Patterico's Pontifications

8/26/2019

New York Times: Criticizing Our Reporters’ Idiocy on Social Media is an Attack on the Free Press

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:29 am



The publisher of the New York Times:

Here’s the thing. It depends on the criticism. To me, shining a light on public social media posts like these is important:

Tom Wright-Piersanti was not some low-level staffer, but a senior political editor who oversaw a team that covers Congress. (Not any more, now that these tweets have been publicized.) Same goes for Sarah Jeong, the editorial board member who likes to write tweets about hating white people:

I can easily see a Trump-loving group smearing journalists with out-of-context posts from social media. For that matter, I can easily see journalists and other leftists smearing conservatives in the same way. When that happens, I will criticize it. But legitimate criticism, whether it comes from journalists or is directed at journalists, is something that helps us all. I don’t need a Jew-hating editor at the New York Times shaping their coverage. If revealing Wright-Piersanti’s tweets is an attack on the free press, I guess I am for attacks on the free press.

The thing is, I’m not for attacks on the free press. Which is why Sulzberger should acknowledge that valid criticism is valid. Portraying any and all criticism of reporters and editors as part of a systematic attack on a free press — even if that is the intent of the Trump defenders — makes it sound like Sulzberger and Co. feel that they are beyond legitimate criticism.

It reminds me of those who portray literally any criticism of Trump as an effort to delegitimize him. Much of that criticism may indeed be motivated by such sentiments. But if it’s legit, it’s legit. Regardless of the intent.

The problem here isn’t that people are “scouring social media” nor is it “outrage mobs” per se. It is irresponsible and out-of-context criticism. Let’s keep an eye out for that, and let’s not whine about legitimate criticism. No matter which “side” we’re on.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

56 Responses to “New York Times: Criticizing Our Reporters’ Idiocy on Social Media is an Attack on the Free Press”

  1. The problem here isn’t that people are “scouring social media” nor is it “outrage mobs” per se. It is irresponsible and out-of-context criticism. Let’s keep an eye out for that, and let’s not whine about legitimate criticism. No matter which “side” we’re on.

    Exactly, and no one is better at spotting/making (and not whining about) legitimate criticism than you.

    DRJ (15874d)

  2. Somebody should tell Suzberger that if it weren’t for New York Times v. Sullivan, his fanzine for New York’s liberal intelligentsia would have been out of business fifty years ago.

    nk (dbc370)

  3. “Fearless and fair.” “Accuracy of our reporting.” Sure, sure, that’s why you changed the headline “Trump Urges Unity Vs. Racism” after the El Paso shooting. Because you’re fearless, fair and accurate, and not because your liberal roster of cocktail party guests burned up the phones and internet razzing you for it.

    nk (dbc370)

  4. The NYT shouldn’t complain too loudly, not when there’s been a MediaMatters out there for years, digging up dirt on conservatives they don’t like. That Wright-Piersanti guy may have written those offensive tweets when he was a teenager, but it didn’t stop the Left from going after what Kavanaugh allegedly did in his teenage years. The Left the standard on this.

    Paul Montagu (a2342d)

  5. EVERY criticism of the media is taken as an “attack on the Press”. “Authoritarianism” or even more absurdly, “An attack on the 1st Amendment”. You don’t get any points in 2019 America, but being reasonable and level-headed. Instead, the standard liberal-left response is outrage, hysteria, and over-the-top pearl clutching. I’m surprised the MSM didn’t use “White supremacy”.

    In any case, what’s good for the goose… Nobody thinks the MSM are “independent journalists anymore, they’ve been upfront about being part of the “resistance” and spouting DNC talking points.

    rcocean (1a839e)

  6. Did the NYT’s complain when CNN was doxxing average people for criticizing CNN or posting Pro-tump meme’s on the internet? I don’t think so.

    rcocean (1a839e)

  7. I want to understand this better because I think that intent plays an important role. If the intention is to intimidate people into not reporting on important news stories than I think it’s wrong. If the intent is to showcase bad behavior than I’m fine with it.

    Part of why I feel this way is because of the impact intent will have on what’s relevant to publish / expose. For example an 18 year old saying outrageous things for shock value 20 years ago, who hasn’t done anything similar in the last 20 eyars isn’t very relevant. An 18 year old allegedly committing sexual assault 20 years ago could be.

    But if I all i want to do is harm a journalist who wrote a story that’s unflattering to their preferred candidate none of that will matter.

