As N.Y. Times investigates leaks, liberal newsrooms have the upper hand

Another day, another newsroom in turmoil.

And it features a familiar cast of characters: Senior executives who say they are upholding old-fashioned standards of fairness, and younger, woke rebels who want only their point of view – the liberal point of view – represented.

The balance of power has shifted in recent years. Managers at major media companies are so concerned with the anger of their rebels and the denunciations on social media that they frequently cave.

The subject of the latest eruption, and not for the first time, is the New York Times.

And the information comes to us from the Wall Street Journal, which has this tantalizing lead:

‘The New York Times is investigating itself.’

Turns out there was a potentially damaging leak, and a top Times editor, Charlotte Behrendt, has interviewed nearly 20 staffers to find out whodunit.

The subject is coverage of the war between Israel and Hamas.

It’s no secret that many younger liberals blame Israel for the war, even though it was launched by Hamas terrorists in the unspeakably brutal massacre launched on Oct. 7. Some Times employees questioned the reporting behind a story saying Hamas weaponized sexual violence during these attacks, the Journal says, and complained that the suffering of Gaza residents isn’t getting the same attention.

To his credit, Times Executive Editor Joe Kahn, the lowest-profile person to run the paper in decades, speaks on the record.

‘The idea that someone dips into that process in the middle, and finds something that they considered might be interesting or damaging to the story under way, and then provides that to people outside, felt to me and my colleagues like a breakdown in the sort of trust and collaboration that’s necessary in the editorial process,’ he said. ‘I haven’t seen that happen before.’  

Kahn also nails this point: that digital workers weren’t trained in independent journalism and haven’t learned tolerance on college campuses.

‘Young adults who are coming up through the education system are less accustomed to this sort of open debate, this sort of robust exchange of views around issues they feel strongly about than may have been the case in the past,’ says Kahn.

The leak of the internal debate, to the liberal site Intercept, has sparked a backlash. Reporter Stacy Cowley, a union official who sat in on some interviews, accused the company of going after those who feel their concerns about Gaza have been ignored.

‘Instead of taking them seriously, the company is turning around and bullying that group into silence,’ Cowley says. A union grievance says the company was targeting a group of staffers of Arab and Middle Eastern descent, which the Times denies. 

Way down in the story is this CYA sentence: 

‘War coverage has also fueled tensions at the Wall Street Journal, with some reporters in meetings and internal chat groups complaining that coverage is skewed – either favoring Israel or Palestinians.’ Just in case anyone was wondering.  

A similar explosion just occurred at NPR, where award-winning senior business editor Uri Berliner resigned under pressure yesterday. He had been suspended for five days without pay for publishing a piece (without permission) in the Free Press about how the radio network has moved from merely left-leaning to blatant liberal activism, triggered by the election of Donald Trump.

Berliner, no fan of Trump, cited example after example of NPR being anti-Israel, having a pro-transgender agenda, and blowing off the Hunter Biden laptop story on grounds that it wasn’t really a story. He pointed to the hiring of CEO Katherine Maher, a former Biden campaign worker whose past tweets show a history of far-left activism and intolerance. (She says she was a private citizen then.)

 

‘I cannot work in a newsroom where I am disparaged by a new CEO whose divisive views confirm the very problems at NPR I cite in my Free Press essay,’ tweeted Berliner, who says he repeatedly complained to management to no avail.

That the Times is again being torn apart, this time over the Mideast war, just brings us full circle. It now seems that many liberal newsrooms are running the show, in practice if not on paper.

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