New York Times Reporter Who Denounced Paper For Cotton Editorial Under Fire For Advancing Absurd Conspiracy Theory

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New York Times Magazine reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones was one of the journalists who denounced the New York Times for publishing the views of a conservative U.S. Senator on the use of troops to quell rioting in U.S. cities.  Hannah-Jones applauded the disgraceful decision of the Times to apologize for publishing such an opposing viewpoint and denounced those who engage in what she called “even-handedness, both sideism” journalism.  Now Hannah-Jones has deleted a tweet advancing an anti-police conspiracy theory.  When Hannah-Jones and others objected to the publishing of the views of Cotton, opinion editor James Bennet was rustled out to make a pleading apology. That however was not enough. He was later compelled to resign for publishing a column that advocates an option used previously in history with rioting. Unlike the editor of the Times, however, such theories are not viewed as cause for resignation or “both sideism.”  The concern for many of us is that the media is not just losing its touchstone of neutrality but continues to apply  vastly different standards for journalists and editors, even at the same newspaper.

Hannah-Jones has been at the forefront of the debate over the protests including her controversial position that the destruction of property “is not violence.” Yet, she has also spoken powerfully about the emotions and anger underlying these protests.  In 2020, she won a Pulitzer Prize for commentary for her work on The 1619 Project examining the history of slavery. She has promoted herself as “The Beyoncé of Journalism” and “smart and thuggish.”

In her now deleted tweet, Hannah-Jones promoted a thread that discussed how the recent injuries and destruction caused by fireworks was not the fault of protesters but actually part of a police conspiracy. This is occurring at a time when police are trying to quell the use of these fireworks in New York and other cities. These incidents are becoming more and more of a concern for residents both in protests and random attacks. This includes the recent incident involving the victimizing of a homeless man and effort of the police to identify the culprit:

As criticism of the use of fireworks have grown so has a conspiracy theory on the Internet is that the fireworks are part of a police plot “to disorient and destabilize the #BlackLivesMatter movement.” The thread promoted the view of a person identified as Robert Jones, Jr. that

“The media is reporting this as though it’s just Black and Brown kids blowing off steam, but I don’t believe that’s the case. My neighbors and I believe that this is part of a coordinated attack on Black and Brown communities by government forces; an attack meant to disorient and destabilize the #BlackLivesMatter movement.”

When confronted on her republishing of this conspiracy theory, Hannah-Jones deleted the tweet and apologized.  That was the correct response.  However, the incident does not seem to have prompted any reconsideration of the recent move against the Times or its editors. In that incident, they published not a conspiracy theory but a column on a power held by the federal government for decades and used repeatedly in history.

This was just a tweet and we have all made bad calls on occasion with the hair-trigger technology of Twitter.  However, the incident highlights the troubling and fluid standard over what is permitted for publication or promotion. I am more concerned with Hannah-Jones’ widely cited views of journalism than this wayward tweet.

Hannah-Jones has been at the forefront in demanding that the media prevent others from offering opposing views.  She was one of the first to pile on the editors and demand that the newspaper block such viewpoints.  At the time, she suggested that Cotton’s editorial was advancing unconstitutional ideas (it was not) and, while suggesting that the column was factually in error, she never bothered to state what fact was untrue.

She told CNN:

“So this adherence to even-handedness, both sideism, the view from nowhere doesn’t actually work in the political circumstances that we’re in. And what a lot of people said is that, you know, it is fine. We as a news organization must air the opinion of someone like Senator Tom Cotton, but in a news article where we can check the facts, where we can push back, that you don’t just hand over your platform to someone that powerful making assertions that might have been unconstitutional and, most certainly, some of them were not accurate.”

I did not agree with Cotton’s editorial and opposed the use of federal troops. However, Cotton’s column was referring to the constitutional use of troops and was accurate in its references to the historical use of such power.  He was simply wrong in my view on the need and the wisdom of using such an option. That is the point of an opinion page. It allows for such views to be debated.

Instead, Hannah-Jones insisted that it was the duty to prevent such views from being read by simply declaring it “misinformation”:

“Senator Cotton certainly has the right to write and say whatever he wants in this country, but we as a news organization should not be running something that is offering misinformation to the public unchecked. Many of us journalists said there should have been a news article where his views were aired but in a way that was factual, because we know we are struggling with Americans getting misinformation and our role as journalists is to give people correct information so they can make decisions.”

This blog has focused on free speech and free press issues for many years.  We have defended the rights of many with whom we disagree. Indeed, I would defend the right of Hannah-Jones and Robert Jones Jr. in voicing or promoting these conspiracy theories.  Ironically, Hannah-Jones can now count on the toleration for such inflammatory viewpoints.

However, the incident highlights the inherent danger of embracing Hannah-Jones’ attack on what she calls “even-handedness, both sideism” in the media.  As I said at the time, the apology of the New York Times and the removal of its opinion editor was an act that would stand unrivaled in journalistic infamy.  The problem is that, once you discard the bright-line rules of journalism of offering both sides, we are left with this inconsistent and incoherent standard of one-handedness and one-sideism.

87 thoughts on “New York Times Reporter Who Denounced Paper For Cotton Editorial Under Fire For Advancing Absurd Conspiracy Theory”

  1. Breathlessly waiting for all the backlogged posts where dear leader promotes tweeter posts of the vilest kind – without ever deleting them.

    Keep on pushing both-side-ism. It worked in 2016, it will not work in 2020.

  2. The whole idea of “taking sides” as a professional journalist is repugnant. Doing so strongly implies willingness to uphold a narrative, and to prevent counter-narrative information from being disseminated.

