Ideological witch hunts are consuming American newsrooms, with woke, identity-obsessed leftists purging colleagues for thought crimes. There are intense struggle sessions underway at The New York Times over the decision to publish a completely reasonable column by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) late last week. The self-flagellation and recriminations have now spanned several days (see update):
This institution is such a wreck: "One by one during Friday’s staff meeting, the paper’s top leaders apologized for the opinion piece. At one point, the paper admitted that it did 'invite' Cotton to write the column." https://t.co/lqFtx1tnTI— Noah Rothman (@NoahCRothman) June 5, 2020
I oversaw the acceptance and review of the Cotton Op-Ed. None of this is on @rubensteinadam. The fault here should be directed at the @nytopinion leadership team and not at an intrepid and highly competent junior staffer.— Jim Dao (@jimdao) June 7, 2020
NYT has appended an editor's note to the Tom Cotton essay, finally explaining to the public why it found it to not meet its standards. Note cites questions about factual assertions made and the overall tone of the essay. Also says headline was written by NYT, not Cotton. pic.twitter.com/pzKxL063RP— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) June 5, 2020
The editor's note is hot garbage. The op/ed was written by a sitting Senator. It was supported by facts. It advocated a mainstream idea. This conflagration is utterly ludicrous, full stop. It did not "fall short" of any editorial standards, except hastily-invented ones. Regardless of whether one agrees with its conclusions, there were no inaccuracies in the piece. It was fact-checked and rigorously edited. The examples cited entail gaslighting about Antifa and a handful of paper-thin "problems." And the bit about the "incendiary" headline ("Send in the Troops") is laugh-out-loud funny. In the month of May alone, Times columnist Paul Krugman published essays entitled, "How Many Will Die For the Dow?" and "We Should Help Workers, Not Kill Them." How's this one?
No harsh tone, overstatement or contested allegations here. Not in my NY Times Opinion Section. pic.twitter.com/ilkM7KSZF6— Michael Brendan Dougherty (@michaelbd) June 6, 2020
Nothing incendiary, there, no sir. That sort of thing would fall short of editorial standards. But this cruel, psychotic drivel is just fine:
this @nytimes oped instructs us to excommunicate "loved ones" until they've attended a protest, or paid cash to author-approved causes.— Jonathan Kay (@jonkay) June 6, 2020
So grandparents need to risk COVID19 at a protest or pay up, or no grandkids
How did antiracism get so creepy & cultishhttps://t.co/ppJuOK69ue pic.twitter.com/Lbcj1mhD1A
Meanwhile, Andrew Sullivan's column was spiked by New York magazine, reportedly because woke younger staffers demanded it be censored:
Sullivan revealed on Twitter yesterday that his column wouldn’t be appearing. The reason? His editors are not allowing him to write about the riots...Cockburn understands that Sullivan is not just forbidden from writing for the New York magazine about the riots; his contract means he cannot write on the topic for another publication. He is therefore legally unable to write anything about the protests without losing his job...Sullivan, a source close to New York magazine reveals, has to have his work vetted by sensitive junior editors to make sure it doesn’t trigger them. If it passes their sniff testing, it can be published.
Sullivan sees exactly what's happening, and he's been seeing it for years:
So many journalists want to purge their colleagues. I find this baffling. So much better to make arguments. https://t.co/gAsjsXnwtV— Andrew Sullivan (@sullydish) June 7, 2020
We're watching a deeply illiberal and unhealthy infection spreading like wildfire through American journalism. Here's the latest scalp:
Philadelphia Inquirer top editor forced to resign after publishing piece with 'Buildings Matter' headline. Was with paper 20 years; led team to Pulitzer; doubled minority staff. Apologized for 'Buildings Matter, Too' headline. 'Deeply offensive.' https://t.co/eY0sOsgfiG— Byron York (@ByronYork) June 7, 2020
It was the placement of an insensitive headline over Inga Saffron’s column in the Tuesday newspaper that may have set the stage for Wischnowski’s departure. He joined the two other top editors in signing an apology to readers and staff, characterizing the headline, “Buildings Matter, Too,” as “deeply offensive” and apologizing for it. The column had explored the destruction of buildings amid the looting that accompanied some of the nationwide protests over police violence...Even before the headline was published, Wischnowski and other editors had scheduled a staffwide Zoom meeting to discuss race at The Inquirer and the pressures in particular faced by journalists of color. Wischnowski, low-key and measured, as is his personality, told staffers on Wednesday that the paper had made strides in diversifying its 213-member newsroom, boosting minority representation to 27% of the editorial workforce, about a doubling in four years. He promised more such hires.
The session turned intense and emotional. Some journalists could be seen in tears in their Zoom frames. Critics, black and white, denounced the pace of change at the paper, sharply criticizing both coverage and the racial and gender mix of the staff. Several journalists pointed out that the newspaper could muster only one male African American reporter to cover the protests and police response convulsing a city that is majority minority. Hours after the wrenching Zoom session, about 50 journalists of color signed an open letter calling for faster changes at the paper. The following day, most of the minority staff took the day off from work in protest.
Astounding. The paper's executive editor was forced out because of a headline that upset the staff. In my view, he shouldn't have resigned, forcing the higher-ups to decide whether any of this was a fireable offense. But the mob -- the trembling, weeping mob -- had spoken. Game over. I'll leave you with this, via a left-wing Vox blogger who seems to be waking up to the terrible new reality he's helped create:
Genuinely glad to see some people starting to recognize a problem so serious that we wrote a whole book about it. As it happens, ‘End of Discussion’ was published in early June 2015 — almost exactly five years before this tweet debuted. https://t.co/04ADb99Qon pic.twitter.com/ERLarFmwbH— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) June 6, 2020
UPDATE - Purge:
The @nytimes announced today that James Bennet, Editorial Page Editor since May 2016, is resigning effective immediately. Katie Kingsbury, who joined The Times in 2017, has been named as acting Editorial Page Editor through the November election. https://t.co/84QX4OrrcG— NYTimes Communications (@NYTimesPR) June 7, 2020
UPDATE II - This is a quote from Bennet's successor, urging snitching on wrong thought. The culture at the Times is unjournalistic and toxic:
“Anyone who sees any piece of Opinion journalism, headlines,social posts,photos—you name it—that gives you the slightest pause, please call or text me immediately.”— Andrew Sullivan (@sullydish) June 8, 2020
If you're not chilled by a NYT editor urging staffers to report each other for wrongthink, you don't know history.
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