Posts Tagged ‘New York Times’

Media coordinate with each other to battle Trump

August 15, 2018
Donald Trump
On Thursday, more than 100 newspapers around the country are set to publish editorials in a coordinated push back against Trump’s repeated complaints of “fake news” and his remark that many in the press are the “enemy of the people.”
(Paul Sancya/AP)

Members of the news media are increasingly working together as they try to turn up the heat on President Trump’s White House.

On Thursday, more than 100 newspapers around the country are set to publish editorials in a coordinated push back against Trump’s repeated complaints of “fake news” and his remark that many in the press are the “enemy of the people.”

The Boston Globe initiated the campaign, and contacted local and national papers around the country to get them to join the effort.


“We have some big newspapers, but the majority are from smaller markets, all enthusiastic about standing up to Trump’s assault on journalism,” Boston Globe’s deputy editorial page editor Marjorie Pritchard told CNN on Saturday.

But coordination within the press is going beyond the staging of op-eds. Liberal New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman suggested last week that the media should work together on a new way to cover Trump’s mega-rallies, where the president often ridicules reporters who are collectively covering the event, usually in an elevated pen so that cameras can get a clear shot.

“No question that the press should not allow itself to be props at Trump’s rallies, and that can be dealt with by using a single pool camera that feeds all the networks, or reporters just sitting among the rally attendees, not in a special pen,” wrote Friedman.

The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank previously offered his colleagues in the media nearly the exact same advice.

In a column on Aug. 3, Milbank wrote, “Why are journalists allowing themselves to be sitting ducks [at the rallies]? We should reduce our presence to the Air Force One ‘pool’ — a small rotating group that shares its reporting with the rest of the media. Any other journalists who wish to cover these spectacles should attend as members of the public.”

Reporters in the national press have grappled with covering Trump since he shot to the top of the Republican primary polls in 2015. His popularity was enhanced in large part because of his willingness to confront reporters who he perceived as overtly hostile or unfair.

A year and six months into Trump’s first term, the semi-regular White House press briefings have remained contentious events in which journalists have complained that they’re being lied to or undermined by the administration. That has led to another form of coordination among reporters.

At one of the briefings in late July, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders attempted to move on from an NBC News reporter who had attempted to ask multiple follow-up-questions.

When Sanders called on a reporter for the Hill, that reporter offered his opportunity back to the NBC reporter.

The New York Times devoted a full story to the moment under a headline that read, “Reporters, Facing a Hostile White House, Try a New Tactic: Solidarity.”

“Perhaps the moments of stonewalling from Ms. Sanders — and a notable recent drop-off in the frequency of the briefings — had generated a minor revolt in the press,” the paper said.

Well-known Washington journalist Mike Allen of Axios suggested months ago that reporters should simply stop attending the briefings altogether.

“With all the legitimate gripes reporters have with this White House perhaps the least worthy of your (or their) time and attention is the WWE-style smackdown over briefings,” he wrote in late June. “Every day, the White House hides or dodges. Every day, reporters protest and whine. Here’s an idea: Quit going.”


Trump’s Attacks on the Press: Part Instinct, Part Calculation

August 11, 2018

President has dialed up the frequency, intensity of his attacks at rallies around the country

President Trump at a rally in Ohio earlier this month. Mr. Trump’s attacks on the press play well with his supporters.
President Trump at a rally in Ohio earlier this month. Mr. Trump’s attacks on the press play well with his supporters. PHOTO: MADDIE MCGARVEY/BLOOMBERG NEWS

President Trump, who has had a tug-of-war with the press throughout his administration, has lately dialed up the frequency and intensity of his attacks at rallies around the country.

White House advisers and people close to the president say his broadsides against the media are in part a visceral response to what he sees as unfair criticism. But they also are part of a campaign strategy to energize Republican voters ahead of the midterm elections, targeting a frustration with the media that Mr. Trump shares with his supporters.

Mr. Trump’s attacks—from dismissing critical stories as “fake news” to painting news organizations as “the enemy of the people”—play well with his supporters. An Ipsos poll published this week showed that 43% of Republicans who responded said they agreed the president should be able to close news outlets “engaged in bad behavior.”

At campaign rallies, crowds have hurled insults at reporters in the press pen as Mr. Trump has lambasted them from behind the podium.

In his attacks on the media, Mr. Trump has occasionally used aggressive language and imagery that critics have said encourages violence. That has posed a challenge for media organizations and reporters over how and whether to respond: Some news organizations have begun hiring bodyguards to protect reporters at the events.

“Sometimes the crowd is just playing along—like it’s a professional wrestling event—and then are pretty friendly when the cameras are off,” said a White House correspondent for one national outlet. “But there have been certain crowds on certain nights that have been really menacing.”

People close to the president said his attacks stem in part from a belief that news media reports, particularly those on the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, constitute efforts to undermine the legitimacy of his presidency. Mr. Trump cannot resist responding to what he perceives as criticism, the people said. He’s a “counterpuncher,” one person said.

