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Thornton Hall

The Revolution Will Be Kuhnian.

Do Journalists Think Their Job Is To Destroy Institutions And Public Servants?

What seems obvious to me turns out to be less so to others whom I respect. So I'm either wrong, or, at the very least, skipping a step. 

Is it the case that journalists are hellbent on destruction? Do they define their job as attacking institutions and tearing down public servants? 

Here's my thinking. 

Matt Yglesias, days before the election (and therefore before all the finger pointing) described the behavior of the New York Times under managing editor Dean Baquet: 

This is unfortunate because emailgate, like so many Clinton pseudo-scandals before it, is bullshit. The real scandal here is the way a story that was at best of modest significance came to dominate the US presidential election — overwhelming stories of much more importance, giving the American people a completely skewed impression of one of the two nominees, and creating space for the FBI to intervene in the election in favor of its apparently preferred candidate in a dangerous way.

Faced with this very specific charge--that the New York Times had relentlessly flogged a bullshit scandal about a fundamentally honest public servant--Dean Baquet responded with an unprecedented letter to subscribers which said in no uncertain terms:

"FUCK YOU! What you are complaining about is us doing our jobs! And we will keep doing them!"

Think I'm unfair in my paraphrase

After such an erratic and unpredictable election there are inevitable questions: Did Donald Trump’s sheer unconventionality lead us and other news outlets to underestimate his support among American voters? What forces and strains in America drove this divisive election and outcome? Most important, how will a president who remains a largely enigmatic figure actually govern when he takes office?

As we reflect on the momentous result, and the months of reporting and polling that preceded it, we aim to rededicate ourselves to the fundamental mission of Times journalism. That is to report America and the world honestly, without fear or favor, striving always to understand and reflect all political perspectives and life experiences in the stories that we bring to you. It is also to hold power to account, impartially and unflinchingly. You can rely on The New York Times to bring the same fairness, the same level of scrutiny, the same independence to our coverage of the new president and his team.

We cannot deliver the independent, original journalism for which we are known without the loyalty of our readers. We want to take this opportunity, on behalf of all Times journalists, to thank you for that loyalty.

A Prediction To Believe

I Might Be Finding My Way To Where Richard Rorty Was