  3. Crickets from JT,

    OT

    https://twitter.com/ggreenwald/status/1275914162800136197

    “Glenn Greenwald
    @ggreenwald
    The Trump DOJ’s attempt to imprison Assange for working with his source to publish classified documents that exposed US war crimes is the most severe US threat to press freedom since 2016. It’s sickening to watch so many journalists ignore it, & so many liberals cheer it:”

    https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/wikileaks-founder-charged-superseding-indictment

  4. Now woke DIXI CHICKS are changing their name to just CHICKS. Can’t wait till they learn ‘Chicks’ is sexist. They are self-canceling. Are their statues of the group that can be knocked over?

    Savaronola convinced Florentines to have a bonfire of their vanities and burn their precious belongings. .

    Then they realized what they had done to themselves and burned Savaronola.

    Wonder how long before we get to that phase of this madness?

    1. Young – isn’t calling them “Chicks” kind of demeaning? Asking for a lot of friends.

      1. Paul– It is kind of demeaning and sexist. Probably racist too. Black women are never called chicks.

        I imagine someone will point it out to them. Maybe they can be less offensive and just call themselves ‘Women’. Oh, oh, sorry. Not inclusive enough. Too anti-trans and anti-the other stuff. Maybe their brand can be “Humans” though it doesn’t immediately bring to mind their music and it might be hard to trademark. They should just give up and learn to code in Ebonics– it’s the coming thing.

        1. Their song ‘Goodbye Earl’ was great! I think all the post-modern, PC, sloppy, foolish thinking should be named Earl for brevity’s sake and disappear into oblivion. I am so fed up with the nonsense.

          1. Prairie Rose – maybe they could become “The Group Formerly Known as The Dixie Chicks”?

            1. The Group Formerly Known as The Chicks, Formerly Known as The Dixie Chicks.

              I think that’s where it’s headed.

              I wonder what is going to happen to Rebel Yell whiskey?

            2. 🙂

              Last time they raised the ire of their fan base, people ran over their CDs with tractors. Pressing delete, as they’d have to nowadays, just won’t give the same level of satisfaction, I think.

              1. “Last time they raised the ire of their fan base, people ran over their CDs with tractors.”
                ******************
                I thought they changed their name then to the Dicks-He Chix.” My bad.

                1. Yes Mespo let me round that out more fully

                  maybe they will seek to garner some of the trans limelight and become “chicks with dix”

          2. Rose– ” I am so fed up with the nonsense.”

            Me too. I think I will buy a Confederate Flag and a bottle of Rebel Yell and sit on my porch and see what happens.

            1. Young – maybe they could name themselves the Earlettes? I have copyrighted that name so they will have to buy it from me. The trademark application is in the works. 😉

            2. Most people haven’t a clue as to what a RE Lee battle flag stood for. Mespo wrote on the subject a good while back, but like now it seems like mushrooms after a rain storm.

      2. chicks is derived from the Ladino/ Yiddish word Shiksa, a derogatory word for a gentile woman

        however, it seems to me that it came into their argot from the Spanish, “chica” which means girl, and is not derogatory in itself

    2. I think they were at a career peak during the period running from 1999 to 2006. Maybe they fancy a re-branding will help them sell records.

  5. The MSM continues to demonstrate how they are nothing more than tools of the democrat party who spew propaganda into the homes of Americans who foolishly rely on them for information. Most recently, neither ABC, CBS nor NBC reported on the fact that the democrats killed Sen. Scott’s police reform bill. Next, the democrats will claim that the Republicans have done nothing about police reform and the bobble-headed anchors/ news readers will report it as if it is true.

    1. Honest– Too true. I couldn’t do a job where I had to lie every day. But then, I am reasonably sure some of them don’t know much about the ‘news’ so that would make it tolerable. But somebody behind their steady river of falsehoods knows what he is doing and is simply evil.

  6. “The concern for many of us is that the media is not just losing its touchstone of neutrality but continues to apply vastly different standards for journalists and editors, even at the same newspaper”

    where is this newspaper that is credible…where can I get a subscription?

    are we talking about here in the US?

    I’m very confused.

    are there actually ANY respectable, credible, consistent investigative journalists at ANY MSM/Paper?

    where are they…? point to them!

    Brother Jonathan…you are quite the understated analyst!

    protip: you want world class dependable falsifiable investigative journalism? hop over to https://theconservativetreehouse.com/.com …You’ll find perhaps the most reliable, fact based reporting AND analysis collected there….It has a very significant bias though..so be prepared…GOD, TRUTH, COUNTRY. and none of this koolaid bullcorn.

  7. Hannah-Jones is NOT a journalist! The woman, although half-white, is a black activist who uses “journalism” to promote her quack theories. Her bachelor’s degree is in African American Studies, a bogus field created in the sixties in order to attract black students to use their government student loans and GI Bill benefits. Her goals are the same as Black Lives Matter, to establish a Marxist/socialist government in this country.

  8. Neutrality in media is not important, a commitment to fairness and accuracy is. Neutrality is an ideological trope that conceals bias, plain and simple. Glenn Greenwald and Bill Keller had a very comprehensive exchange on this issue in 2013:

    https://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/28/opinion/a-conversation-in-lieu-of-a-column.html
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1SF06BxTVTWw7bLJ7RFkYWG07GbD_gZJTrDLBxMuRxaM/edit?usp=sharing

    Nicole Hannah-Jones is more problematic than simply being a menace to freedom of speech. She is the primary propagator of the NY Times 1619 Project, one of whose fundamental claims is that the American Revolution was fought to preserve slavery. This racialist slander of the founding ideals of the United States has been thoroughly debunked by the World Socialist Website, a review of which is strongly recommended.

    1. Neutrality in media is not important, a commitment to fairness and accuracy is.

      Well, they don’t have that either.

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