Ethics Alarms On The New York Times’ “Most Important Debates” Of 2021, Part 1

Debates Times

The print edition of today’s Sunday Times, the usually unreadable Sunday Review Section (which I mostly stopped reading mid-Trump administration when it became a monotonous and shrill “bash the President” orgy every week), is devoted to an alleged examination of “The Year in Opinion.” Online, the feature is called “The Year in 41 Debates.” At Ethics Alarms, I have several apropos descriptions of it:

  • Predictable, as the Times’ commentary follows the paper’s usual lock-step progressive/Democratic Party bias
  • Dishonest, and many of the “debates” are framed in ways that support the writer’s spin on the topic at hand, which is advocacy, not review, and
  • Satisfying, because the vast majority of the issues and events were covered here, and, with the invaluable assistance of EA commenters, better (and without the $80 a month charge I pay to review the daily distortions of the U.S.’s “paper of record”), with the exception of a couple I missed that were not worth covering anyway. For example, apparently on January 2 a social media controversy erupted over whether a father was mean to his daughter by not helping her figure out how to open a can of beans. He was attacked world-wide, dubbed”Bean Dad,” and accused of abusive and toxic behavior. I’m glad I missed that one….and
  • Facile

I am going to briefly encapsulate some of the Times’ takes on the significant, nonbean-related topics that relate to ethics, or the Times’ lack of them. I’ll be skipping the pure partisan punditry, like “Is the G.O.P. still the party of Trump?”

“Is there a reality crisis?”

The Times picks a Buzzfeed reporter for this one, and relays the left-wing journalism cant that there is a such a crisis because people don’t believe what they are told  any more. As Ethics Alarms has exhaustively chronicled, people shouldn’t (and cannot) believe the news media, so yes, there is a crisis, but it is one of being able to find a trustworthy and unbiased source of facts. The commentator quotes a colleague who wants the Biden Administration to shut down “misinformation”—right, this government is dedicated to to “the truth.” Tell us again about that police officer killed in the “insurrection,” Joe. Ultimately, the Times blames social media, thus ducking its own responsibility for a dangerous threat to democracy.

“How should trans women participate in sports?”

Easy: in their own category and leagues, or not at all (sorry, whatever it is you call yourself). This article, like many of the others, destroys its legitimacy with throbbing bias and deflection, concluding, “In defending female athletes from the supposed threat of LeBron James in a wig, conservatives have found a means of enshrining the traditional gender binary into law.” Once men with still functioning male biology were allowed to demand being treated as women simply by declaring themselves such, that threat was no longer “supposed.”

What does it mean to be woke?

This one was interesting: apparently the Left now wants to abandon “woke” the way it abandoned “liberal” a while back, and for the same reason: the positions and conduct it has engaged in under that label have been too often embarrassing to its cause and alienating to those  with open minds. Adrian Rivera writes,

Where it once might have been used to praise, it is now used to slander. Before 2021, it meant something to be woke. But by the end of it, it meant nothing at all.

You wish!

Who’s afraid of critical race theory?

Here’s one of the deliberate and despicable false-framing examples in the Times feature. The non-deceptive title would be, “Who’s afraid of political and ideological indoctrination of children by schools?” The answer to that should be easy, except for totalitarians.

Should Obama get to celebrate his birthday?

Another dishonest framing! Of course Obama “should get” to celebrate his birthday, and nobody argued that he shouldn’t. The issue was what the way he celebrated his birthday—a huge, expensive, unmasked (in the middle of a pandemic surge) celebrity party at his 12 million dollar estate on Martha’s Vineyard—told us about him and the arrogant elitists he represents….not that we didn’t know it all already.

Where did the coronavirus come from?

From China, of course, specifically the Wuhan Province…and the Times note doesn’t state anything to dispute that. Still, it scolds that the Wuhan lab leak theory “became a favorite, anti-China sound bite for commentators on the American right.” Wait—why isn’t the “American Left” similarly “anti-“a repressive, brutal totalitarian regime that uses slave labor and genocide, and that inflicted a contagion on the world that has killed millions while wrecking economies world-wide?

Has the left gone wrong?

