by James Billot
Thursday, 18
November 2021
Spotted
15:00

Green shoots of common sense at the New York Times

Is the Gray Lady aiming to produce more balanced content?
by James Billot

To understand the mindset of liberals in America, it is always worth reading The New York Times. As traditional liberalism gave way to its more identity-centred successor, there followed a discernible shift in the language, editorial direction and content of the paper. 

But the NYT’s drift towards ‘wokeness’ seems to be slowing down in recent months. In fact, green shoots of common sense are starting to emerge, such as the hiring of John McWhorter, a heterodox thinker who in his newsletter has criticised various liberal shibboleths like critical race theory, identity politics and systemic racism. Other well-known columnists have been taking more liberal-sceptical positions too. Michelle Goldberg, for instance, is one of the most reliably progressive columnists in the blue media ecosystem. Yet even she — especially over the last couple of months — has published pieces in favour of free speech, criticising sex-positive feminism and, just this week, lambasting the ‘absurd side of the social justice industry’. 

It’s not just the columnists either. After Glenn Youngkin’s surprise victory in the Virginia Governor’s race, the Gray Lady published an editorial entitled ‘Democrats deny political reality at their own peril’, warning:

What would do justice, and what is badly needed, is an honest conversation in the Democratic Party about how to return to the moderate policies and values that fueled the blue-wave victories in 2018 and won Joe Biden the presidency in 2020.
- New York Times

And around the same time, it produced a video blaming liberal hypocrisy for “fuelling” American inequality. It has garnered nearly four million views (far higher than comparable videos) and the comments below give a pretty clear indication of how well it has been received.  

This is important because there is a common conception that the NYT, like nearly all media outlets, has given up on the centre ground and now caters exclusively to its liberal readership (93% Democrat). But if this is true, then the NYT’s readership is not as ‘woke’ as it seems; reading below the comments (an admittedly anecdotal exercise) shows that many readers have grown weary of ‘woke lingo’.

So perhaps the paper is finally cottoning on to the fact that only a minority of its readers really like this type of content. Indeed, now that Satan has left the White House (for the time being), the paper can hopefully start to have a more honest conversation about the problems on its own side. Given the drubbing Democrats took in state elections and the party’s dire forecast for the 2022 midterms, some degree of introspection is desperately needed.

Of course, these examples do not mean that there has been a sudden sea change at the Gray Lady, but that it has shown a willingness to entertain more liberal-sceptical content is worth paying attention to. 

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Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago

The video is well worth watching, I’m amazed that this came out of the NYT stable though. Of course this isn’t just a US problem similar things happen in the UK, walking the talk is always difficult. What one needs to ask oneself is: “are the values I hold realistic?” or “am I just a selfish so-and-so who wants others to make the sacrifices for the societal improvements that I hold as good?”

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
1 year ago

There is some reality in the world though – and voting in low income housing into your community will being in a great many problems. The thing here is that they are being hypocritical, not that one should vote in low income housing mixed with high end neighborhoods, I mean what idiot votes in problems for themselves?

As far as school budgets – same thing. The Federal and State governments do a great deal topping up the funds of the low income schools. I feel the low income schools are actually sufficiently funded – here is something on it:

“Illinois spends the most per student of any state in the Midwest.
On average, Illinois schools spend $13,077 per student.
Nearly half of the money the state appropriates for education goes to fund pensions.”

The real problem is Teacher Unions and Administration insanity, and Admin Unions! That this is purely a Democrat caused problem is more to the point than the one made in the video, which is full of a great many holes and mis-directions.

Also NYT = Lord Haw-Haw, they are out to destroy America, and thus the Free world. They are servants of the dark Elite. They may be slowing their one sided propaganda way – but I would guess it would be because they must as they have gone so rabidly anti-America even the moderate Left is getting wary of them.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
1 year ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

New York is the worst case of spending and outcomes on education. Spending per pupil was $28,004 in the 2018-2019 school year, and while only 25% pass exams at grade level. Something is wrong, terribly wrong with the education system.

