My birthday was Sunday, and whenever the milestone rolls around I recall one of my best birthday surprises ever. It was a call from the New York Times asking for permission to change the date on a letter I sent correcting a mistaken editorial about Canada. They’d been trying to reach me for weeks to confirm my identity. Never in a million years did I expect the Times to publish my correspondence. In those days, one typically had to be a person of considerable prominence and accomplishment to appear on the esteemed “Letters to the Editor” page.
Such was the integrity of the New York Times circa 1978, a newspaper so ethical that an editor wouldn’t change the date on a letter without permission even though no one, including the author, would have noticed or cared. It was among the reasons why I idolized the Times for most of my adult life and trusted its reporting to shape my worldview. Reading the Times and brushing my teeth was my morning ritual for more than 40 years, often in that order.
No longer. This past Sunday I dwelled on how much I’ve come to distrust and fear The New York Times and view it as threat to free speech and my once guaranteed right to read, think, and say what I want. The Times, and the band of millennial journalists who have beat the publication’s dwindling experienced leadership into submission, are at the forefront of America’s cancel culture movement, looking to malign, dehumanize, and destroy anyone and everything that’s not consistent with their beliefs and ideals.
The corporate-owned media, along with Democratic party leaders and Big Tech, have jumped on the Times’ bandwagon. Alarmingly, they are using the tactics and rhetoric of Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, to achieve their goals. They label people they hate as Nazis to distract from their own Nazi-like behavior.
Bari Weiss, a Jewish former New York Times reporter who said she was subject to repeated bullying, called a Nazi, and declared by some an obstacle to the newsroom’s “inclusive” ambitions, articulated the mandate corporate journalist have bestowed upon themselves in her public resignation letter: “A new consensus has emerged in the press, but perhaps especially at this paper: that truth isn’t a process of collective discovery, but an orthodoxy already known to an enlightened few whose job is to inform everyone else.”
Weiss was being overly kind to her former tormentors. The Times is coasting on a reputation honed and developed by generations of reporters to whom reporting the news “Without Fear or Favor” meant something, and would be horrified as to what’s become of the “The Gray Lady.” The publication’s once vaunted ethical standards have declined and its journalism routinely discredited.
The Times in Decemberwas forced to return a Peabody award for its Caliphate audio series that featured a young-Canadian-Pakistani who claimed he was an executioner for ISIS in Syria, despite clear evidence that he was lying. The Times dragged its heels admitting its reporter was duped even after Canada’s Mounties exposed the hoax. Michael Barbaro, the podcast’s host, was rebuked by the Public Radio Program Directors Association for trying to temper criticisms of the broadcast.
A Pulitzer Prize-winning essay arguing that 1619 was America’s true founding date was widely maligned by leading historians. The criticisms grew too loud and formidable to ignore, so the Times, without alerting its readers, backtracked and stealthily removed its controversial founding date claim. The essay’s writer, Nicole Hannah-Jones, has since denied making the original claim, despite a tweet to the contrary. The Times has ignored demands from 21 scholars and prominent writers to return its Pulitzer for the 1619 essay.
The Mueller Report and an inspector general investigation revealed that much of the Times’ Trump/Russian collusion reporting, for which it also won a Pulitzer Prize, was false or misleading. Matt Taibbi, who previously wrote for Rolling Stone, was one of the few reporters at a liberal publication who dared call out the falsehoods and deceptions the Times and other publicationsfed its readers. Former BuzzFeed editor Ben Smith was responsible for two of the most egregiously false Trump stories ever published. Tellingly, the Times subsequently hired Smith to write its media column.
In its zeal to bring down Trump, whose rise to power the Times missed because it’s journalists are too far removed from mainstream America, the publication repeatedly sought to agitate its readers by likening Trump to Adolf Hitler and his supporters to Nazis. The comparison ignored a fundamental distinction between the two men.
When the Nazis rose to power, they immediately took control of the media, seizing printing presses, buying newspapers at below market prices, and issuing strict guidelines about what could be reported. Editors and reporters who dared to question or embarrass the regime were sent to concentration camps. Jews were not allowed to work as journalists, an edict I imagine some New York Times reporters would embrace.
