Is The New York Times Hopeless?

Well yes, of course. But at the Wall Street Journal, James Freeman highlights an interview with the Times’s current executive editor, Joseph Kahn. Hope springs eternal, I guess:

Regular news consumers may recall Ben Smith as the Buzzfeed editor who helped define post-journalistic coverage of the Trump presidency by publishing the bogus Steele dossier in 2017 while admitting he didn’t know whether it was true or false. Naturally Mr. Smith was later hired by the New York Times. But he then wrote about “weaknesses in what may be called an era of resistance journalism.” By 2020 Mr. Smith seemed to appreciate—at least conceptually—the value of confirming the accuracy of a story before publication.

Now at Semafor, Mr. Smith goes back to the New York Times to interview the newspaper’s executive editor, Joseph Kahn, and finds some encouraging news for Times readers who thirst for straight reporting.

I guess that depends on what you call straight reporting. Kahn says:

It’s also true that Trump could win this election in a popular vote… It is not the job of the news media to prevent that from happening. It’s the job of Biden and the people around Biden to prevent that from happening… I don’t even know how it’s supposed to work in the view of Dan Pfeiffer or the White House. We become an instrument of the Biden campaign? We turn ourselves into Xinhua News Agency or Pravda and put out a stream of stuff that’s very, very favorable to them and only write negative stories about the other side? And that would accomplish — what?

It would help the Democratic Party stay in power, which is all the Times has ever cared about. But is the paper really seeing a new dawn of objectivity?

Ben: Do you think that an alien reading The New York Times would come away thinking Joe Biden is a good president?

Ah, the rubber meets the road!

Joe: I think you would see a much more favorable view of Biden’s conduct over foreign policy at a difficult time than the polling shows the general public believes.

Then follows a paean to Biden’s foreign policy record that concludes that, in the Times’s coverage, Biden…

…shows a degree of engagement and mastery over some of the details of foreign policy. … I think you’d get a very favorable portrait of him.

Actually, the best you can say for Joe Biden on foreign policy is that he has been president for two and a half years, and World War III hasn’t broken out yet. Not that the Times would blame him if it did.

On to domestic policy:

I also think we’ve done much more — whether it’s the Inflation Reduction Act…

No acknowledgement that the Inflation Reduction Act caused massive inflation, making all Americans poorer.

…whether it’s the infrastructure bill — on the details of the legislation that passed, and the efforts of this administration to actually implement that and get the money out there.

Getting money “out there,” whether we have the money or not, is of course what Democrats do best.

So I think you’d get a pretty well-rounded, fair portrait of Biden. Of course, you’d also see some coverage about his frailty and his age. But it depends. Is this alien a voracious reader who comes every day? If he did, he’s not going to see that much about [Biden’s] age.

Let’s not make people nervous about the fact that our president is senile! The Times may profess to have given up “resistance journalism,” but we can’t expect them to be right-wing extremists. And if Trump wins in November, the resistance will be back.

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