Nellie Bowles

The corruption of the American newsroom


June 5, 2024
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When Nellie Bowles got her dream job as a reporter for the New York Times, she thought she’d never leave the legacy paper.

But what she witnessed behind the scenes gave her a very personal insight into the political capture of the American newsroom. She tells UnHerd’s Freddie Sayers about the disinformation movement, mainstream media bias and finding herself outside the tribe.

Watch the full interview above.


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Colorado UnHerd
Colorado UnHerd
12 days ago

I’m a retired mainstream journalist disillusioned with the “woke” leanings of mainstream American media I once trusted and admired. I am also lesbian, and a lifelong independent thinker. Therefore, I was constitutionally predisposed to love Nellie Bowles and Bari Weiss. As a Free Press subscriber, I do … but only about 60-70 percent of the time.
Why? I’ve pointed out an easily verifiable error in a TGIF item Bowles herself wrote a couple weeks ago, been in direct contact with The Free Press about it and was told it would be sent to the fact-checking team. I’ve heard nothing more; nor has a correction appeared. The Free Press does not provide a standing space for corrections or retractions, which Bowles advocates; indeed, this is an essential feature of principled journalism, as errors are inevitable. While Bowles’s writing is smart and enjoyably snarky, accuracy is paramount, and TFP should correct errors prominently, promptly and clearly.
The other apparent hypocrisy is Bowles’s observation about partisan journalists who ignore the complexities of a story. The Free Press consistently commits this sin in hawkishly pro-Israel coverage that makes no serious effort to address civilian suffering in Gaza and the manner in which Israel has prosecuted the war against Hamas. I hate to think this is related to both Weiss and Bowles being Jewish, but it seems some journalistic introspection along the lines of professional detachment is in order if staying faithful to the notion of complexity truly matters.
Unfortunately, I’ve also seen obvious bias from TFP reporters in other stories presented as standard reportage. This disappoints me, as I value rigorous reporting and fairness, which means balance and a true diversity of perspectives.
The Free Press is new, and will no doubt suffer growing pains; addressing journalistic shortcomings is crucial to growing up successfully. I hope it will do so. In the meantime, I will be reading Bowles’s book.

Last edited 12 days ago by Colorado UnHerd
Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
12 days ago

Excellent comment. No publication is beyond criticism and every journalist has bias. TFP coverage is undoubtedly biased towards Israel, but there is a robust comment section. Most regime media long ago abandoned even having a comment section.

Colorado UnHerd
Colorado UnHerd
12 days ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Thank you, and agreed: All journalists have their biases. A good editor can mitigate by identifying relevant questions not asked, which is where — by absence — bias is often revealed.
I, too, am glad both TFP and UnHerd maintain robust comment sections.

Last edited 12 days ago by Colorado UnHerd
Sisyphus Jones
Sisyphus Jones
8 days ago

I’m not sure why you didn’t tell us what the easily verifiable error you reported is. But your mention of Gaza is revealing. What you’re asking for is reporting that indulges *your* biases. You want TFP to repeat back to you what your Hamas-curious friends repeat back to you; something like the intelligence-insulting blather coming from the NYT and WSJ. While those large-circulation papers treat the casualty numbers of “Palestinian authorities” as, well, authoritative, TFP treats its reader like people smart enough to figure out who is providing the best available information and who is a propagandist. If reporting comes off to you as “hawkishly pro-Israel” then you may – like so many newly minted Columbia school of journalism drones – be willfully struggling to identify, in a war against unambiguous evil, which side is the evil side. So, under the guise of wanting journalists to be bias-free, you really want stuff that won’t confront your own entrenched and immovable biases. (You should have never told us you’re retired mainstream journalist.)

Ex Nihilo
Ex Nihilo
12 days ago

We politically unaffiliated admirers of common sense and pragmatism who have been orphaned by the Left and Right might find solace in journalists like Bowles and Sayers and perhaps even a bit of hope. Thank you for making this interview available to us.

J Bryant
J Bryant
12 days ago

Interesting to hear from someone who understands the inner workings of the msm. Like the Twitter files, we didn’t really learn anything new–we all knew the msm are intensely biased against all but the most left-leaning opinions–but still good to hear an accurate account from someone who used to be a member of that tribe.
Speaking of tribes… Bowles was once a happily card-carrying member of the Left. Then, as so often happens, she deviated a fraction of a degree from The Accepted Narrative and the revolution came for her.
Now she’s out exposing the truth, or is it gaining a little payback, or is it promoting her and Bari Weiss’s media enterprise, or is it promoting her book, or is it… Anyway, interesting interview.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
12 days ago

I’m new to UnHerd, so forgive me.
Thank you so much for this well put-together interview. I am so relieved to hear clear-minded people like Freddie and Nellie speak. It’s so refreshing to listen to others who grasp the complexity of any given area of human life, and are able to speak in moderate tones about it.

leonard o'reilly
leonard o'reilly
11 days ago

Why did she keep saying with regard to the Wi Spa indecent exposure incident ( belatedly recognized as such but always the case ) that the furor stemmed from a refusal to see complexity?
What was not seen was the obvious and simple. Freddie Sayers is right to say that the most disturbing aspect of this is that a slew of the sober arbiters(!) of sense and reason would not see it as well.
The rot runs deep.
Try to ‘negotiate’ with that.

Toby Aldrich
Toby Aldrich
9 days ago

Great interview. As we saw during Covid, Freddie is one of the best out there. Intelligently questioning without hyperbole, allowing and engaging with different opinions. Nellie seems like a thoroughly good egg, a classic American liberal (which I mean as a compliment).
I think that the ability of minority, hyper partisan activist groups to dominate (BLM, trans rights etc) is indeed being constrained. Their over-egging of the agenda puts people off. The number of credible journalists and commentators now putting their heads above the parapet is slowly rising, and it is a good thing.

Nancy Kmaxim
Nancy Kmaxim
8 days ago

I’m not sure why I should be listening to someone so confused I think she needs to spend some time away from her fantasy world and form an actual thought.