1. I have a theory on mainstream media bias deniers..Maybe it’s more sympathetic than they deserve, but I think people don’t notice how sloppy, incompetent and stupid reporters and pundits are because they don’t read newspapers carefully or consistently, and because other news sources are so packed with distractions and emotional manipulation (not that newspapers are not) that it’s hard to concentrate on the details. This is why I read the Times. I figure that it’s supposed to be the best, and if the best is stupid and biased (stupid makes you biased, and vice-versa), then we can be pretty sure that the rest are worse.
It is amazing how much disinformation the Times allows, or in many cases, promotes. Here’s a trivial but telling example: Sarah Lyall is a Times reporter who also writes a column reviewing thrillers in the New York Times Review of Books, wrote recently that she always wanted to be “the Henry Fonda” of a jury, “single-handedly” “exonerating” a “wrongly accused” defendant, like “Twelve Angry Men.” This is a factually and legally false description of Reginald Rose’s script. Juror 8 (Fonda) doesn’t “single-handedly” do anything except keep deliberations going. The defendant isn’t “exonerated”—all the jury does is collectively figure out that he wasn’t proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt–you know, like OJ. And he probably wasn’t wrongly accused. In fact., he’s probably guilty. The whole point of Rose’s screenplay is that “probably” isn’t enough.
Newspapers are supposed to enlighten readers, not make them dumber. I know most people think that “Twelve Angry Men” is like mystery where someone is accused of murder and is proven innocent by a relentless sleuth, but it’s not. Did Lyall not really watch the film, meaning she was lying, or did she not understand it, indicating that she should be judged too stupid to be a reporter? The same can be said of her editor. The Times can’t get the easy things right; why would anyone trust it to analyze more complex matters more reliably?
2. It’s not integrity, exactly, more like “We’ll only lie for you so much.” But the Times apparently has limits! As Ethics Alarms discussed at the time, the paper’s editor, Dean Baquet admitted that it removed references to Joe Biden’s history as a serial sniffer, hugger, kisser and groper from its unconscionably late investigative report on Tara Reade’s sexual assault allegations. Now a talking memo has gone out to the Democrats from the Biden camp, saying in part, “Biden believes that all women have the right to be heard and to have their claims thoroughly reviewed. In this case, a thorough review by the New York Times has led to the truth: this incident did not happen.”
That’s a lie. Nonetheless, Biden supporters have stuck to the script, including Stacey Abrams, the completely inexperienced fad flavor of the moment who is actively lobbying to be Joe’s VP. (To be fair, it has been made painfully clear that only three qualifications matter for the honor: being female, being black, and seeming more mentally acute than Joe.) This week Abrams was grilled by CNN’s Don Lemon, apparently in the throes of a rare impulse to be a journalist, regarding her feelings about Reade’s accusation. She dutifully repeated the talking point that the Times had found that the alleged incident “did not happen.”
The Times issued a statement contradicting Abrams and the Biden supporters’ talking point. “BuzzFeed reported on the existence of talking points being circulated by the Biden campaign that inaccurately suggest a New York Times investigation found that Tara Reade’s allegation ‘did not happen,’” a spokeswoman for the paper said. “Our investigation made no conclusion either way.”
3. When Ethics Alarms Don’t Ring. There has been an anti-Jewish crime wave in New York City City: in 2019, anti-Semitic hate crimes rose 29 percent. Yet here is NYC mayor de Blasio’s recent tweet regarding social distancing: “My message to the Jewish community, and all communities, is this simple: the time for warnings has passed. I have instructed the NYPD to proceed immediately to summons or even arrest those who gather in large groups. This is about stopping this disease and saving lives. Period.”
Imagine the reaction if a mayor (or a President) singled out any other a racial or ethnic group for special criticism. President Trump was accused of instigating hate crimes against Asian-American because he singled out a country for criticism it richly deserved. Of course, singling out Jews is especially stupid, but then Mayor de Blasio has already proven that he is that (and had before he was re-elected.) Writes my old friend John Podhoretz:
You know, I used to think you were an idiot, the kind of idiot useful to totalitarians, the kind who subscribed to the official party newspaper of the Stalinist regime in Nicaragua back in the 1980s. I also used to think you were a feckless and thoughtless mayor who airily allowed the cleaned-up streets of the city to regress into an open-air dormitory for opioid addicts, in thrall to some demented principle of fairness and justice, not to mention a man intent on destroying the school system out of some equally demented ideas about how excellence is racist. What I didn’t think, after six years of your ghastly mayoralty, was that you had the capacity to surprise me. But you have… Your tweet, you declared, “was said with love, but it was tough love.” Let me follow your example, and say something with love, but tough love: You’re a bad person.
4. Just to make it clear that New York isn’t the only city dominated by people with dead ethics alarms, Legal Insurrection informs us that the Matanuska-Susitna school district in Alaska has banned these classic from being taught in the schools:
- “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou
- “Catch-22” by Joseph Heller
- “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien
- “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- “Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison
The rationale, summarized by one school board member, was “It would be unfair to ask teachers to have to navigate their pupils through the complicated subject matter.”
This is an example of adults who were never properly instructed in critical thinking seeking to ensure that future generations are similarly handicapped….and, presumably, future voters for politicians like Joe Biden, Stacey Abrams, and Bill de Blasio.