The New York Times’ crusade for truth has been marked by a series of missteps and controversies over the past month, prompting critics to call into question its credibility as the ‘newspaper of record’
From a tweet referring to sexual misconduct as ‘harmless fun’ to its 1619 Project on slavery, the acclaimed outlet, which advertises under the slogan ‘The truth is worth it’, has repeatedly come under fire in recent weeks for both its coverage and several inappropriate social media posts.
Two of the Times’ most recent headaches stemmed from its bombshell report detailing allegations again Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
The article featured an account from Deborah Ramirez, who claimed in September last year that Kavanaugh exposed his penis to her and thrust it in her face at a dorm party, forcing her touch it while they were both students at Yale in the 1980s.
The newspaper’s opinion Twitter page tweeted Saturday: ‘Having a penis thrust in your face at a drunken dorm party may seem like harmless fun. But when Brett Kavanaugh did it to her, Deborah Ramirez says, it confirmed she did not belong at Yale in the first place.’
Minutes after that first tweet was posted, the paper issued a retraction, writing: ‘We have deleted an earlier tweet to this article that was poorly phrased.’
They later deleted that post following further criticism, adding: ‘We deleted a previous tweet regarding this article. It was offensive, and we apologize.’
The New York Times’ crusade for truth has been marked by a series of missteps and controversies over the past month. The outlet was slammed on social media last week after it posted a pair of troubling tweets about 9/11 and sexual assault. It also came under fire last month after publishing The 1619 project, a 100-page edition of its Sunday magazine analyzing the history of slavery and institutional racism in the US through the eyes of black writers
By the time the newspaper issued an apology, the tweet had already sparked widespread anger and condemnation.
One Twitter user wrote: ‘This is…. Such a profound lapse in judgment and common sense. Sexual assault isn’t harmless fun. What the hell is going on at the NYT?’
Another said: ‘NYT is now apologizing for their tweet and saying it was “offensive.”
‘But I’m having a really hard time understanding how any decent human being could write a sentence like: “Having a penis thrust in your face at a drunken dorm party may seem like HARMLESS FUN.”’
Others suggested Kavanaugh himself had written the tweet, writing: ‘Yo, NYT, did Brett Kavanaugh write this tweet?’
On Saturday the Times tweeted an article detailing fresh allegations against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, writing in the caption that ‘having a penis thrust in your face at a dorm party may seem like harmless fun’. The newspaper apologized for the ‘poorly phrased’ minutes after it went public, but the backlash from social media users continued
By the time the paper issued an apology, the tweet had already sparked widespread anger
On Sunday the Times was forced to revise the article itself, specifically the portion pertaining to a fresh allegation from Yale classmate Max Stier, who said he saw Kavanaugh thrust his penis into a girl’s face and force it into her hand at a different drunken dorm party in the 1980s.
The first version of the story neglected to mention that the unnamed victim in the incident Stier allegedly witnessed admitted she did not remember the apparent assault and had declined to be interviewed about it.
The newspaper amended the article after coming under intense scrutiny for the omission.
Stier did not speak directly to the Times, but the newspaper learned and corroborated that he had reported the incident to the FBI after the Ramirez allegations came to light last fall.
The FBI did not investigate the claim or interview the alleged victim, according to reports.
The Times later revised the article about Kavanaugh because the first version of the story neglected to mention that the unnamed victim admitted she did not remember the apparent assault and had declined to be interviewed about it
The newspaper amended the article after coming under intense scrutiny for the omission, including from President Donald Trump
Earlier last week the Times faced backlash over a tweet that described airplanes taking aim at the Twin Towers on 9/11, not terrorists.
That tweet was posted on the 18th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, which killed nearly 3,000 people, injured thousands and later led to the deaths of many more due to related illnesses.
The post partially read ‘airplanes took aim and brought down the World Trade Center,’ according to a screenshot from political activist Dinesh D’Souza.
