The New York Times Just Attempted Suicide

By John Zmirak Published on June 16, 2017

 

The New York Times has had a leftward bias for decades. But the bias has gotten much worse in recent years. It became insufferable when Trump entered the presidential race. Like so many elite institutions who pick their employees from today’s academic consensus mills, the Times saw no reason to treat Trump fairly. To respect his voters or their concerns. Or even to sort out legitimate skepticism about Donald Trump’s attitude toward Russia. You know, from elaborate and poorly-sourced crank conspiracy theories.

And now the Times has done the unforgivable. Rep. Steve Scalise still fights for his life, his family around his hospital bed. America still processes a terrorist attack against one of its three branches of government. And the Times let its bias goad it into lying. Not just lying, libeling.

The Weekly Standard Gets it Right

I can’t improve on Mark Hemingway’s synopsis in The Weekly Standard. So let me just quote him at some length. (Do go read his piece—a scrupulous autopsy of the Times’ credibility.) Hemingway writes:

Yesterday, following the news that a Republican congressmen was shot playing baseball, along with four others, in Virginia, the New York Times wrote what one conservative website is calling the “Worst Editorial In Human History.” Discussion of it has dominated social media, and even a number of notable liberal pundits are appalled.

Here’s the original masthead editorial from the Times:

Not all the details are known yet about what happened in Virginia, but a sickeningly familiar pattern is emerging in the assault: The sniper, James Hodgkinson, who was killed by Capitol Police officers, was surely deranged, and his derangement had found its fuel in politics. Mr. Hodgkinson was a Bernie Sanders supporter and campaign volunteer virulently opposed to President Trump. He posted many anti-Trump messages on social media, including one in March that said “Time to Destroy Trump & Co.”

Was this attack evidence of how vicious American politics has become? Probably. In 2011, when Jared Lee Loughner opened fire in a supermarket parking lot, grievously wounding Representative Gabby Giffords and killing six people, including a 9-year-old girl, the link to political incitement was clear. Before the shooting, Sarah Palin’s political action committee circulated a map of targeted electoral districts that put Ms. Giffords and 19 other Democrats under stylized cross hairs.

Conservatives and right-wing media were quick on Wednesday to demand forceful condemnation of hate speech and crimes by anti-Trump liberals. They’re right. Though there’s no sign of incitement as direct as in the Giffords attack, liberals should of course hold themselves to the same standard of decency that they ask of the right.

After a firestorm of criticism, the Times released a brief, incomplete correction:

An earlier version of this editorial incorrectly stated that a link existed between political incitement and the 2011 shooting of Representative Gabby Giffords. In fact, no such link was established.

Hemingway unpacks that:

Just to recap, Sarah Palin and Tea Partiers were blamed widely for incitement in the media in the immediate aftermath of the Giffords shooting (quite notably in the pages of the Times), even though it was apparent on the day of the shooting that Jared Lee Loughner was paranoid schizophrenic who believed that grammar was a conspiracy to keep people from thinking correct thoughts, a man with no rational political beliefs.

Further, there’s absolutely no evidence that he ever saw the map circulated by Sarah Palin’s political action committee, and the idea that using cross hairs on a map to rhetorically “target” politicians for defeat counts as an incitement to violence is absurd. Politics, like everything else, is full of martial metaphors—”campaign” is a term borrowed from war.

Despite this, two years after the Giffords shooting and long after we knew all about Loughner’s motivations (or lack thereof), a news story in the Times noted that “many criticized Sarah Palin, the former vice-presidential nominee, for using cross hairs on her Web site to identify Democrats like Ms. Giffords who she said should be defeated for re-election,” without noting there’s no link between Loughner and Palin.

Can You Get Fired for Libel Anymore?

Let’s review. The New York Times

  • distorted the truth about a vicious attack on a U.S. congresswoman.
  • Attributed real political views to a raving, bipartisan psychotic.
  • Blamed the attack on a conservative Christian U.S. politician.
  • It did so on zero evidence, out of clear partisan animus.
  • All to deflect attention from a murder attempt against a dozen Republican congressmen.

That meets the standard for libel in my book. I’ve read that Gov. Palin is considering a lawsuit, and I hope that she pursues it. The key criterion in court is that the story show “reckless indifference to the truth,” and evidence of malice. The Times managed to check both boxes.

The New York Times should do more than publish some bland retraction. It should fire every member of the editorial board who approved that toxic and cruel editorial. It should then try to locate some fair-minded liberals. They will be hard to find.

Keep in mind that this is a paper which years back met charges of rampant bias by appointing an independent “Public Editor” to supervise its content. They just dismissed him as unnecessary. Oops.

