The New York Times is the main focus of my ongoing lament about the unethical journalism in a nation that desperately needs better. This is in part a function of the fact that it is the paper I subscribe to (at great personal expense despite being in the ambit of the Times’ rival, the Washington Post, which I could have on my lawn for the proverbial song), but mainly because it is, by far, the best of mainstream journalism, so its bias and consistent dishonesty is particularly telling (and frightening.) Ethics Alarms does under-examine the Post, though, and I have to work on that.
I considered this while reading a post by John Schroeder at conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt’s website triggered by a Post “news story.” The WaPo piece said in part,
A father’s runaway political rage and his son’s revulsion at lawlessness enthralled a federal jury Thursday as the first criminal trial stemming from the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack revealed a nation and a family plunged into ruinous conflict by former president Donald Trump’s false claims of a stolen election.
That’s not news reporting (though the Post surely considers it “the best version of the truth,” in the damning words of the Times’ editor); I would call it fake news. Schroeder writes in part,
Really? It’s Trump’s fault? You sure about that? So, The Beatles really did make Charles Manson do it? Jodie Foster is the actual reason John Hinckley shot Ronald Reagan?…[P]eople are responsible their own actions and their own responses to events. We have a will and just because somebody or something pushes our buttons, it does not mean we are not responsible for what we do when the buttons are pushed….This is not reporting on the trial, this is Beltway bubble obsession with Trump hatred. Unlike the Congressional hearings on Jan. 6 which are pure political theater and completely devoid of any actual meaning, the criminal trials are where justice is to be served, and yet the press is reporting on them as if they were just more political theater.
Well, I think the trials are also political theater, as they have made clear that only conservative rioters get prosecuted in the current version of American “justice.” But I digress. The Post publishes more of these kinds of reports, and that is why I subscribe to the Times.
1. A measure to protect women’s sports, and progressives are attacking it. Integrity is one of the hardest of all ethical values, as the supporters of allowing trans athletes to make female sports competitions unfair and futile continue to prove. Prodded by the news of a biological male transgender member of the UPenn women’s swim team crushing all competitors with his male-puberty-generated physique, Iowa became the 11ths state to ban biological males from competing inwomen’s sports when Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed a bill into law last week. “This is a victory for girls’ sports in Iowa. No amount of talent, training or effort can make up for the natural physical advantages males have over females. It’s simply a reality of human biology,” Reynolds said in a statement. “Forcing females to compete against males is the opposite of inclusivity and it’s absolutely unfair.”
Of course it is, but in the age of The Great Stupid, Facts Don’t Matter. “State elected officials need to stop targeting trans youth and their families,” tweeted GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis, predictably. “As a parent, my heart goes out to all the young people in Iowa who were just cruelly kicked out of school sports by the unjustified lawKim Reynolds signed today.”
Ugh. Just because a fair balancing of rights and privileges puts a group on the losing side doesn’t mean it was “targeted.” By the same logic, not protecting the integrity of women’s sports would be “targeting” female athletes. If the public learned to recognize deceitful and manipulative rhetoric like GLAAD’s statement, advocates would be forced to be transparent.
2. “I do not like your woke-washed sham. I’d rather eat green eggs and ham!” The New York Post reports that the Dr. Seuss estate is allowing an “inclusive” group of writers and artists from “diverse racial backgrounds” to use previously unpublished drawings by Dr. Seuss and “woke-washing” them with “inclusive” Seuss-imitating verses “inspired by the drawings” to “represent a diverse cross-section of racial backgrounds to represent as many families as possible,” according to reps for Dr. Seuss Enterprises. The motivation for this is greed, and the managers of Dr. Seuss Enterprises are betraying the artist who allowed it to exist. As with the Harper Lee estate that allowed writer Aaron Sorkin to “woke-wash” “To Kill A Mockingbird” so that the political correctness poliec would be happy (and the estate could cash in on his Broadway version of the novel), those in charge of Seuss’s legacy would rather switch than fight….especially if it is a lucrative choice. (Trivia Quiz! Which cigarette brand’s slogan was “I’d rather fight than switch”?)
