Why the New York Times sucks

No NYT: 14 Per Cent Club

The excellent CounterPunch website has snarky t-shirts one can buy to support them. I own one, no longer available it seems, whose front displays, in a Gothic font, “NYT” crossed out in red and “14 Per Cent Club”. On the back it says

“14 per cent of Americans believe almost nothing of what they read in the New York Times.”

You Can Believe What You Read

In August, biking through wine country, I stopped at a winery in the middle of a scorching afternoon to cool down, drink prodigious amounts of water, and then try a little wine. An older gentleman asked me about that shirt, which I was wearing at the time. He asked what I had against the New York Times. I don’t think I gave a very good answer – he had not caught me at my best. So I thought I’d present my ideas here.

The NY Times is so intimately tied to the Establishment they just can’t provide anywhere close to the insightful critique needed by the “watchdog press”. In the last decade, their failings have grown so spectacular as to be almost satirical.

For instance, the Gray Lady is incapable of printing the word “torture”. At least, that is, when describing the conduct of the United States. It’s gotten so bad that the usually rather apolitical Boing Boing produced a popular New York Times Torture Euphemism Generator.

Another sign of fatal fealty to the Establishment is that almost any serious story is first run by the executive branch. A whistleblower went to the newspaper with an explosive story: AT&T was allowing the National Security Agency direct access to everything that went over the internet. The NSA even had their own room in AT&T’s building! The NY Times asked the Bush administration about the story. The administration asked them to please not publish because it wasn’t convenient. The newspaper acquiesced, postponing publishing for over a year.

Lately, the newspaper has run a smear campaign against Julian Assange and Wikileaks even while running stories analyzing cables from Cablegate. For many of those stories, the newspaper won’t link to the original cables, even though they are widely available. Why not? Because the Obama administration asked them.

I could go on, but I think this is a good collection of fairly shocking examples. I will include just one more: a story about which the NY Times spoke loudly with its silence.

In July, 2001, the “Group of 8” nations (G8) met in Genoa, Italy. As had become usual by then, a massive protest was planned against this meeting of the world’s elite. I was closely following news of the protest via IndyMedia, an alternative news outlet. At a certain point, things got very ugly. Two hundred police physically attacked dozens of people during a vicious night-time raid. Several people ended up in the hospital, including Mark Covell, who was brutalized and fell into in a coma for two days:

I was hit over the head, then beaten on the ground non-stop for ten minutes. Then perhaps fifty more police ran by, each giving me a kick. I hope none of you ever get to hear your bones breaking inside you as I did.

There was lots of other police misconduct, including planted evidence, lies about people resisting arrest, and mistreatment of arrestees in prison.

And not one word about this in the New York Times. Not one word.

A couple of months later, buried on A22 or something, there was an article about the inquiry into the police violence in Genoa. That was it.

5 thoughts on “Why the New York Times sucks

  1. Yes, indeed. For a while I thought I was the only one who noticed that the once mighty vehicle of intelligent articles was now acting as the mouthpiece for the US government. Now I see there are two of us.



  2. Hi,I found this article because the keyword “New York Times sucks” which I tapped.
    I really agree with your point of view.
    Now you've got another club member.
    Although I'm not an American but a Japanese,I've been sick of NYT's bull sh*t for long time.
    So I blogged about your 14% Club story. At the same time I reproduced your T-shirt image.
    My blog entry introduced your experiences roughly in Japanese with some new BS of NYT about Japan.
    I've done it without your permission but am hoping that you're ok with that.
    The blog is this one.
    Thank you!


  3. My issue with the NYT has more to do with the stories they choose and how they report them. They try so hard to be the social justice warriors, but end up crusading around and beating drums and, I imagine, turn the majority of intelligent Americans away. Why do I have to hear about Ferguson weeks and weeks after it happened? Because the NYT wants to push ideas into the public's eye to influence attitudes and policy. Over the years, I've gone to really loving them to now, just not being able to trust them. It's gotten so militant. The stories seem so strategically chosen to promote an underlying idea bordering on propaganda. Now I prefer Reuters because they just aren't out to influence my mind, but just do their jobs as reporters – I like that. I'm not so stupid (anymore) that I simply believe what's on the front page; I can see the underlying strategies in news reporting. Please treat me with respect.


  4. This is kind of a bizarre comment, because my critique of the NY Times is really from the left. If it’s a term you like, then consider me a social justice warrior. Ferguson was (and still is) a huge story, so duh.


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