The New York Times is a sick institution, but it is representative in a way that signifies. It is in the grip of the cultural totalitarian madness that has become something like regular order in the schools, the press, Big Tech and corporate titans, the world of the prestige nonprofits, and other precincts where the sick left holds sway. I would like to say other precincts where reality is optional, but that doesn’t quite locate it.
The case of the prominent former New York Times reporter Donald G. McNeil Jr. presents as a case study. He was unceremoniously defenestrated for an alleged offense against taste committed two years ago. Michael Goodwin briefly recounts McNeil’s case as follows
McNeil was forced to resign for using the N-word in a conversation with high school students on a Times-sponsored Peru trip in 2019. Top editor Dean Baquet had closed the case quietly with a reprimand, saying McNeil had no “malicious” intent and deserved another chance, but when the Daily Beast wrote about the incident in January, 150 Times staffers asked for more information, with some demanding McNeil be fired.
In a heartbeat, Baquet flip-flopped. McNeil writes that Baquet said to him: “I know you’re not a racist,” but claimed “You’ve lost the newsroom. People are hurt. People are saying they won’t work with you” and asked for his resignation.
Earth to Baquet: It’s not McNeil’s job to win the newsroom, as if each reporter must win a popularity contest with colleagues.
It’s part of the editor’s job to manage the staff and Baquet has obviously failed. Having lost control, he is reduced to surrendering his authority to mob rule just to keep his job.
At least we know now it’s not an illusion that the Times often reads like the newspaper version of the “Lord of the Flies.” That’s what it is.
This doesn’t quite get to the heart of the matter either. McNeil speaks for himself in what Goodwin calls a “20,000-word opus” that he has posted at Medium in four parts: