Yesterday, the New York Times ran a really huffy little story about how some conservatives are using the tactics pioneered by Media Matters against reporters. You can read my post here, but the story is basically this. For years the leftwing media has used Media Matters and other nutter groups to do opposition research on conservative politicians and media figures. This isn’t just any oppo, these assclowns will go through writings as far back as they can trying to find something dumb or offensive. Then they hand off the statement to CNN or the New York Times or MSNBC or the Washington Post or all of the above. These media outlets will then trumpet the faux pas and try to get the target to either resign from office or get them fired. Sometimes they go after private citizens who have been a little too outspoken, like the guy who did the meme of President Trump wrestling CNN.
In just a couple of months, the group has counted coup on a couple of media employees with a sordid past. A CNN photo editor was fired for outrageously anti-Semitic tweets (not a shock, CNN after all) and a political editor for the New York Times engaged in racist and anti-Semitic rhetoric allegedly to “shock” his friends (mission freakin accomplished, Scooter).
The New York Times went so far as to actually say that it is fine with the media does this–because journalism–but when it is done to the media it is an assault of freedom of the press. Yep. My jaw dropped, too.
From a statement today that publisher A.G. Sulzberger sent to the staff of The Times: pic.twitter.com/yKaWJqHm5W
— Patrick Healy (@patrickhealynyt) August 25, 2019
Breitbart burned the New York Times. And the Times really doesn’t like it.
If the New York Times thought the Fourth Estate was going to rally to their defense, they were sadly disappointed. This is how the Washington Post’s media critic treated it Breitbart burned the New York Times. And the Times really doesn’t like it.
They are bad actors. They are driven to suppress legitimate inquiry. They are by no means journalists.
And they read Twitter very carefully!
Those are the contours of an alarm rung on Sunday by the New York Times. “A loose network of conservative operatives allied with the White House is pursuing what they say will be an aggressive operation to discredit news organizations deemed hostile to President Trump by publicizing damaging information about journalists,” wrote Kenneth P. Vogel and Jeremy W. Peters.
And just what would this “damaging information” be? Illicitly obtained DMs? Gossip about their sexual habits? HIPAA-protected information?
Nope. “Four people familiar with the operation described how it works, asserting that it has compiled dossiers of potentially embarrassing social media posts and other public statements by hundreds of people who work at some of the country’s most prominent news organizations.” Bolding added to note that this “damaging information” is available not only to a “loose network of conservative operatives” but also to the loose network of everyone with access to the Internet.
I was on my second cigarette by the time I got this far. It gets better.
Yet at the same time, Sulzberger all but admitted that the information supplied by Schwartz and Co. can be relevant to the management of the New York Times: “No organization is above scrutiny, including The Times. We have high standards, own our mistakes and always strive to do better. If anyone — even those acting in bad faith — brings legitimate problems to our attention, we’ll look into them and respond appropriately.”
Good! There’s an incompatibility in the Times story and the Sulzberger memo: On one hand, there’s an attempt to tar the motivations of the “loose network of conservative operatives”; on the other, there’s a stubborn admission that they have brought actionable information to public attention. For decades now, representatives of the mainstream media have answered conservative critiques by imploring: Judge us by the work we produce, not by the fact that more than 90 percent of us are liberal/Democratic. Mainstreamers cannot have it both ways. Cut the idle and unverifiable talk about motivations. If the tweets presented by the “loose network of conservative operatives” are racist or anti-Semitic or otherwise problematic, take action. If they’re nonsensical distractions, ignore them.
In the meantime, the “loose network of conservative operatives” must be celebrating right about now, having triggered not only an extensive scolding in the Times, but also an eight-paragraph memo from its publisher.
He’s exactly right. All the frothing Sulzberger did on “bad faith” is just bullsh** and excuse-making. The allegations are either real or they aren’t. Their validity is not affected one whit whether they are brought to you privately to alert you to a problem or trumpeted across the internet to make you look hypocritical and rather stupid. Reporters having to live by the rules they have created, which is that a notation in a high school yearbook could result in a demand for your firing thirty years after the fact, is a very good thing.
The this that struck me here was the rather gleeful tone. It’s almost as if reporters talk and they know which of their colleagues have posted stuff which would be, in the left’s vernacular, “problematic” if brought to light. The group working on this project claim “that the operation had unearthed potentially “fireable” information on “several hundred” people.” The subtext here, in my reading, is that there is some really bad stuff floating around that is common knowledge but that no one in the industry has done anything about because their first loyalty is to their group and ratting out a fellow journalist would get you blackballed. The whole “bring in on” attitude also makes it seem like that the writer thinks the New York Times is going to be uniquely stricken by the outbreak of truth that is about to happen. We can only hope.