Althouse | category: nyt



an endless succession of beans and nuts.

Let's read that NYT article from 1963, "Growth of Overt Homosexuality In City Provokes Wide Concern."

I found this article because it was cited in that open letter to the NYT that we were talking about yesterday. The letter criticized the NYT for its recent approach to transgenderism, but it also went back into the archive:

In 1963, the New York Times published a front⁠-⁠page story with the title “Growth of Overt Homosexuality in City Provokes Wide Concern,” which stated that homosexuals saw their own sexuality as “an inborn, incurable disease”—one that scientists, the Times announced, now thought could be “cured.”

I was curious about those scientists. But it turns out there's much, much more in that 1963 article, one of the most interesting and complicated newspaper articles I have ever read. The article begins on the front page of the December 17, 1963 issue. That is, it's 25 days after the assassination of JFK.

What was this article really trying to say? We're told NYC has what is probably "the greatest homosexual population in the world," which I take to mean the largest number, though I bet it was true that this was "the greatest homosexual population in the world" in the other sense of the word "great." The article is full of material that nudges the reader to conclude that the "problem of homosexuality" isn't a proper matter for criminal law enforcement. The police commissioner is quoted saying it's "medical and sociological in nature." 

A gay male reader could easily find the parts of the article that encourage him to move to New York City. Choose "an occupation in which his clique is predominant," and he "can shape for himself a life lived almost exclusively in an inverted world from which the rough, unsympathetic edges of straight society can be almost totally excluded." 

The article contrasts the opinions of the medical experts with the activists:

Two conflicting viewpoints converge today to overcome the silence and promote public discussion.

The first is the organized homophile movement — a minority of militant homosexuals that is openly agitating for removal of legal, social and cultural discriminations against sexual inverts.

Fundamental to this aim is the concept that homosexuality is an incurable, congenital disorder (this is disputed by the bulk of the scientific evidence) and that homosexuals should be treated by an increasingly tolerant society as just another minority.

This view is challenged by a second group, the analytical psychiatrists, who advocate an end to what it calls a head-in-sand approach to homosexuality.

They have what they consider to be overwhelming evidence that homosexuals are created — generally by ill-adjusted parents —  not born. 
They assert that homosexuality can be cured by sophisticated analytical and therapeutic techniques. 
More significantly, the weight of the most recent findings suggests that public discussion of the nature of these parental misdeeds and attitudes that tend to foster homosexual development of children could improve family environments and reduced the incidence of sexual inversion. 

We're told of a 9-year study of gay men in psychoanalysis which found, in almost all cases, "some combination of what they termed a 'close-binding, intimate' mother and/or a hostile, detached or unrespected father, or other aberrations."

The "explicitly hostile" father came in for special blame, and researchers concluded that "a constructive, supportive, warmly related father precludes the possibility of a homosexual son; he acts as a neutralizing, protective agent should the mother make seductive or close-binding attempts."

The researchers claimed that 27% of their patients "achieved a heterosexual orientation." They were "firmly convinced that psychoanalysts may well orient themselves to a heterosexual objective in treating homosexual patients."

The article ends with the opinion of gay men as reported by a young writer named Randolfe Wicker. He asked 300 homosexuals to answer two questions: "If you and a son would you want him to be homosexual?" and "If a quick, easy cure were available, would you take it?"

Only 2% of the men said yes to the first question. But 97% said they would not take the "quick, easy cure"!

That's how the article ends. There's plenty in this article to offend and outrage people of today, 60 years distant from that historical era. But I wouldn't be surprised if the article writer was himself gay, thought the psychoanalysts were full of it, and intended to get out the message that gay men can have a good and satisfying life if they move to New York City. 

That headline — "Growth of Overt Homosexuality In City Provokes Wide Concern" — really means gay men ought to concern themselves with moving to New York City. 


These days, Randolfe Wicker is 85. You can read about him here, in Wikipedia. Here he is on the Les Crane show in 1964: 

200 journalists and writers release an open letter to the NYT to raise "serious concerns about editorial bias in the newspaper’s reporting on transgender, non-binary, and gender nonconforming people.”

Hell Gate reports.
The open letter, whose signees include regular contributors to the Times and prominent writers and journalists like Ed Yong, Lucy Sante, Roxane Gay, and Rebecca Solnit, comes at a time when far-right extremist groups and their analogues in state legislatures are ramping up their attacks on trans young people....
In recent years and months, the Times has decided to play an outsized role in laundering anti-trans narratives and seeding the discourse with those narratives, publishing tens of thousands of handwringing words on trans youth—reporting that is now approvingly cited and lauded, as the letter writers note, by those who seek to ban and criminalize gender-affirming care.
Hell Gate has an interview with Jo Livingstone, "an award-winning critic and writer who helped organize the open letter."

