17 Comments
May 8·edited May 8

My favorite example: Trump says, repeatedly in his stump speeches, that he wants to eliminate all absentee voting and require everyone to vote on in-person on election day. OK, he could very well become President, so we should take this seriously, right? Where's the coverage of the practical consequences of this? The interviews with state and local election officials on how they would handle this change? The interviews with elderly and disabled people who would be most affected? Nope, none of these things happen, because the media decides in advance this will never happen, so no need to go beyond occasionally reporting the Trump does say this, buried inside much longer roundups of all the other crazy shit he says. Because Trump has a track record of lying, of saying he will do things and then not following through, so why waste our readers' time, right?

Meanwhile, Joe Biden has a track record of follow-through, when he says there will be an infrastructure bill, there IS an infrastructure bill, so every promise Biden makes will get taken apart, examined and critiqued in detail.

Is this the "very good, hard-hitting, well-rounded coverage of both candidates" that Kahn says he's delivering, or is it an obvious double standard, a deliberate choice to go easier on Trump because "Eh, he probably doesn't really mean that"?

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This is exactly right. “Taking Trump seriously” means cleaning up his shambling incoherence and open hatred of America enough to give him a “fair” chance of winning, but then to always assume someone or something will prevent the worst-case scenario. If Biden answered a question in half as brain-damaged a manner as Trump speaks routinely, there would be nothing else on the front page for six months.

They refuse to admit what America has become under what they consider their watch.

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May 8·edited May 8

"If the Times really wants to talk about inflation, shouldn’t its business and political reporters provide more in-depth reporting about how Trump’s proposed policies — tax cuts, protectionist barriers, forced expulsion of migrants, eroding the independence of the Fed — would cause a massive spike in inflation?"

Yes, exactly. Just one of those things - forced expulsion of migrants - would make for weeks of serious coverage, if it was explored in the detail it deserves. The Times was willing to send its reporters to Wisconsin diners to interview Trump supporters ad nauseum, how about sending your reporters to Wisconsin dairy farms to ask the farmers who's gonna milk the cows? Eh, but he PROBABLY won't follow through on that threat, let's not bother.

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What Kahn refuses to notice (or acknowledge, I don’t know or care which) is that I’m not asking the Times to consciously do anything for my benefit; I am noticing what they do as a habit, and am reacting accordingly.

And because I actually remember things (which is inconvenient for fascists and the NYT), I remember when the Times felt that being in favor of bringing democracy to Iraq by invading them was just a common sense, apolitical position to take. Which is how they still feel about the “oooh look at how big the deficit is” stories they reflexively pump out whenever Republicans tell them to.

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Yeah, I think this is the most insulting part of the whole thing, that he really thinks we're all stupid enough to fall for this "We're just neutral!" claim. You picked the best example, did they treat the debate on whether to invade Iraq as a neutral observer, giving "very good, hard-hitting, well-rounded coverage of both sides" or did they decide right off the bat what was the CORRECT side and then ignore (when they weren't ridiculing) the opposing side?

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NYT is basically FOX News lite at this point. Also there is absolutely no way immigration is the top issue with voters right now, or ever really.

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I feel like that assertion was as telling as a number of the other statements. To a certain portion of the American electorate, immigration is likely the pressing order of the day. Because a certain portion of the American electorate is mainlining media that insists there's an overwhelming invasion happening on our southern border. And apparently the polls of those folks are what NYT leadership is looking at.

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It seems like immigration is the issue people *think they are supposed to care about.* It barely affects the lives of most American citizens. If your twelve-year-old daughter is in the hospital with pregnancy complications, do you really care that one of the hospital workers is in the US on an expired visa?

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There are a lots of issues competing for people's attention, so you can be "top issue" with only 30% of the voters saying you're the top issue. Which is about the size of the Republican base, so if 100% of Republicans answer "immigration" as they've been trained to do, then there ya go, it's the top issue.

