The Crisis of Journalism

As the Scott vs. The NYTs saga continues to unfold, one thing that stands out to me is the bipartisan nature of the criticism against the NYTs, as it is not just conservatives who have a bone to pick with the liberal media. The Times’ attempt to dox Scott, and after that failed, smear him 8 months later, has seriously eroded, possibly irreparably, the reputation and credibility of the NYTs among a potentially large readership, in the thousands.

Even liberals agree that selective enforcement of the rules and editorial guidelines (such as who counts as a public figure, vs who is afforded the privilege of anonymity) is unfair. There is also the pearl clutching and sanctimonious moralizing by the NYTs, and the liberal media in general, as self-ordained arbiters of who is allowed to associate with whom. One must not speak of Charles Murray but in a negative light, or else one implicitly condones everything Dr. Murray believes in or has said (or even allegedly implied, as racism, according to the media, expresses itself not by one’s actions but rather by one’s implicit motives). Scott mentioning Dr. Murray in passing without without categorically disavowing him, means Scott agrees with the implication that racial IQ differences imply that blacks are inferior to whites. Yes, this syllogism betrays logic, but this is how a smear piece works. Reason and impartiality are discarded to advance an ulterior agenda.

Should Scott have known he was being set up, or any of the other people interviewed in the article (yes, you too David D. Friedman)? I don’t know. It is understandable how Scott, David, and others were fooled. We want to believe that the media is honest, as ‘freedom of the press’ has been ingrained from an early age as an ‘American virtue’, and by associating the media with the ‘goodness’ of the Constitution, it is understandable how one would be inclined to believe that the media would not abuse this great right it has been bestowed.

The liberal media fails to grasp, deaf to criticism and ensconced in its ideological bubble, how much their sententiousness and moralizing is disliked, even by its intended audience. It is not about where the NYTs stands on the issues per say, or, to put it politely, its creative interpretation of reality–whether it is the touted unfailing efficacy of mask wearing and social distancing, the ‘inevitability’ of Hillary in 2016, that Trump knowingly conspired with Russia, that Russian Twitter and Facebook troll bots pushing ‘fake news’ doomed Hillary despite her inevitability, that gender and racial discrepancies in science achievement must be due to sexism and racism, how The Joker is an ‘incel propaganda movie’ that would inspire mass shootings, or that Trump called all Mexicans ‘rapists and drug dealers’ and praised Nazis at Charlottesville as ‘good people’–but how the issues are framed as a false dichotomy between good (the media) and evil (those who have the gall to question the narrative–be it the efficacy of masks and other Covid guidelines, the purported existence of structural racism, or the veracity and integrity of the 2020 U.S. presidential election results), as opposed to people just merely holding differing viewpoints, which can be opposed by the intellectual merit or lack thereof of such beliefs, not by the perceived goodness or badness of whoever holds them. Former Vox journalist Matthew Yglesias has a popular SubStack titled ‘slow boring’. That is how reporting should be–slow and boring–not a moral crusade.