NY Times Editorial Pages Fuck Up Again: Publishes Chinese Official's Ridiculous Defense Of Stifling Freedom In Hong Kong
from the have-some-fucking-standards dept
Back in June, there was a well-documented hubbub about the NY Times Opinion editor’s decision to publish a horrific op-ed by US Senator Tom Cotton defending turning the US military on US citizens who were protesting police brutality. Eventually, after widespread protests, including from journalists and staff within the NY Times, the paper admitted that it probably should not have published the piece, and the head of the opinion pages, James Bennet (who admitted he hadn’t even read the piece before approving it) stepped down. Many supporters of President Trump and Senator Cotton argued that this was an example of “cancel culture” or an “attack on free speech.” Or that it was a sign that some were “unwilling to listen to the other side.” However, that was all nonsense. As I explained at the time, the “discretion” part of editorial discretion is important.
The NY Times is not social media. It is not a place where just anybody gets to post their crazy uncle crackpot theories. They have an editorial staff and editorial standards for a reason. And part of that is that people expect them not to publish absolute garbage, such as the Cotton op-ed. It’s not about “hearing all sides” or about “free speech.” It’s certainly not about “cancel culture.” It’s about recognizing that there are standards for what kinds of things you want to put your own stamp of approval on.
It appears that the folks at the NY Times opinion pages (even without Bennet) have not learned that lesson. For reasons I will never understand, it has decided to give its editorial stamp of approval on the most disgusting op-ed I’ve seen. A Chinese government official, Regina Ip, was given the prestigious NY Times opinion pages to write a sickening defense of China’s crackdown on freedom in Hong Kong. It’s sickening. It’s garbage. Just to give you a taste of what propagandist nonsense this was:
Something had to be done, and the Chinese authorities did it.
The scale and frequency of antigovernment protests has now subsided ? thanks to a national security law for Hong Kong promulgated in Beijing on June 30.
Several prominent democracy advocates have since announced their retirement from politics, disbanded their parties or fled the city.
The West tends to glorify these people as defenders of Hong Kong?s freedoms, but they have done great harm to the city by going against its constitutional order and stirring up chaos and disaffection toward our motherland.
Last year?s prolonged unrest dented Hong Kong?s reputation as one of the best places in the world in which to do business. In March, the Heritage Foundation downgraded the city to second place in its Economic Freedom Index for 2020, citing ?ongoing political and social turmoil?; Hong Kong had ranked first since 1995.
This leaves out that people in Hong Kong were protesting attempts by China to do exactly what ended up happening: clamping down on their freedoms and liberty. To say that China had to stamp out liberty because people were protesting for their liberty is… quite a take.
It’s also one that does not belong on the pages of the NY Times. This is what editorial discretion is about. Publishing this nonsense is not about free speech. It’s not about “hearing both sides.” Again, the NY Times is not an open social media platform on which just anyone can post. The value in the brand is supposedly in its discretion and ability to find reasonable intelligent voices to publish their opinions.
And, quite reasonably lots of people are pissed off about this as well… including Senator Tom Cotton, who is correctly calling this decision by the NY Times out as utterly despicable:
According the the @nytimes, publishing op-eds from U.S. Senators expressing views held by a majority of Americans "puts lives at risk."
Also according to the @nytimes: suck it up, Hong Kong.
— Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) October 1, 2020
I agree with him, but whereas it feels like he thinks they should publish his piece and not the Chinese propaganda, the real answer is that the NY Times shouldn’t be publishing either piece. Both were authoritarian claptrap propaganda, pushing dangerous defenses of governments cracking down on public protests and free expression.
I totally understand why many of Cotton’s supporters are making similar statements and calling out the Times for hypocrisy, but I do wonder if the NY Times admits it shouldn’t have published Ip’s piece, will they suddenly rush out to call it “cancel culture” and “anti-free speech” and an “unwillingness to hear both sides”? Or will they recognize that the NY Times shouldn’t be publishing this garbage whether it comes from a US Senator or a Chinese government official or anyone. Editorial discretion means not letting obvious garbage to be endorsed by a paper with a reputation like the NY Times. Because continuing to do so only serves to tarnish that reputation even more.