    But i want to find out more…

    Time123 (daab2f)

  8. And there was this: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/23/us/david-koch-dead.html Even if you can’t get to the article, you can still see the headline:

    David Koch, Billionaire Who Fueled Right-Wing Movement, Dies at 79

    “Fueled Right-Wing Movement”. That’s scummy even by Sarah Jeong standards.

    nk (dbc370)

  9. Attention is the currency of the kiddos these days. Misguided and ambitious kids will say stupid things and be burned for it in their careers later on. Meanwhile everyone is staring at social media on their phones instead of looking around their communities.

    Dustin (6d7686)

  10. EVERY criticism of the media is taken as an “attack on the Press”.

    And politicians/Presidents have been complaining about the press since before our nation’s founding, but the Founders still thought the press was important enough to merit special protection.

    DRJ (15874d)

  11. Tell Punk Sulzberger that Kyle Kashuv says hello.

    JVW (54fd0b)

  12. Speaking of reporters and idiocy, yesterday on CNN a noted psychiatrist discussing Trump’s ‘mental stability’ suggested The Donald may be responsible for more deaths than Mao or Hitler and received no disagreement.

    https://www.mediaite.com/tv/cnns-brian-stelter-criticized-for-handling-of-guest-who-compared-trump-to-hitler-zero-push-back/

    harkin (58d012)

  13. Would it be irresponsible or out of context to criticize somebody with authority over nuclear weapons for asking, multiple times, if he could explode them inside hurricanes?

    Asking for a friend.

    Dave (1bb933)

  14. Oh, I’m sorry, did I get his nickname wrong? His grandad was “Punch” and his dad is “Pinch” so I just assumed he too had a diminutive. Maybe instead of “Punk” he is called “Poke” or something.

    JVW (54fd0b)

  15. Would it be irresponsible or out of context to criticize somebody with authority over nuclear weapons for asking, multiple times, if he could explode them inside hurricanes?

    All great science begins with inquiry. Surely you know that, professor.

    JVW (54fd0b)

  16. Some animals are more equal than others.

    NJRob (144efa)

  17. 13. “Would it be irresponsible or out of context to criticize somebody with authority over nuclear weapons for asking, multiple times, if he could explode them inside hurricanes?”

    -of course not. We all know that the mention –just the mention–of nuclear weapons by a republican is a cause for mass hysteria. “New rockets in Europe in the 80’s?” “God no its the end of the world!”

    “Can NATO units just discuss using theatre-type nukes in the event of a conflict with Russia?” “Good god no it might be the end of the world!” Hysteria!

    “How about new nuclear power plants?” “OMG no! China Syndrome! Hysteria!”

    However unusual using them to smack a hurricane might to be (and we can’t have any “unusual” thoughts), we can’t even mention the word.

    Let the people who drown in hurricanes, have their homes ruined, or have to be rescued by helicopters swim for it.

    Harcourt Fenton Mudd (0c349e)

  18. 13 – hey it worked when Reid nuked the minority filibuster.

    harkin (58d012)

  19. It was considered in the 50s and 60s, they called it operation plowshares

    Narciso (942c04)

  20. 7. Time123 (daab2f) — 8/26/2019 @ 9:10 am

    If the intention is to intimidate people into not reporting on important news stories than I think it’s wrong. If the intent is to showcase bad behavior than I’m fine with it.

    The intention is to intimidate, if possible, and to retaliate, if not. The New York Times seems to think, judging by what was written in their front page article today, that they don’t really have that much really damaging information. Now they be wrong there, but also their opponents may be exaggerating what they have.

    They also checked, and nothing released seems to have been made up so far, which may have been abg worry of theirs. It may be out of context but everything is real. So they don’t seem to be too worried.

    (Of course in this era of political correctness and no statute of limitations more and more things can be damaging. And also, what some people may be in denail about, what’s OK one day may turn out not to be so OK years later.)

    Sammy Finkelman (c95a5a)

  21. It was considered in the 50s and 60s …

    Trump does seem stuck in the 50s and 60s. There are times that makes him seem traditional but other times it makes him seem out of touch.

    DRJ (15874d)

  22. The problem with the ignorant orange’s ignorant question is that none of the flunkies and yes-men he has now surrounded himself with knew enough to tell him right away that one hurricane has more energy than all the nuclear bombs in the world put together. (It would be risible to suggest that he should have already known it. His name would not be Donald J. Trump if he had.)

    nk (dbc370)

  23. This is not an attempt to showcase bad behavior or bad thinking for it’s own sake. Some Pro-Trump people and organizations are researching people’s history online, but stockpiling it, for use in future controversies, not using it at the time.

