A flurry of newsroom revolts has transformed the American press
This is such an IMPORTANT story. But it's not just happening in newsrooms, it's happening everywhere: college campuses, corporations and the workplace, social media platforms, politics, you name it. These ideologues are the Red Guard of a new Cultural Revolution. Their goal is power and their method is leveraging progressive guilt. I think they are far, far more dangerous than Donald Trump or anything going on with the right. Thank you Matt for writing about this!
Bravo for writing this Matt. You could, of course, have written it without first establishing your bona fides as a trump detractor. The problem you address has nothing to do with trump and would exist regardless of who was in the white house. This doesn't mean there are no problems with trump, or that he hasn't made a bad situation worse. But that is where we are today. Before anyone can criticize the obviously insane ideological absurdities within the liberal/left wing press they must first take a swing at trump in case anyone thinks criticism of the press is the same thing as supporting trump. How sad.
I find it surreal that in trying to cancel my New York Times membership I am forced to wait for an available agent. They literally structured their system to not allow cancelation without speaking to them. There site doesn't even allow for the removal of billing info unless it's replaced with other billing info. How the f*** is this legal?? This is like the extortion you read about with shady scam sites! NYT has apparently become a pornographic institution extorting your money by a trial of time: I've been waiting 20 minutes to speak with someone and my only recourse is reporting them to PayPal. There are "9 Step Guides" on Google for how to cancel one's NYT subscription. It feels like the death star. I'm genuinely outraged that a major news outlet treats its subscribers this way.
We are constantly being told we need to engage in a “dialogue” about race. But you can’t have a dialogue in a minefield where the slightest misstep sets off a Twitter explosion. This, of course, ends up ticking off the white working class, falling right into the hands of the ruling elites—both liberal and conservative— whose greatest fear is that poor whites, blacks and Native Americans will one day discover there Is more that unites than divides them.
Thank you. I just stopped my$5 a month subscription to NY Times. I didn’t even read Cottons piece until after the uproar. I found it unremarkable, Trumpian rhetoric and certainly not anything shocking. Intolerance of diverse opinions in our current climate has become truly unsettling...
Thank you for defending Lee and providing greater clarity about what happened. I shared a few classes with Lee in college since we had the same major and distinctly remember him as one of the few people in lecture that actually gave a shit and asked probing questions (many of the other smart students were just gunning for the foreign service and basically took whatever was taught at face value). I'm still a big fan of The Intercept's reporting, but I was disappointed how his colleagues failed to publicly defend him from such a serious and spurious charge.
Matt, I am an Independent right-leaning voter who often disagrees with your political take on things. Like Glenn Greenwald or Bill Maher, you have been to me like a broken clock that's right twice a day. But I just subscribed to you because this post hits every nail on the head with fearless disregard for the cultural firebombers. And they will come.
But I say to you today the problem is far more widespread than just our Fourth Estate. Actor Hartley Sawyer, aka The Flash (ex-Flash now) has been incinerated on social media and unpersoned over uncharitable texts in his youth about Rev. Al Sharpton and homeless women's breasts. The latter was no doubt a puerile attempt to one-up his similarly immature social media peers. No trial. No appeal. Just burned to the ground like Minneapolis on social media, along with his hit show. Think about that. The CW canceled a hit show out of fear of the SJW mob.
The Terror is back in Hollywood, and no one is safe this time. You don't even get a show trial before the American people. Even worse, our enlightened Culture Police are now in Hollywood editing rooms (HBO in this case) adding mandatory SJW commentary to Gone With The Wind. GWTW has shot up to #1 on Amazon and Blazing Saddles is climbing the ladder. That tells me ordinary Americans don't trust Hollywood to protect our treasured film heritage. How sad and pathetic a statement is that?
Politics are fine in the larger discussion of finding ways to solve social problems. It's how we hash ideas out and improve society. But the trends I am seeing now, and of which you report on here, are more reminiscent of the Soviet-era Pravda. The truth is whatever the State says it is, and even the slightest dissent will be met with ruthless personal destruction and ostracism. I grew up reading William L. Shirer, John Hersey, Peter Maas, Robin Moore, Woodward and Bernstein and many more like them.
They are what real investigative journalists aspire to: following the truth and the story no matter to whom and where it leads, and regardless of politics. Now the political cart leads the journalism horse, and woe betide anyone who says the horse should be in front. I may not always agree with you, Matt, but you've always aspired to teh truth of the matter in all your reporting, and that is enough for me. Keep up the great work!
