February 27th, 2017

The Times and the pursuit of truth

This ad aired last night during the Oscars, sponsored by the NY Times:

I’ve been blogging for over twelve years, and a great many of my posts have been devoted to uncovering the misstatements, twistings and shadings of the truth, and/or downright lies published in the Times. I doubt there’s been a day when I couldn’t find something of the sort there, but I don’t pursue it because I don’t want that to become my full-time occupation.

However, their propagandist tendencies are only exceeded by their chutzpah (hubris? arrogance? balls?) in running an ad like that.

To people on the right, there’s something almost comical about that ad, although it’s a serious subject. It’s certainly a subject I take very seriously, for the simple reason that the Times’s propaganda continues to be effective. Maybe it doesn’t work quite as well as it used to, but it still shapes the opinions of many millions of people in this country. And the Times is well aware of that.

Taking a closer look at the message of the ad. It has different people making a bunch of assertions from left and right, in order to set up the idea that people disagree on things. I have no quarrel with that; they certainly do. Then, in bolder type, we have the sentence, “The truth is hard to find.” And then, “The truth is hard to know.” Then, “The truth is more important now than ever.” That third one is especially curious. After all, the truth has always been very very important; I don’t see why it should be more important now than ever.

Unless it’s because Donald Trump, the “archenemy of truth” (headline of a column by Charles Blow in today’s Times) is now president, rather than Barack Obama? Could that be it?

After that sentence about the truth being more important now than ever, all we see is the logo: the words The New York Times in its familiar gothic script. The implication is that the Times is the place to come to find the truth. Or, at the very least, that the Times has the utmost dedication to the truth, to ferreting out the truth, to uncovering and then pursuing this extremely hard-to-find but absolutely more-important-than-ever truth.

More important than in Soviet times when Walter Duranty was their reporter, or in the late 50s and early 60s when Herbert Matthews told us what a great guy Castro was? Or during most of the Times’ reportage of the Second Intifada and other Israeli/Palestinian news for the last couple of decades? And certainly more important than during their Obama coverup years?

Truth is indeed difficult to find. That is, if you’re looking for absolute truth. But relative truth isn’t all that hard to find, to the best of your ability. For starters, don’t twist quotes. Try to apply the same standards to all sides. Don’t mix opinion journalism with factual reporting. Use the older more rigid rules about unnamed sources. And don’t lie.

Now, that’s hard. Because journalists these days have a Calling, and the Calling is to a Higher Truth than mere truth in reporting. They want to change the world to match their vision, because they know best and because their vision is the vision of the anointed.

24 Responses to “The Times and the pursuit of truth”

  1. Artfldgr Says:

    “You know, the smart thing to do politically is just do nothing. Just let this thing collapse ’cause it already is. It’s already imploding. Just let it collapse. Stand aside and let this thing go belly up.” And he said, “In two years the Democrats are gonna be coming to us begging us to do something.” He said, “But we can’t do that because that would harm people. That would hurt the people. And we’re not gonna put our political aspirations ahead of the American people.”

    -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

    Whenever he’s criticized about something, what does he do? All during the campaign, he doubles down on whatever it is that upsets people. So he constantly uses the term “fake news.” And the media has a cow. The media has kittens. They have conniptions. They run around. What does he do? He doubles down on it and tells them that to their face.

    And the next thing he does is instruct his press secretary on a gaggle (imitating Trump), “You know what? Don’t let CNN, the New York Times, Politico and BuzzFeed, just don’t let ’em in.” And they have another cow. All the while they are expecting that the pressure that they are putting on Trump, that this intense criticism, that this never-ending browbeating is gonna cause Trump to break. But what’s happening? Trump is doubling down and tripling down.

    -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

    funny thing about the past and the people so worried about image and tomorrow… they are easy to browbeat and to abuse into place!!!

    what Trump is doing is showing them who the boss has ALWAYS been in terms of the white house and things. the fact that milquetoasts dont have the gumption enough to stand up for their own rights, doesnt mean all of them shouldnt and every one should be wishy washy..

    he is bringing power back to the presidency, and the people, and he is right… he could play this for the future, or he could play this to help people, be damned and hated and years from now, his family name would have a great positive history…

    after all, i know some dems who brag how great the carter years were with my answer being: “if thats how you remember it, its cause you were too stoned to know how bad it is and the stoned was a good memory, the rest of us were awake, without such succor, and remember stagflation, iran hostages, and more”

  2. y81 Says:

    So the Times now pitches itself as “the Truth”? My parents always used to refer to the Times as Pravda East, but I didn’t expect the Times to adopt the name itself.

    (You have to know what “Pravda” means to think this is funny.)

  3. AMartel Says:

    Well, it was smart of the NYT to drop this lovely little pearl into the vast sea of galactically undeserving self-congratulation that is the Oscars telecast. It’s like they knew all the patsies were already tuned in and primed for more BS and propaganda.

