Over the weekend, a friend shared a WSJ story about the increasingly open, some might say now fully-bared, political partisanship of the New York Times, from the culture of the newsroom itself to the way that culture is causing the paper’s increased political radicalism and open advocacy for the pet viewpoints and social projects of its staff.
That article was interesting and worth reading, but what I found far more interesting was a linked article containing an in-depth analysis of the recent (read: Trump Era) history of the paper’s approach to, well, everything. Everything from news, to opinion, to (by some tortured woke logic) racial politics.
As is obvious to everyone who reads or watches the news, the media writ large adopted a uniformly partisan approach to reporting on the Trump presidency, with a visceral hatred of the Trump personage as their driving spirit. In other words, it was wildly apparent that the open hatred for Trump displayed in every day media coverage went beyond simple policy disagreements (such as, for example, a liberal paper opposing the Bush tax cuts), beyond even blatant partisanship (such as an openly Democratic newspaper opposing any Republican policy or politician by default), and veered transparently into seething personal hatred for the man himself.
Citing a prominent front-page story that the Times printed in August of 2016 and a book by media scholar Andrey Mir on the New Ethic of Journalism, the author describes how the Times knowingly and openly decided that it was time to
“throw out the textbook American journalism has been using for the better part of a half-century” and leap vigorously into advocacy. Trump could not safely be covered; he had to be opposed.
The old media had needed happy customers. The goal of post-journalism, according to Mir, is to “produce angry citizens.”
The news agenda became narrower and more repetitive as journalists focused on a handful of partisan controversies—an effect that Mir labeled “discourse concentration.” The New York Times, as a purveyor of information and a political institution, had cut itself loose from its own history.
This piece in City Journal is a really excellent article going over the history of the New York Times and its reporting since Trump, how they changed their approach to journalism generally, in the sense of prioritizing advocacy over reporting facts, in the sense of taking an openly and aggressively adversarial approach to a president rather than objective reporting, and how that has contaminated all of their reporting and every decision they make since then.
Not only that, it’s a near-perfect proxy for and explanation of how all other mainstream media have revamped their approach in the last four years, such as CNN, NPR, the networks, other papers, etc. The specifics for each media outlet may differ, but the reasoning, approach, and result has uniformly been the same. You cannot distinguish the new “journalistic standards” of the New York Times from any other major mainstream media outlet.
I highly recommend this article, so please read it if you can, in whole or in spurts, or bookmark it for later. I do think it’s actually “important,” as a general resource for recent history, and to send to friends to help them understand the media environment of the last four years that we still live with today.
It’s a tad long, but not really for a traditional newspaper article (though it’s not from a newspaper, I just say that for old people like me who used to read newspapers). I’d say it’s about a 15 minute read. Very good food for thought.
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