There are a lot of other things going on out there, but our top news organizations still need to keep a singular focus on the Covid-19 pandemic and the Trump administration’s calamitous response. And they need to be relentless in holding Trump personally to account for the suffering and death that could so easily be avoided.
The millions of protesters expressing their rage and suffering in the wake of the agonizing videotaped police killing of George Floyd have made something almost magical happen in this country. They’ve reminded a super-majority of Americans that we are better than this.
Publicly revealing the reason for publishing each essay would allow opinion editors to maintain – even clarify – their moral and journalistic values while at the same time exposing readers to the full range of the sometimes appalling public discourse, rather than protecting them from it.
The spectacles understandably catch the eye. But journalists covering the protests shouldn’t just be watching, they should be listening. And they should be taking the protesters’ message straight to officials in a position to respond -- and demanding to know what those officials intend to do about it.
Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger defended the publication of Tom Cotton's controversial op-ed, noting: "We don't publish just any argument -- they need to be accurate, good faith explorations of the issues of the day."
And that’s the whole point. By publishing the op-ed, the Times was vouching for its accuracy and its good faith, and was validating its topic as a legitimate issue, worthy of serious debate.
One gets the sense that we are entering the final phase of something – possibly Trumpism, possibly democracy. So it's entirely appropriate for the press to stop acting as if it’s just business as usual.
It’s a shift from watching the protests through the eyes of the police to watching the police through the eyes of the protesters. It’s a shift from seeing the police primarily as sources and protectors to seeing them as subjects and aggressors.
With the news cycle spinning with so many other, juicier stories, the Hong Kong news has gone largely unnoticed by the Washington media. But Trump’s political contortions and confabulations have now taken their toll not just at home, but abroad.
Trump may have turned his attention to other matters, but journalists need to continue stressing that every day that goes by is another day that he fails to lead and that the federal government fails to take the steps that could save tens of thousands more lives in the weeks and months to come.
The lesson of 2016 is not to ignore the failings of the Democrat running against Trump. It’s to cover them with some sense of proportion. And at this point, Biden's considerable flaws have gotten too little coverage, not too much.
Political reporters from our top news organizations aren’t falling for Donald Trump’s transparently deceitful campaign to demonize mail-in voting. But they're not putting this latest attempt at voter suppression in its essential context: as part of a massive Republican program to create the possibility of minority rule.
Even as Donald Trump and members of his administration have asserted greater and more unilateral executive power, our top news organizations have tended to interpret those moves narrowly and naively – giving too much credit to cover stories, marginalizing criticism as just so much partisan squabbling, and leaving the accurate, alarming description of what’s really going on to opinion writers.
After sounding off on the dismal federal response to the coronavirus on CNN, McNeil didn't deserve to be scolded by the Times for going “too far in expressing his personal views.” He did exactly what more journalist desperately need to be doing right now. He expressed himself with authority, and passion, and alarm.
It’s not just hypocrisy – it’s Hunger-Games-level hypocrisy, with ample testing for the ruling class while the rest of us fight for scraps and are forcibly enlisted as “warriors” in a battle to restore the rich man’s economy.