently, no argument there.

      “And not only that, but to engage in historical revisionism and judge present day people and events by historical standards.”

      Satire? The right has been engaged in historical revisionism at levels at least one, if not two, orders of magnitude above the left for decades.

      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted August 27, 2019 at 6:11 am | Permalink

        Absolutely.

  9. dd
    Posted August 26, 2019 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    Question: Let’s say the Trump administration were involved, So what?

    (Sorry for the rude way of asking that question.)

    • EdwardM
      Posted August 26, 2019 at 11:46 am | Permalink

      A better question; using a political office to blackmail the press is not a problem to you?

      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted August 26, 2019 at 11:51 am | Permalink

        +1

        This is where Trump’s slow and steady normalisation of shit-bag behaviour leads us. ‘So what?’.

  10. Ken Kukec
    Posted August 26, 2019 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    Somewhere the ghost of Richard Nixon must be smiling. When his goons wanted dirt on the press, they had to resort to black-bag operations. Now reporters themselves have their own dirty laundry left hanging out on a line in the public domain forever.

    • EdwardM
      Posted August 26, 2019 at 11:50 am | Permalink

      Ah. The old Goose – Gander equivalency. As Aneris said upthread – they were warned.

    • Posted August 26, 2019 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

      It is ironic then that Nixon was undone by his own dirty laundry hanging out on good old audio tape.

  11. DrBrydon
    Posted August 26, 2019 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    From the New York Times article:

    “It’s one thing for Spiro Agnew to call everyone in the press ‘nattering nabobs of negativism,’” he said, referring to the former vice president’s famous critique of how journalists covered President Richard M. Nixon. “And another thing to investigate individuals in order to embarrass them publicly and jeopardize their employment.”

    So only the press is allowed to investigate individuals to embarrass them and jeopardize their employment? Sauce for the goose. . . .

    • BJ
      Posted August 26, 2019 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

      Well, it’s also OK for people from Left-affiliated activist circles to do this, and to regular, private citizens, no less. For years, activists have been seeing tweets from random private citizens, doxxing them, harassing them, and calling their workplaces to get them fired. I haven’t heard any outcry from the NYT over this until now, and only with regard to the Right doing it to them. This isn’t some private citizen, but an editor for one of the biggest and most influential papers in the world.

      • Richard Sanderson🤴
        Posted August 27, 2019 at 6:07 am | Permalink

        I remember PZ Myers moaning about “Slymepitters” or “GamerGaters” supposedly doxing someone, while he simultaneously defended the idea of doxing people he didn’t like.

    • EdwardM
      Posted August 26, 2019 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

      Well, if one is an elected official it IS the job of the press to uncover and report on embarrassing details about the official. It gets unseemly when those details are salacious but Nixon’s defenders weren’t complaining about the news media reporting on his private indelicacies, they were reporting on secret and often illegal attempts to subvert the rule of law.

      But yeah, there is some schadenfreude in seeing the press squirm for a change. So long as it is private citizens unmasking journalists misbehavior (e.g. not directed by or associated with any political office), although it is just as nasty and ugly, they can’t say they weren’t warned.

  12. Diana MacPherson
    Posted August 26, 2019 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    I’m perplexed as to why the NYT is upset that people have exposed facts. Fight facts with facts. Why bring in a whole conspiracy even if it’s true? Let me give the NYT a little advice I learned as a young woman: if you’re going to complain about something that is being done to you, do it with cold facts. Anything else and they’ll call you crazy.

    • dd
      Posted August 26, 2019 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

      Thank you for writing what you wrote. And what’s amazing is that they were on facebook and twitter and other social media! Frankly, twitter scares me so I have no account and never have posted.

      I take it you know that colleges and employers are now in the habit of doing deep dives into applicants’ online history.

      (I can tell you that for the right, the Kavanaugh hearings are still very raw.)

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted August 26, 2019 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

        Believe me, as an “out” atheist who uses her own name all over the place, I often wonder if it has or will bite me in the ass but I don’t want to work for bigots. If you don’t like that I’m an atheist that tends to support liberal thinking that we weren’t meant to work with each other.

      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted August 27, 2019 at 6:15 am | Permalink

        “I can tell you that for the right, the Kavanaugh hearings are still very raw.”

        Really? He got hit with credible, serious accusations of past misbehaviour before being given one of the most important jobs in the country. He still got that job, despite being a hyperpartisan Trump pick brought in specifically to counter the Muller investigation and despite almost certainly lying on oath.

        And the right has the fucking gall to be “raw” about that? They can join the club then because there are plenty of people who are raw about that for justifiable reasons rather than made-up ones.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted August 26, 2019 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

      Also, this story seems a bit like a non sequitur. Sure, address Trump’s horrible attacks on the fifth estate but let’s save that for an article about the free press. Let’s discuss what’s going on with your writers. I’m genuinely interested in what they have to say about this.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted August 26, 2019 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

        And I really should have said the “fourth estate” but the “fifth” might get lumped in too since they seem indistinguishable, which is part of the discussion about freedom of the press I’d be interested in hearing from NYT in another article separate from this one.

  13. Randall Schenck
    Posted August 26, 2019 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    Sorry but I do not see the Times article as anything but journalism. When operatives on the right are mounting a hit job on journalist it needs to be reported. When those involved are known operatives of Trump and his crew, such as Arthur Schwartz, this also should be in the story. Of course the white house denies it, they lie about everything. Digging into the personal background of anyone and then throwing it all over the conservative internet to discredit individuals is not journalism. What this all is if we want a name for it, is nasty propaganda and right out of Putin’s playbook.

    Better get use to it because the internet platforms make their living off of this crap and everyone else thinks it’s news.

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted August 26, 2019 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

      Yes, the desire to see some egg on NYT faces seems to be giving Trump’s allies a lot of room to manoeuvre. If what they’re accused of is true – and you don’t have to look far to see examples of them doing exactly this kind of thing – then it’s extremely newsworthy. I’d rather the NYT hadn’t wrapped the story up in a defence of this editor of theirs, but even so it’s another example of the kind of moral flotsam that is attracted to Trump’s orbit.
      As for who I believe between Trump’s allies and the NYT(even an NYT with its back to the wall) – there’s only one winner there.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted August 26, 2019 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

        There seems to be a surprising lack of understanding or identification of propaganda on the internet and journalism in a newspaper. That is sad. We took action after Pearl Harbor. We also took action after 9/11, although much of it was wrong. However, after the Russian cyber attack on our elections in 2016 we have done almost nothing. One of the reasons for this is the people’s ignorance in not understanding or believing what took place. If the people here at this web site do not see the difference between journalism and personal assassination I do not see much hope.

  14. Posted August 26, 2019 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    This seems like silly behavior by NYT. Rule #1 when confronting a bully, you don’t tell him that his punches hurt. The only reasonable reaction to Trump and his minions demonizing your newspaper is to double-down on fair and accurate reporting. By all means don’t make it look like a partisan battle as that plays directly into the false equivalence arguments.

  15. Posted August 26, 2019 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    Excellent piece.

  16. Posted August 26, 2019 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    Excellent piece.

  17. rickflick
    Posted August 26, 2019 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

    The irony here is that some Times writers could have been anti Semitic or could still be and have written some nasty opinions. On the other hand Trump is obviously an entire burlap bag…er…truckload full of heinous delusions which subvert the entire culture and threaten the world economy and world peace. Where’s the equivalence in that?

  18. rickflick
    Posted August 26, 2019 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

    Borowitz: Trump Blasts Media for Reporting Things He Says.


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