3. Has there ever been a more inept and unbelievable demagogue that the news media continued to treat as a serious leader? I am referring, of course to the ridiculous Stacey Abrams. This week, she actually (on Comedy Central, but she wasn’t trying to be funny),
“We are a stronger nation when we allow people to participate. And if we ever doubted that, the war that Putin is waging against Ukraine, President Zelenskyy said — I’m going to paraphrase him probably poorly — he said this isn’t a war on Ukraine, this is a war on democracy in Ukraine. When we allow democracy to be overtaken by those who want to choose who can be heard and those choices are not based on anything other than animus or inconvenience, that is wrong.”
“Daily Show” host Trevor Noah, who also has trouble with that integrity thingy, didn’t have the guts to make the required joke about Abrams, who is again running to be Georgia’s governor, comparing measures that guard against election-polluting tricks like ballot harvesting to Russia killing Ukrainians.
4. Strange Tales of The Great Stupid (cont.) A Portland newspaper columnist named Abdi Nor Iftin wrote this: “Besides sending prayers and love to Ukraine, everyone everywhere should start talking about demilitarizing the world, or guns will undoubtedly kill many more millions in many more cities.” His columns is called “Through My Lens.” His ‘”lens” is so blurry he shouldn’t be allowed to drive. What a waste of time and space. How exactly do we “demilitarize the world”? That objective makes “Imagine” seem practical. “It’s time for the world’s citizens, despite their different nationalities and languages, to come together and talk about disarming big powers before they burn our planet with their weapons of mass destruction,” this naif writes. As we mention here periodically, theoretically ethical objectives are not ethical if they are impossible. All they do is confuse and distract the gullible and ignorant, a group Iftin clearly belongs to.
In his defense, he does live in Portland, which left reality behind years ago.
5. Now THIS is an incompetent day care facility…In Glendale, Arizona, six to eight escaped toddlers were spotted in the street the outside Happy Dayz Learning Center. Someone called 911. The children, all between 1 and 3 years old, apparently got out through a gate that was left open. Then the gate was shut by one of the children as the young fugitives fled the building, and staff members couldn’t reopen it again. The Happy Dayz Learning Center staff initially didn’t know the toddlers had escaped, according to witnesses.
Yeah, I’d trust that place with my kids…
This is one more example of life imitating “The Simpsons”:
6. I think it is now fair to say that the pandemic fear-mongering by the news media and Democrats combined with the constantly changing directives from the CDC have driven some people completely out of their minds.
In New York City, although students in kindergarten through 12th grade can drop their masks beginning March 7, it was previously announced that children in pre-K and younger still have to be masked because they are not yet eligible to be vaccinated. They aren’t vaccinated because, among other reasons, the risk of such small children getting a serious case of the Wuhan virus or its relaitves is vanishingly small. This is child abuse. Meanwhile, even though the CDC directs otherwise, the nascent totalitarians running D.C, schools have decreed that students must remain masked, thus hampering their speech and social development. This scene, however, sums it all up nicely:
7. A final note of disgust: while assessing the Ukraine coverage by the various news sources, I have been forced to watch Fox New more than any time in the last ten years. The flirty attire, make-up, dye jobs, and hair styles of 95% of the female reporters and hosts are an offense to taste, professionalism and womanhood. I find myself hating the producers who make the women go on screen like that, and the women themself for putting up with it. It is obviously like that to pander to male viewers, and as a male viewer, I’m offended that Fox News thinks that journalists wearing Tammy Faye false eyelashes, make-up that looks like it was slathered on with a trowel, f-m pumps and slink dresses with plunging necklines are the vessels I want to hear my news coming from.
And that’s just the men…
36 thoughts on “Weekend Dawning Ethics Warm-up, 3/5/2022: Presenting The Insane Masked Singers Chorus And Other Debacles [Corrected]”
I believe you’re intending to reference the Penn (not Columbia) swimmer. Otherwise, right on.
