Mea Culpa: New York Times Caves To Protests And Apologizes For Posting Conservative Opinion

440px-The_Yellow_Press_by_L.M._GlackensIn an act that virtually stands alone in the abandonment of self-defining values, the New York Times last night caved to protests from its own writers to apologize for publishing a conservative opinion piece by a ranking Republican senator. On Thursday, the editors had rightfully held firm on the need for the paper to hear all viewpoints as publishing a column by Sen. Tom Cotton (R, Ark.) calling for the use of military troops to quell rioting.  Times editorial page editor James Bennet and Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger issued defenses of the use of the opinion section to hear all sides of such national controversies. We discussed that position yesterday and many of us heralded the editors for their courage despite the overwhelming calls for private censorship.  Then, the newspaper and its journalistic ethics entirely collapsed with an announcement that effectively declared an original sin “mea culpa, mea culpa, mea máxima culpa” (“through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault.”

The column by Cotton was discussing a statutory option used by presidents in the past in times of riot.  He was arguing that troops could be used support insufficient law enforcement numbers.  He stresses that his column concerns the violence not the protests. While I disagree with the column, Cotton does not denounce the protests or the protesters. Rather than he objects to “a revolting moral equivalence of rioters and looters to peaceful, law-abiding protesters. A majority who seek to protest peacefully shouldn’t be confused with bands of miscreants.”  In doing so, he not only cited the history of such use but cautioned that it should only be used temporarily to get hold of the situation:

“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.’ Throughout our history, presidents have exercised this authority on dozens of occasions to protect law-abiding citizens from disorder.”

I have repeatedly opposed such a move as unnecessary and inimical to the exercise of free speech. However, it is a major policy question being discussed by one of the key member of Congress.  Instead of responding to the arguments, various writers demanded that the editors be removed and no such opposing views be published in the Times.

download-1In a breathtaking surrender, the newspaper has apologized and not only promised an investigation into how such an opposing view could find itself on its pages but promised to reduce the number of editorials in the future.  In a statement that will go down in journalistic infamy, the newspaper announced:

“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 reduction the number of op-eds we publish.”

The prior attacks on the newspaper capture the rising intolerance for opposing views in our society. This action shows that such attacks can succeed even with the largest and most esteemed publications.

We have seen the expansion of speech codes and regulation on campus and calls for private censorship by companies ranging from Twitter to Facebook. Politicians, including Vice President Joe Biden, have called for removal of comments deemed misinformation, including political commentary. What is most chilling about this controversy is that this intolerance for opposing views has not only reached our major newspapers but the demands are coming from journalists and writers themselves. This is akin to priests declaring their opposition to the free exercise of religion.  You cannot claim to support free speech and seek to silence those who hold opposing views.

225px-BrandeislAs Justice Brandeis said, the solution to any bad speech is more speech, not forced silence. When editors run columns, they do not endorse the sentiments or viewpoints. They foster debate and dialogue in allowing alternative views to be heard. Sen. Cotton was advocating an option that has been used previously in this country and is a focus of debate in Washington. These writers would impose a bar on any who would argue for the option, leaving the newspaper little more than a hollow echo chamber of approved speech. As I stated, I have opposed the option discussion by Sen. Cotton. However, I find the anti-free speech views of these writers far more chilling than his exercise of free speech.

The anger over the editorial shows the cost of echo journalism and how far it has penetrated in the profession. Too many have become so accustomed to news delivered in a hermetically sealed echo chamber that even the appearance of an opposing view is now offensive and intolerable.  Some of these writers supply the very echoes that bounce unchallenged on many sites. The New York Times just formally declared that it would reframe its publication to be a part of the echo journalistic model.

I have been a columnist and commentator for decades and I never thought I would see the day when writers called for private censorship of views.  We are gleefully killing the very thing that sustains us.

