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. More wisdom from the most intelligent, thoughtful, productive people G-D ever created! And you’d better agree or you’re a hopeless BIGOT. Remember ‘white silence is violence’

    Here are some more so-called conspiracy commonly promoted by our black friends. We are know they are true though.

    Black Conspiracy Theories 101: HIV/AIDS Was Created To Extinguish Blacks

    Black Conspiracy Theories 101: Tropical Fantasy Drinks Makes Black Men Sterile?!

    Black Conspiracy Theories 101: Church’s Fried Chicken Will Make You Sterile?

    Black Conspiracy Theories 101: Atlanta Child Murders of the 80’s Were Committed by the KKK.

    Conspiracy Theory 101: Crack Is Wack But Did CIA Create It To Kill Off Blacks?

    Black Conspiracy Theories 101: Was Former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry Framed?

    Black Conspiracy Theories 101: Did George W. Bush Refuse To Sell His Home To Blacks?

    Black Conspiracy Theories 101: Did Troop Sport Clothing Line Fund KKK Activities?

    Black Conspiracy Theory 101: Did A U.S. Congresswoman Call For Hurricanes To Be Named Blacks?

    Michael Jackson’s estate owned a nearly half of Sony ATV, which made him a target of greedy executives who wanted to overtake his ownership stake, which is why he was killed. He was killed at 2 a.m. by a laser.

    Bill Cosby is being punished by executives and other powers-that-be for trying to buy NBC in the 1990s.

    https://www.complex.com/life/2016/10/black-conspiracy-theories

    https://newsone.com/tag/black-conspiracy-theories/

    NOW, if I were to say, “WHITES ARE BECOMING AND WILL BE A MINORITY IN THE UNITED STATES BY 2050”, we know this IS A CONSPIRACY THEORY and only a ‘white supremacist’ would say such a thing.

    antonio

    1. antonio – under the circumstances, I think Barry was set-up. This is not to say that if they did a test of his hair they would not find meth residue. Just for the totality of the arrest, he was set-up. 😉

      1. Yes it was a set up, but he was easy to set up and his arrest was most amusing. Even funnier when he was disciplined in prison after one of his girlfriends arrived and blew him in the visiting room while others watched. He was a horrible incompetent who presided over a tsunami of corruption and a vertiginous decline in the quality of life, but he was elected Mayor four times.

        1. @this is absurd

          Of course, Marion Barry was a joke but if you publicly question the legacy of this great man, I am afraid you will suffer the same fate of those who question the conduct of BLM or the great, masked, wonderful warriors of antifa.

          As stated by a wise statesman unaffected by western political correctness:

          “In multiracial societies, you don’t vote in accordance with your economic interests and social interests, you vote in accordance with race and religion.”

          Lee Kwan Yew – founder of modern Singapore

        2. DSS – I am not saying he is Mr Nice Guy and did not deserve to go to jail. Just that he was set-up.

      2. @paul c schulte

        Ok, even if you are correct for arguments sake, that makes them 1 for a zillion.

        But legally speaking it is not considered entrapment if the government merely provides the opportunity to commit the act in question.

        antonio

        1. antonio – here was the set-up. If you puff on this meth pipe you can bonk me. Now, you given all the givens, what is your answer going to be? Hmmmmmm 😉

  2. “The concern for many of us is that the media is not just losing its touchstone of neutrality”
    *********************************************************
    You all just noticed?

  3. Great empires and countries always rot from within. That is the path we are following. The symptoms are everywhere. We are overrun with “reporters” like the dumber than dirt Hannah-Jones whose most challenging life experiences revolve around standing in line for latte. Then there is the spoiled brat second in command of Black Lives Matter who promises to burn things down if he doesn’t get his way. We also have media whose only expertise is hiding the truth so it can push its propaganda like a street corner drug dealer. How can anyone think of them as “reporters” when when they refuse to tell their readers or listeners about the violence in the six block area of Seattle or the Chicago murders where even a little teenage girl is shot dead while dancing with her Mother. I cannot imagine that Mother’s heartbreak. But the Chicago and Seattle mayors are too weak-willed to take on the goons. A few years ago a massive riot broke out in our state prison in Huntsville. The riot was ended by two Texas Rangers and some well-placed bullets. Chicago and Seattle have plenty of brave men and women cops who could do the same but not when they are led by the embarrassments who are their mayors. Oh, I almost forgot our universities, great and small, who are pumping students full of failed ideologies and teaching them to cancel anyone who dares to disagree.

    They all can go to hell but the tragedy is they are taking the rest of us with them. In fact, we are so far down the pathway toward rot that the best the democrat party can produce to be our next President is an early stages senile old man whose values make Caligula look like a boy scout. Our best hope is that there really is a silent majority in this country who finally will rise up and take out the garbage.

  4. We have n outhouse at my marina which had rolls of news paper instead of toilet paper.
    Some folks say they won’t wipe with the NY Times because they don’t want an arse infection.

