Politics & Media
Jan 11, 2024, 06:29AM

The New York Times Has No “Adults in Charge”

At one time, major newspapers issued ONE presidential endorsement, if at all. The Times now does it weekly.

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At the mid-point of Ann Patchett’s 2019 novel The Dutch House, narrator Danny Conroy says: “The fact that I had never wanted to be a doctor was nothing more than a footnote to a story that interested no one.” That quote came to mind on Sunday morning when reading a New York Times editorial, “A Warning About Donald Trump and 2024,” which was yet another stern take-your-breath-away denunciation of the likely GOP presidential candidate this year. The Times has repeated the same “warning,” in editorials, “news” stories and columns for the last couple of years and it’s my guess this latest advertisement for Joe Biden (who isn’t mentioned) is a declaration “that interested no one.” Even the most diehard Democrats, who have for years detested Trump—many objections reasonable, others purely partisan—and look to the Times for either self-satisfaction (I’m right! I’m smart!), or, to the diminishing number of readers who still refer to the daily, nostalgically, as “the paper of record,” out of habit, must be tired of this drumbeat.

As my friend and colleague Crispin Sartwell—a scabrous media critic who nonetheless leans left politically, when the spirit strikes him—wrote on Monday: “[Biden’s] composed in comparison to the headline writers at the Times, who are groping for the strongest and most hysterical hyperbolic formulation they can find. So they can use it in a headline of a ‘news’ story.”

The Times’ repetition is a staple of its content in this decade (the paper’s slide began in 1992 when Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr. replaced his father as publisher, and has sped up ever since;). Why the editors continue to publish the same story, as if anything’s changed since last week, is not a mystery: it’s a dereliction of journalistic duty, treating readers as if they have learning-disabilities (although I’d wager that many Times Co. executives, not involved in the editorial mish-mash, are hoping Trump prevails, not only for their own financial portfolios but for the benefit of shareholders, internet engagement, clicks and advertisers). By this point, everyone to the left of Little Lulu and Elroy Jetson has determined that Trump is “an existential threat to democracy,” a man who’ll end “the American experiment” and render the United States a laughingstock around the world. (That last bit is silly: do illegal immigrants pouring into the country care about Trump? Do they know his name? Do citizens of the UK, France, Italy, Germany and Canada, who have their own problems, fret about the Paul Revere-cry about U.S. democracy in trouble?)

Those Americans who’ll vote this November—if Biden and Trump are the candidates; they’re both shoo-ins for the nominations (despite MSM “horse-race” coverage of the upcoming primaries), but they’re old, at times infirm, crazy, and any number of “health events” could change the equation—have already made up their minds and it’ll likely be a very close election. I’ll leave it to the conspiracy roundtable—they’re by no means all nuts—how “ballot harvesting” and the like, controlled by the Deep State, whatever side that cabal’s on, will influence the election.

The Times thunders on: “Re-electing Mr. Trump [I do find it surprising that Trump retains the honorific of “Mr.”] would present serious dangers to our Republic and to the world. This is a time not to sit out [the young; many turned anti-Biden over Israel] but instead to re-engage. We appeal to Americans to set aside their political differences, grievances and party affiliations and to contemplate—as families, as parishes, as councils and clubs and as individuals—the real magnitude of the choice they will make in November.”

The “parishes” was, I admit, a nice patronizing touch, although entirely hypocritical since I doubt a high percentage of Times opinion-makers and self-appointed machers set foot inside a church; also, why not include synagogues, or is that too politically-charged? Again, the name “Joe Biden” isn’t mentioned once in this long editorial, for obvious reasons (it would’ve lent at least a shred of legitimacy if the supposed triumphs of Biden were enumerated), but the presumption of the Times is noxious, for those who keep score, in its insistence that anyone who doesn’t agree with their view is an imbecile who can’t come to his or her own conclusions. That’s New York Times “democracy.”

Can’t forget: the Times didn’t mention a single Republican candidate they’d like to topple Trump.

On Jan. 7th, The Wall Street Journal, no friend to Trump, also ran an editorial about the election. It was far more sensible: “All of this underscores the backward-looking nature of a Biden-Trump rematch. Mr. Trump needs to claim the 2020 election was stolen to justify his behavior after Election Day and on Jan. 6. Mr. Biden needs to warn of dictatorship because the public dislikes the results of his policies. Both men are offering voters little or nothing about the future beyond more of the same rancor and polarization.” Reading between the lines, the Journal’s editorialist was saying, shit, this is an awful election, but let’s suck it up and maybe in 2028 Americans will have a choice that’s more rational. Maybe that’s possible.

—Follow Russ Smith on Twitter: @MUGGER2023


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