AAAAAghg. Fixed. Thanks.
Tareyton. I remember those commercials and the actors with the black eye. Didn’t they have the “charcoal filter”I think I saw those even before I was a teenager. At some point cigarette advertising on TV was banished – yeah, looked it up, April 1, 1970 making me 12 at that time.
I remember a lot of those slogans.
“Taste me, Taste me.” – Doral
“You’ve come a long way baby.” – I think that was Benson and Hedges
“Come to where the flavor is, Marlboro country.” – Marlboro, of course
“Show us your lark.” Lark – I vaguely remember this, maybe it wasn’t for cigs.
“I’d walk a mile for a Camel.” The ones with the brand in the slogan are easy of course.
If I thought longer I might be able to come up with a few more.
I smoked until I was 24; quit on 8/5/1982 soon to be 40 years ago. We had candy cigarettes too.
The punch line in that episode was that the preschool was called the Ayn Rand preschool
Maggie starred in another daycare drama called “The Longest Day-Care”…
Especially on an ethics blog, there is no excuse for Jack Marshall to repeat an error he knows he made. If you click through on the business of the NYT and “the best version of the truth,” then find the link in that post to the New Yorker article and search in that article for “the best version of the truth,” you will see that Times Editor Dean Baquet meant – insert Jack Marshall-style italics and boldface – EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE of what Jack says he meant. Baquet explicitly said he means the actual truth WITHOUT political bias. “Best version” was obviously an allusion to the deadline pressure that is always present in newsrooms, and the concomitant need NOT to easily default to personal bias – political or any other kind.
Now, Baquet does say in the New Yorker article that *other* people at the NYT pressure him into abandoning this goal, pressure that he works to resist. If anyone wants to comment on that, fine, although the several people here who announce that they never read the Times are obviously – in the legal words of this blog – ahem, “estopped” from doing so. But there is simply no reason for this obvious 180-degree misinterpretation to reoccur here. Bias makes you stupid and all that, and that means everyone. Have a nice day.
We’ve had this out, and you’re dead wrong, though sincere. There is only one way to interpret Baquet’s statement, and it is contrary to journalism ethics. It also can’t be spun. The facts are facts, and there are not multiple versions of “the truth”. That The Times empowers itself to concoct its own version that comports with its interests (that’s the “best” version to them) tells us all we need to know about the paper’s trustworthiness. Hence the paper, and Baquet keeps allowing reporters to call the Jan. 6 riot an “insurrection.” that’s neither factual nor true, but its the version of the truth the Times wants the public to “know.”
You can’t weasel out of this one, AF, and neither can the Times.
My repeated use of the term is what I’d call “legitimate doubling down,” and that’s not all! here and now I vow that I will continue to use “best version of the truth” to characterize the Times habitual bias as often as possible until 1) The Times disavows Baquet’s statement, or 2) The Times starts reporting all news straight without leftward spin, or 3) You admit to reality.
I’d rate all three as equally unlikely.
One more thing: In interpreting an ambiguous statement, the speaker’s conduct is the final arbiter. If the Times under Baquet had not, did not and did not continue to bury or deny facts that didn’t fits it’s narratives, apply double standards routinely, and stack the deck only to benefit one side of the ideological divide, the “best version of the truth” line could be fairly interpreted as careless phrasing. But instead it was unintentional candor.
I, for one, would be very happy if news media stuck in their news reporting to reporting facts, i.e., statements that actually were made, events that actually occurred, and so on. The ‘best version of the truth’ should be firmly relegated to labeled opinion columns or pages.
Facts are known, verifiable. Versions of the truth are opinions based on a selection of facts, those facts known at the time, or those facts chosen.
The present practice of most news media is to present to the reader analyses and interpretations (their truth) portrayed as factual reporting. This is where the ‘best version’ creeps in. It is an insult to readers, a way of saying they cannot understand and assimilate facts to reach the truth and so have to be told what the truth is.