Here's the open letter. I'll highlight what I think are important parts:
The newspaper’s editorial guidelines demand that reporters “preserve a professional detachment, free of any whiff of bias” when cultivating their sources, remaining “sensitive that personal relationships with news sources can erode into favoritism, in fact or appearance.” Yet the Times has in recent years treated gender diversity with an eerily familiar mix of pseudoscience and euphemistic, charged language, while publishing reporting on trans children that omits relevant information about its sources.

For example, Emily Bazelon’s article “The Battle Over Gender Therapy” uncritically used the term “patient zero” to refer to a trans child seeking gender⁠-⁠affirming care, a phrase that vilifies transness as a disease to be feared.

Are persons seeking "gender⁠-⁠affirming care" not "patients"? If they are not suffering from a condition to be feared, then why is treatment provided? Why are they not told they are fine as they are?

We discussed the Bazelon article on this blog, here

Back to the open letter:

Bazelon quoted multiple expert sources who have since expressed regret over their work’s misrepresentation. Another source, Grace Lidinksy⁠-⁠Smith, was identified as an individual person speaking about a personal choice to detransition, rather than the President of GCCAN, an activist organization that pushes junk science and partners with explicitly anti⁠-⁠trans hate groups.

In a similar case, Katie Baker’s recent feature “When Students Change Gender Identity and Parents Don’t Know” misframed the battle over children’s right to safely transition.

I blogged that story here.

Back to the open letter: 

The piece fails to make clear that court cases brought by parents who want schools to out their trans children are part of a legal strategy pursued by anti-trans hate groups. These groups have identified trans people as an “existential threat to society” and seek to replace the American public education system with Christian homeschooling, key context Baker did not provide to Times readers.

The natural destination of poor editorial judgment is the court of law.

I had a lot of trouble understanding that last sentence. I doubt if you would understand it without reading what comes next, but let me translate. The idea is that the NYT articles have been cited in court cases dealing with legislation about children seeking transgender treatments.

Last year, Arkansas’ attorney general filed an amicus brief in defense of Alabama’s Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act, which would make it a felony, punishable by up to 10 years’ imprisonment, for any medical provider to administer certain gender⁠-⁠affirming medical care to a minor (including puberty blockers) that diverges from their sex assigned at birth. The brief cited three different New York Times articles to justify its support of the law: Bazelon’s “The Battle Over Gender Therapy,” Azeen Ghorayshi’s “Doctors Debate Whether Trans Teens Need Therapy Before Hormones,” and Ross Douthat’s “How to Make Sense of the New L.G.B.T.Q. Culture War.” As recently as February 8th, 2023, attorney David Begley’s invited testimony to the Nebraska state legislature in support of a similar bill approvingly cited the Times’ reporting and relied on its reputation as the “paper of record” to justify criminalizing gender⁠-⁠affirming care....

David Begley! 

As thinkers, we are disappointed to see the New York Times follow the lead of far-right hate groups in presenting gender diversity as a new controversy warranting new, punitive legislation.

I think the NYT is showing leadership and not allowing itself to be led around by the doctrinaire left.

Puberty blockers, hormone replacement therapy, and gender⁠-⁠affirming surgeries have been standard forms of care for cis and trans people alike for decades....

Please cite the science. Is there some idea that medical treatments, once they've gone on for a while, must be correct and above question? Obviously not.

In that view, read this: "What the world can learn from a lobotomy surgeon’s horrible mistake." That's in the Washington Post, published yesterday, written by Megan McArdle.

Back to the open letter:

You no doubt recall a time in more recent history when it was ordinary to speak of homosexuality as a disease at the American family dinner table—a norm fostered in part by the New York Times’ track record of demonizing queers through the ostensible reporting of science.

In 1963, the New York Times published a front⁠-⁠page story with the title “Growth of Overt Homosexuality in City Provokes Wide Concern,” which stated that homosexuals saw their own sexuality as “an inborn, incurable disease”—one that scientists, the Times announced, now thought could be “cured.”

And, now, we're in a time when doctors are providing treatments for transgender persons. What is the lesson here?  

The word “gay” started making its way into the paper. Then, in 1975, the Times published an article by Clifford Jahr about a queer cruise (the kind on a boat) featuring a “sadomasochistic fashion show.” On the urging of his shocked mother, Times publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger sent down the order: Stop covering these people. The Times style guide was updated to include the following dictum, which stood until 1987: “Do not use gay as a synonym for homosexual unless it appears in the formal, capitalized name of an organization or in quoted matter.”