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I was fascinated by the claim that "immigration happens to be the top [of polls], and the economy and inflation is the second. Should we stop covering those things because they’re favorable to Trump and minimize them?"

I'm curious and don't know the answer to this: when the Times writes about the immigration issue, does it regularly point out that there WAS a bipartisan bill to address the border and it was scuttled by the GOP on a procedural vote?

When they write about inflation do they regularly point out that over all it has improved drastically since the inflation from the supply-chain problems of the pandemic and that inflation is at root caused by more people wanting a particular good--in other words, the more folks who have the money to BUY the good because they are now working. When they poll people worried about the rise in prices of certain items way beyond any president's control, like the bird virus devastating chicken and egg production, do they ask whether knowing ABOUT the virus changes the mind of the person being polled?

I long ago stopped thinking that polls reflect much reality, partly because they never seem to ask nuanced questions or double check on what in particular the respondent is worried about. I've always been amused in a horrified way by the executive from 528 who worried that the people actually responding to polls were so often "weirdos"--his word.

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In his response, Kahn circles around but studiously avoids the fundamental issue. He claims the Fourth Estate is a pillar of democracy but insists it must impartial toward a candidate hostile to democracy, notably including freedom of the press. The tension he's not grappling with is that critics aren't asking for the New York Times to be partial toward a particular administration or party but to the democracy they claim to play an important role in upholding.

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As tends to be the case, the treatment is one of spectacle rather than substance. There are genuine real-world issues at play with this election, including but not limited to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and now Rafah, as well as the climate crisis. Instead, we're fed endless qualms about Biden's age and preoccupation with Trump's various (probable) crimes.

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"Immigration... economy... inflation"... was democracy even on the poll/s? Always reminded "Rosebud" was first publicly uttered 05 SEP 1941 while "Dewey Defeats Truman" (Chicago Daily Tribune) happened just seven years later on 04 NOV 1948. Related trivia: The resurfacing of an 80-year-old negative review from the same Chicago [Daily] Tribune kept "Citizen Kane" from getting 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.

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founding

Thank you Parker, this was great.... I spent most of my afternoon following the links, and then the links within the links...

The best one, though was Ben Smith's Semafor's link to James Bennet's piece in the economist. It was fascinating. https://www.economist.com/1843/2023/12/14/when-the-new-york-times-lost-its-way

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James Bennett, former NYT Opinion Editor: "These qualities have for generations been helpful in contending with the Times’s familiar problem, which is liberal bias."

I'd love to hear from Bennett, in detail, just how this "liberal bias" thing has been a "problem." How has liberal bias led the Times astray? Were they for gay marriage before everyone else was? Did they warn us too much about the dangers of climate change? Sure, it could have been "liberal bias" that led the Times to underestimate Trump's chances of being elected President, but that could have also been due to the fact that Trump was an objectively horrible person facing a major sex scandal, who knows?

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"Kahn’s answer is stunning in its simplistic rendering of the dilemma raised by Trump’s hostility to democracy"

You idiot libs, leftists and Democrats choke the oxygen from your brains ingesting stupid emotive partisan political slogans and memes that have zero real meaning. "Threat to democracy". "Hostility to democracy".

You cannot come up with anything rational to back those claims. Meanwhile the behavior of the Biden Admin to strong arm media and tech to stifle free speech and power abusing Dems weaponizing the judicial and FBI for politics... there is your REAL threats to democracy that isn't reported as it would be and should be.

And you have the stones to criticize the NYT for not carrying more of your anti-Trump partisan ranting interests.

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Hey, didja see how the Justice Department is prosecuting Henry Cuellar, Democratic Congressman, and Bob Menendez, Democratic Senator? What's up with that, huh? I thought the "Biden Justice Department" was supposed be be only going after Republicans with its "lawfare" and rigging all the elections so only Democrats win? Who didn't get the memo?

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