‘The American press is destroying itself’

Correction: Lee Fang was not fired from his job at The Intercept.  I misread Matt Taibbi’s article.

Yes, it is.  Matt Taibbi wrote a great article about how editors and publishers at the top levels of American journalism are giving up professional standards of accuracy and fairness in order to advance goals such as unseating Donald Trump and ending racial prejudice.

He tells, for example, of the investigative reporter Lee Fang, who was fired from his job at The Intercept, who was forced to apologize in a humiliating way for quoting a black man who said he was concerned about crime as well as police abuse, and for pointing out that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. opposed violence.

All this, it was decided, represented a degree of racism that was unacceptable, and that canceled out all the good reporting on he had done.

Taibbi pointed out similar episodes concerning the New York Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer and Variety, but the case of The Intercept was especially ironic because it was founded as an outlet for news stories about corporate and governmental abuse that the NYT and the like feared to discuss.

All this, as Taibbi pointed out, is counter-productive, even on its own terms.  The American people are losing confidence in the press.  Becoming openly propagandistic is going to destroy what little credibility they have.

Taibbi himself was in line to become an editor of The Intercept when it was formed, but he reconsidered and kept his job at Rolling Stone.  More recently he quit that job and went into business as one-line subscription service called Reporting by Matt Taibbi.

He made such a name for himself that he can write and publish without submitting his work to a gatekeeper.   But that’s not possible for the mass of journalists in fear of losing their jobs.


The American Press Is Destroying Itself by Matt Taibbi.  Indeed it is.  And It’s not just the press.

Has the American Left Lost Its Mind? by Nathan J. Robinson for Current Affairs [Added 6/16/2020]  A rebuttal.

[Video added 6/18/2020]

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4 Responses to “‘The American press is destroying itself’”

  1. Nikolai Vladivostok Says:

    It is not just the media organs, but sometimes the consumers themselves. Many NYT subscibers complained or cancelled regarding that senator’s op-ed, which was enough to get an editor fired. Similar things have happened before.
    A lot of people are now interpreting opposing viewpoints as evil, and are demanding they be banned or at least removed from their sight.
    I’m starting to think you might have been right in your doomsday post. The centre cannot hold.


  2. Steve from Texas Says:

    I’m very sympathetic to Taibbi’s sharp, well-reported article, but it’s a complex issue. Apparently, some black reporters for the Philadelphia Inquirer were taken off reporting on the protests because, out there on the streets, they tweeted shock at what was happening or support for the protesters.

    But who is there in times like these who is “objective,” with a God’s-eye view of what is happening? Are business reporters at the Inquirer required not to own stocks or investments? Are the Inquirer’s editors transparent about their own financial, political, and cultural investments?

    I grew up with the old-school ideal of journalistic objectivity, and acknowledge its value. But it seems to me that it has its limits. Matt Taibbi, completely out front about where he is coming from and what he has in it, represents a newer, alternative model–one that goes back to the “new journalism” of the 60s. Norman Mailer’s “Armies of the Night,” a kind of journalistic-novelistic-memoir-reportage of the 1967 “March on the Pentagon” (I was there) will teach you a lot more about that crazy, complex event than you can learn from reading the straight newspapers in the archives.

    (I say this with full awareness of the myriad things that can be said against Mailer.)

    Of course, it’s possible–with considerable difficulty–to train someone to be an old-school journalist. There are no schools to train someone to be a Taibbi, or a Mailer.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. philebersole Says:

    [6/16/2020] I am deleting this comment because it was poorly written and I wrote a better version in a separate post.


    Yes, it is a complex issue, and the old days weren’t all that great. I think Matt Taibbi comes as close as anybody to representing the kind of journalism we need.


  4. diana Says:

    I am not a journalist but I do believe that when our founders gave us freedom of the press, then that means the press has a far range to express and to write.


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