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How Tumblr corrupted the New York Times Identitarian conspiracy theories now fill its pages

Louisa May Alcott's tomboy, Jo, from Little Women. Credit: Columbia Pictures

Louisa May Alcott's tomboy, Jo, from Little Women. Credit: Columbia Pictures


January 18, 2023   7 mins

Self-reinvention narratives have always played well in America — perhaps unsurprisingly, given the origin story of the country itself. From the feel-good to the sinister, the Great Gatsbys to the Talented Mister Ripleys, there’s something enticing and titillating about the idea of uprooting from one location, one identity, and starting over in a place where nobody knows your name (or, in its darker iterations, where nobody knows the face of the person whose name you’ve taken).

In the digital age, however, the fresh start is more elusive. The internet is everywhere, and the internet remembers; the person you used to be still lives there, preserved in the form of archived links and deleted-but-screenshotted posts, ready and waiting to dispel any notions you might have had of leaving him behind. And while maintaining a careful separation between the digital self and your actual one can mitigate some of the risk, even the most painstakingly constructed pseudonymous identity inevitably develops a crack or two, through which the real you can be glimpsed — especially if your pseudonymous self is, not to put too fine a point on it, a bit of a flamethrower.

This brings us to a New York Times op-ed titled, “Did the Mother of Young Adult Literature Identify As a Man?”, which was published in late December to widespread consternation. The content of the essay has already been thoroughly dealt with by critics, who alleged that its author, Peyton Thomas, indulged in both contextual misrepresentation of Louisa May Alcott’s writings and no small amount of crude gender stereotyping, to support the illegitimate, retroactive transing of the Little Women author. (Among these was noted feminist critic Katha Pollitt, who in a letter to the editor wrote: “What 19th-century woman with genius and gumption wouldn’t chafe at her restricted life and long for the broad freedoms of manhood?”)

But equally interesting, and largely unremarked-upon, was the reaction to the op-ed by a smaller group — one less outraged by the essay’s content and more profoundly amused that the author was given the chance to write it in the first place. Because while for the average New York Times reader, this essay would have been the first time they encountered Thomas’s work, these commentators — who skewed generally younger and far more online — had been watching Thomas make arguments just like the Alcott one for years on the microblogging site Tumblr, where he was a sometimes controversial figure.

For those not familiar with the early-2010s dynamics of Tumblr: Katherine Dee has described the site, accurately, as the “digital sideshow attraction” from whence much of today’s weirdest and most toxic identitarian political discourse originates. It is important to note, therefore, that most of the drama surrounding Thomas, like most Tumblr controversies generally, is so overwrought, convoluted, and terminally online that it’s both impossible to parse and not worth giving more oxygen to. (For this reason, I’m not linking to it.)

What is worth discussing, however, is how easily Tumblr’s cult-like fandom culture became the default mode of engagement for its adherents, a way to not only participate in fandom but to understand the world. The way discourse functioned on the site, it was a brief step from writing gay fan fiction about, say, Sherlock Holmes and John Watson, to fantasising openly about a same-sex romance between the men who played them, Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman — and then to lashing out publicly at actress Amanda Abbington when she had the audacity to not only be cast as Watson’s love interest, but to be Freeman’s paramour in real life.

Peyton Thomas was a content creator within multiple Tumblr fandoms, and like many young writers, developed a professional career out of his early, more informal posting in a way that made it difficult to leave Tumblr entirely behind. “Lots of writers sort of put their fandom identity to the side when they become professional writers,” Thomas told me by phone. “For me, that’s never been possible, because so many of my first assignments came out of people who’d been reading my Tumblr.”

Curiously, Thomas’s best-known work of fan fiction was one with a real-life analogue that also blurred the lines between reality and fantasy: the same month that Thomas posted a full-length fan fiction screenplay for a Spider-Man movie featuring a bisexual Peter Parker, he also sparked a rumour that Andrew Garfield had been fired from the Spider-Man franchise after two films because he wouldn’t stop pushing for the hero to have a same-sex romance.

In hindsight, Thomas says, he got a bit ahead of himself.

“That was definitely an overstatement, that he was fired because of this. I don’t have any definitive proof, and I didn’t then, that he had been fired for making those comments, or that the entire franchise had collapsed because he made those comments,” he told me. (He did note, accurately, that Garfield felt both constrained by the canonical requirements of the Spider-Man franchise — a 2011 licensing agreement stipulated that the Peter Parker Spider-Man character could only ever be portrayed as a heterosexual white man — and disillusioned by the pressure from Sony to retract his comments about making the hero bisexual.)

But less interesting than the lack of truth in this rumour is the way in which it wasn’t true, how perfectly the story of Garfield’s alleged firing fit within the Tumblr paradigm of disregarding canon (or in some cases, reality itself) in favour of a narrative that is less true but more exciting. Viewed through this lens, the gay Spider-Man fanfic, the Andrew Garfield rumour, and the Louisa May Alcott essay all coalesce into a single category of thing: they are all fantasy, all projection, all the headcanon of a super-fan imagining an alternative reality into existence. The only difference is that the first two things could be more or less written off as internet nonsense, while the latter was deemed worthy of inclusion in the nation’s most prestigious newspaper.

