The Trustworthy New York Times, Whose Editors Don’t Read Their Own Paper

I was stunned when the New York Times, after a Bernie Sanders supporter engineered a sniper attack on a group of Republican Congressmen (Steve Scalise is still hospitalized) published an editorial including the “everybody does it” argument that Republican rheteric had activated madmen too, reminding readers that there had been a  “clear” and “direct” causal connection between Palin’s PAC’s “targeting” of Gabrielle Giffords’ district and Jared Loughner’s murder of six people in Tucson. How could they be dredging up this old smear again, after it had been so thoroughly debunked? It seemed like a desperate, vicious deflection.

The  theory had caused an extended and heated debate at the time of the Tucson attack, with left-biased media pundits, including the Times’ Paul Krugman and others, attempting to silence conservatives by arguing that their harsh “eliminationist rhetoric” had put Gifford in the crosshairs, literally. The Left’s prime scapegoats for the shootings were the most vocal conservative  critics  of President Obama and the Democrats at the time, Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin.The smear was transparent and dishonest; eventually even President Obama rejected it in the best speech of his tenure as President. It was also quickly disproven by the facts. Loughner, if anything, was a progressive lunatic. His written rants suggested no influence by the Right at all, and certainly no indication that Palin’s use of a crosshairs graphic to indicate Democrats “targeted” for defeat at the ballot box had even been seen by the killer, much less set him on his murderous path.

The revived lie was taken down online within a day, though not before the Times’s rival for the title of  “Parper Most Willing To Devastate Its Reputation To Destroy Donald Trump” issued a merciless ‘factcheck.”  The falsehod was also put into print. Several lawyers suggested that Palin had grounds for a defamation lawsuit, even though, as a public figure, prevailing in a lawsuit would require her to prove “actual malice.” Palin did sue.  Sure enough, The Times is denying malice by arguing that it made an “honest mistake.” But how could it be an honest mistake, when the Times itself had published reporting that finally proved Loughner was no devotee of Palin or Limbaugh.

For the Times editors to claim they made an honest mistake, they must insist that they were unaware of what had been prominently published in their own newspaper, under their own oversight. Sure, that’s certainly the kind of professionalism, competence and care one expects from the flagship of American journalism.

In the litigation of Palin’s lawsuit, Times  lawyers have moved to dismiss Palin’s case on the ground that her complaint fails to state a valid case for relief even if everything in the complaint is true. The presiding judge, Jed Rakoff, has ordered an evidentiary hearing on the question of malice, writing

[T]he Complaint alleges that the allegedly false statements of fact that are the subject of the Complaint were contradicted by information already set forth in prior news stories published by the Times. However, these prior stories arguably would only evidence actual malice if the person(s) who wrote the editorial were aware of them. This is information peculiarly within the knowledge of defendant; but on it arguably depends the reasonableness vel non of inferring actual malice.

If I were Times management, I’d admit the malice, and the defamation, state that bias made the Times stupid and malicious, apologize to Palin, its readers and its defenders, and pay up.  The alternative is to to proclaim incompetence, and to admit that its editors don’t exercise the minimal professional quality control of reading what their reporters write. After all, everybody knows the Times is biased and malicious toward conservatives. But we thought the paper at least tried to be competent.

12 thoughts on “The Trustworthy New York Times, Whose Editors Don’t Read Their Own Paper

  1. “After all, everybody knows the Times is biased and malicious toward conservatives. But we thought the paper at least tried to be competent.”

    I never thought that. Are you sure anyone did?

  2. The Washington Post “fact check” has some of the most bizarre comments I’ve ever seen. One person after another insisting that Palin’s graphic must have inspired Loughner.

    Other commenters drop in and debunk them in 1,000 different ways (including pointing out that crosshair graphics have been used copiously by both parties for decades) but these people simply do not care. They’re saying things like “we don’t know for sure that Loughner wasn’t inspired by Palin” and “Of course what Palin did was directly related…she had Giffords’ face in the the crosshairs!” (It was actually just Giffords’ district on a map in the crosshairs, but it’s remarkable how people keep reverting to saying that it was “Giffords’ face” in the crosshairs over and over again, long after the untruth of that statement was established.)

    Someday someone with more insight to the human psyche than I must do a thorough analysis of what’s going on with Leftists right now. It could shed new light on the nature of self-deception.

  3. The irony here is that if any entities are spewing hate and threatening violence it is the NYT, the Post, and all the other frustrated Democrats who still can’t believe they lost the Presidency, that it was their own fault, and desperately need to find a scapegoat other than Hillary herself, Obama, and the Democratic machine. I also see a lot of on-line commentary, and the vitriol is all from the manic, sense-challenged Democrats who will do anything to undermine a Trump presidency.

    It is no surprise to me that the NYT publishes both “news” and editorials that contain incorrect information: and this is not, repeat not, a mistake. Their editors read every word, and if it fits their ideology, it goes to print They are not a newspaper anymore: they are a voice for the frustrated left, and truth be damned. Don’t excuse them with the incompetency excuse: they are extremely competent at undermining Trump and the Republicans, though not so competent at disguising it as “news.”

  4. I have found, to my dismay, most people would rather believe a lie than hear the truth. Case in point: Years ago, in the small East Tennessee town where I live, a murder was committed when a man was found shot to death in his tack room. His wife and her lover were charged with the murder but were found not guilty, after a lengthy trial, by a jury of their peers. Yet, some people in my town still chose to believe they were guilty and refused to go the bank where she was employed as a loan officer until she was fired. The bank caved. Her lover suffered equal bias. As I said, most people choose to believe a lie and then set themselves up as judge and jury. At least in my small town I have found this to be true and the actions of the extreme left is confirming to me this is not only true of small towns.

    • Depends how you mean. Mistake of law is a defense, ignorance of law isn’t. “We didn’t know we couldn’t be malicious” wouldn’t fly. “We didn’t mean to be malicious” would.

  5. Late to the party, but thought I would get a plug in for Chris:

    The NYT is fake news, and anything they say is not worth reading, regardless of the topic.

    Never trust a known liar.

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