It was not clear how long the post remained online but it was deleted and reedited, with a new version was put online.
Earlier last week the Times faced backlash over a tweet that described airplanes taking aim at the Twin Towers on 9/11, not terrorists
The post (above) was later deleted and reposted with different wording
The Kavanaugh and 9/11 Twitter gaffes came three weeks after a senior editor at the Times was forced to apologize for his own troublesome tweets with anti-Semitic overtones, which were posted before he joined the newspaper.
Breitbart News drew attention to the decade-old tweets posted by New York politics desk editor Tom Wright-Piersanti on August 22.
Wright-Piersanti, who has been a senior staff writer for the Times for just over five years, responded to the report by tweeting: ‘I have deleted tweets from a decade ago that are offensive. I am deeply sorry.’
In one of the posts from January 2010, Wright-Piersanti had written: ‘I was going to say “Crappy Jew Year,” but one of my resolutions is to be less anti-Semitic. So… HAPPY Jew Year. You Jews.’
Another from December 2009 included a photo of a vehicle with a Hanukkah Menorah on the roof and the caption: ‘Who called the Jew-police?’
After the tweets came to light, the Times said in a statement: ‘We are aware of these tweets, which are a clear violation of our standards. We are reviewing next steps.’
The week before, the Times’ deputy Washington editor, Jonathan Weisman, was demoted he was accused of racism over a pair of controversial tweets.
On August 7 Weisman tweeted about Justice Democrats backing a primary challenger, Morgan Harper, against Democratic Ohio Rep Joyce Beatty, who is black.
Harper responded by pointing out that she is also black.
In July, Weisman wrote on Twitter that saying Democratic Reps Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota were from the Midwest was ‘like saying @RepLloydDoggett (D-Austin) is from Texas or @repjohnlewis (D-Atlanta) is from the Deep South.’
His tweet went viral after New York Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez shared it and wrote: ‘They literally are, &this comment is what erasure looks like.’
Omar also responded, tweeting: ‘This will certainly be news to people of Minnesota’s 5th District!’
New York politics desk editor Tom Wright-Piersanti (left) was forced to apologize last month for his own troublesome tweets with anti-Semitic overtones, which were posted nearly a decade ago, before he joined the newspaper. Jonathan Weisman (right), the Times’ deputy Washington editor, was demoted in August after being accused of racism on Twitter
The Times faced more direct criticism in late August after it published a 100-page edition of its Sunday magazine analyzing the history of slavery and institutional racism in the US.
Titled ‘The 1619 Project’, a reference to the year the first black slaves arrived in America, the issue contained a series of essays – penned by black writers – about the ways slavery still informs institutions such as healthcare, capitalism and popular culture.
A number of conservatives lambasted the project, accusing the Times of dredging up racial tensions that have long been laid to rest.
Former Republican Rep Newt Gingrich called the ongoing endeavor ‘a lie’ and said it amounted to ‘brainwashing’.
Conservative commentator Eric Erickson wrote on his blog the Resurgent that the project was a good idea but was ruined when the Times brought in opinion writers ‘who profit from stoking and fueling racial grievances’.
He also tweeted that the writers benefit from ‘seeing things through racial lenses and keeping racial tension aflame as much as Trump does’.
Robert Woodson, founder of the Woodson Center, which works to empower low income communities, wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed: ‘The New York Times series wallows in victimhood and ignores success.’
Ilya Shapiro, director of the Robert A Levy Center for Constitutional Studies at the libertarian Cato Institute, tweeted: ‘Writing about history is great, but a project intended to delegitimize mankind’s grandest experiment in human liberty & self-governance is divisive, yes. I know it’s unwoke of me to say so, but so be it. I’ll take reality, warts and all, over grievance-mongering.’