To be as charitable as possible to Thomas, his Alcott essay — like his Spider-Man rumour — is not based on nothing. (Among those presently struggling with the question of how to understand Alcott’s identity through the lens of contemporary gender politics is Louisa May Alcott Society president Gregory Eiselein, who is quoted in Thomas’s essay as saying, “I am certain that Alcott never fit a binary sex-gender model.”) And none of this is to say that having been a Tumblr poster, or even a Tumblr shitposter, should disqualify a person from eventually making a living as a writer or cultural commentator. Many authors working today first began honing their craft as amateur fanfic writers.

Meanwhile, in 2023, there are few young adults who don’t have a discoverable digital footprint dating back to their teens, the content of which should not be held against them, no matter how embarrassing or unsophisticated it might be. Those of us who came of age before the social web may thank the stars that our most cringeworthy adolescent thoughts are confined to the pages of a physical (read: burnable) diary, rather than preserved for all eternity on the internet. Yet it behooves us to recognise that one individual’s trajectory from Tumblr conspiracy theorist to NYT columnist is not substantively different to going back for your 10-year high school reunion and discovering that your lab partner from freshman biology — the one who always seemed to like dissecting frogs a little too much — is now an accomplished neurosurgeon.

Rather, I want to question the trajectory whereby an argument like this one — which ultimately hinges less on historical accuracy than the desire of its author that it be true — can make its way into the pages of the New York Times. Partly, this might be down to the existence of a commissioning editor on staff who likes to source their pitches from Twitter, where Thomas went viral last spring with a thread advancing the same thesis ultimately argued in the Alcott essay. But there is something here, too, about the ability of an ultimately half-baked idea to sneak past the gatekeepers of our most storied media institutions.

Much has been made of late over the threat of misinformation, as the public’s faith in American news media has fully split along partisan lines. Those on the Right no longer trust mainstream news, which in turn treats that lack of trust as a threat unto itself: even a casual news consumer has likely been warned about the dangers of QAnon, Russian bots, and the rise of an entire, Right-wing ecosystem dedicated to ensnaring gullible conservatives in an alternative reality made of fake news. But here we have a rare glimpse of how a similarly baseless story can spread beyond the cultish confines of the social justice Left and into the paper of record: as it turns out, even the New York Times will happily launder a narrative into news if it rings the proper, politically expedient bells on a hot-button topic.

In this case, of course, that topic was trans issues, which in addition to being a major front in America’s 2022 culture wars are also lately host to a smaller, internecine conflict between the New York Times news organisation — which has gone against the grain in recent months to report on, for instance, the medical controversy surrounding the use of puberty blockers on trans-identified kids — and its smaller, more ideologically homogenous opinion section. In this environment, something like the Alcott essay isn’t just clickbait; it signals to those readers who were inflamed by the aforementioned reporting that the NYT is still down with the cause. And of course, this willingness to bestow its imprimatur upon a story that is factually flimsy but politically correct is not exclusive to the Gray Lady: in past several years, institutions from The Guardian to Scientific American have allowed embarrassingly bad arguments to be printed in their pages because they promoted a narrative that progressives wish were true.

The truth is that bias-stroking sensationalism has a way of finding purchase in the media on Left and Right alike. Once you notice this, it’s hard to unsee it — as with last week’s explosion of news stories about the dangers (or, on the Right, the noble necessity) of gas stoves. It is just as much a problem with non-frivolous topics as it is with culture war fodder: while the Right-wing press engages in ghoulish, and foolish, speculation attributing this or that recent death to the mRNA vaccines, one recalls that the Left was no less gung-ho in amplifying nonsense stories about Covid denialists in red states gasping “It isn’t real!” as they coughed themselves to death.

If anything, perhaps we should be grateful to the New York Times for advertising that it is as susceptible to such audience capture as any other outlet. Then we might resolve, if we hadn’t already, not to simply believe everything we read.


Kat Rosenfield is an UnHerd columnist and co-host of the Feminine Chaos podcast. Her latest novel is You Must Remember This.

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Phil Re
Phil Re
1 year ago

Today’s New York Times is like the undead version of its previous incarnation as the nation’s paper of record. It’s been that way since Trump won the election in 2016, and the shift was underway for four or five years before that. The Thomas piece is exceptional, not because it’s a notable departure for the NYT, but because it’s strikingly emblematic of what the NYT has become.

Phil Re
Phil Re
1 year ago

Today’s New York Times is like the undead version of its previous incarnation as the nation’s paper of record. It’s been that way since Trump won the election in 2016, and the shift was underway for four or five years before that. The Thomas piece is exceptional, not because it’s a notable departure for the NYT, but because it’s strikingly emblematic of what the NYT has become.

Matt Hindman
Matt Hindman
1 year ago

It would help if Kat’s complaints of right wing “bias-stroking sensationalism” were not things that keep turning out to be true. Just recently the Washington Post finally admitted that Russia had no effect on the 2016 election. From the tone of the article, it sounds like they would have rather been having their wisdom teeth pulled.

