The civil war inside the New York Times

5 June 2020

8:49 PM

5 June 2020

8:49 PM

After the New York Times published an op-ed written by Republican Sen. Tom Cotton – calling for the military to be deployed in the face of nationwide protests – the editors are facing a staff revolt. Reporters at the paper have been quick to take to social media to denounce their own publication.

Mr S was intrigued by a commentary by Bari Weiss of what she calls a ‘civil war’ at her newspaper:

The civil war inside the New York Times between the mostly young woke-types and the (mostly 40+) liberals is the same one raging inside other publications and companies across the country. The dynamic is always the same.

The Old Guard lives by a set of principles we can broadly call civil libertarianism. They assumed they shared that worldview with the young people they hired who called themselves liberals and progressives. But it was an incorrect assumption.

The New Guard has a different worldview. They call it ‘safetyism’ in which the right of people to feel emotionally and psychologically safe trumps what were previously considered core liberal values, like free speech.

Perhaps the cleanest example of this dynamic was in 2018 when the editor of the New Yorker magazine David Remnick, under tremendous public pressure from his staffers, disinvited Steve Bannon from appearing on stage at the New Yorker Ideas Festival. But there are dozens and dozens of examples.

I’ve been mocked by many people over the past few years for writing about the campus culture wars. They told me it was a sideshow. But this was always why it mattered: the people who graduated from those campuses would rise to power inside key institutions and transform them.

I’m in no way surprised by what has now exploded into public view. In a way, it’s oddly comforting. I feel less alone and less crazy trying to explain this dynamic to people. What I am shocked by is the speed. I thought it would take a few years, not a few weeks.

Here’s one way to think about what’s at stake: the New York Times motto is ‘all the news that’s fit to print’. One group emphasises the word ‘all’, the other, the word ‘fit’.

On Tom Cotton’s op-ed and the choice to run it: I agree with our critics that it’s a dodge to say ‘we want a totally open marketplace of ideas!’ There are limits. Obviously. The question is: does his view fall outside those limits? Maybe the answer is yes. If the answer is yes, it means that the view of more than half of Americans is unacceptable. And perhaps they are.’

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