Documentation. Witnesses. Facts. Truth. That's what they're afraid of.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Has The NYT Forfeited Its Place As the Paper of Record?

I'm not going to entirely rehash my disdain for the New York Times; I've done it enough. But I found some irony in an article the NYT published today about what the press is facing:

Am I saying we shouldn't bail out the NYT if it and its reporters need defending against the creeping anti-media, proto-fascist attacks? Of course we should. My point is that once their asses are out of the fire, we should stop pretending they should be treated like they belong on the front lines. They're the boy who didn't cry wolf when there was a pack of them bearing down on the village.

The Times should've realized that freedom of the press was in peril from the minute Trump won the nomination, if not quite a bit before, and sounded the alarm at that point. But they didn't. This is a true story from my time volunteering for Clinton, along with a lesson the Times didn't learn after the election:

But the level of obsequiousness it takes for someone [Times reporter Maggie] Haberman who Trump referred to by name as a "third-rate reporter" and about whom a friend of hers told me a month or so that she worried for her safety because of the things Trump said regarding her to open with a polite, "I’d like to thank you for being here" is just mind-boggling. Historians will need to coin a special term for that sort of treatment as they conduct a post-mortem on this era.

With the exception of the Washington Post (probably because Trump banned them from his appearances for a while), most of the rest of the mainstream press wasn't that much better than the Times during the election, particularly CNN and its inclusion of Trump surrogates that did nothing but lie being mostly held in the same esteem as those telling the truth.

Most of the major publications that I follow have learned some lessons from the 2016 election.

CNN has done a good jo for making up for their sins. They often appear to have Trump surrogates on just to ridicule them. Conservatives don't appear to get an equal number of slots on their panels anymore, and it's made the news much more informative.

MSNBC is a mixed bag -- they've got Reid, Hayes, and Maddow still going strong, but don't seem to be committed to those sorts of voices, no matter how popular they are.

And the Washington Post has been excellent; I in fact subscribed to them last week, and I haven't paid for access to a traditional news publication in at least 15 years.

But the Times? Still blowing it. Their parroting the clearly untrue party line about Kushner is irresponsible:

The Times was not able to report the detail about using Russian secure communications facilities for the secret channel but neither did it dispute that part of the story. The key detail in the Times story is an alternative version of why Kushner and Flynn were trying to do this.
It is unclear who first proposed the communications channel, but the people familiar with the meeting said the idea was to have Mr. Flynn speak directly with a senior military official in Moscow to discuss Syria and other security issues. The communications channel was never set up, the people said.
The three people were not authorized to discuss the December meeting and spoke on the condition of anonymity. The White House declined to comment on Friday night.
If this explanation were proposed by anyone else I would say it was absurd on its face. But it comes under the bylines of three of the Times’ best reporters. Is this credible?
I would say it is not a credible explanation, at least if by that we mean an explanation of some legitimate activity.

The NYT has had some issues with being "incredible" (in the negative sense) in the past. What I'm wondering is just how many times they can do that while stiff being the first place millions of people, including lots of liberals and moderates, look to for news.

Scott Lemieux cites a piece by Daniel Davies from the Iraq War period concerning credibility in media and government:

There’s nothing wrong with reporters printing the administration line, per se, but given that these people lie about everything unless a claim can be corroborated it really needs to be approached with a great deal of skepticism, skepticism that is notably lacking in the story. Davies is again relevant here:
Fibbers’ forecasts are worthless. Case after miserable case after bloody case we went through, I tell you, all of which had this moral. Not only that people who want a project will tend to make innacurate projections about the possible outcomes of that project, but about the futility of attempts to “shade” downward a fundamentally dishonest set of predictions. If you have doubts about the integrity of a forecaster, you can’t use their forecasts at all. Not even as a “starting point”. By the way, I would just love to get hold of a few of the quantitative numbers from documents prepared to support the war and give them a quick run through Benford’s Law.
Application to Iraq This was how I decided that it was worth staking a bit of credibility on the strong claim that absolutely no material WMD capacity would be found, rather than “some” or “some but not enough to justify a war” or even “some derisory but not immaterial capacity, like a few mobile biological weapons labs”. My reasoning was that Powell, Bush, Straw, etc, were clearly making false claims and therefore ought to be discounted completely, and that there were actually very few people who knew a bit about Iraq but were not fatally compromised in this manner who were making the WMD claim. Meanwhile, there were people like Scott Ritter and Andrew Wilkie who, whatever other faults they might or might not have had, did not appear to have told any provable lies on this subject and were therefore not compromised.

The Times really is a Jekyll and Hyde publication. They break some of the most important stories in the world, and yet they've helped Republicans cover up bombshells and attacked Democrats for no good reason. I have some theories as to why, but it's safe to say that they're not coming at the news from the right perspective when we see ads like this:

Why should the paper want to be part of the story? When that happens, we get crap like this which, in this case, resulted in the election of the exact person who would be extremely dangerous to their existence and to the safety of their reporters.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Josh Marshall, the publisher of Talking Points Memo (which is essentially the "paper" of record for this shitty blog as far as I'm concerned), is downright bashful about a small opportunity to say that he waded into history, and it's rather endearing... I would not use the word "endearing" to describe the Times at all.. Except for maybe Paul Krugman; he just looks like a teddy bear!

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