  4. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    “Those whom God wishes to destroy, he first deprives of their senses.” Sophocles

  5. AMartel Says:

    Mika Brzeznski: “It is our job to control what people think.”

    In other words, the truth is what we say it is
    And we say [fill in name of republican here] is a
    (a) liar
    (b) racist
    (c) homophobe
    (d) xeonphobe/bigot
    (e) misogynist
    (f) all of the above

  6. J.J. Says:

    I have no argument with a newspaper like the NYT being far left and pushing their agenda. What I do have a beef with is their holding themselves out as purveyors of objective, middle-of-the-road, non-partisan news. Their far-left partisanship is plain to any conservative, but for people who don’t know the issues (as is true for millions of Low Information Voters), their propaganda appears to have some merit. If they admitted their biases upfront, then LIVS could be a bit more skeptical when reading their “facts.”

    There was a recent article in my newspaper that was a pick up from the AP. It was about AGW and the value of carbon taxes in combatting AGW. Although most of the information in the article was theoretical (and has been challenged by many in the climate science community). it was all presented as facts and truth. In other words it was pure propaganda posing as objective truth. Any article like that, in order to be objective, should at least give a nod toward the fact that much of the info is disputed by other reputable scientists. No where is fake news more pronounced than in the AGW debate.

  7. neo-neocon Says:

    y81:

    If I recall correctly, the old joke in the Soviet era was “There is no pravda in Pravda.”

    And of course there’s always Orwell ‘s Ministry of Truth.

  8. Ray Says:

    I saw an article years ago where journalism majors were interviewed. They all said they got into journalism because they wanted to make a difference. Not one of them mentioned reporting the news.

  9. Ray Says:

    Neo,
    There were two newspapers in the USSR, Pravda, translated as “the truth”, and Istvestia, translated as “the news”. The joke was, there is no Pravda in Istvestia and no Istvestia in Pravda.

  10. Kyndyll G Says:

    В Пра́вде нет изве́стий, а в Изве́стиях нет пра́вды.

    “In Pravda (“Truth”) there is no news and in Izvestia (“News”) there is no truth.”

    That’s the way I learned it a long time ago.‎

  11. Ray Says:

    Oops. That should be izvestiya .

  12. Lizzy Says:

    I only checked out a few bits of the Oscars last night, and I managed to see both this NYTimes ad as well as the Amazon Audible books ad with a subtle-as-s-sledgehammer excerpt from Orwell’s “1984.”

    https://www.cnet.com/news/zachary-quinto-confronts-fears-about-trump-at-the-oscars/

    I knew that the show would be political, but the ads put it very much over the top. Watched something else.

  13. ed in texas Says:

    The New York Times: all the news that’s left over after we finish suppressing what we don’t want to talk about, and torturing the rest till it begs for mercy.

  14. Sam L. Says:

    If the NYT wants to pursue the truth, the should get ouit of their chairs and actually Take A Step. In a forward direction.

  15. Lee Says:

    I recall reading an interview with “Putz” Sulzberger shortly after he took over, and he out and out stated that he would shift the editorial policy left, in line with HIS politics. I think it was when he became Chairman of the Board.

    I call him “Putz” — it’s accurate, and it’s in keeping with the “Punch” nickname of his dear ol’ dad.

  16. neo-neocon Says:

    Ray:

    That one’s even better than mine.

  17. parker Says:

    NYT and truth have not, for decades been seen in the same room. Oscars and sanity for 4 decades have not been in the same room. I stopped reading and viewing many moons ago.

  18. AesopFan Says:

    ed in texas Says:
    February 27th, 2017 at 6:59 pm
    The New York Times: all the news that’s left over after we finish suppressing what we don’t want to talk about, and torturing the rest till it begs for mercy.
    * * *
    Closer to the truth (c) than you might think:

    https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-02-27/a-fake-news-warning-from-a-former-propagandist
    “Larry Martin, a retired professor who lives in the seaside town of Rockport, Massachusetts, used to be Ladislav Bittman, deputy commander of the Department for Active Measures and Disinformation in the Soviet-directed Czechoslovak intelligence service. To create the kind of disinformation that changes the world, he told me, you need a story that’s at least 60, 70 or even 80 percent true. Even well-educated people will swallow untruth without too many questions if it’s plausible and it reinforces their existing beliefs.

    Today, Martin’s worried about the fate of his adopted country — not just because of the epidemic of fake news, but because so many citizens have lost trust in the professional editors and reporters who spend their days trying to sort fact from fiction. He’s far from the only one concerned, of course: Dozens of academics, researchers and journalists recently converged on Boston to discuss the problem. But Martin has a unique insight into the issue: After all, part of his old job was to sow that kind of distrust in then-enemy countries. ..”