240 thoughts on “Mea Culpa: New York Times Caves To Protests And Apologizes For Posting Conservative Opinion”

  1. I understand the complexities of a military presence during a civilian protest, but I also found the footage of the carnage in largely minority communities disturbing to my core, and warranting military protection. And that I can’t make this statement out loud in my community without being deemed a supporter of police brutality or somehow racist, this I find chilling. Or were I to say “I’d sure as sh** want the National Guard around if a mob were busting up my property…” makes me a Trump supporter somehow. It may be because of my privilege that I would expect the armed guards to be benevolent protectors of me-an American Citizen–while I am on US soil, or that my experience with the police force is positive—and I am glad to have them around. Regardless of why I would have these opinions, they are valid opinions, and since opinion is a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or complete knowledge, everyone’s opinion is valid. An op-ed, short for “opposite the editorial page”, is a written prose piece typically published by a newspaper or magazine which expresses the opinion of an author usually not affiliated with the publication’s editorial board. What are the Op-Ed “standards” the NYT is referring to? What fact checking is needed if opinions, by definition, are not based on fact? And maybe that is the core of the free speech crisis in America, the media expounds opinion as fact, and the public, perhaps unwittingly, consumes it this way. Not different from State controlled media that we so loathe. And yes, the protests will exacerbate the pandemic and threaten and kill many American lives, and I am not a Republican for saying so.

  2. The column below In the Post is from George Will, one of the last true Republicans left, and one who is worthy being compared to that other great conservative mind and writer, William F. Buckley. Masterful. Enjoy the skewering.

    Trump must be removed. So must his congressional enablers.
    By George Will
    June 1, 2020 at 1:18 p.m. MDT

    This unraveling presidency began with the Crybaby-in-Chief banging his spoon on his highchair tray to protest a photograph — a photograph — showing that his inauguration crowd the day before had been smaller than the one four years previous. Since then, this weak person’s idea of a strong person, this chestpounding advertisement of his own gnawing insecurities, this low-rent Lear raging on his Twitter-heath has proven that the phrase malignant buffoon is not an oxymoron.
    Presidents, exploiting modern communications technologies and abetted today by journalists preening as the “resistance” — like members of the French Resistance 1940-1944, minus the bravery — can set the tone of American society, which is regrettably soft wax on which presidents leave their marks. The president’s provocations — his coarsening of public discourse that lowers the threshold for acting out by people as mentally crippled as he — do not excuse the violent few. They must be punished. He must be removed.
    Social causation is difficult to demonstrate, particularly between one person’s words and other persons’ deeds. However: The person voters hired in 2016 to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed” stood on July 28, 2017, in front of uniformed police and urged them “please don’t be too nice” when handling suspected offenders. His hope was fulfilled for 8 minutes and 46 seconds on Minneapolis pavement.
    What Daniel Patrick Moynihan termed “defining deviancy down” now defines American politics. In 2016, voters were presented an unprecedentedly unpalatable choice: Never had both major parties offered nominees with higher disapproval than approval numbers. Voters chose what they wagered would be the lesser blight. Now, however, they have watched him govern for 40 months and more than 40 percent — slightly less than the percentage that voted for him — approve of his sordid conduct.
    Presidents seeking reelection bask in chants of “Four more years!” This year, however, most Americans — perhaps because they are, as the president predicted, weary from all the winning — might flinch: Four more years of this? The taste of ashes, metaphorical and now literal, dampens enthusiasm.
    The nation’s downward spiral into acrimony and sporadic anarchy has had many causes much larger than the small man who is the great exacerbator of them. Most of the causes predate his presidency, and most will survive its January terminus.
    The measures necessary for restoration of national equilibrium are many and will be protracted far beyond his removal. One such measure must be the removal of those in Congress who, unlike the sycophantic mediocrities who cosset him in the White House, will not disappear “magically,” as Eric Trump said the coronavirus would. Voters must dispatch his congressional enablers, especially the senators who still gambol around his ankles with a canine hunger for petting.
    In life’s unforgiving arithmetic, we are the sum of our choices. Congressional Republicans have made theirs for more than 1,200 days. We cannot know all the measures necessary to restore the nation’s domestic health and international standing, but we know the first step: Senate Republicans must be routed, as condign punishment for their Vichyite collaboration, leaving the Republican remnant to wonder: Was it sensible to sacrifice dignity, such as it ever was, and to shed principles, if convictions so easily jettisoned could be dignified as principles, for . . . what? Praying people should pray, and all others should hope: May I never crave anything as much as these people crave membership in the world’s most risible deliberative body.
    A political party’s primary function is to bestow its imprimatur on candidates, thereby proclaiming: This is who we are. In 2016, the Republican Party gave its principal nomination to a vulgarian and then toiled to elect him. And to stock Congress with invertebrates whose unswerving abjectness has enabled his institutional vandalism, who have voiced no serious objections to his Niagara of lies, and whom T.S. Eliot anticipated:

