This morning I was reading the New York Times coverage of the President’s unhinged COVID-19 parade of inanity, when the paper made a grave mistake.
It asked me to participate in a survey.
I didn’t start the survey with any particular motive. I just like taking surveys.
Then they made a fatal error. The survey asked me what I thought about NYT coverage. So I told them:
I appreciate the width and breadth of coverage the NYT provides. Also, I feel the reporters on just about every topic are knowledgeable and help make unfamiliar topics more understandable.
But your political coverage is stuck in platitudes and commitment to a conventional wisdom that died 30 or more years ago.
The paper has not adjusted to the demagoguery that has become a feature of the right since the first decade of the 2000’s. In ignoring this change, the paper has become an unwitting participant in the normalization of a slow simmering authoritarianism that threatens the guardrails of democracy…of which the institution of the NYT itself is a integral part.
Its a common problem throughout all journalistic enterprises. In seeking to present “balanced” coverage the paper has failed to point out the tectonic shift in American politics. Sure, AOC and Bernie may get a lot of play on the left, but they don’t represent the mainstream of the party despite their out sized press coverage.
At the same time, wild eyed rightist proto-authoritarians like Tom Cotton, Marsha Blackburn and Martha McSally have infiltrated the GOP with little fanfare from the paper. What’s more, the normalization of Lindsey Graham’s fetishization of this administration is disconcerting. Mr. Graham’s current position is a marked departure from his pre-election rhetoric…something that should be brought up every single time he’s mentioned as it impacts his credibility.
In failing to sound a constant alarm in your actual coverage (not just the opinion pages) the paper has become an unwitting participant in the slow but steady decline of democratic institutions.
I hope the managers of this newspaper will take this critique to heart. This may seem alarmist, but as someone who lives in a mostly rural red state, I am seeing, firsthand, how the slow but steady erosion of democratic norms is playing out in flyover country, even if you, from your offices in Manhattan, cannot.
That’ll teach ’em.
I’m on my third book about decaying democratic norms and how our republic is threatened. My second COVID Quarantine Review will come out tomorrow morning for the book, “Why we’re Polarized”, by Ezra Klein.