February 28th, 2017

The Times again, truth again, and Trump again

“Put independent journalism first. 50% off savings won’t last.”

That’s the subject of an email I got today from the NY Times asking me to subscribe. I seem to have gotten on their emailing list long ago, back in the days when you registered and got to the site for free. The dears have never given up on me and send me emails regularly.

This one was of interest for obvious reasons; yesterday I’d written on the subject of the irony of the Times’ new Orwellian ad campaign, selling itself as the brave and stalwart purveyor of Truth against a web of lies. And here it is right on schedule, in my inbox:

Independent journalism. Truth. The “it has no alternative” line is, of course, a dig at Kellyanne Conway’s widely-excoriated “alternative facts” remark—which merely pointed out that there is often disagreement on the facts and that, yes, “truth is hard to find” (and often the Times is not the place to find it). I’ve been paying close attention to the Times for well over a decade and I can say that they are among the best and most subtle of the many purveyors of alternative facts (otherwise known as propaganda) in the political arena.

The email continues:

Our stories don’t just present themselves. Times reporters must go after them. It’s their daily task, whether it’s Washington, D.C., or an Arctic base camp. Once these facts are verified, a story takes shape and we bring it to you.

And here is your intrepid NY Times reporter/explorer pictured in the email:

Meanwhile, back at the actual Times, we have this Times Truth (title of the post: “Why Did the New York Times Deliberately Misquote Donald Trump’s CPAC Speech?”). The whole article is worth reading, but the gist of it is that this is what Trump said in his speech to CPAC:

We are also going to save countless American lives. As we speak today, immigration offers are finding the gang members, the drug dealers and the criminal aliens and throwing them the hell out of our country.

And here’s how the Times described it (there was much much more, but this is the part about the misquote):

[Trump’s] speech also included a promise to throw undocumented immigrants “the hell out of the country” and a recitation of his law-and-order campaign promises.

The article says:

This is not a faithful and honest rendering of the speech either in words or in concept…

Now, admittedly, the people Trump was talking about was a subset of “undocumented immigrants” but it is subset that virtually everyone except some Democrat ward heeler would be in favor of booting.

This is not a mistake. This is agitprop. This is simply fiction designed to hurt Trump. And by doing so, the New York Times forfeits its right to claim that it is owed any respect as part of an independent media and reveals itself as simply the house organ for the Democrat party.

I would add only that it is beautifully done by the Times, because they are masters at their trade. It’s not actually a misquote, because the words in quotes “the hell out of the country” are definitely the words Trump used. It is a mischaracterization, though, of what he said, and a fairly subtle one at that because it has a built-in deniability. The Times can say “but these people are ‘undocumented,'” although that’s really irrelevant; they are also “human beings,” but both the “undocumented” and the “human beings” category are of course way too broad. They are a particular group of human beings, and a very particular group of “undocumented immigrants”—gang members, drug dealers, and criminals. And then the Times adds that Trump gave a “recitation of his law-and-order campaign promises,” which they can say is a reference to the “criminals,” part, but it’s a reference that no one who didn’t actually read or hear the speech could understand as a limitation on the categories of “undocumented immigrants” he is interested in deporting.

It’s really a thing of beauty how the Times threads that needle. The Times knows exactly what it’s doing.

And there’s a further level of protection for them among their readers. Churchill once said (in one of my favorite quotations):

Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened.

Indeed they do. If readers of the Times happen to read Trump’s speech and “stumble across” the truth of what he said (despite the Times‘ misdirection), they can always use the Greater Truth argument, which is that Trump’s actual intent is to deport all “undocumented immigrants,” and that his focus on deporting immigrants who are criminals is just a screen for his real intentions. And indeed, at various times in his campaign speeches he seemed to be saying just that. He seemed to be saying a lot of things, some of them contradictory.

That’s one of the problems with Trump. During the campaign it helped him, because it allowed him to be different things to different people who wanted to believe in him. But his more extreme and contradictory statements have allowed MSM outlets such as the Times to twist the words he says now, as president, and present them in ways that are false but that strike its readers as very plausible.

8 Responses to “The Times again, truth again, and Trump again”

  1. JP Says:

    Hi Neo,

    a dig at Kellyanne Conway’s widely-excoriated “alternative facts” remark—which merely pointed out that there is often disagreement on the facts

    It was actually a misquote that Chuck Todd persisted in even when Conway corrected him. I think you’re giving the NYT too much credit in this case. 😉

    Here’s the timeline and quotes:

  2. Ira Says:

    Thank you neo-neocon for the excellent essay.

    Here is the link to the article by “Streiff” that so ably debunked the NY Times:


    I point this out for the few people like me who get lost in, among other things, pronouns. At first I thought that the article debunking the NY Times had been published by the NY Times’ own ombudsman.

  3. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    A clear case of false advertising. Class action lawsuit.

  4. AesopFan Says:

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


    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.”

  5. Steve S Says:

    I have been receiving those email solicitations from the NYT for so long that I no longer remember when they first started to arrive. How interesting, then, to note that “offer ends soon” had been a phrase in nearly every offer throughout their whole email campaign.

    I suppose the argument could be made that each offer did indeed end very soon after its email advising me of it arrived, but that an identical offer was immediately generated upon the expiration of its forerunner. If that’s the way of it, the campaign is deceitful; if that is not the way of it, then it is a long-standing, repeated lie.

    It appears that “the truth is hard to find” even in the NYT solicitation advertising. I surely don’t find any truth there.

  6. Lizzy Says:

    FYI, NEO: The NRA has created a response ad to the NYTimes ad – and it is good.


  7. Jon Jewett Says:

    The New York Times has not been about the truth, at least not for the last century or so.

  8. Assistant Village Idiot Says:

    Liberal or conservative, religious or secular, any organization that has “truth” in its title should be immediately suspect. This ad is the next best thing.

    Honest John’s Used Cars.

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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