    Some great stories but I’m not really sure what SIDE of the aisle the writer is walking down.

    http://www.nytimes.com/1994/04/27/us/the-spy-who-came-into-the-classroom-teaches-at-boston-u.html

    more biographical details and outside the pay-wall,
    but it takes all the juice out of the best story, as told in the first link — which sounds curiously familiar in outline:
    “Ladislav Bittman was a diving hobbyist, and he recognized a disinformation opportunity when he heard from friends that a local TV crew was making a documentary about folklore surrounding the Black Lake, some 80 miles southwest of Prague. Nazis had retreated to that region near the end of the war — it was just a few miles from the border with Germany — and hidden Nazi war plans and other documents had turned up nearby.

    As part of the documentary, divers were supposed to explore the lake and retrieve some mysterious objects they’d seen at the bottom during a previous dive. Before the cameramen arrived, Bittman got there first, diving to the location of the objects and leaving some old German military cases filled with blank paper.

    Once the divers brought the cases to the surface as planned, a border guard and intelligence officer who came to the filming warned that the mysterious items could contain explosives and whisked them away, promising to X-ray them. Once out of public view, the intelligence officers replaced the blank paper with real Nazi documents which, among other things, detailed executions in France and the Netherlands. Then they arranged a press conference where the Czech minister of the interior would reveal the documents.

    The papers were legitimate, but they were also old; the intelligence services had held them for some 20 years, since the end of the war. They just never made them public — until the right moment struck.

    People sometimes ask they didn’t just come forward with the documents, he said. His answer: No one would have paid any attention without the sensational story. The plan worked. The story was picked up all across Europe, including in the English-language press. He said he believes the change in public attitudes pushed West Germans to defer an impending statute of limitations on prosecuting war criminals.”

  19. FOAF Says:

    “The truth is hard”

    Yep, it’s *really* hard for the Times which is why I quit my subscription to them many years ago.

  20. Tom G Says:

    I’m moving strongly towards Scott Adam’s idea of “two different movies in the minds of two viewers of the same film”.
    Recently on Climate Change:
    http://blog.dilbert.com/post/157694622351/the-climate-science-debate-illusion

    However, I’m also a big fan of video / audio recordings, and transcripts. Trump didn’t say “Terror attacks” in Sweden. That’s the fake news created by …
    Democrats.

    The Dem media and the Dem fake news. Reps need to identify the Dems as the guilty fake news writers, because it’s Dems on the ballot, not “leftists”.

    Using “leftist” instead of “Democrat” makes it easy for Dem voters to avoid accepting that their support for the Dem PC fake news is a problem. Most Dem voters and supporters would probably NOT self-identify as “leftist”, so when Reps criticize the “left”, we’re not criticizing the Dems.

    That should change. Reps & conservatives should clearly identify the Democrats and bad Dem actions & bad Dem results.

    The NY Times is a key Dem Party fake news creator and distributor, and it’s good for Trump to treat them, honestly, like the enemy they are.

  21. Tuvea Says:

    Another article on the decline of the press. Sorry if it is a duplicate.

    http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/225587/trump-american-press

  22. Ymarsakar Says:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Ejaw0F8-sY

    Was watching this, pretty good counter to the Oscars.

    As for Allah=Lucifer, there was also something interesting that came up for those that want to do some research.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NMMsKicQSn8

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kx9MpwDY82U

  23. Ymarsakar Says:

    I and others used to call it disinformation, before others jumped on the “fake news” bandwagon since they lacked the courage to call a spade a spade. Now that others are doing so, they have changed their use of language.

  24. AesopFan Says:

    I’m going to stick this link here as well as on the new post, because it’s a good comeback to the NYT.

    Pushback: for the Times, they are a-changin’ — and not for the better. Watching the NRA skewer the NYT: priceless.

    http://freebeacon.com/issues/nra-mocks-new-york-times-new-ad/

    The NRA’s ad questions why the Times believes truth is more important now than in previous years.

    “The New York Times placed an ad during the Oscars to tell us that truth is more important now,” text in the ad reads. “But why now? Wasn’t it important when people were marching? When jobs were declining? When threats were growing? When drugs were flowing? When diplomacy was straining? When policies were failing? When towns were collapsing? When red lines were vanishing? When Obama was lying? When journalists were dying? When Christians were dying? When heroes were dying? When citizens were dying?” “Now, they want your trust?”

    The NRA said the Times did not care about the truth when it was bad for liberals. The group said America doesn’t believe the paper anymore.

    “The truth is that the truth didn’t matter to the New York Times then as much as now—because as long as liberals were ‘progressing,’ the truth was depressing,” the NRA said in a statement. “America has stopped looking to the New York Times for the truth, now more than ever. The times are burning and the media elites have been caught holding the match.”

About Me

Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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