    We are the hollow men . . .
    Our dried voices, when
    We whisper together
    Are quiet and meaningless
    As wind in dry grass
    or rats’ feet over broken glass . . .

    Those who think our unhinged president’s recent mania about a murder two decades ago that never happened represents his moral nadir have missed the lesson of his life: There is no such thing as rock bottom. So, assume that the worst is yet to come. Which implicates national security: Abroad, anti-Americanism sleeps lightly when it sleeps at all, and it is wide-awake as decent people judge our nation’s health by the character of those to whom power is entrusted. Watching, too, are indecent people in Beijing and Moscow.

    From Kamr

  3. Punch Sulzberger. Pinch Sulzberger, “It’s P*ssywhipped” Sulzberger, now. Consider all the othre insulting language about Sulzberger and his editorial page editor’s utter lack of courage as having been uttered by me.

  4. No doubt that the US Police must change and african american grievances addressed but let’s see now how many african americans, white and media will protest for the poor white man thrown to the ground in Buffalo and left bleeding …let’s go filming police intervention in African States

    1. You cannot claim to support free speech and seek to silence those who hold opposing views. Another new low for NYT imagine what’s left of the once respected publisher… And they unhinged

      1. The left does not support free speech. PERIOD.

        I am not sure we have seen any time in the past 300 years were an ideology with a significantly number of adherents was so openly hostile to free speech and so dogmatically committed to silencing competing ideas.

    2. None. Because he wasn’t thrown to the ground. He approached a line of police ready to clear the street and he knew it. Then beginning to backpeddle and barely touched fell over. Sorry he was hurt, but not the cops fault. Also, why don’t the protesters change. Instead of illegally blocking streets, applauding the taunting of police and giving cover to rioters. MLK would not understand what the heck happened to the protesting. When he lead them they were peaceful, although the police often were not.

      1. I agree with you, the man was not thrown down by the police and he knew he was in the police way. I am not sympathetic to him either… even if he was pushed by the police, no one would have care. . . ….

  5. Time to remember the Gell Mann Amnesia.

    The famous physicist realized that whenever he read a newspaper article on science, his field, it was wormholed with factual and logical errors. He would finish the article with disgust and then read the rest of the paper as if it were true in most respects. Of course the rest of the paper was as corrupted as the science section.

    Perhaps then the writers were at least trying to do their best, at least some of them. Now it seems that we don’t need to merely suspect the rest of the paper is distorted rubbish; the NYT editors seem happy to assure us their product is rubbish and that they will fight the hard fight to keep it that way.

    1. Young, Republicans hate the N Y Times and Washington Post for very simple reasons: ‘Republican policies never look good in well-written, detailed articles’.

      Republican policies tend to play best in brief spurts with commercial interruptions. Like Fox News and Talk Radio. In those formats personalities can make angry assertions while puffing with outrage. Viewers or listeners go with their stomachs; swayed by theatrics.

        1. I think you are misinterpreting Seth’s post which is saying when Republican policies and positions are closely examined and explained in well written articles, they look bad because most have negative consequences for the average American.

      1. Paint Chips, don’t you think the big problem with the NYTimes and WaPO is that they mix up editorial and the news? They lie and are also extremely biased. The bias was demonstrated with the Tom Cotton editorial. Was there any reason that editorial shouldn’t have been printed?