  5. Agreed, as always, with your free speech concerns, JT.

    And also, as always, agreed with editorial fact checking and truth qualification being allowed to be tacked on to an op ed. I think that’s why some of us here make a point to mention when you rely on the ‘Russian collusion was proven false’ myth sometimes in your blog entries, Jon. Whether it be through deliberate attempt to mislead or just a lazy and opinionated reading of the Mueller report, you a) have the right to publish what you wish, and b) in response have the myth acknowledged.

    Same goes for anyone. Truth is of the essence in these trying times.

      1. Hopefully, there is an understanding between you and me that there is a general problem that has gotten incrementally worse over the past 4 decades. And I’m not all that encouraged that you didn’t at least partially acknowledge it. Over policing followed by excessive or downright trumped-up charges, followed by abusive plea bargain tactics, mainly directed against the poor, disproportionately minority, do not result in what happened in the Flynn case. They result in a bunch of people with criminal records, who inexplicably have those records held against them for the next 80 years of their life, and nothing is ever done about it. And they’ve had it.

  6. “…we as a news organization should not be running something that is offering misinformation to the public unchecked…”
    Well there’s go most of your publications then, Miss HannahHyphenatedJones. Especially the 1619 Propaganda.

    “…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.”

    She must be confused. What she ought to be saying is, ‘We are struggling to get Americans as much misinformation as possible and our role as journalists is to give people incorrect information so they can make bad decisions that keep our political ideology entrenched in power.’

    1. Isn’t that Bozo red hair some sort of cultural/ethnic appropriation? Thought that was a new, mortal sin these days.

  7. This person calls herself a journalist and no ones laughs. No competent writer who claims to be a journalist disagrees with the notion of airing all sides of a public issue fairly and decently. That she rejects simple fairness and the opinions of leading historians who disagree with her churlish view of American history, shows that she is simply an activist grinding an axe who now promotes conspiracy theories and deletes them when challenged. She is an intellectual lightweight and attention-seeker who gets far more ink than her ‘research’ deserves. Blame the NYTimes for that. It used to be a newspaper, now it’s a malignant chatterbox for the radical left.

    1. Michael, I suggest you avoid their editorial page – I do – as well as that of the WSJ. Both are excellent newspapers not well regarded for opinions. You can get them anywhere.

  8. “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.”

    No, he resigned because he hadn’t even read the column before it was published, which meant that he didn’t do his job properly. But it would be too inconvenient to your argument to admit this.

    “the incident does not seem to have prompted any reconsideration of the recent move against the Times or its editors.”

    Nor should it. Because they’re not analogous. Again: Bennet did not even read Cotton’s op-ed before it was published. He didn’t do his job properly.

  9. I have read Mr. Turley’s statement in this and several other articles that he disagrees with Sen. Cotton’s position which he said advocates for the use of Federal troops to quell riots. But I heard Sen. Cotton interviewed after all the kerfuffle about his op-ed, and he was protesting that the NY Times put an inflammatory headline over his op-ed and that he was NOT advocating the use of such troops but simply indicating that it should be kept in mind as an option (presumably of the last resort variety). While I agree with Mr. Turley’s position regarding free speech and that journalism should continue to publish differing views and be even-handed, I think he should take some pains to cite Sen. Cotton’s actual views, which appear to be more moderate than has been represented.

    1. Thanks for that. I hadn’t followed this or read anything in the NYT on the issue. It does not surprise me that the headline and article do not fit together well. I got In touch with the author of another article touching on ancient law because of

      1. Continued– a headline that was simply wrong. When we exchanged emails it turned out his actual views were pretty much in line with historical information and that he had no input on the headline which annoyed him too. Unfortunately the headline can color how one interprets the actual article in a quick reading. Led me astray in that instance when I took the headline as a proposition to be demonstrated and it wasn’t.

  10. Let’s be clear that no one believes that their is any neutrality or civil discourse from the NYT, WaPo, AP, and 90% of the media. They have openly stated that they will do and say anything to destroy Republicans and conservatives and they will do and say anything that will aid and abet Democrats and the illiberal Left. The correct statement would be “the media HAS PURPOSELY ABANDONED ANY touchstone of neutrality AND continues to apply vastly different standards for journalists and editors, even at the same newspaper” AND SHOULD BE CASTIGATED FOR THEIR LIES. You could add … THE PRESS IS COLLUDING WITH THE DEMOCRATS AND FOREIGN POWERS TO REMOVE ELECTED OFFICIALS. Now you’d have a truthful statement.

    1. “They have openly stated that they will do and say anything to destroy Republicans and conservatives and they will do and say anything that will aid and abet Democrats and the illiberal Left.”

      You don’t quote them, and I doubt they’ve said what you attribute to them.

    2. That’s false. the editorial pages of all these are not where they earn their rep, and all print negative news stories on Democrats as well as Republicans. Hillary’s emails and Comey letter was carried front page for days to weeks on all these. (Meanwhile the “Deep State” kept the investigation into the Trump campaign hidden from the public.)

  11. The NYT is consistently applying easily understood standards of one-handedness and one-sidesm. That is why they have lost their credibility as a news organization.