    They’re not telling the New York Times (or anybody else) what they have found, so the news organizations can’t remove them from positions of responsiblity in advance (or decide it’s OK)

    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/25/us/politics/trump-allies-news-media.html

    “If the @nytimes thinks this settles the matter we can expose a few of their other bigots,” Mr. Schwartz tweeted on Thursday in response to an apologetic tweet from a Times journalist whose anti-Semitic social media posts had just been revealed by the operation. “Lots more where this came from.”

    …The operation has compiled social media posts from Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and stored images of the posts that can be publicized even if the user deletes them, said the people familiar with the effort. One claimed that the operation had unearthed potentially “fireable” information on “several hundred” people.

    “I am sure there will be more scalps,” said Sam Nunberg, a former aide to Mr. Trump who is a friend of Mr. Schwartz….

    …Mr. Bannon, ..[i]n an interview, … said the work that Mr. Schwartz was undertaking should be seen as a sign that Mr. Trump’s supporters were committed to executing a frontal assault on news media they considered adversarial.

    “A culture war is a war,” he said. “There are casualties in war. And that’s what you’re seeing.” So it amounts to, or can morph into, an attempt to blackmail people who work for major news media organizations. Or at least punish them. At aminimum, maybe discredit them.,, at least in the eyes of people on the left.

    The New York York Times argues also that what these Trump supporters allies, are doing, is not what they do – it’s not journalism even if all they do is what journalists have done – because the targets are journalists and not public officials.

    For example an 18 year old saying outrageous things for shock value 20 years ago, who hasn’t done anything similar in the last 20 years isn’t very relevant.

    Nowadays there are a lot of people who don’t act this way.

    Sammy Finkelman (c95a5a)

  24. The quote from the New York Times article should have been closed before the paragraoh starting with:

    The New York York Times argues…

    [OK, fixed it for you. – JVW]

    Sammy Finkelman (c95a5a)

  25. narciso @19.

    Project Plowshare had a lot of ideas, but not stopping hurricanes. That was more for digging canals and blasting holes in the earth for arious purposes. Before they got too worried about radiation in the atmosphere.

    Sammy Finkelman (c95a5a)

  26. I think this fellow may have posted these offensive tweets before he began working for the Paper of Discord, but still…

    “Last February, a CNN crew showed up on an elderly woman’s lawn in Florida to publicly shame her for unknowingly sharing a “Russian-coordinated event” on her Facebook page. Consequently, the woman received waves of violent threats, abuse, and harassment online.

    In June, the Daily Beast reporter Kevin Poulsen doxxed a black forklift operator from New York who doctored a video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

    National media outlets have harassed countless other private individuals who support the president on social media or create memes. Yet publications such as the New York Times become outraged when conservatives point out that their own employees spew virulent, racist, and antisemitic views on social media — and remain employed.”

    https://thefederalist.com/2019/08/26/journalists-meltdown-journalism-done/

    Colonel Haiku (1986ab)

  27. worms love it
    birds drop on it
    fish get wrapped in it
    fire starter

    mg (8cbc69)

  28. what’s good for gander
    is good for the old grey whooah goose
    journalism them

    Colonel Haiku (1986ab)

  29. Trump does seem stuck in the 50s and 60s.

    If only he would make it his mission as President to bring back the Chevy Bel-Air and Doo Wop music, I might give some consideration to voting for him next year.

    JVW (54fd0b)

  30. The New York York Times argues also that what these Trump supporters allies, are doing, is not what they do – it’s not journalism even if all they do is what journalists have done – because the targets are journalists and not public officials.

    Sorry, Timesers, but a writer with a NYT byline is a public figure in the same way that Kyle Kashuv was, if not exactly a public official. If they don’t like that then they can go the way of The Economist and start publishing articles without bylines.

    JVW (54fd0b)

  31. NYT Headline: Trump Tries to Curry Favor With Prime Minister Modi of India…

    https://twitter.com/ColumbiaBugle/status/1165984808511524866

    Colonel Haiku (1986ab)

  32. Coke machines filled with Ice cold Cokes that you had to open on the side of the machine. 19cents a gallon gas. Willie Mays Baseball Cards.

    mg (8cbc69)

  33. This, from a NYT asst. editor, is the cherry on top:

    Breaking — There are bedbugs in the NYT newsroom.