Trump, for all his talk about the media being the enemy of the people, never called for the arrests of journalists or government media seizures. He willingly faced journalists at news conferences and allowed them to disrespect and disparage him on national television. Despite accusing Google and other giant technology companies of censuring conservative media, Trump never acted on advisor and Facebook director Peter Thiel’s call to launch a probe of Google’s “seemingly treasonous acts” for abetting the artificial intelligence efforts of China’s military.
Bashing Trump and publishing leaked and sometimes classified information carried no risk. “It didn’t really require any special bravery to report honestly and critically on Donald Trump,” admitted Olivia Nuzzi, a New York magazine writer who scored a book deal with Simon & Schuster because of her litany of Trump bashing stories.
Trump did call for the arrest of leakers, but he didn’t have the resolve of President Obama to follow through on his threats, even when there was compelling evidence his closest aides were leaking the most damning stories. The Obama Administration prosecuted 13 leakers under the Espionage act, more than any previous administration combined, including charging a Fox News reporter as a criminal “co-conspirator.” For all Trump’s Twitter bluster, he expressed no outrage when James Wolfe, the Congressional aide who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about having sex with a reporter he leaked confidential information to, received a mere two-month jail sentence. The reporter who Wolfe was sleeping with was subsequently hired by the New York Times.
Trump wasn’t responsible for the abysmally low regard Americans have for their media, which is now controlled by cable, wireless, and entertainment companies. He merely tapped into it to distract from his own wrongdoings, dismissing every critical story about him as “fake news.”
The corporate media did indeed publish an abundance of stories that were false and distorted, and publications supportive of Trump and his policies, like Breitbart and The Federalist, alerted readers to pervasive media bias and deceptions, the stock and trade of the Columbia Journalism Review before it morphed into a publication focused on making journalists feel good about themselves. Unknown to consumers of corporate media, many of the corrections their publications and broadcast outlets issued resulted from a public shaming in the conservative media.
I learned about Breitbart from reading the Times, which led me to believe that it was an alt right publication run by ignorant antisemitic white supremacists. I was naturally surprised to discover that Joel Pollak, one of Breitbart’s most prolific reporters, is a Harvard Law graduate who minored in Jewish studies, is married to a black South African woman, and is a Yarmulke-wearing Orthodox Jew. Breitbart’s media reporter is married to a Hispanic woman. Another surprising discovery was that Breitbart’s editorial staff achieved more racial and gender diversity than most U.S. outlets, long before the rise of the BLM movement.
Admittedly, Breitbart and other conservative publications have published some incendiary headlines, stories, and reader comments over the years, but so have organizations and individuals implicitly endorsed by the Times. Will Wilkinson, a vice president of the Niskanen Center and a Times contributor, tweeted on Tuesday, “If Biden really wanted unity, he’d lynch Mike Pence.” Hang Mike Pence was trending on Twitter a few days ago. So much for Twitter’s and the media’s feigned concern about hate and violence-promoting speech.
The corporate media used an image of a Capitol rioter wearing a Camp Auschwitz-emblazoned sweatshirt to promote a narrative that the hooligans were antisemitic. In fact, some were Jewish. Moreover, Jessica Reaves, the editorial director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, declared in advance that the armed protests the media falsely warned would take place around the country, wasn’t about the Jews. “What is playing out right now in the public sphere, it’s being driven mainly by non-race-related issues – anti-government fervor, love of Trump,” Reaves said.
The corporate media blames Trump-supporting publications for spreading misinformation that fueled the violence, when in fact most, if not all, have condemned the violence and are angered by the destruction. Regardless, corporate media journalists are seeking to forever silence all Trump supporters and the publications that have dared to call out their dishonesty for the past four years.
ABC News Political Director Rick Klein is an example of a journalist doing Goebbels proud. In a since deleted tweet, he declared: “Trump will be an ex-president in 13 days. The fact is that getting rid of Trump is the easy part. Cleansing the movement he commands is going to be something else.”