        1. Book isn’t naive. He knows full well he is pumping b.s. Bias in major media has been shown many times and they have gotten to the point where they don’t even pretend to have no bias. They see bias as a duty.

  12. She is a NUT JOB who believes in Censoring and anti free press but, then again she works for the NY TIMES. NY TIMES created these NUT JOBS.

    They help the Radicals, Left Wing, and DEM’s tear apart this country.

    There will be a Political BacK Lash from the Silent majority come NOV. TRUMP wins Radicals/Socialist/BLM loooooooose

  13. JT – “: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. ”

    WTF? So, as in the NPR column by JT, someone makes a mistake and retracts it – you know, just as we expect respected news sources to do and just like our President does regularly – and then JT uses it to go off again on something unrelated. I think he at least should have brought up that bad no-call that kept the Saints out of the Super-Bowl.

    1. It’s striking that JT lauds others for retracting mistakes, but doesn’t do so himself.

      “someone makes a mistake and retracts it – you know, just as we expect respected news sources to do and just like our President does regularly“?? Did you put the italicized part in the wrong place? Trump doesn’t retract his mistakes. But it would make sense if you’d said “then JT uses it to go off again on something unrelated, just like our President does regularly.”

          1. I’m a emoji snob, meaning I never use them in text. I hope my writing and reader are clever enough to not need them and similarly postings here and emails. I’m sure in this case the fault was mine.

            1. No, it’s not your fault. I’ve had the same problem with others when I’ve commented elsewhere.I’m someone who’ sensitive to tone of voice, facial expressions, …, and I don’t function as well in situations like this where I don’t have that info, so I sometimes take things seriously that weren’t intended that way.

              1. Which means you emote more than you reason. Which is fine, but you should drop the pretense. It’s not like most of the people here view you as a critical thinker. You just sham your way thru arguments and seldom vary from the DNC talking points. Which means you are NOT really committing to honest discussion. Maybe you should just commit to Primal Screaming???

                Squeeky Fromm
                Girl Reporter

            2. bythebook —

              BTW, I saw this quote today, which you might also enjoy:
              “In many ways nonsense is a more effective organizing tool than the truth. Anyone can believe in the truth. To believe in nonsense is an unforgeable demonstration of loyalty. It serves as a political uniform. And if you have a uniform, you have an army.” ― Mencius Moldbug, An Open Letter to Open-Minded Progressives [“from Bannon’s philosopher friend Curtis Yarvin (aka Mencius Moldbug)”]

              Posted in response to this bizarre rant and the comment about it that “People are laughing at this, but I’ve interviewed so many people whose parents, spouses, friends, etc. have been swallowed by this stuff. It’s not fringe and it’s not benign”:
              https://twitter.com/kevinroose/status/1275978239412850689

              Trump supporters show their loyalty by buying his nonsense.

              1. Just saw this. I don’t know if I grasp the dynamic though I suppose it explains the fact that otherwise intelligent people will denounce NOAA because otherwise they would have to admit that Dear Leader was wrong about a totally inconsequential mistake.

    2. I’d decided to go to JT’s Corrections page to point out that in the last week he’s twice lauded others for correcting their mistakes (saying “When confronted on her republishing of this conspiracy theory, Hannah-Jones deleted the tweet and apologized. That was the correct response” in this column and “To its credit, NPR admitted the error in this case” in the column titled “NPR Retracts Report That Labelled Louisville Woman As “Right-Wing” Extremist In Fleeing Armed Protester”), but doesn’t correct his own mistakes, except for occasional typos. And lo and behold, he’s closed the comments on his Corrections page. Why have a page that says “We welcome any suggested corrections. You can post corrections below” when it no longer allows people to post corrections? Was he embarrassed that I’d started posting factual errors and reasoning errors?

  14. Twitter will not comment on her tweet, she is liberal. I am sure it made it through all the filters, right @jack?

  15. AG Sulzberger has been busily promoting the career of a woman who gives every indication of being a vulgar mediocrity.

    1. She’s had no trouble finding work in an era when layoffs have been the order of the day in the news business. She went from a paper in Durham, NC, to Portland, Ore, to ProPublica, to the Sulzberger Birdcage Liner. She came from an impecunious family (father a bus driver, maternal-side grandfather a factory worker), but received all her schooling out of state. There is a three year gap in her curriculum vitae. She was given a long leash by AG Sulzberger to promote a thesis so ill-considered that a mess of liberal professors took her down cogently enough for AG Sulzberger to make public concessions, so it is a reasonable wager her stated credential do not understate her competence. My wager would be that she has the tools to be a person of modest accomplishment, but has no clue what she’s good for because for more than 25 years she’s received an excess of blandishments for ordinary performance, and I’m betting the blandishments began with Notre Dame being willing to finance her schooling out of their coffers. If she’d been an ordinary person, she’d have landed a spot at Iowa State, gotten a practical degree, be working for a business or public agency in Dubuque, and confined her remarks to subjects she knew something about.

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