Trump supporters are quoting journalists’ embarrassing social media statements, and the NY Times is furious
“The Times will not be intimidated or silenced”
The call out and cancel cultures, enabled by major media, are out of control. Old tweets, sometimes from teenage years, are dug up and turned into media feeding frenzies.
In December 2018, Robby Soave at Reason reported, Media Attacks Heisman Trophy Winner Kyler Murray for Homophobic Tweets He Sent as a 14-Year-Old:
University of Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray won the Heisman Trophy on Saturday. The internet being what it is, some folks on social media apparently took this as an opportunity to go looking for reasons to be outraged, and discovered some homophobic tweets Murray sent when he was in high school.
Murray apologized right away, tweeting, “I used a poor choice of word that doesn’t reflect who I am or what I believe. I did not intend to single out any individual or group.”
For some reason, many media outlets decided this little nontroversy demanded a write-up.
“As of early Sunday morning, four offensive tweets using an anti-gay slur remained active on the Heisman winner’s account,” USA TODAY tweeted, with a link to its article, titled, “Kyler Murray: Heisman winner’s old, homophobic tweets resurfaced.”
MSN, Yahoo News, The Daily Mail, and The New York Post all wrote similar articles, because a 14-year-old boy having unwisely used the word “queer” as a slur is somehow shocking and newsworthy. The Daily Mail even claimed that Murray’s post-Heisman glory was “short-lived” because of the stupid tweets.
Media amplification is critical. And in the age of Trump, old tweets are used to political effect, as this NBC News post shows, How Donald Trump’s Old Tweets Haunt Him Today:
The media has not been immune. When Sarah Jeong was hired for the NY Times Editorial Board, a senior and influential position, her long-string of racists tweets was exposed. Those tweets were not from her teenage years, and were made just a few years ago, making them arguably more relevant given she was joining the Editorial Board of the most influential newspaper in the country.
The NY Times is not happy that journalists are being subjected to such scrutiny by Trump supporters. In fact, the NY Times is furious.
The NY Times reports, Trump Allies Target Journalists Over Coverage Deemed Hostile to White House:
A loose network of conservative operatives allied with the White House is pursuing what they say will be an aggressive operation to discredit news organizations deemed hostile to President Trump by publicizing damaging information about journalists.
It is the latest step in a long-running effort by Mr. Trump and his allies to undercut the influence of legitimate news reporting. Four people familiar with the operation described how it works, asserting that it has compiled dossiers of potentially embarrassing social media posts and other public statements by hundreds of people who work at some of the country’s most prominent news organizations.
The group has already released information about journalists at CNN, The Washington Post and The New York Times — three outlets that have aggressively investigated Mr. Trump — in response to reporting or commentary that the White House’s allies consider unfair to Mr. Trump and his team or harmful to his re-election prospects.
This is standard oppo-research stuff that politicians do against each other, and the media does with vigor. There is no claim that quotes are fabricated:
But the material publicized so far, while in some cases stripped of context or presented in misleading ways, has proved authentic, and much of it has been professionally harmful to its targets.
Who is “behind” it? According to the NY Times, Trump supporters:
It is clear from the cases to date that among the central players in the operation is Arthur Schwartz, a combative 47-year-old conservative consultant who is a friend and informal adviser to Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son. Mr. Schwartz has worked with some of the right’s most aggressive operatives, including the former Trump adviser Stephen K. Bannon.
“If the @nytimes thinks this settles the matter we can expose a few of their other bigots,” Mr. Schwartz tweeted on Thursday in response to an apologetic tweet from a Times journalist whose anti-Semitic social media posts had just been revealed by the operation. “Lots more where this came from.”
The NY Times is so furious, and so is CNN:
A. G. Sulzberger, the publisher of The Times, said in a statement that such tactics were taking the president’s campaign against a free press to a new level.
“They are seeking to harass and embarrass anyone affiliated with the leading news organizations that are asking tough questions and bringing uncomfortable truths to light,” Mr. Sulzberger said. “The goal of this campaign is clearly to intimidate journalists from doing their job, which includes serving as a check on power and exposing wrongdoing when it occurs. The Times will not be intimidated or silenced.”
In a statement, a CNN spokesman said that when government officials, “and those working on their behalf, threaten and retaliate against reporters as a means of suppression, it’s a clear abandonment of democracy for something very dangerous.”
This is all so absurd. Why should the media be above scrutiny when others — politicians, cultural figures, and particularly anyone right-of-center — are subject to such scrutiny.
I love & have written for @nytimes but this article & hysterical accompanying statement by the publisher are both totally bananas
OMG a couple of dudes dig up dumb tweets by your young woke staffers & you act like its Pentagon Papers 2.0
Take a Xanax for your TDS next time https://t.co/BHrDTagCfF
— Michael Shellenberger (@ShellenbergerMD) August 25, 2019
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