    Dana (fdf131)

  34. Sorry, Timesers, but a writer with a NYT byline is a public figure in the same way that Kyle Kashuv was, if not exactly a public official. If they don’t like that then they can go the way of The Economist and start publishing articles without bylines.

    So you’re saying they’re not public figures?

    When I read a news report one of things I do is see who wrote it because I’ve learned that in some cases (Chic Clizza, May Yglesia, Ben Shapiro) it’s not worth the time for a variety of reasons. How does a norm where any anyone that publishes under their own name is signing up as a candidate for character assassination improve my ability to know what’s going on? I get that you don’t like ‘the media’ but I think your proposal makes the current situation worse.

    Time123 (b4d075)

  35. @CH in 26

    If you want to argue that this is appropriate in response to a specific journalist’s actions I think I’d be easy to persuade. But you’re not. You’re arguing that because some journalists did something similar all journalists are fair game.

    Time123 (b4d075)

  36. they have proven they are on the other side, abetting utter fraud, putting innocent people in danger,

    https://twitter.com/ChuckRossDC/status/1166043081898172417

    narciso (d1f714)

  37. What the NTY’s is alleging (but hasn’t proven) is that journalists will be targeted if the publish stories that are perceived as negative to Trump.

    not wrong
    not unethical in some way
    not poorly sourced.

    Just not favorable to Trump.

    That’s a hell of a downside for a profession that pays 65K a year in NYC

    Time123 (daab2f)

  38. that’s not what Krugman, or Kristof, mostly recently celebrating the dumpster fire that is seattle, are paid,

    http://meaninginhistory.blogspot.com/2019/08/germania-delenda-est.html

    narciso (d1f714)

  39. Ben Shapiro
    @benshapiro
    What does the NYT think our firefighting media do? Joe The Plumber. HanA**holeSolo. Kyle Kashuv. Kyler Murray. Kevin Hart. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes. This game is dangerous, but the media started it. They don’t get to whine about it. They’re in “positions of power.”

    __

    harkin (58d012)

  40. These people have extended their efforts to looking for and finding things posted by members of journalists’ families. (at least of they are involved in politics, so they can say: This reporter’s brother/sister/aunt/son/daughter/whatever, who works/worked in this campaign or for this public official, said such and such)

    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/25/us/politics/trump-allies-news-media.html

    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.,,,

    ….Operatives have closely examined more than a decade’s worth of public posts and statements by journalists, the people familiar with the operation said. Only a fraction of what the network claims to have uncovered has been made public, the people said, with more to be disclosed as the 2020 election heats up. The research is said to extend to members of journalists’ families who are active in politics, as well as liberal activists and other political opponents of the president.

    Whether any of that will be made public, depends I suppose on how it will play in Peoria, so I guess members of journalists’ families are not fair game unless they got involved in politics (when you would think it would be enough to associate them with a candidate or office holder, and they could then cite stuff by the candidate or officeholder)

    Sammy Finkelman (102c75)

  41. he uses the power of the state, to suppress contrary news,

    http://datechguyblog.com/2019/08/26/michael-manns-secret-data/

    narciso (d1f714)

  42. maybe he should go back to hellboy scripts,

    https://www.instagram.com/p/B1kMuA5psZ4/

    narciso (d1f714)

  43. The fires in the Amazon are taking olace because Brazil has cracked down on illegal logging.

    Sammy Finkelman (102c75)

  44. Uh huh shuttered, uh huh shuttered
    Hate and dope and sex and dreams
    Are still surviving on the street
    Look at us, eatin’ taters!
    We been shuttered
    Shuttered
    Friends are so alarmed
    Sulzberger’s never charming
    Life’s just a cocktail party on the street
    Big Apple
    People dressed in plastic bags
    Directing traffic
    Some kind of fashion
    Shuttered
    Despair, joy, and loneliness and sex and sex and sex and sex
    Look at us, eatin’ taters
    We been shuttered
    Shuttered
    All this chitter-chatter, chitter-chatter, chitter-chatter ’bout
    Trumpn’Trumpn’Trumpn’
    Trump aaahhhh, I can’t give it away on 7th Avenue
    This town’s been wearing tatters (shuttered, sha ooobie shuttered)
    Work and
    We shuttered
    Look at us, we been shuttered, yeah (shuttered)
    Pride and joy and greed and sex
    That’s what makes our town the best
    Writin’ lies, confess confers confess confess
    Does it matter, uh-huh, we been shuttered
    Mmm, We shuttered, unh
    Sha oobie, shuttered, unh
    Sha oobie, shuttered
    Sha oobie, shuttered

    Colonel Haiku (33b771)

  45. So you’re saying they’re not public figures?

    No, no. Quite the opposite: I am saying that a NYT reporter with a byline is a public figure, even if they aren’t a public official. And if an 18-year-old kid like Kyle Kashuv can have his past Tweets held against him, then so can a NYT reporter.