New York Times managing editor and executive editor A. M. Rosenthal neglected to put AIDS on the front page until 1983, by which time the virus had already killed 500 New Yorkers. He withheld planned promotions from colleagues he learned on the grapevine were gay. Many of his employees feared being outed. William F. Buckley published his op-ed arguing that people with HIV/AIDS should all be forcibly tattooed in the Times. Obituaries in the Times ascribed death from HIV/AIDS to “undisclosed causes” or a “rare disorder,” and left the partners of the deceased out entirely from its record of their lives. This era of hateful rhetoric also saw the rise of the term “patient zero,” used to falsely accuse an HIV/AIDS patient of deliberately infecting others. This is the same rhetoric that transphobic policymakers recently reintroduced to the American lawmaking apparatus by quoting Emily Bazelon’s Times article.

Yes, there is some bad history there. The NYT should be on guard not to make more mistakes — either similar mistakes or new mistakes overreacting to its famous old mistakes. 

Some of us are trans, non⁠-⁠binary, or gender nonconforming, and we resent the fact that our work, but not our person, is good enough for the paper of record.

What does it mean to say the NYT rejects your "person"?  

Some of us are cis, and we have seen those we love discover and fight for their true selves, often swimming upstream against currents of bigotry and pseudoscience fomented by the kind of coverage we here protest.

I do not see where they have pointed out "bigotry and pseudoscience." Perhaps they mean that the Times articles were not "bigotry and pseudoscience," but they "fomented" "bigotry and pseudoscience" in others.

All of us daresay our stance is unremarkable, even common, and certainly not deserving of the Times’ intense scrutiny. A tiny percentage of the population is trans, and an even smaller percentage of those people face the type of conflict the Times is so intent on magnifying. There is no rapt reporting on the thousands of parents who simply love and support their children, or on the hardworking professionals at the New York Times enduring a workplace made hostile by bias—a period of forbearance that ends today.

The "period of forbearance... ends today."  That made me want to go back to the Hell Gate interview to see what, specifically, this end of forbearance would look like.

The interviewer asks: "Are y'all asking the people who signed on to, for example, agree to not contribute to the Times until there is a response? Is there anything concrete like that being planned?"

Livingstone responds that there was no agreement to do anything other than to sign the letter. She adds that "there will be more letters and more kinds of venues for nonprofits and institutions to sign on" and says, "We made a gathering space that people have just come to us, ready to support."

She concludes: 

And I am proud of and grateful for everybody who is taking a risk on their future engagement by this employer, to stand with us. So when I think about all of that bravery, I feel okay, and can take a nap.

"A study published in December estimated that gas-burning stoves are responsible for 12.7 percent of childhood asthma in the United States."

"Gas stoves emit nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and fine particulate matter when they are turned on.... They also release other harmful air pollutants that are known or suspected to cause cancer, and can even leak those chemicals when they are turned off... When it comes to gas bans, Republicans have been the loudest critics and 20 Republican-controlled state legislatures have passed laws prohibiting such bans. But in most households in those red states cook with electric stoves, not gas.... States with the highest percentage of households that use gas for cooking are controlled by Democrats and include California, Nevada, Illinois, New York and New Jersey, according to the analysis...."

From "Ban Gas Stoves? Just the Idea Gets Some in Washington Boiling. The nation’s top consumer watchdog agency raised concerns about indoor air pollution from gas stoves. A political firestorm ensued" (NYT).

Obviously, banning gas stoves is terrible politics. Republicans are opposed in principle and Democrats are the people who have gas stoves and feel deeply emotionally attached to them. This NYT article seems designed to get Biden out of a jam.

I came here from Memeorandum, which presents the headline as "No, Biden Is Not Trying to Ban Gas Stoves." Google confirms that was the original headline:


Too obvious that they're running interference, I presume.

"Video Footage of Attack on Paul Pelosi Shown at San Francisco Hearing."

The NYT reports. 

Arriving at the home of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, two officers find an intruder and Ms. Pelosi’s husband, Paul, standing calmly, each with a hand on a hammer that the police demand they drop. Just then, the video shows, the intruder takes control, wields the weapon over his head and slams it with full force....

Prosecutors presented the fullest account to date of what they say happened during the attack, and shared much of their evidence against the suspect, including the body-camera footage.

[David] DePape, 42, said in a police interview hours after the attack that he had other targets, including Gavin Newsom, the Democratic governor of California; the actor Tom Hanks; Hunter Biden, the son of President Biden; and the feminist writer and anthropologist Gayle Rubin, according to testimony on Wednesday. ..