For an outlet such as the Times to present their best version of the truth is nothing new; the practice originated at least with the emergence of compositional language among early hominids. It was and is a slant on the facts.
But, let’s not pretend that when Baquet referred to the best version of the truth that he was describing an actual practice, or even a goal, of neutral objectivity in the news pages of the Times, of reporting only facts. He was not.
Further, Baquet’s stated belief in the best version of the truth mandates that he return the Pulitzer for the bogus ‘best version’ of Russian collusion, apologize to his readers for misleading them in the worst way, and apologize publicly to the nation for promoting a false narrative. ‘Unnamed sources familiar with the situation, indeed.
Imagine blaming Patrice Cullors and Nikole Hannah Jones for the actions of Montez Terriel Lee.
7. They’re cross dressing on Fox?
(I thought it was fairly obvious that was a joke…but then your joke is just as mandatory as mine given the set-up.)
5. Those “Simpsons” clips take the cake. So amazing how tunes get stuck in our brains. I must have been eleven or twelve when “The Great Escape” was in theaters (where else would it have been?) but I got the reference without even thinking. Loved the ball in the box. As I recall, “Escape” is a fairly dark and futile movie, a bit of an outlier. Doesn’t Steve McQueen end up strung up in a bunch of barbed wire, or worse? Not exactly “Hogan’s Heroes.”
1. One of my all time favorite movies.
2. No! Steve, after his famous motorcycle chase, ends up back in “the cooler,” bouncing his baseball against the wall like always. And we know he will try to escape again. He evn gets a chance to throw some shade on the now-disgraced camp commandant, who is on the way to the Russian front as he arrives after being re-captured. “Job just didn’t work out for you, huh?” he says.
3. Like “The Alamo,” it’s a “victory on defeat” movie. And the most amazing parts of the story are TRUE!
Probably haven’t seen it since I was eleven or twelve. Obviously, McQueen not riding off to freedom made an impression on me.
Oh, it is well-worth watching again. It’s a movie my wife and I watch a couple of times every year.
I remember the tremendous cinematography. Incredibly moody.
Regarding number 4, I’m astonished at this idea starting to grow. I’m seeing it more and more often, and every time I hear it, my first thought is that I’m sure that Russia would be thrilled if Ukraine were to disarm all its citizens.
The mental fog required to leap from “in order to save our country, everyone take a free ak!” to “here’s more proof we need to get rid of guns!” is appalling.
“The flirty attire, make-up, dye jobs, and hair styles of 95% of the female reporters and hosts are an offense to taste, professionalism and womanhood…I’m offended that Fox News thinks that journalists wearing Tammy Faye false eyelashes, make-up that looks like it was slathered on with a trowel, f-m pumps and slink dresses with plunging necklines are the vessels I want to hear my news coming from.”
Not that I disagree Jack, but it is all for a good cause.
In other words, what you describe has worthwhile utility.
I think FoxNews is kicking some serious ass when it comes to ratings.
The enemy of my enemy is my friend.
1. Re: all the young people in Iowa who were just cruelly kicked out of school sports. They weren’t kicked out of school sports; they were kicked out of competing against their biological inferiors. Is there any prohibition against their competing against their biological peers? I don’t think so.
I see the Paralympics are on TV. Why are able-bodied people prohibited from competing in the Paralympics? What’s that all about? If I identify as a Paralympian, why should I be cruelly kicked out of the Paralympics? Alternatively, why not have transgendered competitions? The Transolympics? With men’s and women’s divisions! The Super Special Olympics.
No, Jack, you are wrong, and your refusal to admit the mistake on something called “Ethics Alarms” is very striking.
Since your readers won’t look it up, here’s the Dean Baquet quote in the New Yorker: “But the job of the New York Times should, in the end, be to come out with the best version of the truth, with your own political opinion held in check by editors and editing.”
Exactly, and explicitly, the opposite of what you represented to EA readers he said and meant – literally, figuratively and in every other way.