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s trial for financial fraud, which began last week, has particularly inflamed Mr. Trump’s concerns, one person close to the White House said. The president is frustrated by how prominently he has factored into the coverage of the case against Mr. Manafort, from whom Mr. Trump has sought to distance himself in the past year.

“The president and (White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders ) and others within the media operation are simply engaged in what they consider life and death, hand-to-hand combat,” the person said.

White House advisers and people in Mr. Trump’s orbit also acknowledge the symbiotic relationship between the president and the press and say he understands there is a political advantage to attacking the media.

Media executives and journalists, for their part, are aware that the Trump era has boosted cable news ratings and the audiences and subscriptions at newspapers. Many political reporters also say they believe the president’s public vitriol, though at times demoralizing, doesn’t necessarily make covering the White House any more difficult.

Still, the president’s attacks have become a frequent topic of debate at editorial news meetings at TV networks and newspaper publishers, according to people at those organizations. Among the frequent specific targets of Mr. Trump’s attacks are CNN, the New York Times, the Washington Post and NBC.

“We cover him very closely but do not push back against what he says in our stories. We do not get into arguments with him in our coverage,” said Elisabeth Bumiller, the Washington bureau chief for the New York Times, which Mr. Trump has routinely dismissed as the “failing New York Times.”

“But if he says something incorrect about us, our communications office will put out a statement correcting him,” Ms. Bumiller said.

“We work hard to earn and deserve our readers’ trust by reporting the facts every day. We don’t respond to political rhetoric in our coverage,” said a spokeswoman for Dow Jones & Co., which publishes The Wall Street Journal.

CNN’s Jim Acosta, left, during a Trump rally in Florida last month.
CNN’s Jim Acosta, left, during a Trump rally in Florida last month. PHOTO: OCTAVIO JONES/ZUMA PRESS

In recent weeks, President Trump called the media “dangerous and sick” in a tweet and accused press of causing “great division & distrust” and “War”; he refused to take a CNN question while on foreign soil at a news conference with the U.K. prime minister; and he elicited a chant of “CNN sucks” from a crowd in Pennsylvania.

CNN declined to comment.

After CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins asked Mr. Trump in an Oval Office meeting whether he felt “betrayed” by Michael Cohen, his former lawyer, she was asked not to cover a subsequent press conference by Ms. Sanders and Bill Shine, the deputy chief of staff for communications.

At a rally in Tampa last week, Mr. Trump’s supporters heckled Jim Acosta, the chief White House correspondent for CNN, while he was broadcasting. When asked Wednesday if such behavior was appropriate, Ms. Sanders described the relationship between the media and the White House as a “two-way street.”

“While we certainly support freedom of the press, we also support freedom of speech, and we think that those things go hand in hand,” she said.

Write to Lukas I. Alpert at and Rebecca Ballhaus at

China: “Core Leader” Xi Facing Rare Push Back — People question Xi’s autocratic policies, manipulation and violations of the rule of law

August 10, 2018

Months after ’s campaign to consolidate power appeared to have reached its pinnacle with the announcement of the successful abolition of presidential term limits and an unprecedented government restructuring plan, there are growing signs of domestic dissent to Xi’s policies. A recent vaccine scandal, ongoing trade dispute with Washingtonembattled stock market, and international opposition to Beijing’s recent foreign policy assertiveness have emboldened some in China to voice their discontent.

Xi Jinping, center, during the National People’s Congress in Beijing in March. Credit Fred Dufour/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Last week at The New York Times, Chris Buckley reported on a wave of rare domestic reproach facing Xi:

“People nationwide, including the entire bureaucratic elite, feel once more lost in uncertainty about the direction of the country and about their own personal security, and the rising anxiety has spread into a degree of panic throughout society,” Professor Xu [Zhangran, a Tsinghua law professor] wrote in an essay that appeared on the website of Unirule Institute of Economics, an independent think tank in Beijing that was recently forced out of its office.

[…] Professor Xu urged Chinese lawmakers to reverse the vote in March that abolished a two-term limit on Mr. Xi’s tenure as president. That near-unanimous vote of the party-dominated legislature opened the way for Mr. Xi, in office since late 2012, to retain power for another decade or longer as president, Communist Party leader and chairman of the military.

[…] Other less damning criticisms, petitions and gibes about Mr. Xi’s policies have also spread, often shared through WeChat, a popular social media service. But this long, erudite jeremiad from a prestigious professor has carried more weight.

[…] The undercurrent of discontent does not pose any immediate threat to Mr. Xi’s hold on power. He and the Communist Party remain firmly in control. And many Chinese people endorse his tough campaign against corruption and his vows to build China into a great power that will not compromise over territorial disputes.

But party insiders and foreign experts said misgivings about Mr. Xi’s hard-line policies appeared to be building among intellectuals, liberal-minded former officials and middle-class people after the recent misfires. A former official who spoke on condition of anonymity said that many former colleagues had shared Professor Xu’s essay. [Source]

Xu’s essay, and the growing criticism from public intellectuals and academics that it represents, are blamed by some to be responsible for a newly launched “patriotic education” campaign for China’s intellectual class.