Prosecutors during the hearing also played an audio recording of the interview that Mr. DePape gave to the police. In it, he admitted to busting into the Pelosi home in the upscale Pacific Heights neighborhood through a back door, on a mission to capture the House speaker, interrogate her and break her kneecaps if she “lied” to him....

I'm surprised to see the NYT using "busting" — not in quotes, but in the paper's voice — instead of "breaking." (I was just talking about how Breitbart is to trashy for my taste, and here I am, in a place I regard as reasonably elevated and dignified, and here's this "busting," like the night's busting open and these two lanes will take us anywhere.)

Back to the Pelosi incident: 

The hearing began with prosecutors playing a recording of a call that Mr. Pelosi made to 911 shortly after the intruder woke him up. During the call, Mr. Pelosi speaks calmly but emphatically, seemingly trying to convey to the operator that he is in danger but without alarming the intruder threatening his life. Mr. Pelosi said on the call that there was “a gentleman here waiting for my wife to come back.”

He told the operator who his wife was, and at one point the intruder in the background could be heard saying, “The name is David.”

"Elon Musk, ever a bundle of contradictions and inconsistencies, has long made his politics tricky to pin down."

The NYT — ever a bundle of [fill in the blank] — has been avoiding the "Twitter Files" but is delving into The Mind of Musk in "Critics Say Musk Has Revealed Himself as a Conservative. It’s Not So Simple. Elon Musk has tweeted about political topics regularly since taking over Twitter, often belittling some liberal causes. But what he stands for remains largely unclear" by Jeremy W. Peters.

In a 24-hour period late this week, he tweeted more than 40 times, often with little rhyme or reason....

It’s true Mr. Musk certainly sounds a lot like a Republican — and, sometimes, a lot like Mr. Trump — with his missives on Twitter against “woke” politics and Covid restrictions, his attacks on “elite” media and his efforts to draw attention to allegations that Hunter Biden profited from his father’s political clout....

But where Mr. Musk has seemed most in line with the G.O.P. of Mr. Trump is in the tenor of his political commentary, which if anything seems more spiritedly anti-left than ideologically pro-right....

This doesn't feel mysterious to me at all. It sounds almost exactly the way I feel. So my hypothesis is that he's liberal, he's spent a lot of time around liberals and lefties, and he's got endless problems with the way they've betrayed what, it seems, should be their true values.

Many of his recent tweets have had that kind of “own the libs” tone, the shorthand on the right for when conservatives think they’ve deftly, often sarcastically, swatted down a liberal. A couple of weeks ago, he posted video on Twitter of a closet full of T-shirts with the slogan “#stay woke” that he said he had found at the social media company’s headquarters....

Mr. Musk has always claimed his concerns with Twitter’s previous management were about the ability of a small group of the company’s employees whom he described as “far left” to censor content.

Ah! Way down near the end of this piece, there is Twitter Files material — so the Times seems to want to cover it but not make it too visible (which reminds me of the way old Twitter "deamplified" material it disfavored):

[O]ver the past week, he has cheered on tweets about internal communications before he took over. The communications, which were given to two writers who have posted their findings on Twitter, calling them the Twitter Files, showed how the company went about deciding what information got suppressed.

The main thing isn't the files but The Mind of Musk as it observes the publication of the files.

As for the files:

It’s been a mixed bag of revelations. Some showed how Twitter employees made it harder to see tweets from a Stanford University professor who warned about how Covid lockdowns could harm children — a view many public health experts have come around to accept well after the fact.

That's massively important! And yet the NYT doesn't even tell us the name of the Stanford professor. It's Jay Bhattacharya. His story ought to be isolated, elaborated, and made front-page news!

Other documents show how more conventional, conspiracy-theory-embracing conservatives were shut down, like Dan Bongino, the radio host who was one of the biggest amplifiers of lies about the 2020 election.

And that's it for coverage of the Twitter Files. It's back to The Mind of Musk:

Mr. Musk has not professed to have any profound attachment to Republican policies, though, which is consistent with his posture before taking over Twitter....  In an interview with The New York Times in 2020, he described his politics as “middle-of-the-road.” “I’m socially very liberal. And then economically right of center, maybe, or center. I don’t know. I’m obviously not a communist.”...

He sounds like any intelligent American who isn't drawn to party politics. We may even be the majority! If only the New York Times could stop catering to the Democratic Party and write for us.

Often, it seems, his posts are motivated by personal pique, not political philosophy....

Great! An actual human being. Some people love them.

