There’s not a single journalist, dead or alive, who hasn’t missed a story, made a mistake or mangled a quote. It comes with the territory of writing history’s first draft on deadline, with the consolation that there’s a new story and new chance tomorrow.
But a certain editor at The New York Times cannot be consoled. His flub was no ordinary one, for he was insufficiently hostile to the president of the United States.
When Donald Trump is the president, that is not a mere mistake at The New New York Times. It’s a sin, potentially a mortal one.
“He’s sick. He feels terrible,” executive editor Dean Baquet reportedly said of the unidentified headline writer.
No doubt the sinner grew even sicker during the remarkable staff meeting Baquet convened Monday, which turned into a grievance and shaming session. According to the Daily Beast and Poynter, Baquet declared the headline “a f–king mess” in a bid to appease the many reporters and editors extremely upset about how such an awful thing could happen.
The tone seems to have been that this sort of travesty must be nipped in the bud, lest it spread like poison ivy. What’s next — a picture of Trump smiling? A spread on how his economic results dwarf Barack Obama’s among blacks and Latinos?
Not on Baquet’s watch.
Facts can take you to scary places, so better to make it clear that the agenda mandates Trump hate, from first page to last. No exceptions tolerated.
As for the offending editor, he is being made an example of and taught a lesson. Perhaps he will be sent to a re-education camp, one of those places where they keep you in the dark and blast bad rock music until you vow never again to play it straight.
If this sounds a bit overwrought, consider what the incident says about the state of American journalism, and especially the Times. The rot has turned into a cancer.
The first-edition headline on Tuesday, Aug. 6, “Trump Urges Unity vs. Racism,” was entirely appropriate for the president’s somber remarks after the El Paso and Dayton mass shootings. Trump denounced bigotry and white supremacy and called for new measures to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill.
But this was not enough for many left-wingers, some of them inside the Times. A Twitter storm erupted, complete with calls for subscription cancellations, and presto — the headline was rewritten for the next edition.
The replacement, “Assailing Hate but not Guns,” at least had the virtue of criticizing Trump on one of the paper’s “mission” issues.
The episode continues to reverberate a week later largely because so many of the paper’s readers and employees continue to complain. This strikes me as bizarre and reveals that Baquet created a monster when he unleashed the paper’s partisans during the 2016 election.
For insiders to protest a headline as being insufficiently soft on a politician, especially the president, was unthinkable at the Times that gave me my start and training. In that golden era of straight-news reporting, you kept your political opinions to yourself and if you tried to sneak them into your stories, they were eliminated by layers of copy editors.
The top editor in those days, the legendary Abe Rosenthal, frequently declared that his goal was to “keep the paper straight.” He succeeded with an ironclad rule against having reporters’ opinions in news stories. The result of that restraint was the credibility that made the Times the nation’s most trusted newspaper.
NYT amends front-page headline after backlash on Twitter
Facing intense criticism, the New York Times changed a front-page…
Subsequent editors relaxed those rules and Baquet banished them in 2016. The paper had rarely found anything amiss in the Obama presidency and now he aimed to use its power to make Hillary Clinton president.
Trump’s election infuriated the Times, and the paper’s coverage shows it is determined he won’t get a second term. Every article is an opinion — and negative.
Moreover, the drama over a single headline is a reminder that the only political diversity at the paper is between the left and the far left. Joe Pompeo, in Vanity Fair, reports something I’ve heard, too — that young reporters and editors think Baquet is too much of a traditionalist and are chafing at even the minimal limitations on what they can write about Trump.
They apparently want to call the president and his supporters racists virtually every day, based only on their personal opinions. At the Monday meeting, Baquet promised to set ground rules for when the “R” word could be used.
It’s not hard to see those young journalists, most of them white, as slightly older versions of college snowflakes who cannot bear to hear a dissenting word and demand that the world conform to their prejudices. In their identity-driven madness, standards of fairness are relics and another form of white power.
All of which must strike Baquet as especially strange, since he is the paper’s first black editor.
As for readers sent over the edge by the benign headline, their sense of entitlement is breathtaking. As I wrote Sunday, their fury illustrates that they expect the paper to give them their daily dose of Trump hate. When they don’t get it, the Times becomes the target.
Now that is a real f–king mess.
Warts & all, why Don wins
A good summation of what Dems miss about middle America comes from reader Chris Goodwin, no relation. He writes: “I am a traveling pipe welder and hadn’t welded much American-made pipe till Trump was elected. I live in rural Missouri and Dems don’t care what we think.
“We still cling to our Bibles and guns and think men should use their own bathrooms. We think college shouldn’t be free and not everyone should go. Trump embarrasses me often, but I’ll take embarrassment over any of his opponents.”
Knife seizures from students in city schools have soared an astounding 92% since 2015, The Post reports. The raw numbers were 1,677 last year, up from 873 four years ago.
Educrats give a typical nothing-to-see-here answer: There is better enforcement through surprise metal-detector scanning, but no proof that more students are armed.
Thankfully, the head of the school safety agents union, Greg Floyd, has a more persuasive answer. The increase, he said, “means that more children are bringing knives to school because they know other kids are bringing knives to school.”
Congestion pols in overdrive
Congestion apparently isn’t bad enough yet, so City Hall plans to make it worse. Banning cars from five blocks of 14th Street in Manhattan will do the trick.
Area residents and businesses sued, saying side streets would be swamped, but officials swat away such worries as unnecessary. Trust us, say the same people who build bike lanes and other traffic impediments, then pass an enormous congestion tax as a penalty.
Oh, for the days of Tammany Hall, when taxpayers were fleeced by more colorful crooks and got a free turkey at Christmas.