James Joyce
James Joyce
1 year ago
Reply to  Cathy Carron

I think it is more now that much Corona $ has been thrown at NYC and other schools. My source is an HONESTLY podcast (Bari Weiss, whom I don’t really like) where she interviewed a hard left person who was cancelled and ran for school board. She used the $28K figure and then said she thought it a few thousand more was thrown at NYC schools.
MAUD MARON.
Actually, Gentle Readers, let me include the Bari Weiss description of Maud Maron:
“Maud Maron is the picture of a passionate progressive. She was a Planned Parenthood escort, a research assistant for a Black Panther leader, a Bernie voter; a public school parent and, most significantly, a public defender who worked for many years at legal aid.”
I am not on side with passionate progressives, though I agree with some issues, i.e. abortion. Let’s be sure not to embrace them too tightly just because they were cancelled by an even worse mob. What happened to MM is horrible, but it’s also a shame that both sides can’t lose.

James Joyce
James Joyce
1 year ago

Is the Gray Lady aiming to produce more balanced content?
The short answer is no. I used to work at The Times. Many years ago. Not as a journalist, but as a copyboy. The Times was an amazing place, a city in the heart of NYC. The Culture Desk was completely different from the Science Desk, the National Desk was different from the Foreign Desk–I remember a German editor reading PRAVDA in Russian each night–they were only a week or two old. The Times was an institution to be immensely proud of, a national treasure if you will.
At that time, the mission of The Times was to report the news, not make the news, not be part of the story, not Tweet your personal feelings about a topic you cover. A.M. Rosenthal ruled with an iron fist, and Binyamin would have been immediately fired–IMMEDIATLEY FIRED–for expressing a public opinion (he talked about “our values”). That had no place at The Times and has no place in journalism now. The Times does not practice journalism but advocacy, propaganda. That is now their mission.
So The Times hired John McWhorter (annoying)to replace Bari Weiss (also annoying). Blah, blah, blah! Done and dusted? Hardly.
Hundreds of fake “journalists” were in open revolt when an Op-Ed against riots in the streets was published. Something similar happened at The Wall Street Journal. These journalists bullied Bari until she quit–have they changed their stripes? Didn’t an UnHerd article publish something that said that The Times was fueled by reader demand (think Facebook) that “demanded” stories attacking Trump and racism?
I’m not sure if this article is about The Times, or about policies raised in the video. They are different topics. They hypocrisy of the woke is well known, and this will not change, it will only get worse as the adults age out of the system. Right now they are deathly afraid of the junior staff–the people they are supposed to supervise and evaluate. This is not journalism, it is surrendering to the woke, to advocates…..
And for my European friends who think that anything will change soon (decades), it won’t. Do you really think that people who strive and sacrifice to move a school district with $ will suddenly find “equity” if it means that their kids will learn with mold, and use duct tape to fix the pipes? Dream on! This is the system: strive to grasp a higher rung on the ladder–and pay incredible amounts in property taxes (a form of wealth tax) so your kids can have the best you can afford. Do you think these people want “the best” to go to people who don’t look like them and who pay nothing or almost nothing? Think again! Not gonna happen, though this does play out when really wealthy people and their kids move to neighbourhoods next to public housing, and in theory, the kids of the very rich and the kids of the very poor “should” go to neighbourhood public schools together. Ha, ha, ha!
Finally, what’s with the gratuitous reference to Satan in the White House? Where did that come from and why? Did I miss the irony? Sure sounded like an opinion to me, not appropriate in this article. Jumped out at me.
Let’s Go Brandon!

Andrew Dalton
Andrew Dalton
1 year ago
Reply to  James Joyce

I thought it was a touch of irony – maybe I’m being generous here – due to the capitalised S.

James Rix
James Rix
1 year ago
Reply to  James Joyce

I find Bari Weiss really refreshing to be honest James. One of the only journalists who seems to be able to find “balance” when it comes to the majority of the stories doing the rounds these days.

