Friday, April 26, 2024

This has been building for a long time, but...

... things are suddenly starting to pop. I'm not going to try to make sense of all. For now, I'm just going to share some quotes and links and a few quick observations.

For years now, lots of people have been getting fed up with the New York Times. I'm not talking about bomb throwers and ideologues, but smart, sober, thoughtful journalists and commentators, people like Josh Marshall, Norm Ornstein, John Harwood and James Fallows who have earned a tremendous amount of respect for both their bodies of work and their judgment. Peers at other major publications are increasingly showing their annoyance. Even at the NYT itself, reporters are expressing their unhappiness off the record. Though n = 1, a high-ranking reporter for the New York Times told me in a private conversation that he was nervous about having publicly made a mildly critical statement about the paper.

While a number of former employees have spoken out after leaving the paper, as far as I can tell, the last high-profile person at the paper who was willing to seriously engage with and address criticisms was Margaret Sullivan about a decade ago. Losing her was devastating and the paper has never regained its internal compass. It has bee a long slide into self-parody ever since but things came to a head today.

I genuinely feel for that reporter. As mentioned before, the NYT is a top down, narrative driven paper and second tier people basically have to write what they're told.

God, the arrogance of a man whose one real accomplishment was being born with the right name.
    "In Sulzberger’s view, according to two people familiar with his private comments on the subject, only an interview with a paper like the Times can verify that the 81-year-old Biden is still fit to hold the presidency."
    — John Harwood (@JohnJHarwood) April 25, 2024
Harwood, whose work and reputation put him on par with anyone at the NYT, is one of the many counterexamples to the paper's complaints about Biden.
Norm Ornstein feels the blame should fall mainly on the editors. Fortunately there's enough blame to go around.


Someone in a position of authority at the New York Times actually thought that this was a good idea, that when credibly accused of serious journalistic lapses and abuses of power in reaction to a candidate not giving them an interview, the best response was to whine about that candidate not giving them an  interview.

Pierce, as usual, puts it best.

A statement which would have carried more weight if not for the previously mentioned "why won't he talk to us?!?" statement.

Seems only appropriate to close with Pitchbot.


  1. You write that the publisher's accomplishment is being "born with the right name," but that's not quite right, I think. The name is not enough; he also had to be (a) related to the previous publisher, and (b) next in line for the throne. If all that mattered was the name, I'd be part-owner of Murray Gell-Mann's art collection right now.

    - Andrew

    1. Hello, esteemed Professor Gell-Mann sans an "l" and an "n". It is a pleasure to run into you online. I moved on from The New York Times as a primary news source some years ago; Wall Street Journal news (not editorial) is more to my liking. Also, the Sulzbergers' coverage of Stalin in the 1930s, WW2 refugees, and poor Kitty Genovese is shameful.

      I too miss Margaret Sullivan, whom Mark mentioned.