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

Yes – Covid and the mandates were a bonanza for conspiracy theorists because they were right 95% of the time and they continue to be validated as mainstream sources gather the courage to be honest about the issue. For whatever reason the left lost its marbles on this one. A Stanford peer reviewed study that came out this week found that the unvaccinated fatality rate for children (0-19) was .000003. Not a typo – five zeros. Yet they are recommending the vaccine for children under 5 in my jurisdiction. Even though myocarditis is a known problem – especially for boys. Wow.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

Just so we can have a balanced view – what is the vaccinated fatality rate for myocarditis in children?

Stephen Quilley
Stephen Quilley
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

100%

Geoff Price
Geoff Price
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

One of my favorite tropes of conspiracy theory culture is the endless cosplay of scientific reasoning. Using language like “they were right 95%” of the time (can we get a confidence interval on that?), as if some kind of testing and validation of theory has taken place.
Constantly repeating a conspiracy theory is not the same as validating it. The fact that something is heralded in an approving echo chamber isn’t validation in the rationalist sense of these words.
Btw, vaccines work by inducing an immune response. That’s where the inevitable very rare risk of myocarditis comes from. For covid vaccines, it looks similar to prior vaccines, maybe less than smallpox (e.g. Ling et al 2022). Turns out covid itself generates an immune response… and so myocarditis risk along with a host of known and unknown consequences from a virus that attacks organs throughout the body. Do a random Google Scholar search on “covid-19 myocarditis” if your echo chamber remains outraged at these claims from the medical world – sorry, “establishment”.
Random other question – what has been the largest source of pediatric mortality due to infectious disease in the last couple of years? (You can be opposed to vaccination in children if you like, especially given the declining effectiveness of vaccines since the Omicron era; you don’t actually have to reject the entire evidence-based world to do it.)

Last edited 1 year ago by Geoff Price
Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
1 year ago
Reply to  Geoff Price

Geoff – constantly calling things you don’t agree with a conspiracy theory or misinformation isn’t refuting them. My government should not be recommending these vaccines for children. The only reason they are doing it is because they’ve been caught by their own scaremongering and now have to try and ease the more neurotic and credulous members of the public back to reality. As I am sure you know many countries won’t let children take vaccines or boosters. The reality is that establishment medicine, politicians and the media have mislead the public on the mandates and on the vaccine effectiveness and safety. I am not a vaccine skeptic – but I won’t be taking any mRNA vaccines until we have a proven track record with them and an honest assessment of their risk levels.

Last edited 1 year ago by Peter Johnson
Ibn Sina
Ibn Sina
1 year ago
Reply to  Geoff Price

Very well said. To hear people constantly repeating what some defunct and embittered ex-researcher has said on YouTube is not reasoning. Neither is selective quotation from half-read scientific papers. Research papers are difficult to read and are usually qualified by caveats. The mistake made by many here is to either quote bald figures or caveats.
it’s amazing as an example how many people have fallen for the idea that an anti parasitic agent, mainly used in animals in the developed World would be effective against Covid. It seems that a lab experiment showed that high concentrations killed the virus and short clinical trial showed that in safe doses for humans it did not work, thus relegating Ivermectin to the ranks of Donald Trump’s bleach.
Whether the promoters of Ivermectin online were bad actors or just stupid will probably never be known

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
1 year ago
Reply to  Geoff Price

Geoff – constantly calling things you don’t agree with a conspiracy theory or misinformation isn’t refuting them. My government should not be recommending these vaccines for children. The only reason they are doing it is because they’ve been caught by their own scaremongering and now have to try and ease the more neurotic and credulous members of the public back to reality. As I am sure you know many countries won’t let children take vaccines or boosters. The reality is that establishment medicine, politicians and the media have mislead the public on the mandates and on the vaccine effectiveness and safety. I am not a vaccine skeptic – but I won’t be taking any mRNA vaccines until we have a proven track record with them and an honest assessment of their risk levels.

Last edited 1 year ago by Peter Johnson
Ibn Sina
Ibn Sina
1 year ago
Reply to  Geoff Price

Very well said. To hear people constantly repeating what some defunct and embittered ex-researcher has said on YouTube is not reasoning. Neither is selective quotation from half-read scientific papers. Research papers are difficult to read and are usually qualified by caveats. The mistake made by many here is to either quote bald figures or caveats.
it’s amazing as an example how many people have fallen for the idea that an anti parasitic agent, mainly used in animals in the developed World would be effective against Covid. It seems that a lab experiment showed that high concentrations killed the virus and short clinical trial showed that in safe doses for humans it did not work, thus relegating Ivermectin to the ranks of Donald Trump’s bleach.
Whether the promoters of Ivermectin online were bad actors or just stupid will probably never be known

Ibn Sina
Ibn Sina
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

I’m a big fan of vaccines, and they undoubtedly saved many lives of vulnerable people: but I too have failed to understand the push to vaccinate under-5’s. I advised that my grandchildren not be vaccinated, not because I was particularly worried about the risk, but because I have encountered too much over-medication in my clinical life.
It’s like blanket lockdowns. Protecting the vulnerable was all that was necessary, and they had already started to do this for themselves when lockdown was imposed. I also think that not enough was done to highlight the risks of covid in obese people – surely not because we didn’t want to offend them? The issue of masks has always been a red herring, since we know that the virus can be suspended in the air in enclosed spaces for long periods of time if there isn’t adequate ventilation and they are relatively inefficient.
The moral panic over Covid, largely generated by the press and certain dubious disease ‘modellers’, has spoilt a generation’s education and impoverished many economies.
for those interested in the mortality rate of myocarditis, here’s a useful link: https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/diseases-conditions/myocarditis-pediatric

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

Just so we can have a balanced view – what is the vaccinated fatality rate for myocarditis in children?