    JVW (54fd0b)

  46. So is this “what was done to Kyle was ok?” Or is it two wrongs make a right?

    Also, you’re supporting collective punishment (in theory at least) by treating all journalists equally.

    Btw, do bloggers count as journalists?

    I comment on politics. Do you think I count?

    Time123 (d54166)

  47. So is this “what was done to Kyle was ok?” Or is it two wrongs make a right?

    I used Kashuv to illustrate the idea that if an 18-year-old from Parkland who was in school during the shooting can command media attention for his views on various topics — the same as David Hogg for that matter — and thus become a “public figure,” then a NYT writer whose work is seen by (theoretically) hundreds of thousands of people on a given day shouldn’t be held to a different standard. If you want me to make a direct comparison between the two, then I would cut the 18-year-old kids (both Kashuv and Hogg) a whole lot more slack for bad tweets in their past than I would cut a 25- or 30-year-old New York Times reporter, let alone a New York Times editor like Mr. Wright-Piersanti. But in both cases, I would be inclined to take someone at their word that tweets from a few years back don’t necessarily indicate what they think today. But given that we live in the Media Matters era where every conservative figure is going to be confronted with his/her social media past, why would we let journalists for America’s most famous newspaper be held to a lower standard? What’s good for the gosling ought to be good for the goose, after all.

    JVW (54fd0b)

  48. Whenever the Left comes back with “Your side does it too” you know they’ve got nothing.

    rcocean (1a839e)

  49. I’m glad the Left is now admitting the MSM is “on their side” and part of the Left. At least we no long have to listen to the “we’re objective reporters” lie.

    rcocean (1a839e)

  50. ‘So is this “what was done to Kyle was ok?” Or is it two wrongs make a right?’
    Time123 (d54166) — 8/26/2019 @ 3:08 pm

    How about neither? What if it was a way to prevent this sort of journalistic malpractice from becoming a norm?

    Consider the case of The Journal News, which printed the names and addresses of handgun permit holders. In retaliation, gun owners revealed the names and addresses of The Journal News reporters. Since then, I haven’t heard much about gun owner databases in the papers.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/07/nyregion/after-pinpointing-gun-owners-journal-news-is-a-target.html

    Munroe (1e9517)

  51. The professional press have been presstitutes for the highest bidder for a long while now, whether for advertisers or various governmental figures, and the only thing that differentiates them from the average citizen is how organized they are when some peasant commits acts of journalism against them, whether via a whisper campaign among their fellows (JournoList) or directly appealing to their editors, marketers, advertisers, and other public figures to take offenders down by whatever means necessary (Gamergate, the Adpocalypse, and whatever Google’s been up to lately.)

    A professional journalist is like an actor-you may have your favorite, but given the necessities of the profession and who pays their salary, you can never really trust one, and respectable, intelligent, and experienced people avoid them like the plague they are.

    Jejejefe (8b0eb0)

  52. JVW, I see what you’re proposing now. But I think you’re off base. Let’s leave off the fact that they’re minors. We’re in complete agreement that their age buys them a massive amount of leeway. If you want to look at the resent thread you’ll see I was consistent about that that wrt to kyle’s Harvard admission.

    Here’s the difference; Kyle and David are trying to use their notoriety, and moral authority from having personally experienced a gun related tragedy, to advocate for causes they feel strongly about. Who they are is an explicit part of their message and why we should listen to them.

    Reporters are paid to report the facts. Who they are is explicitly not supposed to be part of the story. We should let them be held to a lower standard because we’re not expected to believe them based on who they are. We’re expected to believe them based on the reporting they provide in the article. If you want to bring up selection bias, and sourcing bias, and flooding the zone I don’t have any problem with that. But the assertion by the NYT is that their reporters are being threatened because they’ll write stories that trump supporters don’t like.

    Not wrong stories, not biased stories, just news stories they don’t like. And you’re not advocating that it’s acceptable on a case by case basis with specific individuals. You’re proposing that because one member of the group ‘paid reporter’ acted badly similar actions are justified against any member of that group.

    Time123 (14b920)


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