      2. Republican policies never look good in well-written, detailed articles’.

        Wow, you are such a fool. Do you believe the NYT doesn’t know how to hire the best writers? The problem with their well-written articles is they’re riddled with inaccuracies and out-of-context quotes to tell a fictional account of real world events. You don’t have a functioning left-half of your brain, so you are reliable consumer of their propaganda, because you cannot tell the difference.

        1. Olly, I’ve been a huge consumer news since an early age. By 7th Grade I was reading newspapers daily and following weekly news magazines. What’s more I identified as Republican until the age of 30.

          One of the best-written papers ever was The Wall Street Journal ‘before’ Murdoch bought it. But even under Murdoch WSJ is still a decent paper. I’d be reading it daily if they didn’t have a pay wall.

          The point is: ‘I know well-written journalism better than most people’.

          No paper’s fooling me. I know how to look for the Who, What, When, Where, How and Why

          1. @Seth Warner … You’ve got that wrong chum. You’re fooling yourself if you think you’re as clever as you think you are. You’ve managed to fool yourself into thinking you know what you’re talking about here, and that’s clearly not the case

          2. I know how to look for the Who, What, When, Where, How and Why.

            If you were anything resembling that person, then why have you penned your posts under a multitude of aliases? If your sources and analysis are impeccable, then how does that explain you not just being mildly wrong for 3.5 years, but outside the realm of reason and logic?

            Aren’t you aware of how easily you’re mind has been programmed, apparently since a young boy, by the very sources you admire? What they’ve done to your brain has deprived you of the ability to distinguish fiction from non-fiction. Both styles appear exactly the same, but when fiction appears on page 1 above the fold, if you’re not questioning the reality of the story because it is the NYT and so well written, then you will be what you have been since you arrived on this blog…demonstrably illogical, unreasonable and so pathetically wrong, that you’ve tried to hide under different names.

      3. Peter, you’ve never given any evidence that you would know what a ‘well written detailed article’ would look like. Or any evidence of having any critical engagement with what you read. Or any evidence of being able to do squat other than recite talking points.

  6. Trump Springs Surprise Troop Withdrawal From Germany

    Move Seen as Favor To Putin And Slap At Merkel

    The United States will cut its troop presence in Germany by more than 25 percent, former American officials said on Friday, as the Trump administration sends a frosty message to a major NATO ally and shrinks a military footprint long resented by the Kremlin.

    The new cap, approved by President Trump and Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper, will limit American troops in Germany to 25,000, said a former senior official with knowledge of the decision. That would mean a reduction of 9,500, or more than one quarter, from current levels.

    The move — which blindsided German officials and many American military leaders in Europe — is in keeping with Mr. Trump’s “America First” vision of limited U.S. deployments overseas, and with his insistence that allies must shoulder more of the burden for their own defense.

    It is not clear whether the plan, which was first reported by The Wall Street Journal, is final, and some former officials said they hoped Mr. Trump would reconsider. Several said that, if enforced, the troop cut would further undermine an Atlantic alliance that Mr. Trump has badly shaken, and was a gift to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, who has been eager to see a diminished American military presence on the continent.

    Edited From: “Trump Plans To Withdraw Some U.S. Troops From Germany, A Key NATO Ally”

    Today’s New York Times

    1. “Move Seen as Favor To Putin And Slap At Merkel”

      It can bee seen any way one wishes to look at it but why shouldn’t the US reduce its troops in Germany?

      1. Figure it out, old man. Trump wants to weaken NATO as much as possible before he loses in November

        1. If he wanted to weaken NATO why would Trump want the forces of NATO countries at increased readiness and why would he want to solve the NATO budget problem? Before Trump, the US was becoming NATO though eastern european nations were more supportitive of NATO’s mission and Trump more supportitive of them. Why does Germany need so many US troops? Why should the US shoulder the burden of those troops?