Stephen Quilley
Stephen Quilley
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

100%

Geoff Price
Geoff Price
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

One of my favorite tropes of conspiracy theory culture is the endless cosplay of scientific reasoning. Using language like “they were right 95%” of the time (can we get a confidence interval on that?), as if some kind of testing and validation of theory has taken place.
Constantly repeating a conspiracy theory is not the same as validating it. The fact that something is heralded in an approving echo chamber isn’t validation in the rationalist sense of these words.
Btw, vaccines work by inducing an immune response. That’s where the inevitable very rare risk of myocarditis comes from. For covid vaccines, it looks similar to prior vaccines, maybe less than smallpox (e.g. Ling et al 2022). Turns out covid itself generates an immune response… and so myocarditis risk along with a host of known and unknown consequences from a virus that attacks organs throughout the body. Do a random Google Scholar search on “covid-19 myocarditis” if your echo chamber remains outraged at these claims from the medical world – sorry, “establishment”.
Random other question – what has been the largest source of pediatric mortality due to infectious disease in the last couple of years? (You can be opposed to vaccination in children if you like, especially given the declining effectiveness of vaccines since the Omicron era; you don’t actually have to reject the entire evidence-based world to do it.)

Last edited 1 year ago by Geoff Price
Ibn Sina
Ibn Sina
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

I’m a big fan of vaccines, and they undoubtedly saved many lives of vulnerable people: but I too have failed to understand the push to vaccinate under-5’s. I advised that my grandchildren not be vaccinated, not because I was particularly worried about the risk, but because I have encountered too much over-medication in my clinical life.
It’s like blanket lockdowns. Protecting the vulnerable was all that was necessary, and they had already started to do this for themselves when lockdown was imposed. I also think that not enough was done to highlight the risks of covid in obese people – surely not because we didn’t want to offend them? The issue of masks has always been a red herring, since we know that the virus can be suspended in the air in enclosed spaces for long periods of time if there isn’t adequate ventilation and they are relatively inefficient.
The moral panic over Covid, largely generated by the press and certain dubious disease ‘modellers’, has spoilt a generation’s education and impoverished many economies.
for those interested in the mortality rate of myocarditis, here’s a useful link: https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/diseases-conditions/myocarditis-pediatric

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

Yes – Covid and the mandates were a bonanza for conspiracy theorists because they were right 95% of the time and they continue to be validated as mainstream sources gather the courage to be honest about the issue. For whatever reason the left lost its marbles on this one. A Stanford peer reviewed study that came out this week found that the unvaccinated fatality rate for children (0-19) was .000003. Not a typo – five zeros. Yet they are recommending the vaccine for children under 5 in my jurisdiction. Even though myocarditis is a known problem – especially for boys. Wow.

Matt Hindman
Matt Hindman
1 year ago

It would help if Kat’s complaints of right wing “bias-stroking sensationalism” were not things that keep turning out to be true. Just recently the Washington Post finally admitted that Russia had no effect on the 2016 election. From the tone of the article, it sounds like they would have rather been having their wisdom teeth pulled.

William Simonds
William Simonds
1 year ago

Kat’s comment that this is “bias-stroking sensationalism” is certainly true. This op-ed is definitely that. But her piece misses a far larger and more insidious point: the purpose of the NYT editorial page is to define the ever enlarging boundaries of liberal “partisan sorting.” Partisan sorting is the idea that you identify how you feel about an issue based on the position that other people in your political sphere take. It is a heuristic, a short cut. It allows one to formulate a coordinated range of views that agrees with the canon of your faction. This article on Alcott, as is most of the opinions of the NYT (and other main stream media publications) is a dog whistle to their audience about how to feel about the issue of gender identification. A thoughtful reader would do what Kat has done: research the author and question the premise. A partisan reader simply equates the thing written with the publication (“It was in the New York Times after all”) and doesn’t realize the boundaries of the things they accept as not just “true” but “important and true” have just been moved. And the irony is that to that reader, the Tumblr background of the author just plain doesn’t matter.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 year ago

I’m not sure, William. Back when I was an undergrad student I was better able to separate a written piece from its author and judge it on its own merits. Now whenever I read an article that doesn’t sit right with me I check the author’s background and credentials and, more importantly, who is sponsoring them to write this piece. In doing so, I’ve discovered that much of the gender and racial ideology that is being thrust upon us has very rich and powerful patrons backing it.
I still read publications like The Guardian from time to time. Not for factual information, but more to learn what I am ‘supposed to’ think. I view much of the mainstream media as the ‘Bad News Bible’ (as opposed to the Good News Bible).

