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Left vs. Further Left: The War Raging Inside the New York Times

Townhall Media

Over recent years, with the rise of a young and woke generation of activist journalists, we've seen a number of ugly internal fights play out inside the New York Times.  The publication that considers itself America's newspaper of record has succumbed to pressure campaigns from this on several occasions, resulting in the unjust firing of one of the paper's top science reporters, as well as the infamous ousting of an editor who'd dared to green-light a mainstream op/ed about the government's response to widespread rioting, written by a sitting Republican Senator.  The radical crowd claiming 'harm' and 'danger' over words was pushing management around, with other talented people departing the Times over the toxic work environment.  Against that backdrop comes the latest skirmish, wherein hundreds of Times journalists, contributors and employees signed a letter attacking the newspaper for its failure to adopt an outright activist posture on gender and trans-related subjects (some of which we wrote about recently):  


Plenty of reporters at the Times cover trans issues fairly. Their work is eclipsed, however, by what one journalist has calculated as over 15,000 words of front⁠-⁠page Times coverage debating the propriety of medical care for trans children published in the last eight months alone...As thinkers, we are disappointed to see the New York Times follow the lead of far-right hate groups in presenting gender diversity as a new controversy warranting new, punitive legislation...Some of us are trans, non⁠-⁠binary, or gender nonconforming, and we resent the fact that our work, but not our person, is good enough for the paper of record. Some of us are cis, and we have seen those we love discover and fight for their true selves, often swimming upstream against currents of bigotry and pseudoscience fomented by the kind of coverage we here protest. All of us daresay our stance is unremarkable, even common, and certainly not deserving of the Times’ intense scrutiny...a period of forbearance that ends today. We await your response.

They accuse the New York Times of "following the lead" of "far right hate groups," evidently without a shred of self-awareness.  This push was fronted by a left-wing activist organization, with other left-wing organizations signing onto this coordinated effort, in a screed published the same day (the same week the Times ran a column defending JK Rowling against 'transphobia' claims):

For more than a year, the New York Times has stood for something else: irresponsible, biased coverage of transgender people. The Times has repeatedly platformed cisgender (non-transgender) people spreading inaccurate and harmful misinformation about transgender people and issues. This is damaging to the paper’s credibility. And it is damaging to all LGBTQ people, especially our youth, who say debates about trans equality negatively impact their mental health, which is a contributing factor to the high suicide rates for LGBTQ youth. It is appalling that the Times would dedicate so many resources and pages to platforming the voices of extremist anti-LGBTQ activists who have built their careers on denigrating and dehumanizing LGBTQ people, especially transgender people. While there have been a few fair stories, mostly human interest stories, those articles are not getting front-page placement or sent to app users via push notification like the irresponsible pieces are. THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY AND OUR ALLIES HAVE HAD ENOUGH AND WE DEMAND THE NEW YORK TIMES TAKE ACTION....


Notice the 'physical harm/danger' emotional blackmail tactic that's employed here, as it so often is, suggesting that anything short of fully-approved LGBT activist propaganda and verbiage contributes to deaths.  The GLAAD missive lists some of the Times' alleged thought crimes and journalistic sins, including not censoring all dissenting views, 'misgendering' people, and platforming or hiring 'bad people, culminating in a string of indignant demands.  "We could spend paragraphs listing every anti-LGBTQ and every anti-trans article the Times has printed in just the past year," the signatories assert, which is an insane statement to write about a decidedly left-of-center publication, "but we would rather focus on action."  Then come the demands, including a call for outright censorship, the hosting of self-flagellating 'listening' sessions, and the hiring of trans people.  "We know many trans writers and editors do not trust the Times. We don’t trust you either, so we don’t blame them, they continue. "But do the work: Stop, listen, and hire."  In response to this public browbeating, the Times' leadership actually defended the supposedly offending journalism, infuriating the activists.  The newspaper's guild of journalists (the union) then weighed in, stirring more anger:

In response, the New York guild president Susan DeCarava posted a public letter affirming the right for Times staff to criticize the paper and its masthead, stating that “employees are protected in collectively raising concerns that conditions of their employment constitute a hostile working environment. This was the concern explicitly raised in the letter at issue here.” But that letter, too, caused friction internally among union members. In an exchange that filled Times’ union Slack all weekend, several journalists complained that the Guild had crossed a line, and brought the union into a public protest that implicitly pitted it against some of the Times’ own union members. “Susan has no right to send out letters regarding editorial content without consulting with the membership,” reporter Stephanie Saul wrote. “Criticism of workplace conditions does not include attacking the journalism of other members. I strongly object to this letter and I would hope other members of the unit agree with me.”


The Times' Slack channels sound particularly awful and unhinged.  The resentment reportedly boiled over at a meeting this week:

Dozens of Times reporters, including prominent ones, have now signed a counter-letter, rejecting some of their colleagues' pro-activism, anti-journalism bullying:

A group of high-profile New York Times journalists on Tuesday privately fired back against NewsGuild of New York president Susan DeCarava, over a letter that she’d written affirming journalists’ right to criticize the paper in order to address workplace conditions, a response that came amid a dispute over the Times’ coverage of transgender issues. “Factual, accurate journalism that is written, edited, and published in accordance with Times standards does not create a hostile workplace,” reads the letter, which was organized by reporter Jeremy Peters and, in the past 24 hours, collected dozens of signatures. Among them are Peter Baker, Charlie Savage, Adam Goldman, Michael Grynbaum, Apoorva Mandavilli, Lisa Lerer, Jim Rutenberg, Mike McIntire, and Kate Zernike. “Your letter appears to suggest a fundamental misunderstanding of our responsibilities as journalists. Regretfully, our own union leadership now seems determined to undermine the ethical and professional protections that we depend on to guard the independence and integrity of our journalism,” the letter says. “Every day, partisan actors seek to influence, attack, or discredit our work. We accept that,” the letter continues. “But what we don’t accept is what the Guild appears to be endorsing: A workplace in which any opinion or disagreement about Times coverage can be recast as a matter of ‘workplace conditions.’… We are journalists, not activists. That line should be clear.


Setting aside the usual -- and often deserved -- criticisms of the New York Times from conservatives, it's obvious that there's a fight underway within the newspaper's halls between traditional (if overwhelmingly left-leaning) journalists who at least want to uphold certain standards, and a left-wing mob of activists who view even-handed journalism with scorn and contempt. The mob has gained the upper hand over the last few years, based on some of the aforementioned incidents, but blowback is underway. It will be revealing to see which 'side' prevails. Journalism cannot survive institutional capture by activists, and the activists know it, which is why they're all in. I'll leave you with a "journalist" (NBC) of the activist persuasion, attacking Times leadership for 'taking sides' in favor of journalism:

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