"The management of the nation’s most elite, center-left news organization, which, in its opinion pages, supports unionization at places like Amazon and..."

"... endorsed Elizabeth Warren for president in part because she would 'give workers more ability to bargain collectively,' is now telling its impecunious staff to quit clanking their tin cups. The workers want raises that keep up with inflation, and the company is on track for an annual operating profit of more than $300 million...."

Writes Shawn McCreesh in "Just What Did the [New York] Times Walkout Change?" (NY Magazine).

The picketing outside the Times’ Renzo Piano–designed headquarters went on for more than an hour this afternoon. Over a hundred people gathered under the scaffolding on West 40th Street, surrounded by a crush of cameras.

Nikole Hannah-Jones, their star magazine correspondent and the intellectual force behind “The 1619 Project,” stood next to Scabby the giant inflatable rat and spoke into a microphone:

“Let me tell you, I know what it’s like to work at a newspaper and not make enough to pay your bills. I worked two jobs until I was 30 years old. I reported at my local newspaper and then I had to sell mattresses on nights and weekends just to make ends meet. I loved my job, but we shouldn’t have to struggle financially to work at a place like the New York Times, no matter what position we hold.”

Donald McNeil was there, wearing an old union T-shirt and a brown leather coat with a shearling collar. He was ousted from the paper last year, and Hannah-Jones had played a minor role in that, but he’d always been a dedicated union man. He nodded along while she spoke. “I thought she was great,” he told me.

Donald McNeil! Remember his ouster? That came after he uttered the "n-word" on the mention side of the use/mention distinction. Blogged here and here.

The New York Times finally put up a story about the Twitter files. (Really, it's a story about the reaction to the release of the files.)

This went up yesterday. It doesn't have a time stamp, but I believe it went up in the evening, that is, 2 days after the files were released:

"Elon Musk, Matt Taibbi, and a Very Modern Media Maelstrom/A release of internal documents from Twitter set off intense debates in the intersecting worlds of media, politics and tech," by Michael M. Grynbaum.

Let's do a close read: 

It was, on the surface, a typical example of reporting the news: a journalist obtains internal documents from a major corporation, shedding light on a political dispute that flared in the waning days of the 2020 presidential race. But when it comes to Elon Musk and Twitter, nothing is typical. The so-called Twitter Files, released Friday evening by the independent journalist Matt Taibbi, set off a firestorm among pundits, media ethicists and lawmakers in both parties.

Even more atypical was the way the NYT contributed nothing at all.

It also offered a window into the fractured modern landscape of news, where a story’s reception is often shaped by readers’ assumptions about the motivations of both reporters and subjects.

The NYT ignored the initial story, but it's deigning to cover it now because of its larger and more general meaning: It's "a window into the fractured modern landscape of news." You mean, a news "landscape" not controlled by the NYT?

Well, they tried to control it by not seeing this story at all. They waited until it could be understood as a different story — the story of how fractured media reacted to Taibbi's tweets.

In this "modern landscape," readers make "assumptions about the motivations of both reporters and subject." That suggests that in the earlier "landscape," the one controlled by the NYT, we readers just believed what we were told.

I've been reading the NYT since the 1960s, when it was required reading at my Wayne, New Jersey high school, and we teenagers were taught, from Day 1, to read critically. Here's a specific example of bias, remembered more than half a century later: There's a front-page story about Richard Nixon's inauguration with a sentence that begins "In a gloomy drizzle that mantled the city" and ends with "President Kennedy's grave."

My history teacher made a lot of "assumptions about the motivations of both reporters and subjects," and though I'll critically read him too — as I think he would prefer — I'd say he deftly demonstrated that the NYT has a distinct liberal bias. I'm still reading it after all these years, though. I enjoy writing about the gloomy drizzle that mantles the slain President's grave whenever right-wingers come into power. 

So let's get on with it. Back to the new article:

The tempest began when Mr. Musk teased the release...

Oh! Ha ha. Immediately, I run into weather metaphor. Forget the mantling drizzle, this is a tempest!

I'll resist musing out loud about "teased the release."

The tempest began when Mr. Musk teased the release of internal documents that he said would reveal the story behind Twitter’s 2020 decision to restrict posts linking to a report in the New York Post about Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s son, Hunter. Mr. Musk, who has accused tech companies of censorship, then pointed readers to the account of Mr. Taibbi, an iconoclast journalist who shares some of Mr. Musk’s disdain for the mainstream news media.