Journalistic Malpractice

This is not just an instance of left-wing bias. It is a journalistic scandal. To see how profound it is, turn things around. Imagine if:

  • Some pro-lifer had shot at Supreme Court justices, shouting, “I want to kill all the pro-Roe judges!”
  • Then the next day Fox News tried to deflect the political fallout by citing the violence committed by some drooling meth-addict with a Hillary Clinton bumper sticker.
  • And it blamed Clinton for inciting him.

That’s how unhinged are the minds, cankered the souls, that produced that masthead editorial in the New York Times.

The New York Times should do more than publish some bland, incomplete retraction. It should fire every member of the editorial board who approved that toxic and cruel editorial. The Times should apologize to Governor Palin, and give her a weekly Op-Ed column for six months. It should then try to locate some fair-minded liberals. Writers with a deep respect for the truth and some emotional distance. Then appoint them instead to run its editorial page.

They will be hard to find. The “elite” schools that produce such writers have abandoned objectivity, fairness, free speech, and other Western values as products of the white male patriarchy. Scholars at such schools routinely denounce biology and even physics for failing to reflect their leftist agenda. (Follow New Real Peer Review for dozens of such instances.) Instead, students learn a deep-seated relativism toward facts, science, and morals. The only anchor that guides them is naked political aggression, the will to power. The opportunity to crush the morally loathsome, “deplorable” opponent. That’s the hiring pool for the New York Times and most other media.

And that’s how you end up printing libel in the nation’s “paper of record.”

Print Friendly
Comments ()
The Stream encourages comments, whether in agreement with the article or not. However, comments that violate our commenting rules or terms of use will be removed. Any commenter who repeatedly violates these rules and terms of use will be blocked from commenting. Comments on The Stream are hosted by Disqus, with logins available through Disqus, Facebook, Twitter or G+ accounts. You must log in to comment. Please flag any comments you see breaking the rules. More detail is available here.
  • Joe

    If it’s in the Times, it has to be true.

    The folks who own this rag, write for it, and read it, believe this crap.

  • Wayne Cook

    Not waiting for an indictment. The justice system in this country has shown a marked laissez faire attitude for liberal lawlessness.

  • m-nj

    Ha! This comparison came up during lunch with my co-workers the day of the shooting. I immediately stated that there was NO political motivation for the Giffords shooting, but several of them hammed and hawed and weren’t so sure…. thanks, of course, to the indoctrination they received from the MSM coverage back in 2011.

    • LYoung

      I have also seen that the lies and brainwashing spans decades and even many, many Christians I know have believed the lies. I have even been surprised when I learn the truth about some incidents much later because we rely so much on radio news and mainstream news media.

      I’m reminded of a scripture ‘Your sin will find you out’. Eventually the light exposes all that has been in the dark.
      Psalm 37 speaks directly to this. God brings vindication.

  • Patmos

    It’s stunning how far the left has fallen. They are a sinking ship, with water rushing in that great big hole where their conscience once was. The only thing more stunning is how many people there are who stubbornly refuse to get off the ship.

  • Paul Dillon

    The left sucks. … oh, and the lie ceaslessly as well.

  • Charles Burge

    I, too, hope Mrs. Palin decides to proceed with legal action. If anything, it will bring needed attention to the blatant deceit and hypocrisy that the left regularly traffics in.

    • DaJuan Hayes

      I betcha she doesn’t.

  • Howard Rosenbaum

    Yeah, the NYT’s the paper of off the record. You know, All the views they see fit to print.
    Seems like The Times they are a changing. Well, “the ole Grey Lady’ she ain’t what she used to be. She used to be from her earliest days an alternative to the yellow journalism
    that was becoming popular for it’s “lurid, sensationalist & often inaccurate reporting of facts & opinions”. So, 122 pulitzer prizes later & at least one recent near death experience as Mr Zmirak suggests, there seems to be a turn towards the more colorful journalistic efforts it once resisted. Maybe yellow is too colorful a description for todays NYT’s. How about pink ? You know like in “Pinko”. Then again maybe yellow isn’t colorful enough …

    • Hmmm…

      like cliches, do you? lolllll Seriously, great comment, see that as well, thank you.

  • Chip Crawford

    The fascist name calling turns out to be a screen for their own bent, the Dems and extreme lefties, which seems to comprise more and more of that party. It is time someone won a BIG libel, slander suit to set a needed precedent. Tongues have loosened to the degree that a fleeting thought is set down as fact and built upon. “News” from practically the entire media spectrum has turned into propaganda, a continual spew, like the bilge cranked out by the fascists and communists. They are the ones who appear to have a control and takeover agenda, with their efforts to glut the country with immigrants influenced to vote for them, thus taking over the process. They had plans along that line, big plans, an agenda for this country that was seriously interrupted on November 8. Come on, give them a break, it’s really hard to talk policy and deal with civility when you cannot openly discuss your “vision” and agenda.

Inspiration
How Do We Prepare to be Fully Prepared?
Dudley Hall
More from The Stream
Connect with Us