Times Gonna Times

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Whatever else happens in the coming days with the presidential election, the whole saga will permanently affect my understanding of the culture of The New York Times. It is not the first time that in the midst of a presidential contest the Times has deployed and leveraged all its editorial resources to achieve a desired goal. We saw it in 2016 on a couple occasions. Tonight a TPM Reader suggested I look at the front page, telling me …

Eight out of 8 top articles are about whether Joe Biden should drop out, whether he’s doomed to be defeated by Trump, etc. Five out of 10 op-ed articles are about the same topic; of those, 4 are toeing the Times line, one (by the sole nonwhite author today) says that only Trump benefits from forcing Biden out.

Number of articles about any of the Supreme Court’s decisions this term, including the immunity decision: zero. It was literally a one-day story in the Times.

Perhaps it changed a bit since this reader wrote in. I see the top five articles and even more op-eds and then yet other newsletters which are also about Biden needing to drop out of the race. One of the op-eds appears to be adding to the three other articles about the new Times/Siena poll and saying how awful it is for Biden.

We’re pretty far into this story. I spent most of the day thinking Biden’s departure from the race was inevitable. So it’s certainly not that this isn’t a huge, historic story or that the tide hasn’t turned significantly against Biden in the last 48 hours. As I said on the site and in the podcast today, if Biden either cannot or will not forcefully contest the race than his departure becomes inevitable. Still, when I went to the Post and the Journal, two stories on each front page. There’s just a blaring difference at the Times. And with an editorial line in all the news stories that is clear throughout.

I actually like crusading journalism, flooding the zone with stories on the question of the day you find most important. But is the Times normally that crusading paper? Not usually, and actually on very few topics. In this case I feel like it’s clearly doing that while hiding behind it’s cloak of all the news that’s fit to print. Not crusading, just covering the story. I can only say, will only say again, that it is not the first time the Times has, in a presidential campaign, leveraged all its institutional and editorial muscle to engineer a desired goal.

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