Published in the form of a lengthy Twitter thread, Mr. Taibbi’s report included images of email exchanges among Twitter officials deliberating how to handle dissemination of the Post story on their platform. Mr. Musk and Mr. Taibbi framed the exchanges as evidence of rank censorship and pernicious influence by liberals.

The stress is not on what was in the files — the story the NYT didn't even cover — but the wilful framing of the story by Musk and Taibbi. They wanted to make mainstream media and Twitter insiders look biased and unprofessional. If that was their motive — it's not news, it's a vendetta — that may be why NYT insiders chose to withhold attention. Let's not help them seize the modern media landscape. We should be the arbiters of what is news.

But then other news developed — the reaction to what Musk and Taibbi did:

Many others — even some ardent Twitter critics — were less impressed, saying the exchanges merely showed a group of executives earnestly debating how to deal with an unconfirmed news report that was based on information from a stolen laptop.

That's a great sentence. I'll bet a large percentage of NYT readers stop right there. Yep. That's good enough for me. The story is nothing. I'm as done with it now as I was when the NYT was just not talking about it at all. The executives were earnestly debating. And that laptop — it wasn't something voters could absorb and process right before the election. What the execs did was at least one acceptable resolution of the problem: Don't let us see it at all. We couldn't handle it. 

That's just what I'm imagining a large percentage of NYT readers thinking. I myself will go on:

And as with many modern news stories, the Twitter Files were quickly weaponized in service of a dizzying number of pre-existing arguments.

That is true. It's a shift away from what happened at Twitter. We're off and running on the real topic of the article: The reaction to Taibbi's tweets.

The Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who often accuses liberals of stifling speech, made the claim that the “documents show a systemic violation of the First Amendment, the largest example of that in modern history."...

I'm skipping a couple things. 

The next topic is Taibbi, "a polarizing figure in journalism circles." Polarizing, apparently, because he began on the political left but then was "skeptical of claims of collusion between Russia and Mr. Trump’s campaign."

On Friday, shortly before Mr. Taibbi’s report, Mr. Musk wrote, “This will be awesome” and added a popcorn emoji, the universal online symbol of fervent anticipation. Mr. Taibbi also said he agreed “to certain conditions” in exchange for the documents, but did not provide details.

That was bad. It didn't feel as though professional journalism was to come. And we were being elbowed to see it as a bombshell. I know it put me off. As I blogged on Saturday morning, I wanted a clear, orderly presentation of the information, not a popcorn event.

Skeptics of Mr. Taibbi seized on what appeared to be an orchestrated disclosure. “Imagine volunteering to do online PR work for the world’s richest man on a Friday night, in service of nakedly and cynically right-wing narratives, and then pretending you’re speaking truth to power,” the MSNBC host Mehdi Hasan wrote in a Twitter post.

I like that NYT is pointing out the apparent orchestration of the response and quoting those words — "PR work for the world’s richest man" — that were repeated by too many people who ought to have felt compelled to do their own original writing. [CORRECTION: The thing I liked didn't happen! The word "orchestrated" refers to what Musk and Taibbi did, not what their critics did.]

Mr. Taibbi clapped back on Saturday, writing: “Looking forward to going through all the tweets complaining about ‘PR for the richest man on earth,’ and seeing how many of them have run stories for anonymous sources at the FBI, CIA, the Pentagon, White House, etc.”

Next, the article addresses the Times's own refusal to cover the story:

On Saturday, in a live audio session on Twitter, Mr. Musk said he was disappointed that more mainstream media outlets had not picked up Mr. Taibbi’s reporting. The New York Times requested copies of the documents from Mr. Musk, but did not receive a response.

The Times wanted their own access to the original materials and didn't get it. Musk insists that they take it second-hand as filtered through Taibbi. Come play on my media landscape. The Times didn't want to do it. The real media landscape is the one they have shaped and worked over all the long decades.

Mr. Musk said on Saturday that he had also given documents to Bari Weiss, a former editor and columnist at The Times whose Substack newsletter, Common Sense, bills itself as an alternative to traditional news outlets. Ms. Weiss declined to comment on Sunday....

That's got to be annoying. Weiss is doing her own work, and her departure from the NYT stands as a criticism of the way the Times has mucked up the old media landscape. We're all waiting to see how Weiss handles the documents. 

Perhaps the only universally accepted takeaway from the release of the Twitter Files was a sentiment that Mr. Taibbi himself expressed, in a headline on his Substack page that offered a preview of his upcoming posts. “Note to readers,” Mr. Taibbi wrote. “It’s about to get weird in here.”

That was bad, though. Taibbi leaned into the "popcorn" attitude that divided readers into partisan camps. He did not signal that he was going to provide professional journalism. If you want to rival old media, do better.

