Is Chuck Schumer 'the Big Guy' over at the New York Times?

Is Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer the final word on what runs at the New York Times?

Sure looks like it, given a disturbing anecdote told by former Timeswoman Bari Weiss, who left the Times more than two years ago over its atmosphere of intolerance.

Turns out the Times isn't just intolerant; it's sycophantic — and these charges aren't just right-wing hyperbole.

According to Mediaite, Republican South Carolina senator Tim Scott had sent in an op-ed to the Times laying out his views on police reform in the wake of the George Floyd riots.  On her podcast, where she had Scott on as a guest, she described this:

"Well, here's what happened. I was at the New York Times and you or your staff sent in an op-ed about the bill and why it fell apart," Weiss recalled. "And this is the part I'm not sure if you know. There was a discussion about the piece and whether or not we should run it. And one colleague, a more senior colleague said to a more junior colleague who was pushing for the piece, 'Do you think the Republicans really care about minority rights?'"

"Wow," Scott said.

"And the more junior colleagues said, 'I think Tim Scott cares about minority rights.' And then, and here's the pretty shocking part. The more senior colleague said, 'Let's check with Senator Schumer before we run it,'" Weiss added.

Check with Sen. Schumer?

Is Schumer some kind of owner or shareholder of the Times, which might explain such deference?  I've been on editorial staffs myself and know that the editorial page is the voice of the paper — and, by extension, the voice of the owner, so it's never surprising when an owner might ask for a particular message to be expressed.

But last I heard, Schumer is not the owner.

Yet, somehow, the staff know that they need to "run by" anything that might be controversial with Chuckie Schumer in the Senate.

Is that how editorial decisions are made at the New York Times?  They get clearance from Schumer?  What happens if Chuckie "Last Word" Schumer says "no"?  And how many of these permissions have been sought, not in this case, but in the past, so that a senior staffer could just casually bring up that Schumer needed to be consulted before the Times could make an editorial decision about what runs and what doesn't run in that august paper?

The younger staffer actually refused to do it on ethical grounds, but the senior staffer is the one who brought up the procedure of running editorial decisions past Schumer first, as if such things were always the way of dealing with tough decisions in the past.

It ought to be the most embarrassing thing to anyone in the news industry, that their own paper asks politicians to determine for them what they should run or not run.  Newspapers are supposed to be independent.  They're supposed to report and write without fear or favor.  Their editorial voices are supposedly a reflection of their stance.  But this "get permission from the Big Guy" stuff we are hearing about now?  All told, it's public relations of the worst sort, that of a state-controlled press — and they're no journalists.

What an insult to the memory of the Timesmen of old — Abe Rosenthal, William Safire, Hedrick Smith, David Halberstam, and many others — some, such as Andrew Malcolm, still with us, who made the Times the gold standard of journalism!

Do they just like being sycophants?  Or worse, do they fear displeasing Schumer?  Is that how they operate?  Readers will now be asking if everything the Times runs is cleared by Schumer first.  Just call it the "Schumer Times."

Maybe these self-important "journalists" should ask themselves what they are now, given that the public is going to be wondering whether every op-ed they run was cleared with Schumer first.

Just don't call them journalists.  Laugh at the suck-ups to Schumer, check out the nearby streetwalkers, and point at them instead.

Image: Ajay Suresh via Wikimedia CommonsCC BY 2.0.

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