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 year ago

I’m not sure, William. Back when I was an undergrad student I was better able to separate a written piece from its author and judge it on its own merits. Now whenever I read an article that doesn’t sit right with me I check the author’s background and credentials and, more importantly, who is sponsoring them to write this piece. In doing so, I’ve discovered that much of the gender and racial ideology that is being thrust upon us has very rich and powerful patrons backing it.
I still read publications like The Guardian from time to time. Not for factual information, but more to learn what I am ‘supposed to’ think. I view much of the mainstream media as the ‘Bad News Bible’ (as opposed to the Good News Bible).

William Simonds
William Simonds
1 year ago

Kat’s comment that this is “bias-stroking sensationalism” is certainly true. This op-ed is definitely that. But her piece misses a far larger and more insidious point: the purpose of the NYT editorial page is to define the ever enlarging boundaries of liberal “partisan sorting.” Partisan sorting is the idea that you identify how you feel about an issue based on the position that other people in your political sphere take. It is a heuristic, a short cut. It allows one to formulate a coordinated range of views that agrees with the canon of your faction. This article on Alcott, as is most of the opinions of the NYT (and other main stream media publications) is a dog whistle to their audience about how to feel about the issue of gender identification. A thoughtful reader would do what Kat has done: research the author and question the premise. A partisan reader simply equates the thing written with the publication (“It was in the New York Times after all”) and doesn’t realize the boundaries of the things they accept as not just “true” but “important and true” have just been moved. And the irony is that to that reader, the Tumblr background of the author just plain doesn’t matter.

Daniel Lee
Daniel Lee
1 year ago

Such pieces are the echo of the breakpoint squabble that resulted from former NYT Opinion Ed James Bennet’s decision to print Republican Senator Tom Cotton’s op-ed suggesting the use of government troops to restore order in BLM and Antifa-riven towns suffering post-Floyd riots. The young staffers at the Times were shocked and horrified and literally chased Bennet (no conservative at all) out of the building. They’ve been running things since and the content (always liberal) has taken on the tone of a crusading high school journalism class newspaper with a hip, young faculty sponsor, irrelevant, in other words.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago
Reply to  Daniel Lee

I quit my long-time habit of NYT reading when they spiked the Clinton/Lewinsky story. They simply refused to report on it. If they could ignore a scandal that huge, what else were they not telling readers, I wondered. And here we are, 25 years later, the Grey Lady is Miss Havisham’s corpse buried by a staff of Estellas.

Laney R Sexton
Laney R Sexton
1 year ago

Allison, NYT did what?? I was in 6th grade at the time of the scandal so I wasn’t in the habit of reading major newspapers. I have never heard about this, that’s absolutely jaw dropping information.

Laney R Sexton
Laney R Sexton
1 year ago

Allison, NYT did what?? I was in 6th grade at the time of the scandal so I wasn’t in the habit of reading major newspapers. I have never heard about this, that’s absolutely jaw dropping information.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago
Reply to  Daniel Lee

I quit my long-time habit of NYT reading when they spiked the Clinton/Lewinsky story. They simply refused to report on it. If they could ignore a scandal that huge, what else were they not telling readers, I wondered. And here we are, 25 years later, the Grey Lady is Miss Havisham’s corpse buried by a staff of Estellas.

Daniel Lee
Daniel Lee
1 year ago

Such pieces are the echo of the breakpoint squabble that resulted from former NYT Opinion Ed James Bennet’s decision to print Republican Senator Tom Cotton’s op-ed suggesting the use of government troops to restore order in BLM and Antifa-riven towns suffering post-Floyd riots. The young staffers at the Times were shocked and horrified and literally chased Bennet (no conservative at all) out of the building. They’ve been running things since and the content (always liberal) has taken on the tone of a crusading high school journalism class newspaper with a hip, young faculty sponsor, irrelevant, in other words.

Stephen Quilley
Stephen Quilley
1 year ago

Is there a major mainstream news outlet that doesn’t fit this pattern?BBC has been like this since Brexit. CBC in Canada is even worse. Guardian is unspeakable. Times hardly better. CNN a complete joke….the trans thing has become a litmus for membership in a world that is now so completely polarized that we inhabit completely separate worlds

Rob Nock
Rob Nock
1 year ago

I find the Guardian particularly disappointing. I have never supported its politics but I read it because of its willingness to challenge the Elite/Estalishment/Deep State, publishing and supporting whistleblowers etc.

Now, since 2015 I think, it has just been a sad joke.

Rob Nock
Rob Nock
1 year ago

I find the Guardian particularly disappointing. I have never supported its politics but I read it because of its willingness to challenge the Elite/Estalishment/Deep State, publishing and supporting whistleblowers etc.

Now, since 2015 I think, it has just been a sad joke.

Stephen Quilley
Stephen Quilley
1 year ago

Is there a major mainstream news outlet that doesn’t fit this pattern?BBC has been like this since Brexit. CBC in Canada is even worse. Guardian is unspeakable. Times hardly better. CNN a complete joke….the trans thing has become a litmus for membership in a world that is now so completely polarized that we inhabit completely separate worlds

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
1 year ago

Ten years ago, I chatted with a friend how ‘soft’ the front page of the NYTimes was getting – weird non-news feature stories were being inserted at the bottom of the page, and today they are even higher up. She said, she had a friend at the paper who said that this was being done to ‘attract more young people’, ie to entertain rather than inform them. Once Trump got elected the paper went full on nuts ‘n’ junky, which forced us to unsubscribe after 40 years. It’s truly a terrible read today. The good news though is that there are so many alternatives places to go to capture a wider variety of views.

