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an endless succession of beans and nuts.

"An Anonymous Source Goes Public/Ali Diercks, who was crucial to a major #MeToo story involving the CBS executive Les Moonves, talks about why she started sharing information."

That's the headline for today's episode of the NYT "Daily" podcast.

We hear the Times reporter Rachel Abrams speaking with a lawyer, Ali Diercks, who chose to leak information about the document review she was doing for CBS after Les Moonves resigned from his position as the company's chairman and chief executive.

Here's the story Abrams co-authored back in 2018, based in part on the confidential information Diercks shared with her: "'If Bobbie Talks, I’m Finished’: How Les Moonves Tried to Silence an Accuser/A trove of text messages details a plan by Mr. Moonves and a faded Hollywood manager to bury a sexual assault allegation. Instead, the scheme helped sink the CBS chief, and may cost him $120 million."

Diercks's law firm, Covington & Burling, unsurprisingly, figured out that she was the source of the leak and she lost her job and her law license.

Diercks to Abrams: "Our career trajectories were thrown in diametrically opposed orbits by the same thing, the same catalyzing event. You know, a scoop like this is going to make your career and ruin mine at the same time."

Abrams, summing up: "She lost her career and struggled in isolation. I got a bigger profile and ended up with a book deal."

"Putting any kind of public pressure on Ms. Feinstein has been criticized by the former House speaker Nancy Pelosi and others as sexist."

"'I’ve never seen them go after a man who was sick in the Senate in that way,' Ms. Pelosi said last month. It’s true that the Senate, which has always been entirely or mostly male, has experienced long absences by some of its male members. In the 1940s, Senator Carter Glass of Virginia was absent for four years because of heart trouble. Senator Karl Mundt of South Dakota had a stroke in 1969 and never really came back in the following three years. In 2001, when he was 98, Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina was wheeled to the Senate floor to cast votes, despite widespread concern about his mental fitness. In all of those cases, as with Ms. Feinstein, the senators ignored concerns about their capacity and pleas from their colleagues as long as they could. This Senate tradition should have been discarded long ago. Senate seats are not lifetime sinecures...."

Writes the NYT Editorial Board, calling on Dianne Feinstein to resign from the Senate.

But isn't Pelosi right? Something has been done badly by men for a long, long time, and suddenly it just has to stop... because a woman is doing it? Pick a different occasion for standing on lucid, sensible policy! Dianne Feinstein is no more in the way than Glass and Mundt and Thurmond. They received an old-fashioned sentimental Senatorial respect. Perhaps that respect is ridiculous. Perhaps it's just inconvenient. But use this newfound principle first against a few men or it's evidence of sexism. Pelosi's right.

"Courts have long recognized that reporters are entitled to engage in legal and ordinary news-gathering activities without fear of tort liability — as these actions are at the very core of protected first amendment activity,."

Wrote the trial judge, Justice Robert R. Reed (State Supreme Court in Manhattan), quoted in "Judge Dismisses Trump’s Lawsuit Against The New York Times/Former President Donald J. Trump, who had sued The Times, three of its reporters and his niece over an investigation into his tax returns, was ordered to pay The Times’s legal expenses" (NYT).

Times spokesman Charlie Stadtlander said: "It is an important precedent reaffirming that the press is protected when it engages in routine news gathering to obtain information of vital importance to the public." 

Trump’s lawyer, Alina Habba, said they'd "weigh" his "options," but not specifically whether he'd appeal, and they continue to assert that the Times "went well beyond the conventional news-gathering techniques permitted by the First Amendment."

Whoa! My bad law talk alarm went off! Don't say "permitted by the First Amendment."

The Times was free to do what it did unless there's some valid law that forbids it. Trump made a claim that what the Times did was not permitted because it violated tort law. If he was wrong about that and no tort law or other law was violated, then what the Times did would be permitted, regardless of constitutional law. Fortunately, the First Amendment protects against encroachments on freedom of speech and freedom of the press that might occur if tort law limits what is permitted. If. If tort law or other law doesn't limit, then you don't need permission from the First Amendment. The First Amendment is the defense against encroachment, not the source of permission!

I like the quote from Justice Reed because it's precise about the role of the First Amendment: It relieves us of the fear of aggressive interpretations tort law.

The complicated woman and the complicated man.

My son John comments on a NYT post at Facebook.

This is a variation on a point I've made a few times: The mainstream media present whatever is true of the woman as good. If the same quality were found to be true of a man, it would be presented as bad.

In this case — complicatedness — is something that — in a woman — feels intriguing and sophisticated. But what the hell is a "complicated man"? We're not wasting our time exploring his psyche. Screw him. He's an asshole.

But the complicated woman....

"This show unites blue-chip buttocks by the likes of Francis Bacon, Andy Warhol, John Currin and Cecily Brown; dorsal drawings and pastels by Degas, Klimt and Schiele..."

"The bottoms on display are male and female, nude and clothed, seen from a forensic distance or in fetishistic close-up, but rarely lascivious. All together the show is well-bred and understated...."

Paul Cadmus, whose retrograde male nudes are enjoying an unmerited revival in attention, appears here with yet more anemic drawings of standing and reclining musclemen, none more consequential than the gents on a Calvin Klein underwear box. (For what it’s worth, the gay male artists in this show all come out looking second-rate, with none of the perverse intelligence of Degas, Schiele and the other straight bros. Did Michelangelo die for this?)....
In [Félix Vallotton's] 'Étude de Fesses'... the right cheek droops inches below the left, which is squared off where the sitzfleisch meets the thigh. The left hip arcs grandly, while the right one nearly disappears into a vertical line. Gentle shadowing picks out small passages of cellulite, and cool, clean vertical brushwork gives his oils the appearance of pastel...."
That's at The New York Times, where they prod me to partake of additional ass-related material like this:

Trump has caused the New York Times to write a front page article about his purported positivity about performing a perp walk!

I'm laughing while trying to force myself to read "Trump at Mar-a-Lago: Magical Thinking and a Perp-Walk Fixation/Those who have spent time with Donald Trump in recent days say he has often appeared significantly disconnected from the severity of his potential legal woes."

See? Their idea is that he's crazy and delusional and out of touch with reality. Do they even consider that he's playing them and just doing what he always does and making the best of whatever misfortune comes his way? It's just media judo. Can't they recognize it by now?

Oh, I'll give them credit. They recognize it, they just also keep doing what they do, characterizing Trump's genius/"genius" moves as craziness.

And I say that even as I do what I always do: read the NYT in the morning. But I'm going to give myself credit for not reading this article. Not yet, anyway. Am I missing something?

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.

The complicated woman and the complicated man."This show unites blue-chip buttocks by the likes of Francis Bacon, Andy Warhol, John Currin and Cecily Brown; dorsal drawings and pastels by Degas, Klimt and Schiele..."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."

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