In an unconventional move on Friday, New York Times editor Sarah Jeong advised her followers that boycotting the newspaper that employs her is an excellent way to support “dissenting views” within the company. Dissenting from what, exactly, she doesn’t make clear, but obviously she must think something is very wrong at the paper of record if she is essentially calling for a boycott.
holy moly what a fascinating exchange pic.twitter.com/JA3OqD40Ur
— Derek Thompson (@DKThomp) September 27, 2019
The tweet came in reply to another tweeter who bemoaned the cancellations as self indulgent, saying it does nothing. Not so fast, replied Jeong. In fact, she informs us, cancelled subscriptions are an important metric that the Grey Lady uses to distinguish between “real” outrage (scare quotes hers) and superficial outrage.
Jeong is herself no stranger to outrage. Upon being hired by the Times a year ago, tweets surfaced in which she described how awful, horrible, and even subhuman white people are. Presumably Jeong believes the reaction to her tweets was superficial outrage. Nonetheless, the Times did respond.
This was the Times’ statement: “Her journalism and the fact that she is a young Asian woman have made her a subject of frequent online harassment. For a period of time she responded to that harassment by imitating the rhetoric of her harassers. She sees now that this approach only served to feed the vitriol that we too often see on social media. She regrets it, and the Times does not condone it.”
Strong stuff, full of excuses and half apologies. A few months later, Times editorial page editor James Bennet told me he agreed the incident exposed a double standard that is hard to defend. Presumably even the acknowledgement of this double standard would be an example of one of the things at the Times that Jeong and her lonely fellow leftists dissent from. After all, we all know what a hive of conservative vitriol the paper of record is.
At most businesses, it is frowned upon for employees to encourage customers to boycott their products. But increasingly, this kind of performative progressivism from Jeong and others is the Times’ product. They are less a news outlet than an arbiter of good and acceptable taste in political and cultural issues, as its 1619 Project and the leaked transcript of a meeting about it show. Their job isn’t to report news, but to establish and police social norms.
In this context, it is easy to see why Jeong felt comfortable tweeting what she did and why the Times will not punish it. She’ll probably get a promotion. The inmates have taken over the asylum at the nation’s most noted newspaper, and now they are recruiting subscribers to help in their mutiny.
Blatant bias was already a reason to doubt the Times. Now we can add total editorial dysfunction to this list. After all, when one of the paper’s own editors is calling for boycotts to fix the problems, how are we supposed to trust anything they print?