          1. The case can be made that by encouraging a Germany which periodically cooperates with France in creating costly military formations outside NATO’s chain of command to pay for its own defense where US troops now permit Germany to neglect its obligations toward NATO, more US money and forces become available where they are needed to protect host countries directly threatened by Russia.

            Germany obviously doesn’t care about being in NATO, or it would fund its NATO contribution at the agreed levels. Germany, not the US, is in default on its contribution to NATO. The US, along with Great Britain, Poland, Greece and a few eastern European countries are the only members of NATO funding the alliance at the levels they agreed to.

            1. “The case can be made… more US money and forces become available where they are needed to protect host countries directly threatened by Russia.”

              That is the purpose of NATO.

        2. How does a weaker NATO help the United States? What would Donald Trump gain by a weak NATO and a less secure U.S. foreign policy as a result? Nothing. By reducing our footprint in places like Germany, makes us less exposed and forces our allies to be more self-reliant for security in their own backyard.

      2. Because it is being done to appease Putin, and not in the best interests of America and our ally’s. Trump will flee to Russia if he loses in Nov, and probably take AF1 with him. All done to stay out of prison. I would bet a lot on it.

        1. I take what you say above as an attempt to be humorous because if that was not the attempt then one has to be pretty Stupid. I’m assuming that this is Paint Chips replying because it has his usual fantassies and it mimics his style.

          That is not appeasing Putin. Trump enterred against Russia with our military and killed Russians. Your idol Obama gave the Russians the Crimea and parts of Ukraine. He was a weak President more interested in the affairs of others than the affairs of American citizens. Germany is one of the richest nations in the world and is more than able to take care of itself than almost all other nations in the world. It is a selfish nation and treats the less developed eastern Europe as if the Germans are Democrats and eastern Europeans recently freed slaves that should now work on their plantation.

          Trump doesn’t believe we need to fight with Russia and he is right. Unfortuantely the despotic left of our nation in an effort to destroy Trump while hurting Americans increased the tensions between the two nations. The biggest political recipients of money being transferred from Russia to the US was none other than the leaders of the Democrat Party with the major recipient the Clintons. Money flowed back as well to create lies in the Steele Dossier something that has been totally debunked yet in your stupidity you kept telling us how true that Dossier was.

          AS far as prison goes, many prominent Democrats belong there but likely they will not pay the price for their illegal activities. When Trump leaves office he will probably go back to his more glamourous and easier lifestyle. He is a good man with a good family. You should be so lucky.

          In the meantime I understand that Moscow is sending you a whole bunch of high healed shoes for your use along with a new suppoly of fushia nail polish. They are always there to help you with your wardrobe. The CCP is there as well to satisfy whatever needs are left. You have powerful friends but unfortunately they are enemies of the American people.

    2. Punitive, IMHO. Merkel said “no” to the G7 — not wanting to be used as a political prop.

    3. More collusion from Putin’s asset – or useful idiot – in the WH.

  7. Many young people may not realize it, but there once was a time long ago in America where media participants could strongly disagree with one another on the legal issues of the day, allow each person to state his or her position without interruption, and then shake hands in the end. Here’s such an example.

    1. Thanks for the laugh. : -)
      If only the disagreements here were half as entertaining.

  8. New York is no longer America.

    The New York Times in no longer American.

    New York has been invaded.

    The New York Times is the voice of the invader.

    The people who read the N.Y. Times are the same people who read Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto and the same people who have rejected freedom, free enterprise and the “manifest tenor” of the U.S. Constitution…

    The Enemy.

    1. An Enemy so greatly feared that only a born jew would dare to utter their name. The Parasite. The synagogue of Satan. The children of the Father of Lies. The very samee people Henry Ford warned us about 100 years ago. Elizabeth Dilling, Father Coughlin, Rev. Ted Pike, and numerous others warned us, but complacency and intimidation allowed them to control not just the money supply, but the media, publication, education, and now we’re seeing their effect on the medical system.

      It’s one enemy which has succeeded in taking over many state and local governments with the goal of world rule under communism.

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