My liberal friends are always shocked when they discover that I treat the New York Times with contempt. How could I dislike that vanguard of liberal thought? I then have to go through the tedious exercise of showing how, by being seen as the gatekeeper of ‘acceptable’ liberal thought, it manages to advance the interests of the neoliberal, neoconservative, corporate, pro-Israel lobby, and anti-Palestinian agendas, not to mention being a cheerleader and apologist for the worst excesses of militarism in US history.
Glenn Greenwald summarizes all the reasons for my dislike in his examination of the hiring of their latest op-ed columnist Bari Weiss, following the hiring of Bret Stephens, both formerly of the Wall Street Journal.
On CNN, the paper’s executive editor, Dean Baquet, chided critics of the Stephens hiring this way: “Didn’t we learn from this past election that our goal should be to understand different views?” He claimed that “the New York Times has a history of trying to bring in different voices,” asking rhetorically: “don’t we want to surface all ideas?”
Few things are more laughable than watching the incomparably homogenized New York Times’ op-ed page justify itself with appeals to the virtues of diversity. If your goal were to wage war on media diversity in all of its forms, and to offer the narrowest range of views possible, it would be hard to top the roster of columnists the paper has assembled: Tom Friedman, David Brooks, Nick Kristof, Paul Krugman, Roger Cohen, Ross Douthat, Maureen Dowd, Frank Bruni, David Leonhardt, Charles Blow, Gail Collins, Bret Stephens, with Bari Weiss as a contributor and editor.
Beyond the obvious demographic homogeneity, literally every one of them fits squarely within the narrow, establishment, center-right to center-left range of opinion that prevails in elite opinion-making circles. Almost all of them, if not all, supported Hillary Clinton in the 2016 general election, and now have politics close to that neighborhood. None is associated with or supportive of the growing populist left or the populist right; they all wallow in the vague, safe, DC-approved middle ground, members in good standing of the newly overt neoliberal/neoconservative alliance. As long as Stephens avoided talking about climate change and Douthat steered clear of abortion, most if not would all be capable of giving a speech that would be cheered at a so-called #Resistance rally, or at an AIPAC conference.
The old joke used to be that, for mainstream media, diversity of views spanned the range from the centrists at The New Republic to the conservatives at National Review. For the contemporary NYT op-ed page, diversity spans the small gap from establishment centrist Democrats to establishment centrist Republicans, with the large groups of people outside of those factions essentially excluded.
That about sums it up.