James Joyce
James Joyce
1 year ago
Reply to  James Rix

I grew up around people like Bari and I know them well. They are, like Bari, hard left, as Bari was until cancelled. She sees absolutely everything through the prism of Israel and being Jewish. In my hard left law school, people like Bari worked very, very hard to end apartheid, gave speeches, marched, etc. and they were all in until the next speaker would say something like “Yes, we have to dismantle the apartheid state and also the apartheid state of Israel.” That threw some sand in the traditional love-fest between blacks and Jews and this continues.
I like HONESTLY, and my review was something like “Dumb host, interesting guests,” and I stand by it. It’s at least as much about her–I’m a lesbian, my wife…. I used to work at The Times…..I’m Jewish…..I have a black friend…..I was at a cocktail party last night in LA, NYC, DC, and some famous person said…..
All of the above is arguably relevant to some stories at some times, but not all the time. I know nothing about Steven Sackur–HARD TALK–and he never interjects lots of personal stuff in HARD TALK–that would change a lot.
If you don’t find her annoying, great. Viva la difference…. She is–temporarily–on side, but only because there are many, very vocal people much worse than she is.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
1 year ago
Reply to  James Joyce

“not Tweet your personal feelings about a topic you cover”
I think you might reasonably put this in slightly stronger terms:-
not Tweet your personal feelings about a topic you didn’t understand

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
1 year ago

‘The Green Shoots Of Common Sense At The NYT?’

no, they noticed their sheep outfit had some flaws in it and the herd was getting restless and wary; they are applying patches to it so the wolf inside appears less frightening. They are trying to not let their fangs show so much.

James Joyce
James Joyce
1 year ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Excellent and vivid imagery!

Peter Francis
Peter Francis
1 year ago

I wonder if the NYT’s “Go for Woke” was driven by reader demographics: did they think this was a cheap way to attract a younger demographic? That is the sort of thing that the BBC does in the UK. The BBC knows that the listeners to a radio channel are overwhelmingly grumpy old gits like me, but they don’t care because they are desperate to attract younger listeners.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Francis

The BBC, like the Guardian, has assured funding so they can be the tools of whom ever has ‘Captured’ them as they need no mass support, and so merely being Propaganda is fine.

Naturally the Neo-Trotskyites Left they use ‘Entryism’ to Capture these engines of opinion to diseminate their loathsome ideology – same as they have captured the Education System, and bureaucratic government and corporations, and NYT.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Interesting article by Louise Perry in The New Statesman a couple of weeks ago, subtitled “The young may have cultural capital, but it’s older voters who wield the real power.”

She argues that the young today don’t have good possibilities materially so they have instead grabbed the moral high ground. “You might never own a home, but at least you can challenge bigoted relatives”.

This is perhaps why the BBC and NYT try to attract youth by these pseudo-moral attitudes. Perhaps today there is no other way of attracting the attention of young people.

A Spetzari
A Spetzari
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Francis

For the NYT, guardian and others I think it is less that they have been ‘captured’ by the loony left (though there are members of that demographic aplenty within their ranks and always have been). It’s more that as all media becomes more polarised, they are pandering to their core audience to keep revenues up. They have realised they have jumped the shark a bit, witnessing the anti-woke backlash that has become more public and are now adjusting accordingly.*

For the BBC, like you say it’s trying desperately to attract younger listeners/viewers. It’s also now run by people in their 20s who seem to also think it’s their job to preach their ideologies. I would argue the BBC is in a worse place for that reason.
*the guardian has yet to row back it would seem. I occasionally check in to test the water; it’s still bat-sh*t

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Francis

The answer is YES – the kowtowed to the younger brain-dead generations.

medwayview
medwayview
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Francis

A mission at which they are failing on both fronts.

chris sullivan
chris sullivan
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Francis

good point – are they proactive (ie decent reporting) or REACTIVE (ie merely following $)

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 year ago

Of course, these examples do not mean that there has been a sudden sea change at the Gray Lady, but that it has shown a willingness to entertain more liberal-sceptical content is worth paying attention to. 

I’ve noticed this too but remain cynical. Now that CRT and other woke schools of thought have been exposed to the public eye, I believe publications like the NYT are engaging in damage control. I’m seeing it in the WaPo and the Atlantic too. In the space of less than a month we’ve been told that CRT doesn’t exist, yet those that oppose it are domestic terrorists, to CRT is bad and should be opposed. The left-wing media itself has engaged heavily in CRT-like practices; they’ve just now been caught and are trying to cover their butts.