Last edited 1 year ago by Cathy Carron
Dr. G Marzanna
Dr. G Marzanna
1 year ago
Reply to  Cathy Carron

I’ve never understood that idea. When I was young I didn’t read the NYT, only local listing papers and music press. I didn’t sit home watching news, I was out having a life. The idea that the NYT can capture the youth audience is silly.

Dr. G Marzanna
Dr. G Marzanna
1 year ago
Reply to  Cathy Carron

I’ve never understood that idea. When I was young I didn’t read the NYT, only local listing papers and music press. I didn’t sit home watching news, I was out having a life. The idea that the NYT can capture the youth audience is silly.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
1 year ago

Ten years ago, I chatted with a friend how ‘soft’ the front page of the NYTimes was getting – weird non-news feature stories were being inserted at the bottom of the page, and today they are even higher up. She said, she had a friend at the paper who said that this was being done to ‘attract more young people’, ie to entertain rather than inform them. Once Trump got elected the paper went full on nuts ‘n’ junky, which forced us to unsubscribe after 40 years. It’s truly a terrible read today. The good news though is that there are so many alternatives places to go to capture a wider variety of views.

Last edited 1 year ago by Cathy Carron
R Wright
R Wright
1 year ago

Tumblr and its consequences have been a disaster for the human race.

R Wright
R Wright
1 year ago

Tumblr and its consequences have been a disaster for the human race.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 year ago

Tumblr was pretty much where all the internet weirdos congregated back in its heyday. A lot of adults and minors blogged there which is how I think transgender ideology was transmitted to the young and eventually to the wider public. Once Tumblr banned sexual imagery from its webpages, much of its explicit content was moved over to more mainstream websites. A lot of it was devoted to ‘straight conversion’ clips and videos designed to homosexualize viewers. Much of what we label ‘transexual’ today is not really that; ‘p0rn-sexual’ may be a better term for what’s happening: a subset of people so discombobulated from their own bodies and its natural proclivities that they are unable to progress forward in their own sexual development – a crucial element to healthy functioning and growing up.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 year ago

Tumblr was pretty much where all the internet weirdos congregated back in its heyday. A lot of adults and minors blogged there which is how I think transgender ideology was transmitted to the young and eventually to the wider public. Once Tumblr banned sexual imagery from its webpages, much of its explicit content was moved over to more mainstream websites. A lot of it was devoted to ‘straight conversion’ clips and videos designed to homosexualize viewers. Much of what we label ‘transexual’ today is not really that; ‘p0rn-sexual’ may be a better term for what’s happening: a subset of people so discombobulated from their own bodies and its natural proclivities that they are unable to progress forward in their own sexual development – a crucial element to healthy functioning and growing up.

James P
James P
1 year ago

The NYT hasn’t been credible since the day they hired Walter Duranty who was their Moscow correspondent in the 1930’s. His writing consciously supported Stalin while that psychopath was starving millions, literally millions, of people to death, especially Ukrainians. The NYT is where dishonest, ambitious people go to tell lies.

Laney R Sexton
Laney R Sexton
1 year ago
Reply to  James P

I am certainly learning a lot of new and unsettling information about NYT today.

Laney R Sexton
Laney R Sexton
1 year ago
Reply to  James P

I am certainly learning a lot of new and unsettling information about NYT today.

James P
James P
1 year ago

The NYT hasn’t been credible since the day they hired Walter Duranty who was their Moscow correspondent in the 1930’s. His writing consciously supported Stalin while that psychopath was starving millions, literally millions, of people to death, especially Ukrainians. The NYT is where dishonest, ambitious people go to tell lies.

Dermot O'Sullivan
Dermot O'Sullivan
1 year ago

I sniff a conspiracy, and it’s not confined to the NYT. The Irish Times (the paper of record, if you don’t mind) seems to have donned the Dougal role to its bigger UK broadsheet, The Guardian, a Fr. Ted colossus on all things woke (and asleep!).

Dermot O'Sullivan
Dermot O'Sullivan
1 year ago

I sniff a conspiracy, and it’s not confined to the NYT. The Irish Times (the paper of record, if you don’t mind) seems to have donned the Dougal role to its bigger UK broadsheet, The Guardian, a Fr. Ted colossus on all things woke (and asleep!).

Rose D
Rose D
1 year ago

Thomas is a woman, no matter how much she wishes she wasn’t.

Rose D
Rose D
1 year ago

Thomas is a woman, no matter how much she wishes she wasn’t.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
1 year ago

If anyone is going to have a go at Amanda Abbington, it should be for her reluctance to pay a rather large tax bill, despite the fact she could have easily tapped her very rich partner for a loan.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
1 year ago

If anyone is going to have a go at Amanda Abbington, it should be for her reluctance to pay a rather large tax bill, despite the fact she could have easily tapped her very rich partner for a loan.