As for old media, they need to do better too.

How elite media is covering Elon Musk's dumping of information about how Twitter helped the Democratic Party in the 2020 election.

First, let me say, I would like a well-written, organized, comprehensive piece of writing explaining this material. Alternatively, show me everything — all the raw material.

Instead, Elon Musk directed us to the Twitter account of Matt Taibbi, and we were expected to receive a long series of tweets and to puzzle through it. Was that to drive massive traffic to Twitter? Was it supposed to be better all fragmented like that?

It certainly wasn't a way to get quick updates to news that was suddenly breaking. It's an old story: Twitter was skewed to favor Democrats. Now, presumably, there's impressive proof. Present the proof in a clear organized fashion!

Musk enlisted Matt Taibbi, so why couldn't Matt Taibbi create a readable document and then just tweet a link to that document?

We were all supposed to cobble the story together on our own. I tried, but I couldn't even figure out how to just get a straight line of Taibbi's tweets. I couldn't move all the responses out of the way. The path was cluttered with other people's tweets — memes about waiting for the next tweet, laughs about how this is just what everybody already knew anyway. What a confusing mess!

After a full night's sleep, I want to do a post, and I can't even figure out where to click to get the Taibbi tweets lined up in order! I do see a lot of blue checks homing in on Tweet #10: "10.Both parties had access to these tools. For instance, in 2020, requests from both the Trump White House and the Biden campaign were received and honored. However:"

"However:" sets up the next tweets, the ones that (supposedly) show the Democrats using the tools and receiving a sympathetic response from Twitter insiders. Most of this seems to be about the suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop story.

What I'd like to see this morning is a clear presentation of what was dribbled out last night. I look first to my favorite source for half a century: The New York Times.

There's nothing at the top of the home page, so I search the page for Twitter.

I get one article: "Twitter Keeps Missing Its Advertising Targets as Woes Mount." That's been a theme at the NYT: Twitter is doing badly under Musk. Woes Mount! But it doesn't say advertising is crashing or even down at all, just that there were "targets" and then those targets were missed. These were internal targets, so maybe they were very aggressive. I can't easily tell how woeful it is that these targets were missed.

I search the whole site for "taibbi" and "twitter" and easily see that the story I'm looking for is, at least at the moment, nonexistent.

I relocate to The Washington Post. Its home page is loaded with Twitter stories: "Gio Reyna has played seven minutes. This World Cup, he's the talk of Soccer Twitter," "TikTok, not Twitter, is the real menace," "From quitting to blocking: How to protect yourself on Musk’s Twitter," "Elon Musk says Kanye West suspended from Twitter after swastika tweet," "Twitter needs Apple more than Apple needs Twitter." 

Five stories, but not the one I'm looking for. I do the site search for "taibbi" and "twitter." Nothing!

I try NPR, BBC, CNN. Nothing. Nothing. Aha!

CNN comes through for me: "Released Twitter emails show how employees debated how to handle 2020 New York Post Hunter Biden story" by Brian Fung:

For days, Twitter owner Elon Musk had teased a massive bombshell disclosure based on internal company documents that he claimed would reveal “what really happened” inside Twitter when it decided to temporarily suppress a 2020 New York Post story about Hunter Biden and his laptop.

But on Friday, instead of releasing a trove of documents to the public, Musk’s big reveal pointed to a series of tweets by the journalist Matt Taibbi, who had been provided with emails that largely corroborated what was already known about the incident.

That closely tracks my perception of what happened.

Attracting thousands of retweets, Taibbi’s winding tweet thread reaffirmed how, in the initial hours after the Post story went live, Twitter employees grappled with fears that it could have been the result of a Russian hacking operation.

Grappled with fears? Or did they desperately search for a justification to suppress the story and trump up the "Russian hacking" ground?

It showed employees on Twitter’s legal, policy and communications teams debating – and at times disagreeing – over whether to restrict the article under the company’s hacked materials policy, weeks before the 2020 election.... While some questioned the basis for the decision and warned that Twitter would be inviting allegations of anti-conservative bias, others within the company, including senior officials, said the circumstances surrounding the Post story were unclear and recommended caution, according to screenshots of internal communications shared by Taibbi.

(Then-CEO Jack Dorsey – whom Taibbi said was not involved in the decision – has told US lawmakers that in hindsight, suppressing the story was a mistake.)....

The Taibbi posts undercut a top claim by Musk and Republicans, who have accused the FBI of leaning on social media companies to suppress the Hunter Biden laptop stories.