Naturally, the Times asked one of its most extreme leftist columnists, Michelle Goldberg, to write this one, and also naturally, she doesn’t fault her fellow travelers for espousing open borders, restrictions on speech, government pay-outs to those who “choose not to work” (in the words of the Green New Deal) and designating white Americans as a group that must be permanently handicapped, like expert golfers, so those they have abused for centuries can compete. Goldberg’s solution, endorsed by the Times? Indoctrination and propaganda apparently, as she approvingly quotes a compatriot who wrote that their “side” needs to engage in “a long project of ideological conversion” that might gradually encourage voters to demand “the establishment of a system that we might reasonably call American democracy.”

Did George Floyd get justice? 

A post with that title is hardly worth discussing, as it rigs the inquiry while signalling an agenda. The commentary itself is even worse, containing this, for example:

Mr. Chauvin’s guilty verdict is rightly viewed as a victory, given how few police officers are convicted or even charged after using deadly force, despite killing nearly a thousand people per year, a disproportionate number of whom are Black.

“Victory” for who, anti-white, anti-police bigots? Race-baiting propagandists? Advocates of intimidating juries and judges with threats of violence?

How much intentional falsehood can a writer squeeze into a single sentence? Few police are convicted or charged because the vast majority of those police killings are necessary, and even a quick reading at the link provided makes that conclusion unavoidable.

Should more athletes quit?

Ugh. This one rehashed the excuse-making and sexist double-standards that the sports media spewed in the Naomi Osaka/Simone Biles controversies. Osaka quit a couple of major pro tennis tournaments because she felt meeting the same obligations as other players was an imposition, and wanted special considerations because 1) she was stressed and 2) she’s a superstar. Biles went to the Olympics as her team’s cornerstone, and pulled out (after she had taken another aspiring gymnast’s place) while claiming an emotional/mental malady that in a male athlete would be called “choking” or “fear of losing.” Again, the Times spokesperson assails those cruel conservatives:

To patriots of a certain persuasion, this marked the beginning of the end — the self-care generation’s attack on merit, resilience and winning itself….To a well-adjusted person who can’t find a way to get that angry about an athlete taking a break, it was the beginning of something refreshing: A fuller definition of “health,” taking stock of both body and mind, had finally come to sports, the most physical arena in public life.


  • Osaka didn’t take a break, she quit when she wasn’t allowed to demand separate rules for her and lesser mortals. The principle of opposing double standards may be applied to sports while still recognizing their greater importance to ethics and society in general.
  • Get that angry”…what hypocrisy and rhetorical cheating that is! “Hey, it’s only a game, why the big deal?” This is one of the Ethics Alarms rationalizations at play: 50A.  Narcissist Ethics , or “I don’t care.” The writer doesn’t care about U.S. athletes on a world stage picking that moment to refuse to risk defeat and then getting praised for it, and that makes her “well-adjusted.”
  • “A fuller definition of ‘health,’ taking stock of both body and mind, had finally come to sports, the most physical arena in public life” ? Few sports at the highest competitive level are “healthy” physicallyor mentally, especially women’s gymnastics. I can see a persuasive ethical argument for banning that sport entirely, but after accepting millions to practice it and committing to a team effort on behalf of your country is not an ethical time to “quit.”

                                          More of this in Part 2…


2 thoughts on “Ethics Alarms On The New York Times’ “Most Important Debates” Of 2021, Part 1

  1. The way the debates are titled is just another example of how the Left misleadingly reduces issued to absurd Facebook meme phrasing. Asking “Should Obama get to celebrate his birthday?” is just as dishonest as saying that George Floyd died because he shopping. They want to control what the debate is about because, again, it’s all about the narrative. It’s not about facts and it never will be until this party’s leadership and its followers start to care about the harm they are causing.

  2. Regarding these quizzes: Hmmm…..who knew that the plural of quiz would have a second ‘z’?

    See how educational the NY Times is?

    Where was I? Oh the quizzes — it’s the Julie principle. Fish gotta swim, morons gotta moronivate.

    Isn’t the rule of thumb for newspaper articles to write for a 3rd grade education? Apparently the Times thinks that this standard is a bit too challenging for their readers.


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