We knew things at the New York Times were bad, but hoo-ey boy we had no idea just how bad! New York magazine is out with a deep dive into the internal Maoist struggle sessions going on inside the Times, and get a big bowl of popcorn ready for this long piece.
The piece could be called “Annals of the Liberal Self-Obsessed,” as it contains many nuggets of pure comedy gold. Like this one, connected to the primal scream in the Times newsroom after the infamous Tom Cotton op-ed was published:
The conversation turned into what more than one Times employee described to me as a “food fight.” During the mêlée, “Opinion” columnist Elizabeth Bruenig uploaded a PDF of John Rawls’s treatise on public reason, in an attempt to elevate the discussion. “What we’re having is really a philosophical conversation, and it concerns the unfinished business of liberalism,” Bruenig wrote. “I think that all human beings are born philosophers, that is, that we all have an innate desire to understand what our world means and what we owe to one another and how to live good lives.”
Yeah, passing out Rawls is a certain sure-fire winner.
This detail is also comedy gold:
In the weeks that followed, one “Opinion” staffer told me it felt like no one at the Times got any work done at all. There were focus groups — 38 of them and counting — and working groups and innumerable conversations about what the paper should be and look like and who it was for. The masthead started holding “Black-people meetings,” as one Black employee put it to me, in which members of the masthead talked one-on-one with employees of color to sort out why they felt the Times was an unwelcoming place. In #newsroom-feedback, there were many days in which several people were typing.
Also, it appears that the Times efforts at affirmative action hiring might not be going so well:
As business boomed in the Trump era, it had gone on a newsroom hiring spree, with a particular focus on trying to diversify its ranks: 40 percent of newsroom employees hired since 2016 have been people of color. . .
A newly instituted performance-review process gives every Times employee one of six ratings; the lowest is reserved for employees who don’t meet expectations, with the other five in ascending order, from “Partially Meets Expectations” to “Substantially Surpasses Expectations.” A study conducted by members of the Times’ editorial union found that Black employees received 24 percent of the former rating, despite making up only 10 percent of the staff, while receiving just 4 percent of the highest ratings.
Above all, the ivy league elitism most prized by liberals must remain supreme:
The Times Magazine commissioned a diversity study of bylines and subject matter “to quantify what everyone already knows,” as one staffer put it. The Times gave employees the day off on Juneteenth, which marks the emancipation of America’s slaves. The efforts felt sincere, but everyone knew the road to real change would be long. All employees could do was sigh when one masthead editor explained, in a town-hall meeting, that the paper’s diversity study was being led by Ivy Planning Group, a consulting firm named for the fact that its three founders all went to Ivy League schools.
The real problem is that the Times has gone beyond just hiring young liberal journalists; it has hired a generation of self-professed “woke” “insurrectionists.”
What the paper did have — in increasing numbers in fact — was a growing cohort of people who came to the paper with a different set of values. . . “The fundamental schism at the Times is institutionalist versus insurrectionist,” a reporter who identified with the latter group told me. (Almost all of the dozens of Times employees I spoke to for this story requested varying degrees of anonymity; one told me, “You can refer to me as a ‘woke millennial reporter’ or whatever.”)
Many of the insurrectionists were coming from places the Times didn’t traditionally recruit from, like new digital-media companies and outlets that practiced advocacy journalism, and part of the challenge had become integrating those employees into the Timesian way of operating. “There’s a generation at the Times that’s kind of been raised by wolves, by Timesstandards,” one institutionalist told me. The new recruits were brought in to help supercharge the company’s efforts at modernizing its news operation, but the Times hadn’t fully understand what it would mean to have a new breed of journalist inside the building.
And one thing that is clear is that the adults at the Times are terrified and intimidated by the wokerati they have brought into their midst:
Some of the trickiest jounalistic questions have centered on what the Times is or isn’t willing to say. After Bennet’s ouster, Sulzberger met with a columnist for the “Opinion” section who had expressed consternation about the decision. Sulzberger promised the columnist that the Times would not shy away from publishing pieces to which the Times’ core audience might object. “We haven’t lost our nerve,” Sulzberger said.
“Yes, you have,” the columnist told Sulzberger. “You lost your nerve in the most explicit way I’ve ever seen anyone lose their nerve. You can say people are still gonna be able to do controversial work, but I’m not gonna be the first to try. You don’t know what you’ll be able to do, because you are not in charge of this publication — Twitter is. As long as Twitter is editing this bitch, you cannot promise me anything.”
There’s a whole bunch more gossip and dysfunction in the complete story, but one thing is clear: college campuses have nuthin’ on the Times in the ideological derangement department. At the rate they’re going, the Times will end up canceling itself.