How sacred is a New York Times reporter? Is one required to kowtow in their presence, or merely bow? If one eats a Times reporter, does one become ritually impure?
These critical questions are being settled right now in the clash over Times technology reporter and factually-challenged busybody Taylor Lorenz.
Lorenz spent the bulk of lockdown season stalking the nascent Silicon Valley chat app Clubhouse. In July, she vowed to quit the app forever for not caring enough about ‘user safety’, i.e. protecting Lorenz from all criticism. But of course, like most addicts who pledge to quit, Lorenz’s promise was a farce, and she was soon back on the app.
In February, Lorenz made a wild allegation that tech billionaire Marc Andreessen used the word ‘retard,’ or as she dubbed it, the ‘r-slur,’ during a Clubhouse discussion. This exposed Lorenz to ridicule on several levels. First, calling ‘retard’ the ‘r-slur’ is r-slurred. Second, being a hall-monitor policing people for using words you don’t like is demeaning among middle-schoolers, never mind 36-year-old adults. Third, Andreessen didn’t actually say ‘retard’; somebody else in the room did and Lorenz falsely attributed it. Fourth, Lorenz didn’t apologize for her blunder. Instead, she grew very angry when criticized, blocked critics en masse, briefly took her account private, and then deleted embarrassing old tweets like one where she equated blocking people with efforts to evade ‘accountability’.
And then, Lorenz went and falsely accused Andreessen again, this time alleging that he plotted with white supremacists to attack her. Oh, and to top it all off, Lorenz has a history of throwing out accusations online and then playing the victim afterwards.
But she thinks of herself as a sacred cow, and demands to be treated as such.
On Monday, Lorenz used the astroturfed holiday of International Women’s Day to claim that a year of ‘harassment’ online had destroyed her life and ‘taken everything from me.’ Of course, Lorenz still has a well-compensated job at the New York Times, so more than a few people found this ridiculous.
One of those people was Tucker Carlson, who bashed Lorenz in a segment Tuesday night.
Lorenz might have considered that an honor; she has now joined an elite club that includes Kurt Eichenwald and the thigh-high boots lady from Teen Vogue. Instead, the incident is being treated as a violation of her rights.
Washington Post media reporter Jeremy Barr and AP political reporter Steve Peoples both objected to Carlson’s use of Lorenz’s name. Peoples called it ‘dangerous and disgusting’.
Like a Japanese emperor, it seems, Lorenz commands so much respect that her given name is not to be used; lesser beings like Carlson must refer to her only as the Reiwa Reporter. Or Lorenz may be closer to the King of Thailand, whose image may not be dishonored or misused without a lengthy prison sentence. Lorenz’s defenders complained that Carlson’s producers showed a photo of her. Of course, such photos are plentiful online and Lorenz has done television appearances. Lorenz’s objection is not any actual fear of being identified and harmed. Instead, she is angry at the enduring lèse-majesté.
Perhaps soon Lorenz’s name will be too holy even to write in print. Like Orthodox Jews writing out Yahweh, those who wish to be spared cancellation will only be allowed to write of T****r L****z.
That day could be imminent. On Wednesday afternoon, the New York Times retaliated against Carlson’s segment with a special statement condemning Carlson for naming Lorenz: ‘Journalists should be able to do their jobs without facing harassment.’
The Times doesn’t spell out how, exactly, Carlson’s segment was ‘harassment’. Simply naming a reporter who stated an embarrassing opinion seems less intrusive than sending a reporter and photographer to snoop around someone’s home, as the Times did for Carlson’s Maine residence last year.
Screaming at someone in a restaurant sounds like harassment to Cockburn, but the Times’s own Michelle Goldberg explained in 2018 that it is ‘victim-blaming’ to expect progressives not to do that. In 2017, the paper’s news division did a nuanced dive into whether it’s really bad to beat up the left’s enemies.
The truth, of course, is that for the Times and Lorenz, ‘harassment’ describes ideology not behavior. When Taylor Lorenz speaks against enemies, it’s ‘accountability.’ When others respond to Lorenz, it is ‘violence’ and ‘harassment’. The powerless, to their woe, are forced to actually win their arguments. But Lorenz and the Times are powerful, they possess a much greater privilege. They can render it morally unacceptable to argue against them at all.
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