The Times faced criticism in late August after it published a 100-page edition of its Sunday magazine analyzing the history of slavery and institutional racism in the US
Former Republican Rep Newt Gingrich fiercely criticized ‘The 1619 Project’, calling the ongoing endeavor ‘a lie’ and saying it amounted to ‘brainwashing’
Conservative commentator Eric Erickson said the project was ‘handed to opinion writers who profit from seeing things through racial lenses and keeping racial tension aflame’
New York Times politics reporter Astead W Herndon addressed the backlash on Twitter, calling it proof that America’s coverage of slavery and race in the past has suffered without the ‘racial lens’ deemed harmful by conservatives
Many critics contended that the Times’ new focus on race was part of a liberal agenda.
In an op-ed for The Week entitled: ‘The New York Times surrenders to the left on race’, writer Damon Linker argued that the Times is ‘reframing American history…in a highly sensationalistic, reductionistic, and tendentious way’.
‘Putting aside any pretense toward nuance or complexity, the paper has surrendered to the sensibility of left-wing political activists,’ Linker wrote.
Gingrich, Erickson and others branded the race coverage as a sign of decline at the Times, echoing President Donald Trump’s repeated claims that the paper is failing due to biased coverage.
In the face of staunch criticism, New York Times Magazine has soon firm on its decision to produce The 1619 project.
Reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones, credited as the driving force behind the series, said at a launch event last month: ‘This project is, above all, an attempt to set the record straight. To finally, in this 400th year, tell the truth about who we are as a people and who we are as a nation.’
‘It is time to stop hiding from our sins and confront them. And then in confronting them, it is time to make them right,’ she added.
New York Times politics reporter Astead W Herndon addressed the backlash on Twitter, calling it proof that America’s coverage of slavery and race in the past has suffered without the ‘racial lens’ deemed harmful by conservatives.
‘tho (sic) the narrative is often that black writers are somehow non-objective opinion activists for including race in political conversation, deeply reported projects like 1619 are reminders that it’s the inverse — to ignore race– that is the non-journalistic, activist position,’ he tweeted.
While the criticism of The 1619 Project from conservatives was loud, is was overshadowed by praise from countless politicians, academics and readers.
Even two weeks after it was published, dozens of people were seen lining up outside the Times’ New York City office to get their hands on a copy.
In April, the Times came under fire from all sides after it printed an anti-Semitic cartoon portraying President Trump and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
The Times later deleted the ‘offensive’ cartoon and apologized for it publicly
In April, the Times came under fire from all sides after it printed an anti-Semitic cartoon of President Trump and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The drawing portrayed Trump as a blind man wearing a yarmulke while being led by a dog with Netanyahu’s face imposed on its body.
A blue Star of David was seen dangling from Netanyahu’s ‘collar’ while Trump held the leash.
The Times said that the cartoon was printed by the newspaper’s international edition.
The comic was drawn by political cartoonist Antonio Moreira Antunes (above) of the Lisbon-based newspaper Expresso
‘A political cartoon in the international print edition of The New York Times on Thursday included anti-Semitic tropes, depicting the prime minister of Israel as a guide dog with a Star of David collar leading the president of the United States, shown wearing a skullcap,’ the Times wrote in an editor’s note.
‘The image was offensive, and it was an error of judgment to publish it.
‘It was provided by The New York Times News Service and Syndicate, which has since deleted it.’
The New York Times Syndicate is a service that ‘curates’ content from the US-based newspaper and offers it to other publications worldwide.
The cartoon itself was drawn by political cartoonist António Moreira Antunes of the Lisbon, Portugal-based newspaper Expresso.
The Times deleted the cartoon, but not before it ignited outrage on social media.
Trump joined the fray, claiming that Times did not apologize to him.
‘The New York Times has apologized for the terrible Anti-Semitic Cartoon, but they haven’t apologized to me for this or all of the Fake and Corrupt news they print on a daily basis,’ the president tweeted.
‘They have reached the lowest level of ‘journalism,’ and certainly a low point in @nytimes history!’
President Donald Trump said the New York Times has not reached out to him to apologize for running an anti-Semitic cartoon