Friday, June 5, 2020

The Civil War at The New York Times

620 8th Ave
Things are getting crazy at 620 8th Ave in New York City, home of the New York Times.

 There is a war going on between the old guard and the snowflake new guard at the Gray Lady .

The battle has emerged into the open as a result of an op-ed published in the paper by the super-warhawk neoconservative senator from Arkansas, Tom Cotton.

His essay is what you would expect from this "always support violence for my team" man.

This was the epicenter of his opinion in the piece:
The pace of looting and disorder may fluctuate from night to night, but it’s past time to support local law enforcement with federal authority. Some governors have mobilized the National Guard, yet others refuse, and in some cases the rioters still outnumber the police and Guard combined. In these circumstances, the Insurrection Act authorizes the president to employ the military “or any other means” in “cases of insurrection, or obstruction to the laws.”
This venerable law, nearly as old as our republic itself, doesn’t amount to “martial law” or the end of democracy, as some excitable critics, ignorant of both the law and our history, have comically suggested. In fact, the federal government has a constitutional duty to the states to “protect each of them from domestic violence.”
Of course, all the lefties, in knee jerk reaction, objected to the argument. You have to wonder if they would always be consistent on this point if say a lefty called for some kind of national guard deployment to help enforce a lefty agenda but at least in this case the lefties, all of them, were on the correct side against the Cotton call for federal military intervention.

That said, this is where the left unity on the issue started and ended.

The old guard saw the publishing of the piece as a way to understand the thinking of the opposition in the form of a perspective delivered by a United States senator. Something that could be debated and challenged.

 James Bennet, The Times editorial page editor, explained things this way in a follow up comment to the op-ed:
We published a piece yesterday that angered many readers, including many of my colleagues here at The Times. It was an argument by Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas in favor of using federal troops to stop the looting and violence that accompanied some protests in recent days.

I addressed our decision to publish the Op-Ed on Twitter yesterday, but because I thought this might be on your mind, and because it’s certainly weighing on my own, I thought I should write about it here as well.

I strongly oppose the idea of using federal troops. My position on this is reflected in that of The Times’s editorial board, which has criticized the president’s use of federal forces in Washington, D.C., fiercely defended the protesters as patriots, and condemned police brutality and called for thoroughgoing reforms. The board warned this week that the First Amendment is already under assault from the abuses the police have committed against peaceful protesters and journalists trying to do their jobs.

I’m personally fearful that adding the military to the mix would only lead to more violence against the innocent. As our columnist Nick Kristof writes, “Trump’s deployment of troops for political purposes would betray our traditions, damage the credibility of the armed forces and exacerbate tensions across the country.”...

We published Cotton’s argument in part because we’ve committed to Times readers to provide a debate on important questions like this. It would undermine the integrity and independence of The New York Times if we only published views that editors like me agreed with, and it would betray what I think of as our fundamental purpose — not to tell you what to think, but to help you think for yourself...

I worry we’d be misleading our readers if we concluded that by ignoring Cotton’s argument we would diminish it...
Cotton, a Republican and a combat veteran, serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Select Committee on Intelligence. He has a direct line to the White House, and he’s a likely presidential candidate in the future. What he thinks may very well become government policy, which means it demands interrogation.

Another criticism, though, is precisely that because Cotton is a senator he doesn’t lack means to make his views known — and in fact he already has, over Twitter. That’s true. But I think having to stand up an argument in an essay is very different than making a point in a tweet. And while Cotton could have made this argument at length in another venue, Times readers might not have been introduced to it and been able to challenge it.
Old-guard Times columnist David Brooks via Twitter stepped into the fray to support the publication of the piece:
Stating that Cotton type articles caused him "to think," may not have been the best choice of words for a Timesman who makes his living by taking a measure of the world and stringing words together to discuss it. The tweet managed, not in a good way, to trend on the front page of Twitter.

The trending was mostly because of the attack replies which were of typical Twitter quality, though AEI pro-government resident scholar Norm Ornstein did get this good one off:
But the real story is that Bennet, Brooks and the rest of the old guard is coming under attack from the young snowflakes in the building who also cash checks signed by Arthur O. Sulzberger, Jr.

In a series of tweets. The Times Staff editor and opinion writer Bari Weiss provided a frontline account:
The civil war inside The New York Times between the (mostly young) wokes the (mostly 40+) liberals is the same one raging inside other publications and companies across the country. The dynamic is always the same. (Thread.)

The Old Guard lives by a set of principles we can broadly call civil libertarianism. They assumed they shared that worldview with the young people they hired who called themselves liberals and progressives. But it was an incorrect assumption.

The New Guard has a different worldview, one articulated best by
@JonHaidt and @glukianoff . They call it "safetyism," in which the right of people to feel emotionally and psychologically safe trumps what were previously considered core liberal values, like free speech.

Perhaps the cleanest example of this dynamic was in 2018, when David Remnick, under tremendous public pressure from his staffers, disinvited Steve Bannon from appearing on stage at the New Yorker Ideas Festival. But there are dozens and dozens of examples.

I've been mocked by many people over the past few years for writing about the campus culture wars. They told me it was a sideshow. But this was always why it mattered: The people who graduated from those campuses would rise to power inside key institutions and transform them.

I'm in no way surprised by what has now exploded into public view. In a way, it's oddly comforting: I feel less alone and less crazy trying to explain the dynamic to people. What I am shocked by is the speed. I thought it would take a few years, not a few weeks.
I sure hope The Times old-guard wins this, though I doubt it. The paper will become even more boring and a chore to read (which as a writer on current affairs, I will have to do to keep up on the latest nutty trends) if the snowflakes gain total control and all available to read will be articles discussing the links between climate change, COVID-19 and racism.


Sulzberger is buckling.

From a report this morning in The Times:

On Thursday morning, Mr. Sulzberger had sent an email to the staff backing the Op-Ed’s publication.

“I believe in the principle of openness to a range of opinions, even those we may disagree with, and this piece was published in that spirit,” he wrote. “But it’s essential that we listen to and reflect on the concerns we’re hearing, as we would with any piece that is the subject of significant criticism. I will do so with an open mind.”

He added, “We don’t publish just any argument — they need to be accurate, good faith explorations of the issues of the day.”

On Thursday night, Mr. Sulzberger struck a somewhat different tone in a Slack message sent to company employees. He said that “a rushed editorial process” led to the publication of an Op-Ed “that did not meet our standards.” He added that an editor’s note from the newspaper’s standards department was on its way.

“Given that this is not the first lapse, the Opinion department will also be taking several initial steps to reduce the likelihood of something like this happening again,” Mr. Sulzberger said. He added that the opinion section would “rethink Op-Eds, generally” for the social media age.
 Also, The Times issued a statement saying the essay fell short of the newspaper’s standards.
We’ve examined the piece and the process leading up to its publication. This review made clear that a rushed editorial process led to the publication of an Op-Ed that did not meet our standards. As a result, we’re planning to examine both short-term and long-term changes, to include expanding our fact-checking operation and reducing the number of Op-Eds we publish.

Per Jonathan Swan:
More than 160 NYT employees planned a “virtual walkout” for Friday morning over the
@SenTomCotton op-ed, per NYT.


1 comment:

  1. If you're familiar with Lenninist/Manistee methodologies it can be easy to cynically dismiss the snowflakes' perennial whining as a sort of power play. That's true for the cleverest among them, but don't forget that for most of them it's not an act, and they really are overwhelmed with inescapable anxieties about race and climate and Covid, but most of all they are terrified that they will be the next one to step out of line and face ritual execution by the mob.

    If we want to change how people think we first must understand the world as it actually exists inside their minds.