And, as previously discussed, not only is “the best version of the truth” simply a figure of speech that I’ve heard many times rather than some Freudian slip, but also if you’ve ever worked in a newsroom on deadline – as I have – you know exactly what Baquet was driving at. Sources and factual assertions have to be weighed and judged by reporters in a way that historians have far more leisure to do. He’s laying out a goal in this objective that is precisely the opposite of the goal that you incorrectly claimed he was asserting, consciously or unconsciously.
Now, is the New York Times good at that? I would say it’s a mixed bag. This blog’s judgment on that is unnaturally colored by significant errors on that score that the NYT made in 2019 and 2020. It cheats the readers when you repeatedly skip over the excellent journalism they produce daily to both wallow in their past mistakes and deliberately stoke some outrage porn here among your unanimously politically conservative commenters by redirecting them to the most woke-left columnists in the Times. From there, Bias Makes You Stupid (one of your best principles) mistakes like your initial overexcited misreading of the Baquet quote before you absorbed the entire sentence are inevitable.
A final note: You shouldn’t have this difficult with such a moderate reader like me. I sympathize with a lot of your commentary, including several items today. For example, I think the whole trans participation in female-delimited sports competitions is per se ridiculous even as I support almost everything else in the LGBTQ agenda, and I think what Stacey Abrams said is both appalling and inane. If you have this need to dump so hard on me, what about actual liberals? When the “echo chamber” accusation comes up, it leaves you without a leg to stand on. I’m sure there are people out there nodding along with me on this, even if they’re afraid to say so. Think about it.
Unless you have photographic evidence of Jack taking a dump on you, you’re making an unsubstantiated accusation. “If you have this need to dump so hard on me”
You know darn well the primary reason for the echo chamber characterization is because so few radicalized Leftys can support their ridiculous ideas when challenged here and it is scary for them to venture out of their ideological bubble. Plus, they simply do not like to be publicly humiliated with convincing logic so they stay away satisfied to only mingle with clones.
“I support almost everything else in the LGBTQ agenda”
Do you agree with laws making it legal for self-declared transitioning males to share shower/locker rooms with females in high school?
I know what he said, AF.
The first part of the sentence you quote was inadvertent candor; the second part is boiler-plate denial, and frankly insulting. “Your own political opinion held in check by editors and editing”??? How gullible can a Times reader be to believe that? How gullible do you have to be?
I’ve given you multiple opportunities to respond to the various examples of pure political bias in the paper that clearly reflect editors that do NOT hold them in check. Why the weasel words about the “deadly” Jan. 6 riot? Why “insurrection” day after day? Explain the fact that the Times never—never–makes the kinds of “mistakes” that regularly bolster Democrat narratives in favor of the Right end of the spectrum? What did the Times immediately shrug off the Durham report on Clinton campaign spying? The Hunter Biden laptop? The rape accusation against Biden? Why is it still publishing partisan puff pieces like the one last week showing us poor Joe’s tough 48 hours?
You really don’t seem to grasp the purpose here. It is not to “dump” on liberals, or conservatives—it is to lay out the groundrules for ethical decision-malign, analysis and problem solving, none of which, properly employed, can reach the conclusion that you have: the the New York Times is deliberately passing on a “version of the truth” based on “advocacy journalism.”
There’s none so blind as those who will not see. While it is true that observations and conclusions can change over time as more data becomes available. The truth can never change or have multiple versions. The truth is the truth. There is only one truth. It only comes in one version. Regrettably, the actual truth may never be known to others. He said she said. He took the truth to his grave.
While time constraints may lead to faulty conclusions, it does not result in the January 6th riot being called an insurrection. Nor does it result in calling BLM supporters burning buildings or vehicles or the looting of stores largely peaceful protests. In the spirit of accuracy, I cannot point to a specific article in the NY Times that used the term largely peaceful protests. It is a term that has been used by many news progressive news outlets, and I include it to illustrate progressive’s goal to sway public opinion.
