Media corruption at the “paper of record”
The American people are besieged by staggering corruption. Political, business and media corruption have merged, creating a toxic cynicism that has wrecked faith and belief in democracy.
Brett Favre stands as a perfect avatar for a class of corrupted American elites who have become deluded into believing that they have an entitlement to take whatever they want. This is the world where two Mississippi governors coddle the pampered sports icon like a child, while helping him scheme to find a way to divert money from some of the nation’s most impoverished people so that his daughter can play in a new volleyball stadium.
Perhaps there is a silver cloud in the Favre travesty. At least he isn’t the MAGA nominee for US Senate or governor for Mississippi. Fraudulence has become a chief qualification in the MAGA class of 2022. Ohio Senate candidate JD Vance set up a fake opioid charity. The Yale Law School-educated Silicon Valley millionaire deceived people by having MDs tell them that the OxyContin that would kill them is harmless. Pennsylvania Senate candidate Dr. Oz is the 21st century version of the snake oil salesman, riding into town strapped down with bottles of magical elixir. The MAGA movement is a giant con and has been from day one. At the center of it all is a singular figure. He is the most corrupt human being in the history of the United States of America. He is the worst president in American history, twice impeached, utterly disgraced and the instigator of a bloody insurrection that ended the tradition of the peaceful transition of power, which began in 1797.
His name is Donald John Trump from Queens. He has a “psychiatrist.” Her name is Maggie Haberman. She is the lead Trump reporter for The New York Times, and has become, like him, a singular totem of corruption. The corruption of the American media has fueled the extremist movement that threatens the republic as the journalistic ethic forged by Ed Murrow, Fred Friendly, Dorothy Thompson, Walter Cronkite and a generation of truth seekers gave way to a generation of information profiteers. The money that flows from anger, division, confusion and insanity can be counted in the tens of billions of dollars. That is the business of much of the American media. It is certainly Maggie Haberman’s business.
The New York Times likes to call itself “the paper of record.” This has always been an arrogant assertion, but by making it, The New York Times opens itself to an examination of both the claim and whether it possesses the credibility to make it.
The New York Times is home to some of the most accomplished and bravest journalists in the world. Its publication is a daily miracle. Yet, its accomplishments should not blind the American public to its tragic failures and corruption.
Walter Duranty was the original access journalist. He was Stalin’s useful idiot, and was hand-fed morsels of news from the Soviet regime that brought Duranty fame and prizes. He won the Pulitzer Prize for telling the world a lie. He peddled Stalin’s monstrous lies about Ukraine. Duranty denied the deaths of millions from starvation that was imposed upon them by the state. He lied to the world. Andrea Chalupa wrote a movie, Mr. Jones, about this dark chapter in The New York Times history.
Jayson Blair was a fabulist and a plagiarist. He just made it up. Blair helped turn the so called “paper of record” into a work of fiction. Judith Miller was The New York Times national security correspondent whose reporting about Iraq and Saddam Hussein’s weapons programs completely fell apart. The result, in part, was a war that should have never been fought. The paper of record, in this instance, became a skeptic-free zone from the assurances of the politicians and ideologists commanding the world’s most powerful military.
These failures don’t indict the whole of the institution, but they certainly do the judgement and motives of the individuals involved, as well as the leadership culture that has allowed them to thrive in the open — and ultimately disgrace the institution.
Any news organization with a functioning ethical compass would have understood that Maggie Haberman had a conflict with regard to covering Trump because of her family’s long-standing financial connections and relationship to the Kushner family. The New York Times didn’t see it that way. They saw opportunity. They saw a chance to take the inside lane, and make an access play. With that decision, a new journalistic era began at The New York Times that has broadly affected political coverage over these last years. It has ended with the destruction of the Watergate ethic and the reputation of the American media in the eyes of the American people, who despise them. Survey after survey testifies to the collapse of belief and trust in everyday people when it comes to what is reported to them by the media.
What is Maggie Haberman’s job? Supposedly, a journalist’s job is to report the news without fear or favor.
Ms. Haberman learned that Donald Trump had taken classified information from the White House to Mar-a-Lago in 2021. This was vital and important information that was withheld from the American people for her book and to make money — and with the permission of The New York Times editors. It is shameful conduct. It is scandalous conduct. America’s political reporters are, broadly speaking, the anchors around the ankles of the journalists who are risking their lives all around the world to reveal the truth. They certainly have no type of moral standing, and despite whatever delusions some may have, they hold no priesthood status in our free society.
Just last week, CNN revealed a tidbit of old information from Haberman’s soon-to-be-released book, dressed up as “breaking news” It was all a sham between book publicists, PR departments and agents. No doubt someone somewhere has already placed an option on Haberman’s insider diary to make into a movie.
The American people are desperate for honesty and truth. They are desperate for leaders who will put the country first above all other considerations.
They are desperate for business leaders who will keep their word and operate ethically.
They are desperate for a media that will clarify complexity and tell the truth.
Perhaps there will be a great demand for the diary of Trump’s “psychiatrist.” I don’t think so.
Most people will be repulsed by it. They will be even more so by the marketing campaign that will spread over the mastheads of dozens of other media organizations as old news that was concealed is sold on the open market like a commodity.
Whatever it is, it isn’t journalism. It is an abdication of responsibility and a failure of responsibility and duty that equals the faithlessness of the Trump mob Haberman set out to cover so long ago. In the end, she made herself another character in an epic story of corruption and faithlessness that has brought the country to the abyss. Someday, god willing, the American people will look back on this era with the contempt it deserves. When they talk to their grandchildren about it, Haberman will be a name that fits nicely next to Duranty, Miller and Blair.