By Joel B. Pollak
New York Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger alleged that his newspaper was the target of a vast right-wing conspiracy on Sunday — after the paper boosted an effort to shut down conservative media by encouraging boycotts since early 2017.
Last week, Breitbart News exposed a history of racist and antisemitic tweets by a Times politics editor, Tom Wright-Piersanti. The Times admitted Sunday, in a news article, that the tweets were racist and antisemitic — though it did not indicate what action, if any, it was taking against the editor. In a statement to newsroom staff, Sulzberger — who did not acknowledge that the tweets were racist and antisemitic — alleged that the Times had been the victim of “a coordinated campaign by President Trump’s allies to attack hundreds of journalists in retaliation for coverage of the administration.”
The Times‘ objection is rich, given that it boosted an effort by left-wing activists to shut down conservative media solely for their journalists’ coverage of the left and their editorial support for President Donald Trump.
In January 2017, the Times published an op-ed by an author named Pagan Kennedy, titled “How to Destroy the Business Model of Breitbart and Fake News.” The article was a puff piece boosting the efforts of Sleeping Giants (whose ringleader was later unmasked by the Daily Caller as advertising executive Matt Rivitz). The piece even reprinted instructions for helping the boycott. It concluded, admiringly: “[A] new consumer movement is rising, and activists believe that where votes failed, wallets may prevail. This struggle is about much more than ads on Breitbart News — it’s about using corporations as shields to protect vulnerable people from bullying and hate crimes.”
The Times is attempting to play the victim rather than applying the same standard toward hate speech in its own room that it applies to others. Sulzberger, who took over the paper in 2018, claims the Times has “high standards,” but in effect he is arguing that that Timesjournalists ought to be held to a lower standard — that it is unfair to report “on news organizations in the same way that news organizations report on elected officials and other public figures.”
Perhaps the most laughable claim in Sulzberger’s statement is that the Times‘ critics are “[u]nable to challenge the accuracy of our reporting.” This is a newspaper that chased the Russia collusion hoax for the better part of three years, and whose executive editor, Dean Banquet, recently described plans to build the next year of news around the idea that “racism and white supremacy” are “the foundation of all of the systems in the country.”
That is not journalism; that is propaganda. And for years the Times has been propagandizing against conservative media outlets, hoping to destroy them, even printing instructions to guide readers in the effort. Far from being a victim, the Times is one of the great bullies of the mainstream media. Scrutiny is long overdue.