Musk tweeted Friday night, amid the Taibbi posts, that Twitter had acted “under orders from the government.” Taibbi said in his series of tweets that “there is no evidence - that I’ve seen - of any government involvement in the laptop story.”

That's big! Does Musk not have legal advisers? He was trying to make a giant splash. Why didn't he do it right?

Hypothesis: He didn't really have the story he wanted, so he went all out to churn traffic on Twitter.

Maybe he intentionally gets things wrong so his antagonists will tweet to correct him. And then everyone can fight about that. What a happening place Twitter is! Let's all go tweet little bits and pieces and see who wins or who's funnier or meaner. And that's how Musk wins. It's not about getting to the truth, but getting everyone on Twitter, tweeting one thing after another. 

How wearisome! I'm just hoping this CNN piece — a normal article — will be reasonably organized and professional:

Lawyers for Facebook parent company Meta have made similar comments in recent weeks, disputing claims from Republicans that the FBI coerced Facebook to suppress the laptop stories.

Taibbi said the material he reviewed referenced general FBI warnings about potential attempted Russian interference in the elections, which also dovetails with Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s public account of Facebook’s handling of the New York Post story and affirms how Twitter was on high alert for possible foreign meddling.

In the wake of the article’s suppression, Taibbi said one Democratic congressman, California Rep. Ro Khanna, wrote to Twitter’s chief legal officer suggesting it was a bad look and a departure from First Amendment ideals to suppress a news report containing details that affect a presidential candidate....

Twitter is a private company, but you can still argue that it ought to behave consistently with free speech ideals. This is a difficult concept for many people to understand, and I appreciate the precision of the language CNN is using here.

The tweet thread also highlighted how officials from both political parties routinely wrote to Twitter asking for specific tweets to be removed.... Taibbi said the contact from political parties happened more frequently from Democrats, but provided no internal documents to back up his assertion. He also did not say that Democrats requested that Twitter suppress the Post story, and his account did not suggest that the US government had ever pressured Twitter to suppress the story.

Thanks, CNN! That strikes me as a clear and balanced summary. If it's wrong, tell me exactly why. It's my touchstone at this point.

And, yes, I've known all along that I could find coverage in The New York Post.

The New York Post is all over it:

How elite media is covering Elon Musk's dumping of information about how Twitter helped the Democratic Party in the 2020 election.  

I had little hope this is going to be the kind of story I want. But the story in writing is not as sensationalistic as the front page graphics, and it helpfully brings out aspects that are missing from the CNN presentation. Highlights:

The chaos and confusion behind closed doors at Twitter in the immediate aftermath of the October 2020 Hunter Biden expose show that a small group of top-level execs decided to label the Post’s story as “hacked material” without any evidence — behind the back of then-CEO and founder Jack Dorsey. ...

According to Taibbi, Twitter’s former head of legal, policy, and trust Vijaya Gadde played a “key role” in the censorship decision. Damning emails and comments from former Twitter employees showed that “everyone knew” the social media giant’s suppression of The Post’s scoops about Hunter Biden’s infamous laptop. “was f—ed.”...

Hacking was the excuse, but within a few hours, pretty much everyone realized that wasn’t going to hold. But no one had the guts to reverse it,” the ex-employee added. “They just freelanced it,” a former employee told Taibbi about how the decision came about.

The decision left high-level executives puzzled. “I’m struggling to understand the policy basis for marking this as unsafe,” Trenton Kennedy, a communications official wrote in an apparent internal email to colleagues.

To which former Twitter Deputy General Counsel Jim Baker responded that it is “reasonable” to assume materials were hacked and that “caution is warranted.”

“Can we truthfully claim that this is part of the policy?” former Twitter Vice President of Global Communications Brandon Borrman asks in another missive.

“Everyone knew this was f–ked,” a former worker told Taibbi about Twitter’s official stance of on the Hunter story. According to Taibbi, the social media company “took extraordinary steps to suppress”...

Twitter’s censorship of the story led to then-White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany getting locked out of her account with just weeks to go before the 2020 election.... 

Taibbi also tweeted: “Both parties had access to these tools. For instance, in 2020, requests from both the Trump White House and the Biden campaign were received and honored.” But the former Rolling Stone writer said the “system wasn’t balanced” and “was based on contacts.”

Let's read that NYT article from 1963, "Growth of Overt Homosexuality In City Provokes Wide Concern.""A study published in December estimated that gas-burning stoves are responsible for 12.7 percent of childhood asthma in the United States."How elite media is covering Elon Musk's dumping of information about how Twitter helped the Democratic Party in the 2020 election.

Report "Althouse"

Are you sure you want to report this post for ?