New York Times columnist Paul Krugman (Twitter, 12/29/20) described a $2,000 Covid relief check as “divisive,” even though 75% of Americans (and 72% of Republicans) wanted the government to prioritize another universal payment. All too often, words such as “divisive,” “contentious” or “controversial” are used merely as media codewords meaning “ideas unpopular with the ruling elite”—what FAIR calls “not journalistically viable.”
Medicare for All is a prime example of this. At least since the issue began receiving national media attention as a result of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign, a majority of Americans have supported some form of national, publicly funded healthcare system. Some polls have found nearly three in four support the idea, including a majority of Republican voters. Yet corporate media continue to disparage universal public health insurance, labeling it “divisive” (Axios, 2/14/20), “controversial” (Christian Science Monitor, 6/4/19; Time, 10/24/19; New York Times, 1/1/20) or “politically perilous” (Associated Press, 3/25/19).
Washington Post columnist Josh Rogin lamented the media’s refusal to discuss aspects of the Covid-19 pandemic, including Dr. Anthony Fauci’s role in it, in an interview with Megyn Kelly.
“This body of research, this gain-of-function research, the whole world of virologists … it’s very insular,” Rogin said in an interview on Kelly’s podcast. “I often talk to scientists who say the same thing, who say, ‘Listen, we really want to speak out about this, but we can’t do it.’ Why can’t we do it? Well, We get all of our funding from NIH, or NIAID, which is run by Dr. Fauci. … And so we can’t say anything like ‘Oh, gain-of-function research might be dangerous, or it might have come from a lab, because we’re going to lose our careers, we’re going to lose our funding, we’re not going to be able to do our work.’”
Back in the good old days, when things were more innocent and simple, the psychopathic Central Intelligence Agency had to covertly infiltrate the news media to manipulate the information Americans were consuming about their nation and the world. Nowadays, there is no meaningful separation between the news media and the CIA at all.
Journalist Glenn Greenwald just highlighted an interesting point about the reporting by The New York Times on the so-called “Bountygate” story the outlet broke in June of last year about the Russian government trying to pay Taliban-linked fighters to attack US soldiers in Afghanistan.
“One of the NYT reporters who originally broke the Russia bounty story (originally attributed to unnamed ‘intelligence officials’) say today that it was a CIA claim,” Greenwald tweeted. “So media outlets – again – repeated CIA stories with no questioning: congrats to all.”
Indeed, NYT’s original story made no mention of CIA involvement in the narrative, citing only “officials,” yet this latest article speaks as though it had been informing its readers of the story’s roots in the lying, torturing, drug-running, warmongering Central Intelligence Agency from the very beginning. The author even writes “The New York Times first reported last summer the existence of the C.I.A.’s assessment,” with the hyperlink leading to the initial article which made no mention of the CIA. It wasn’t until later that The New York Times began reporting that the CIA was looking into the Russian bounties allegations at all.
That Russia placed “bounties” on the heads of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan was one of the most-discussed and consequential news stories of 2020. It was also, as it turns out, one of the most baseless — as the intelligence agencies who spread it through their media spokespeople now admit, largely because the tale has fulfilled and outlived its purpose.
The saga began on July 29, 2020, when The New York Times announced that unnamed “American intelligence officials” have concluded that “a Russian military intelligence unit secretly offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing coalition forces in Afghanistan — including targeting American troops.” The paper called it “a significant and provocative escalation” by Russia. Though no evidence was ever presented to support the CIA’s claims — neither in that original story nor in any reporting since — most U.S. media outlets blindly believed it and spent weeks if not longer treating it as proven, highly significant truth. Leading politicians from both parties similarly used this emotional storyline to advance multiple agendas.
The story appeared — coincidentally or otherwise — just weeks after President Trump announced his plan to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2020. Pro-war members of Congress from both parties and liberal hawks in corporate media spent weeks weaponizing this story to accuse Trump of appeasing Putin by leaving Afghanistan and being too scared to punish the Kremlin. Cable outlets and the op-ed pages of The New York Times and Washington Post endlessly discussed the grave implications of this Russian treachery and debated which severe retaliation was needed. “This is as bad as it gets,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Then-candidate Joe Biden said Trump’s refusal to punish Russia and his casting doubt on the truth of the story was more proof that Trump’s “entire presidency has been a gift to Putin,” while Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) demanded that, in response, the U.S. put Russians and Afghans “in body bags.”
Well before Trump ran for president, the New York Times was making overtures to critics to improve their tattered reputation. They added a public editor in 2003 who would be a conduit of sorts between readers and reporters. This was in the aftermath of the Jayson Blair scandal and also at a time when more people were pointing out how it was becoming increasingly difficult to tell the difference between the op/ed departments and the various news divisions (local, national, international, etc).
But in mid-2017, they eliminated the position. Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. justified it at the time by saying the situation had become outdated and that social media users had effectively become their “watchdogs” instead:
Mr. Sulzberger, in a newsroom memo, said the public editor’s role had become outdated.
“Our followers on social media and our readers across the internet have come together to collectively serve as a modern watchdog, more vigilant and forceful than one person could ever be,” he wrote. “Our responsibility is to empower all of those watchdogs, and to listen to them, rather than to channel their voice through a single office.”
Four years later, and the Twitterization of the New York Times newsroom and its emphasis on catering to “woke” reporters and left-wing social media mobs with an angle to push has proved disastrous, as we’ve documented here on many occasions.
With all of that in mind, you would think that the paper would maybe put on some pretense of trying to make sure the various opinions that get churned out on the op/ed side do not bleed over to the straight news side.
But that’s not happening at all. Instead, the paper is now actively seeking a director of opinion strategy, where one of the key responsibilities will be “connecting and ensuring alignment between efforts in Opinion and around the wider newsroom and company”:
Your job, in brief, will be to:
-Collaborate with The Times’s Opinion Editor, Managing Editor and the wider Opinion leadership team in setting and executing coverage targets and operational strategy
-Help Opinion leaders shape and implement our priorities, goals and plans
-Serve as one of the key conduits connecting and ensuring alignment between efforts in Opinion and around the wider newsroom and company
-Partner closely with Opinion leadership, audience, design, video, audio, newsroom leadership and technology teams to develop and execute on the vision, strategy, and product roadmap for Opinion
-Partner with the Audience team to conduct and present analytics deep dives aimed at helping broaden the audience of Times Opinion
-As a member of the broader Newsroom Strategy and company Strategy & Development team, participate in a wide range of projects in News and across the company
The ad was the equivalent of the New York Times saying the quiet part out loud about the direction in which they were determined to go.