This is getting really, really, really old. We’re at the point where articles like this must be conscious decisions made by both the writers and the editors behind it. Hackery doesn’t even begin to describe this lede from the New York Times.
The Times changed the lede after publication, because Twitter is effectively its copy editor now that they fired all of them. Here's how that paragraph reads after being ripped by to shreds their public ombudsmen:
President Trump has railed against undocumented immigrants in recent days, branding many of them “murderers and thieves” who want to “infest our country.” Not long ago, he referred to them as “animals,” although he insisted he meant only those who join a violent gang.
Notice the difference? In the first article that everyone involved agreed was fit to publish, the New York Times made “illegal” the fourth word in the sentence, justifying Trump's following characterizations. After all, he is the chief executive. Enforcing the law is part of his core duties. Peter Baker and Katie Rogers framed the language leading up to the rise of Trump's child concentration camps within a lawful context (as his new “zero tolerance” policy must be necessary in order to root out their parents who are “murderers and thieves” who want to “infest our country” right?), and then ended it by positioning those of us who responded with “rage” to his ethnic demonization as opposing a lawful act. This is…just…wow.
It’s June 21st, 2018. What the hell are we doing, folks? Have we learned nothing in the last two years?
James Comey—a man who is so sanctimonious that disliking his holier-than-thou shtick is one of the few things that both Republicans and Democrats agree on these days—admitted in his new book that he assumed “as nearly everyone did, that Hillary Clinton would be elected President of the United States in two weeks,” and that influenced his decision-making (that the Department of Justice’s Inspector General just ripped). If James Comey can publicly admit that his need to appear impartial led to serious mistakes, why can’t the New York Times? Why is this still happening?
Both-sidesism is not journalism, but that is what much of mainstream journalism has become in an era where six conglomerates own 90% of our media. By writing a lede like that, Peter baker and Katie Rogers ensure that the Trump camp (read: those in power) will not get upset with them. If anything, a lede like that paints his opponents as unreasonable. Thing is, even though they changed it by removing his opponents altogether, this piece is still a giant heaping piece of crap. I mean, look at these two paragraphs:
Mr. Trump’s coarse discourse increasingly seems to inspire opponents to respond with vituperative words of their own. Whether it be Robert De Niro’s four-letter condemnation at the Tony Awards or a congressional intern who shouted the same word at Mr. Trump when he visited the Capitol this week, the president has generated so much anger among his foes that some are crossing boundaries that he himself shattered long ago.
The politics of rage that animated Mr. Trump’s political rise now dominate the national conversation, as demonstrated repeatedly during the debate over his “zero tolerance” immigration policy that separated children from parents apprehended at the border.
While describing a situation where opponents are angry at Trump over demonizing Hispanics while building CHILD CONCENTRATION CAMPS AND BABY PRISONS (something the NYT calls a “debate”), the only “boundary” that the New York Times sees crossed is Robert De Niro dropping an F-bomb at the Tony’s. This kind of “respectable” framing is reflective of a larger culture within the beltway which sympathizes far more with DHS Secretary Kirjsten Nielsen getting chased out of a Mexican restaurant by protesters, than with the children being ripped from their parents’ arms and getting locked in cages—some going to shelters with a history of sexual abuse and neglect (thanks in part to policies signed off on by Nielsen).
As if that wasn’t bad enough, the second paragraph equivocates our moral outcry with Trumpism itself. “Fuck Trump” right now effectively means “STOP PUTTING KIDS IN CAGES YOU MONSTERS!” yet the NYT doesn’t see that because they were too busy clutching their pearls over the f-bomb to hear another word we said. Through the moral lens of this article, demonizing Hispanics while building child concentration camps, and being pissed off over those crimes against humanity are one-in-the-same.
This is absolute garbage, New York Times. You have a wealth of talented journalists, and yet you refuse to invest in infrastructure to support them (hello copy editors), and you still produce columns like this that are the same churned up both-sides bullshit that you ran during the campaign (and I haven’t even talked about some of the clowns you let run around on your op-ed page). The only purpose of a column like this is to allow yourself to continue suckling at the teat of power. Despite what their marketing materials tell you, the NYT’s product makes it clear that being viewed as impartial is more important to the Times’ brand than the “Truth.” Concentration camps are bad, and they’re not the same thing as cursing at the people building concentration camps. De Niro was right. The NYT is wrong. Fuck Trump.
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.