Nona Yubiz
Nona Yubiz
1 year ago

I have a minor quibble–maybe not so minor. Early on the writer states so firmly: “one recalls that the Left was no less gung-ho in amplifying nonsense stories about Covid denialists in red states gasping ‘It isn’t real’” as they coughed themselves to death.” I had to check the link and in reading the story I was surprised. Because I live in a “blue state” and I had an aggressive cancer diagnosed right when COVID hit. And I had to wait and wait and wait to get surgery. Because of all the COVID patients. And my surgeon was livid because so many of them were COVID deniers, and they were taking up all the intensive care units while yelling at nurses and denying that’s what they had. So, is this a “nonsense” story about angry COVID patients lashing out at nurses and refusing to believe that they had COVID? Why would my surgeon lie to me?

Last edited 1 year ago by Nona Yubiz
Nona Yubiz
Nona Yubiz
1 year ago

I have a minor quibble–maybe not so minor. Early on the writer states so firmly: “one recalls that the Left was no less gung-ho in amplifying nonsense stories about Covid denialists in red states gasping ‘It isn’t real’” as they coughed themselves to death.” I had to check the link and in reading the story I was surprised. Because I live in a “blue state” and I had an aggressive cancer diagnosed right when COVID hit. And I had to wait and wait and wait to get surgery. Because of all the COVID patients. And my surgeon was livid because so many of them were COVID deniers, and they were taking up all the intensive care units while yelling at nurses and denying that’s what they had. So, is this a “nonsense” story about angry COVID patients lashing out at nurses and refusing to believe that they had COVID? Why would my surgeon lie to me?

Last edited 1 year ago by Nona Yubiz
Benjamin Greco
Benjamin Greco
1 year ago

Even if you think the Alcott piece was nonsense, and it was, there is a difference between an opinion piece musing about the gender identity of a 19th century author and stating as fact that 21st century voting machines were rigged to make Joe Biden President. The latter is fake news and the former a dumb idea. I can’t read the Times anymore because it is full of dumb ideas, but its news is not fake.
As for the mutilation of teens, the worry isn’t the capture of the media, it is the capture of the medical establishment.

Benjamin Greco
Benjamin Greco
1 year ago

Even if you think the Alcott piece was nonsense, and it was, there is a difference between an opinion piece musing about the gender identity of a 19th century author and stating as fact that 21st century voting machines were rigged to make Joe Biden President. The latter is fake news and the former a dumb idea. I can’t read the Times anymore because it is full of dumb ideas, but its news is not fake.
As for the mutilation of teens, the worry isn’t the capture of the media, it is the capture of the medical establishment.

Steven Somsen
Steven Somsen
1 year ago

The good thing of being unable to hide any longer your past ‘sins’ and forget about them is that we have to face them eventually. It is called maturity. Or becoming real.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Steven Somsen

Not when those past “sins” of a young teenager are visited upon them potentially decades later, when they’re well into mature careers. That’s the threat, and the failure to understand it doesn’t serve anyone well.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Steven Somsen

Not when those past “sins” of a young teenager are visited upon them potentially decades later, when they’re well into mature careers. That’s the threat, and the failure to understand it doesn’t serve anyone well.

Steven Somsen
Steven Somsen
1 year ago

The good thing of being unable to hide any longer your past ‘sins’ and forget about them is that we have to face them eventually. It is called maturity. Or becoming real.

Seth Edenbaum
Seth Edenbaum
1 year ago

It always amuses me how so much of the ranting against the mainstream press is based on a nostalgia for a past when it was better, more “truthful” etc… And also that so many of the people ranting about identity politics, make an exception for Jewish identity politics, never mind white identity politics. “Back to Africa” is reactionary identitarianism. Zionism, “Back to Arabia” is a given right.
David Ben-Gurion was born David GrĂŒn; Ariel Sharon was the son of Shmuel Scheinerman; Benjamin Netanyahu’s father was Benzion Mileikowsky. He changed the family name. Malcolm X was Malcolm Little Muhammad Ali was Cassius Clay. Louis Farrakhan was Louis Eugene Wolcott. Some shit, different what?
From a letter the NY Times refused to print.
—Gadi Taub is right that Israel’s settlements in the occupied territory are a huge problem. But he is wrong when he says that somehow “settlements and continued occupation” will undermine the vision of Theodor Herzl, founder of political Zionism. In fact occupation was central to Herzl’s plans. Taub claims that Herzl’s Zionism was part of the “tradition of democratic national liberation movements.” But the truth is quite the opposite. Herzl’s Zionism was old-fashioned turn-of-the-century colonialism.
His diary includes the text of a letter Herzl wrote to Cecil Rhodes, shortly after the infamous Briton had colonized the land of the Shona people in Africa – whose land he claimed and renamed Rhodesia. “You are being invited to help make history,” Herzl wrote to Rhodes. “[I]t doesn’t involve Africa, but a piece of Asia Minor; not Englishmen but Jews
 How, then, do I happen to turn to you since this is an out-of-the-way matter for you? How indeed? Because it is something colonial
 [Y]ou, Mr. Rhodes, are a visionary politician or a practical visionary
 I want you to.. put the stamp of your authority on the Zionist plan and to make the following declaration to a few people who swear by you: I, Rhodes have examined this plan and found it correct and practicable. It is a plan full of culture, excellent for the group of people for whom it is directly designed, and quite good for England, for Greater Britain
.”—
https://mondoweiss.net/2010/09/actually-herzl-was-a-colonialist/
The 1619 Project was drafted in a meeting room at the Times with a portrait of Herzl on the wall. You all bore the f**k out of me.