They never used it. They never pointed out how absurd it was either, and a genuinely objective news source “with its own political opinion held in check by editors and editing” would have, because that itself was news. But the Times won’t touch the bias in its own industry or profession. Instead it is part of the cover-up.
Your comment is very telling, Tom. The original quote is “Fiery but mostly peaceful protests,” which was a famously disastrous chyron that scrolled on CNN during the summer of 2020. But now, given ideological sorting and echo chambers, people on the right think that’s been used 100 times by all the mainstream media, including, falsely, by the New York Times, as even Jack accurately points out.
You probably think I love CNN given my commentary on the NYT. In fact, I hate CNN, or more specifically, what CNN became under Jeff Zucker, who destroyed it in service of short-term, 24-hour hate-Trump hysteria and what was quite literally Covid panic porn. He even paid tens of millions of dollars to the ridiculous Chris Cuomo, who said that protests don’t have to be peaceful, when the First Amendment of the US Constitution says they do! Meanwhile, their viewers were left knowing nothing about anything else, and now we have an actual ground war in Europe to thank for everyone’s ignorance.
Echo chambers, ideological confirmation-bias headlines which I now see all over the Internet, and pointless yelling comment threads as opposed to the excellent ones at the New York Times which I’m sure virtually all the most repetitive commenters here have still not checked out, are the enemies of knowledge. As always, I hope this helps.
Please find below excerpts from three NY times articles citing “peaceful demonstrations” They all were published in July of 2020. The CNN reference you cite occurred in August of 2020. Could it be that the CNN reporter is a NY Times Reader?
In all of the reporting I read in the Times of violence in Portland I did not see the word riot or insurrection used by reporters. They were always demonstrators or protestors. The point of my comment is the Times editorializes the news to slant public opinion. And I have not heard arguments to the contrary.
Federal Agents Push Into Portland Streets, Stretching Limits of Their Authority
By Mike Baker, Thomas Fuller and Sergio Olmos
Published July 25, 2020 Updated July 31, 2020
“Most of the demonstrations during the evening, though, were peaceful.”
Trump Threatens to Send Federal Law Enforcement Forces to More Cities
By Peter Baker, Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Monica Davey Published July 20, 2020
Updated July 24, 2020
“In contrast to the president’s claims, many major cities remain safer than they were decades ago, despite the recent uptick in crime. Some protesters, including in Portland, have targeted federal property and officers with rocks and fireworks, and some protests weeks ago resulted in damage to businesses and looting. But most of the demonstrations throughout the United States have largely been peaceful.”
Have protesters used violence against federal officers?
By Kate Conger and Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs July 28, 2020
“The crowds have been largely peaceful and have included high school students, military veterans, off-duty lawyers and lines of mothers who call themselves the Wall of Moms.”
I still remember the Mark O. Hatfield Courthouse Ethics Train Wreck.
For some reason, Jack never dedicated an entire blog post to it.
Love the pop psychology in your last Baquet comment, Jack. “He made a mistake, caught himself in the middle of the sentence, and fixed it.” As opposed to “I read too fast, got overexcited because Bias-You-Know-What, and forgot to read to the period.” Comical, man. It’s plain what actually happened.
You can bite me, AF. You’re out of your depth, and now reduced to ad hominem irrelevancies when I’ve repeatedly given you a road map to actual evidence you could present—if it existed—to prove your point. Simply repeating over and over again that Baquet’s statement doesn’t mean what his paper’s patterns and conduct under his hand prove it means are obstinacy cloaked in certitude.
Not a good look.
Ad hominem, indeed.
Dissent not allowed! Even though I’ve repeatedly pointed to NYT content that you refuse to acknowledge exists. Good luck, Jack.
And good luck with your advocacy technique, AF! It would get thrown out of any trial or appellate court in the country, and I wouldn’t try it with a dissertation committee either.
This is like writing that the false claims of Patrice Cullors and Nikole Hannah Jones caused Minneapolis, Portland, and Kenosha to burn.