The NYT, the Economist, and Taylor Swift

A scathing reflection on the NYT from the Economist:

The Times’s problem has metastasised from liberal bias to illiberal bias, from an inclination to favour one side of the national debate to an impulse to shut debate down altogether. All the empathy and humility in the world will not mean much against the pressures of intolerance and tribalism without an invaluable quality that Sulzberger did not emphasise: courage.

But far more than when I set out to become a journalist, doing the work right today demands a particular kind of courage…in an era when polarisation and social media viciously enforce rigid orthodoxies, the moral and intellectual courage to take the other side seriously and to report truths and ideas that your own side demonises for fear they will harm its cause.

One of the glories of embracing illiberalism is that, like Trump, you are always right about everything, and so you are justified in shouting disagreement down.

As preoccupied as it is with the question of why so many Americans have lost trust in it, the Times is failing to face up to one crucial reason: that it has lost faith in Americans, too. For now, to assert that the Times plays by the same rules it always has is to commit a hypocrisy that is transparent to conservatives, dangerous to liberals and bad for the country as a whole. It makes the Times too easy for conservatives to dismiss and too easy for progressives to believe. The reality is that the Times is becoming the publication through which America’s progressive elite talks to itself about an America that does not really exist.

For all the importance the Times ascribes to itself, its latest scandal is publishing a 5000 word piece speculating about Taylor Swift’s sexuality. I’m not linking to the piece itself, as I feel it’s an unethical invasion of Swift’s privacy that serves no public or journalistic interest, but here’s a good commentary about it from the Guardian.

There’s been a lot of talk this week about the erosion of Boeing’s values as a company, with the McDonnell Douglas acquisition transforming the company from an engineering-led culture to an MBA culture of short-term profits above all else. Yet the same things has happened at the New York Times. By becoming a tech company with a subscription model, the same market forces that have driven Facebook and Twitter to become cesspools of division are also at work in the New York Times.

A sobering reminder. The NYT wants Trump back in the White House. They made money on it the first time around. And so it goes. From America’s paper of record to frivolity and rage baiting.