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Why Is AEI Hosting The New York Times And The Atlantic To Tell Us How To Produce Honest Journalism?

New York Times building. Wikipedia Commons.

The New York Times, The Guardian, and the American Enterprise Institute walk into a Zoom meeting. Bartender asks, “What’ll it be?”

“Surviving ‘post journalism,'” they reply in unison.

I tried to come up with a punchline, but there was no need — just take a look at the event description. “Post-journalism,” it reads:

produces stifling groupthink inside news organizations and serious consequences for journalists who dissent. But many journalists are successfully resisting the new orthodoxy to produce the challenging, fair-minded coverage that should always be the aim. Some of the brightest lights in the field will discuss how they navigate these challenges and how others can do the same.

The New York Times, The Atlantic, and an 83-year-old think tank that hasn’t had a hit since the Iraq War are explaining how to succeed in the world they built. That’s the joke right there. Good joke; everybody laugh; roll on snare drum; curtains.

But really, there are a few questions worth asking while AEI has The Atlantic and The New York Times as their esteemed guests.

For example, AEI’s rep could ask The Atlantic about the completely false story it printed about a police officer supposedly gunning down a child. Remember that crackerjack? It got a lot of play, a lot of plaudits from self-proclaimed intelligentsia. The “groupthink” approved.

Of course, none of them even stopped to think of the plausibility of a city police officer shooting a child for failing to sign-in on a basketball sign-up sheet and getting away scot-free — in the middle of the George W. Bush presidency. Funny, it turns out it wasn’t true.

The Atlantic tried to ignore this, of course, but the pressure built and eventually they issued an “update.” Even though the entire premise of the story was completely false on nearly every level, it wasn’t ever retracted or even corrected. The word “correction” doesn’t even appear in the entire article. Their broader point, they claimed, stood. The narrative was untouched. “Post-journalism,” indeed.

Or how about the time The Atlantic’s editor-in-chief published a laughably unsubstantiated news article claiming then-President Donald Trump smeared our honored war dead at Belleau Wood in France, calling them losers?

Trump, it might be noted, doesn’t lash out into history and attack people who he doesn’t think have attacked him; that is, unless you believe in a leftist caricature of Trump. Even people who were present and who disliked Trump said the story was completely false, including an AEI senior fellow, John Bolton.

That didn’t stop the entire corporate media from repeating it, of course, “groupthink” and all. Unlike the bogus cop shooting story, even the testimony of Trump’s enemies couldn’t absolutely prove the story false. Despite representing a complete and total breakdown in basic journalistic standards — the kind you can teach a whole lesson on — there it stands today, a shining example of “post-journalism.”

And how about asking The New York Times about the “serious consequences for journalists who dissent.” They might have a few interesting perspectives, although of course, so might Bari Weiss, the gay, liberal, female columnist who was pushed out of The New York Times for questioning the anti “groupthink” of the Me Too movement and its rejection of due process.

Or maybe they could have learned something interesting from the former New York Times editorial page director and editorial assistant who were fired for publishing an article from a sitting U.S. senator calling for the military to restore law and order during a destructive and deadly summer of uncontrolled national race riots.

What was their crime? Alas, if only they’d held their fire until the Capitol riot, when the “groupthink” caught up and martial law was declared en vogue.

These would be good questions. These would be guests. Who knows, maybe something like this will happen. But as it stands, it’s very unlikely these questions are going to be asked, considering our guests are presented as representatives of “some of the brightest lights in the field” to “discuss how they navigate these challenges and how others can do the same.”

Which brings us to the supposedly center-right AEI, which can best be described as nice enough but none too relevant. Who is the constituency for this Zoom call? Who in the donor class is looking for corporate liberals to criticize the right for the sins of the corporate left?

If there are AEI donors looking for this, and AEI is willing to oblige (they’re always willing to oblige donors), what’s the point of AEI? What makes them different from Brookings or the Aspen Institute, or really any left-wing podcast? And why are they getting funding from right-of-center people? Why should anyone help pay for this?

There you go: A few more questions worth asking.