"Today no one with a salary will stand up for colleagues like Lee Fang." And that's why I just subscribed to your substack, thanks for your indispensable work Matt!
Damn man. This was what I (and I imagine many others) need to read right now. I thank you for finally not tiptoeing around the thing I've had to come to grips with myself - that the left has completely lost all credibility and sanity. I only hope others can see through the corporate pandering and corruption that is the DNC in 2020.
An excellent piece! Thank you for speaking out against the insanity currently infesting left-wing American newsrooms. Sometimes it feels like the world would be a much better place without Twitter.
Mr. Taibbi fires a warning shot to alert us that the “instinct (in the American media) to shield audiences from views or facts deemed politically uncomfortable has been in evidence since Trump became a national phenomenon.” I would say not “since” -- that vile instinct has merely been more in evidence. The media’s fear and hatred for diversity of opinion, for the freedom of speech, has doubtless worsened since President Tweet was heaved onto the throne. But the hatred and fear of free speech have been lovingly cultivated for years; they are now blossoming.
All those college students we laughed out, the perpetually-petulant ones who reacted with fury and tears against views diverse from their own, remember them? The ones who crawled into college-provided Safe Spaces, laughably, or stormed classrooms and auditoriums all Nazi-like to scream down, silence and intimidate, ominously. And there was a reason that rather than expel those obviously unfit for a higher education, America’s universities, from the Ivies to the community colleges, rushed to comfort them, cancelled events, fired professors and prostrated themselves before them.
It was because the students’ fear and loathing of freedom of speech had been taught to them by that university. Not all of the universities or all those who worked in them agreed with and preached the hatred and fear, but obviously more than enough did. And from them, out tumbled our press corps.
Former president and one-time Constitutional professor Barack Obama’s take on censorship: “the constitutional text tells us that freedom of speech must be protected, but it doesn’t tell us what such freedom means in the context of the Internet.” There it is – the legality of exercising one’s freedom of speech may not necessarily be protected, depending upon how it is transmitted. A fascinating legal argument and one that sadly he did not stress on the campaign trail – but he did write it in his Audacity of Hope in 2006. (The press, and this was over a dozen years ago now, couldn’t get enough of him.)
And he and many like him preached this view on freedom of speech on campuses from sea to shining sea. In 2009, the year Obama ascended to the throne, Ivy League constitutional law Professor Cass Sunstein published his call for government censorship of the Internet in his On Rumors. Professor Sunstein stressed that “free expression…usually works, but in some contexts is an incomplete correction.” At least he’s honest, I thought.
But then on the very next page he suddenly begs the reader to understand that his book “should not be taken as a plea for any kind of censorship,” and heavens, please don’t get that idea. I was a bit miffed. You would expect a Harvard law professor to have the courage of his convictions. But he recovered himself on the very next page his “a chilling effect can be an excellent safeguard” from those malicious, false Internet rumors, the power to chill exercised by a wise and benevolent government. So censorship it is.
Obama, now president, rose to the defense of free speech by appointing Professor Sunstein to be his Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget. (The fact that his title included the word “information” shows that Obama may have a wicked sense of humor.) Today, Mr. Sunstein expresses his views prominently in major media. And now………
Our press is chock full to the brim with their college graduates. Those from our elite universities are a privileged caste, well paid and well equipped with a credentials. Our best universities – these are their children. Obama, Sunstein and Pals shaped their view on free speech. And all this that Mr. Taibbi rightly describes with alarm, I saw coming years ago.
For decades now the New York City university students who hang about Union Square have been wearing t-shirts not with any Founding Father emblazoned on their chest, but Che and Mao, neither of whom were noted for their tolerance of contrary opinions. This was bound to have consequences for freedom. Show me your heroes and I’ll show you yourself.
The biggest indictment of the press is the fact that I'm reading this on SubStack instead of the NYT.
Another tremendous piece. Lee Fang has done excellent work and it sickens me that he is forced to submit to the Orwellian mob that is destroying our country. Keep up the great work Matt and do not let them silence you. I am afraid they’ll come for you soon...
I subscribed the minute I finished reading. Thank you for continuing to practice journalism.
From out here in the cheap seats, the problem you are discussing looks like a cancer that has gone to Stage IV. Ordinary Working Joe people feel like they could lose their jobs for freely voicing their opinions like Americans. Thank you for your candor and firmness of mind. Your integrity compelled me to subscribe today.
At the risk of sounding melodramatic this article singlehandedly saved me from totally giving up on the media. Taibbi, Greenwald, Andrew Sullivan, etc. are the last stand for the proud classical liberal tradition.