Sean Penley
Sean Penley
1 year ago

“Blue Wave of 2018”? That was what was predicted, not even close to what happened.
Moderate policies of Joe Biden? He didn’t run as a moderate, he hasn’t governed as a moderate. Particularly funny (though not mentioned in this article) how so many news outlets said Biden would be a ‘return to normalcy’ or return to rule of law. But what was he promoting in his campaign? To return the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris accords. In themselves bad ideas but not in defiance of rule of law. Except that by rule of law we were never in either. Only the Senate can approve treaties, they never even voted on either, and Biden’s pitch was to, like his former boss, ignore the law of how treaties are made and just enter anyway. So I suppose it’s “rule of law” in the German sense–everyone else must follow the law to the letter or face consequences, but he’ll do whatever he likes and it’s okay because he is the law.

Last edited 1 year ago by Sean Penley
James Joyce
James Joyce
1 year ago
Reply to  Sean Penley

Did Biden run? Really? I missed that. Thought he hid in the basement in Delaware. Who knew?
To the extent that he did run (as opposed to hide), wasn’t his entire platform: I’m not Trump?
Every Biden voter I know regrets his vote save one.

Sean Penley
Sean Penley
1 year ago
Reply to  James Joyce

“Every Biden voter I know regrets his vote save one.”
You know Joe Biden!

George Glashan
George Glashan
1 year ago
Reply to  Sean Penley

now even Joe Biden doesn’t know Joe Biden

Andrew Dalton
Andrew Dalton
1 year ago
Reply to  Sean Penley

Joe doesn’t know who Joe voted for. And if he did it was probably President Kamala.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
1 year ago

We cancelled our subscription to the NYTimes after 40 years. Starting about 10 years ago it was placing softer and softer ‘entertainment & lifestyle’ articles on the front page in a bid to capture the tabloid market & lazy readers. Then about five years ago, the woke-sters overtook any decent reading. It became garbage so we finally dropped it in favor of The Wall Street Journal which keeps on printing the NEWS, which is what we want. We might be old-fashioned or just plain old. Clearly, the NYTimes is pursuing the brain dead Gen Z and Milennial generations. It long ago stopped being the ‘paper of record’.

Last edited 1 year ago by Cathy Carron
Andrea X
Andrea X
1 year ago

Very interesting video. I thought the young guy was VERY irritating, though 😀

Matt B
Matt B
1 year ago

If the changes are based purely on marketiing and shifting with the vox pop then the problem remains. The best strategy is to stick to first draft of history reporting, only expanding from clear facts when needed for clarity, accuracy or context and without the so-called “value added” of in-house analysis and opinion (which is far cheaper that having real and trusted reporters).

Last edited 1 year ago by Matt B
Emre Emre
Emre Emre
1 year ago

This inconsistent use of the word “liberal” makes it harder to describe what’s happening. NYT (and others) appear to be moving back to a more moderate stance having indulged cultural leftism aka woke progressivism. As wokeism now seems to start badly misfiring for all but the committed base judging by the gubernatorial election results, no doubt due to successful Republican efforts to highlight CRT, but also following a now successfully averted Bernie Sanders socialist upheaval, establishment are perhaps beginning to feel safe to go back to being…. liberals.

Last edited 1 year ago by Emre Emre
Andrew Dalton
Andrew Dalton
1 year ago

I suspect a lot of the video’s viewership is a result of selection bias in the Youtube algorithm. I saw it the other day and it’s probably the first NYT video I’ve ever watched.
It was a good video, nonetheless.

Nick Walker
Nick Walker
1 year ago

Too late. I canceled my subscription yesterday.

Warren T
Warren T
1 year ago

The sole purpose of the NYT, or any other major media outlet these days, is to capture eyeballs in order to generate revenue and profit via advertising. Case closed. No one wants to hear the truth about anything. We only want our opinions to be agreed with, which is causing the division we see today.
Just watch the documentary/movie: “The Social Dilemma” for what is really driving our society off a cliff.

LCarey Rowland
LCarey Rowland
1 year ago

Thank you, James, for your report. We’ll keep an eye on it.