In a move that immediately drew criticism from across the media spectrum, the New York Times announced late Wednesday that the opinion section in its Thursday edition would be completely dedicated to letters from supporters of President Trump.
The Times‘ editorial board published a preview of tomorrow’s print edition online Wednesday, and tried to explain their rationale for this highly problematic move, with little success:
The Times editorial board has been sharply critical of the Trump presidency, on grounds of policy and personal conduct. Not all readers have been persuaded. In the spirit of open debate, and in hopes of helping readers who agree with us better understand the views of those who don’t, we wanted to let Mr. Trump’s supporters make their best case for him as the first year of his presidency approaches its close. Tomorrow we’ll present some letters from readers who voted for Mr. Trump but are now disillusioned, and from those reacting to today’s letters and our decision to provide Trump voters this platform.
While the sentiment is noble, if naïve, the move is being seen as a massive capitulation to the Team Trump canard that the mainstream media has taken sides against the president, and against conservatives more broadly.
MSNBC’s Joy Reid took the Times to task immediately with a savage tweet that didn’t mince words:
Yes, because Trump supporters have no voice, no political power and not a single media platform to air their views. Also no one ever writes pieces about them. Ever. https://t.co/qGNGngWnP5
— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) January 18, 2018
Her point can’t be overstated. Fox News, and Sinclair Media, and Newsmax are news outlets with 24 hour platforms that reach a national audience, and they are blatantly, unabashedly pro-Trump.
Add to that AM talk radio, which has been dominated by conservative commentators like Rush Limbaugh since the 90s, and the myriad of flat-out right wing propaganda websites like Breitbart and the Daily Caller, and you have an entire ecosystem dedicated to propping up and defending this president, come what may.
Did any of those outlets ever dedicate beach-front real estate like their opinions section to supporters of President Obama “in the spirit of free debate?” Will “Fox and Friends” ever dedicate an episode of its morning show to air the views of people critical of President Trump? On both counts, the answer is clearly no.
With this unprecedented move, the Times is essentially surrendering to the President and his phony #fakenews crusade against all news media outlets whose only crime is holding him accountable, with nothing in return.
It’s a bold move, and it does, perhaps, go some ways toward thwarting the argument that the mainstream media is always anti-Trump. Sadly, however, all it will succeed in doing is elevating the opinions of those who continue support this con-man of a president and his racist policies and rhetoric by giving them an undeserved soapbox from which to spew their own skewed world views.