Seth Edenbaum
Seth Edenbaum
1 year ago

It always amuses me how so much of the ranting against the mainstream press is based on a nostalgia for a past when it was better, more “truthful” etc… And also that so many of the people ranting about identity politics, make an exception for Jewish identity politics, never mind white identity politics. “Back to Africa” is reactionary identitarianism. Zionism, “Back to Arabia” is a given right.
David Ben-Gurion was born David GrĂŒn; Ariel Sharon was the son of Shmuel Scheinerman; Benjamin Netanyahu’s father was Benzion Mileikowsky. He changed the family name. Malcolm X was Malcolm Little Muhammad Ali was Cassius Clay. Louis Farrakhan was Louis Eugene Wolcott. Some shit, different what?
From a letter the NY Times refused to print.
—Gadi Taub is right that Israel’s settlements in the occupied territory are a huge problem. But he is wrong when he says that somehow “settlements and continued occupation” will undermine the vision of Theodor Herzl, founder of political Zionism. In fact occupation was central to Herzl’s plans. Taub claims that Herzl’s Zionism was part of the “tradition of democratic national liberation movements.” But the truth is quite the opposite. Herzl’s Zionism was old-fashioned turn-of-the-century colonialism.
His diary includes the text of a letter Herzl wrote to Cecil Rhodes, shortly after the infamous Briton had colonized the land of the Shona people in Africa – whose land he claimed and renamed Rhodesia. “You are being invited to help make history,” Herzl wrote to Rhodes. “[I]t doesn’t involve Africa, but a piece of Asia Minor; not Englishmen but Jews
 How, then, do I happen to turn to you since this is an out-of-the-way matter for you? How indeed? Because it is something colonial
 [Y]ou, Mr. Rhodes, are a visionary politician or a practical visionary
 I want you to.. put the stamp of your authority on the Zionist plan and to make the following declaration to a few people who swear by you: I, Rhodes have examined this plan and found it correct and practicable. It is a plan full of culture, excellent for the group of people for whom it is directly designed, and quite good for England, for Greater Britain
.”—
https://mondoweiss.net/2010/09/actually-herzl-was-a-colonialist/
The 1619 Project was drafted in a meeting room at the Times with a portrait of Herzl on the wall. You all bore the f**k out of me.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
1 year ago

True, and as you note, conspiracy theories are a feature of the entire political spectrum in this dumb century, and certainly are not confined to the left.
The largest cross-national study ever conducted on conspiracy theories suggests that around a third of people in countries such as the UK and France think their governments are “hiding the truth” about immigration, and that voting for Brexit and Trump is associated with a wide range of conspiratorial beliefs – from science denial to takeover plots by Muslim migrants.
The research, conducted by the University of Cambridge covered nine countries – US, Britain, Poland, Italy, France, Germany, Portugal, Sweden, and Hungary. 
See: https://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/brexit-and-trump-voters-more-likely-to-believe-in-conspiracy-theories-survey-study-shows
Brexit itself was not quite a conspiracy theory, but it shared certain hallmarks of cultish behaviour, namely the widespread eager embrace of falsehoods (350 million a week for the NHS lol) (see list of main Brexit foundation lies here: https://www.shoutoutuk.org/2019/11/01/top-8-brexit-lies-debunked/ ) and routine shunning of un-believers.
“Those still wedded to Brexit need to find someone to blame, though. I have suggested here before that Brexit has become a cult. Brexiteers need an alternative version of reality to cling to.”
See:  https://eastangliabylines.co.uk/why-brexit-is-a-cult-and-what-can-be-done-to-rescue-those-trapped-in-that-cult/

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
1 year ago

True, and as you note, conspiracy theories are a feature of the entire political spectrum in this dumb century, and certainly are not confined to the left.
The largest cross-national study ever conducted on conspiracy theories suggests that around a third of people in countries such as the UK and France think their governments are “hiding the truth” about immigration, and that voting for Brexit and Trump is associated with a wide range of conspiratorial beliefs – from science denial to takeover plots by Muslim migrants.
The research, conducted by the University of Cambridge covered nine countries – US, Britain, Poland, Italy, France, Germany, Portugal, Sweden, and Hungary. 
See: https://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/brexit-and-trump-voters-more-likely-to-believe-in-conspiracy-theories-survey-study-shows
Brexit itself was not quite a conspiracy theory, but it shared certain hallmarks of cultish behaviour, namely the widespread eager embrace of falsehoods (350 million a week for the NHS lol) (see list of main Brexit foundation lies here: https://www.shoutoutuk.org/2019/11/01/top-8-brexit-lies-debunked/ ) and routine shunning of un-believers.
“Those still wedded to Brexit need to find someone to blame, though. I have suggested here before that Brexit has become a cult. Brexiteers need an alternative version of reality to cling to.”
See:  https://eastangliabylines.co.uk/why-brexit-is-a-cult-and-what-can-be-done-to-rescue-those-trapped-in-that-cult/