A huge media scandal came to light today in an interview that New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet gave to his own media reporter, Ben Smith. Smith asked Baquet about an after-the-fact edit the paper did on its story on Tara Reade’s claims of sexual assault by Joe Biden. The editors deleted part of a sentence that referred to prior complaints by women about Biden:
I want to ask about some edits that were made after publication, the deletion of the second half of the sentence: “The Times found no pattern of sexual misconduct by Mr. Biden, beyond the hugs, kisses and touching that women previously said made them uncomfortable.” Why did you do that?
Even though a lot of us, including me, had looked at it before the story went into the paper, I think that the campaign thought that the phrasing was awkward and made it look like there were other instances in which he had been accused of sexual misconduct. And that’s not what the sentence was intended to say.
And why not explain that?
We didn’t think it was a factual mistake. I thought it was an awkward phrasing issue that could be read different ways and that it wasn’t something factual we were correcting. So I didn’t think that was necessary.
Emphasis added. The New York Times altered its story on what could be a significant campaign issue–an accusation of sexual assault against Joe Biden–based on a complaint by Biden’s campaign. And the paper’s head news guy sees nothing wrong with this.
Smith asked an appropriate question and got a disingenuous answer:
Do you think that, in your heart, you’re reluctant to promote a story that would hurt Joe Biden and get Donald Trump re-elected?
I can’t make that calculation. I won’t. I won’t let my head or my heart go there. I think once you start making those kinds of calculations, you are not a journalist anymore. You’re some sort of political actor.
The Times is, of course, an entirely self-conscious political actor. Its mission is not to report news, but to help the Democratic Party and the American left. Happily, pretty much everyone has figured that out.