Yes, NY Times, The Source Matters — In More Ways Than One
President Trump’s retweeted videos of apparent Muslim violence lit up a firestorm of commentary this week. It wasn’t so much the content of the tweets as it was their source: Jayde Fransen, deputy of a fringe right-wing British political group called Britain First. Leaders in Britain are unhappy with Trump for implicitly endorsing the group.
As the story plays out, though, I can’t shake the recollection of how I first heard of it, and how I reacted. I saw it first in a New York Times report on Wednesday morning. I noticed that The Times gave the majority of the story’s space to Britain First’s right-wing status, virtually ignoring the violent content of the videos. Obviously for that article it was the source that mattered.
Looking back at my first exposure to the story on Wednesday, I must say that the source mattered in another sense too. For when I read it in The Times that morning, I had no idea whether I could trust a word of it — because of the source.
It’s Hard To Trust The Times
I had no idea whether I could trust a word of it — because of the source.
It’s way too obvious, but I think I need to say it anyway: We ought to be able to trust a great paper like The Times. When it says a group like Britain First is ultranationalist, far-right, fascist, racist and extremist, we ought to be able to take that as fair and accurate reportage.
But I couldn’t. One key line article stopped me. Britain First, the article said, was “criticized by human rights groups as a far-right extremist group.” Which reminded me way too much of the report The Times ran on February 15 of this year about groups here in America also being criticized by a human rights group. That February 15 article was a completely uncritical, unexamined parroting of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s views on far-right “hate groups” here in the U.S.
Do Your Own Research?
The SPLC’s list of “hate groups” includes some genuinely hateful organizations, to be sure. As The Stream has reported frequently, however, the list also includes a good number Christian-based groups pursuing honorable goals through honorable means. Which renders the whole thing worthless, except as a list of groups that might or might not be hate groups — but you have to do your own research elsewhere to find out.
It also left The Times completely lacking in credibility on this topic.
It also left The Times completely lacking in credibility on this topic. I have good reason not to trust what they’ve written about “far-right hate groups” in one context, so why would I want to believe what they write about another alleged far-right hate group here? Britain First might or might not be a hate group, I thought, but I’ll have to do my own research elsewhere to find out.
It’s a sad day when we have to check multiple sources to find out whether America’s flagship newspaper is reporting news accurately, or twisting a story for leftist purposes.
Apparently The Times got it right this time. That’s not where believability comes from, though. It comes from being fair, honest and accurate all the time, day in and day out. The Times is no longer a trusted source — and it matters.