The Nazis, too, were proponents of “ethnic cleansing,” and so is the Communist Chinese government, which openly boasts of its success sterilizing Muslim Uighurs living in that country’s westernmost province. Kaplan’s bosses at Disney know the area well because they chose to film “Mulan” there and thanked the region’s security police for their hospitality in the credits. If one is looking to draw parallels to Nazi Germany, it’s how American and European companies are willing to ignore China’s human rights atrocities as a condition for doing business in that country. To his credit, one of Mike Pompeo’s last official acts was declaring China’s repression of the Uighurs genocide, making America the first country to do so and putting a major crimp in the Biden Administration’s plans to suck up to the Communist government.
CNN’s Jake Tapper questioned the patriotism of Rep. Brian Mast, an Army veteran and double amputee, after Mast opposed President Trump’s impeachment. Questioning the patriotism of those who opposed the Nazi regime was another Goebbels tactic, and a forever line of attack against Jews, including from Minnesota Representative Ilan Omar.
Washington Post columnist and MSNBC contributor Eugene Robinson dismissed Trump supporters as “members of a cult” and discussed with Nicole Hannah-Jones from the Times about their need to be “reprogrammed.” MSNBC’s Joy Reid called for the “De-Baathification” of Trump supporters, a reference to the Coalition Provisional Authority of Iraq ordering that all public-sector workers with ties to the party be stripped of their jobs and banned from future public-sector employment.
Brian Stelter, CNN’s chief corporate media cheerleader, called for the banning of competitor Fox News, and his deputy Oliver Darcy wants OAN and Newsmax taken down. Washington Post columnist Max Boot has seconded those calls. Alexander Nazaryan, who writes for Yahoo News, called for the banning of Mollie Hemingway, a writer for The Federalist and a bestselling author, whose recent work included calling out the falsity of a Washington Post story and the dishonesty of Biden spokeswoman and former CNN contributor Jen Psaki when she served in the Biden Administration. (Breitbart’s Joel Pollock gets bragging rights for calling out Psaki’s first deception as Biden’s press secretary within minutes of her taking the podium.)
Forbes editor Randall Lane warned companies there will be adverse consequences if they hire any of Trump’s former spokespeople. Fortunately, Lane didn’t run the New York Times after the fall of Nixon. Over the vehement objections of his newsroom staff, then publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger in 1973 hired former Nixon speechwriter William Safire to write a column. Safire ultimately became the Times’ most read columnist, and was awarded a Pulitzer Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
The Lincoln Group, a rabid anti-Trump political action committee, supports such an initiative. The PAC announced it plans to conduct a “brutal corporate pressure campaign” against companies and organizations that supported Trump. The planned campaign immediately had impact: Disney, Walmart, and other corporations rushed to announce they would block donations to lawmakers who objected to electoral college results.
Another Goebbels hallmark was public book burnings of prominent writers whose books were considered subversive. American book publishers have adopted a more climate friendly censorship stance: They voluntarily refuse to publish the works of controversial figures. Simon & Schuster canceled plans to publish Josh Hawley’s book “The Tyranny of Tech,” following in the footsteps of Hachette, which withdrew plans to publish Woody Allen’s memoir because of staff protests. Yet Simon & Schuster and Hachette are comfortable having their books sold alongside Hitler’s Mein Kampf, where the four-and-a-half star rated granddaddy of hate books can be purchased on Amazon for $22.49.
President Biden, supposedly America’s healer-in-chief, likened Senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley to Goebbels. Say and believe what you want about Cruz and Hawley, Jew haters they are not. Both are stalwart supporters of Israel’s right to exist and defend itself. If Biden wants to call out a true Jew hater, he should look down his own aisle and call out Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib for spreading yet another vile false accusation against Israel on the eve of his inauguration.
I no longer trust any news outlet to provide me a fair and unbiased view of the world. Satisfying my insatiable appetite for accurate information requires unprecedented work; whereas I could once get by on just a daily diet of the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, I now monitor more than a dozen publications every day promoting a variety of political persuasions.
In the aftermath of the Capitol riots, my morning ritual now starts with checking the websites of The Federalist and Breitbart. As long as they’re still allowed to publish, I’m assured that America’s Democracy hasn’t yet died in darkness.