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At Bloomberg, Peter Martin and Alan Crawford describe the role that Xi’s assertive foreign policy has had on fomenting domestic dissent, noting signs that the Xi administration may be attempting to downplay it, and contrasting Xi’s leadership style with that of Deng Xiaoping:

[…] “The trade war has made China more humble,” says Wang Yiwei, a professor of international affairs at Renmin University in Beijing and deputy director of the institution’s “Xi Jinping Thought” center. “We should keep a low profile,” he says, even suggesting that China should rethink how it implements Xi’s flagship “Belt and Road”infrastructure project.

[…] In May, entering trade negotiations with the U.S., China projected swagger and self-confidence. Xi dispatched Liu He, his top economic adviser, to the U.S. with the official designation of his “personal envoy.” Liu returned to proclaim victory: There would be no trade war, he said in nationally televised interviews. Then came the shock. Trump imposed $50 billion in tariffs on China. That’s since escalated to a threat to impose a 25 percent tariff on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, prompting the country to warn the U.S. against “blackmailing” it over trade. Meanwhile, a slowing economy makes China more vulnerable to damage from a trade war, which economists predict could cut as much as half a percentage point from growth.

[…] China has begun to rein in its swagger, starting with the propaganda system. State media were told to downplay the Made in China 2025 industrial initiative to become the world’s foremost power in 10 important industries, including artificial intelligence and pharmaceuticals, a plan the U.S. has identified as a key threat. They were also instructed to avoid talking about China’s greatness (the Chinese title of one recent blockbuster movie translates as “my country is awesome”). The push is to focus instead on how China has helped other nations, according to a person familiar with the instructions.

[…] After the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989, China began a global charm offensive. The mantra then was to follow former leader Deng Xiaoping’s maxim: China should hide its strength and bide its time. Officials and scholars are starting to talk wistfully of Deng’s guidance. That strategy “allowed China to pursue wealth and power in a way that stayed below the radar,” says Crumpton’s Blanchette. “By casting that off so forcefully, it’s exposed China to many of the global forces it’s now being battered by.” [Source]

At Reuters Ben Blanchard and Kevin Yao focus on the role that the trade war with Washington, and the nationalistic posture that Xi and his allies have adopted amid it, has played in exposing rifts within the CCP:

A growing trade war with the United States is causing rifts within China’s Communist Party, with some critics saying that an overly nationalistic Chinese stance may have hardened the U.S. position, according to four sources close to the government.

[…] A backlash is being felt at the highest levels of the government, possibly hitting a close aide to Xi, his ideology chief and strategist Wang Huning, according to two sources familiar with discussions in leadership circles.

Image result for Wang Huning and Xi Jinping, photos

Wang Huning with Xi Jinping

[…] Wang, who was the architect of the “China Dream”, Xi’s vision for China to become a strong and prosperous nation, has been taken to task by the Chinese leader for crafting an excessively nationalistic image for the country, which has only provoked the United States, the sources said.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling

“He’s in trouble for mishandling the propaganda and hyping up China too much,” said one of the sources, who has ties to China’s leadership and propaganda system.

[…] There is a growing feeling within the Chinese government that the outlook for China has “become grim”, according to a government policy advisor, following the deterioration in relations between China and the United States over trade. The advisor requested anonymity. [Source]

At The Washington Post, Chinese legal expert Jerome A. Cohen similarly explains the role that Xi’s foreign policy and consolidation of power plays in hinting “that Xi’s apparently untrammeled power is confronting quiet but growing resistance at home,” and also summarizes Professor Xu Zhangran’s widely-shared (and quickly censored) critique. After pointing to a 2015 essay he published in the Post on how Xi’s repressive policies indicate that he is a far more insecure leader than he is often presented to be in state media, Cohen outlines how Xi’s autocratic policies and manipulation of the principle of the rule of law may be playing a role in his apparently faltering domestic support:

Before the ascent of Xi in 2012, despite the theory and practice of Marxism-Leninism, for more than 30 years Chinese judges, prosecutors, lawyers, legislators, bureaucrats, law professors and even the police were, by and large, educated to respect Western legal values that many Asian nations have come to share. More recently, while purporting to endorse “the rule of law,” Xi and the party have openly denounced these universal values, including constitutionalism, the separation of  powers, judicial independence and the crucial role of human rights lawyers. Instead, they have preached and enforced the absolute domination of the party.

Yet party domination has thus far proved to be an inadequate replacement for these international values. The old Soviet justifications of party rule have lost their persuasive force in China, as elsewhere. Moreover, intermittent attempts by Xi to invoke China’s traditions to fill the void with nationalist pride have won little acceptance. The hoary maxims of Confucianist humanism, long denounced by the party as pernicious feudalism but now revived by Beijing, do little to meet contemporary demands. And Xi’s occasional invocation of Confucianism’s foremost opponent — the notorious legalist philosophy of government that featured dictatorial rule over China’s first imperial dynasty more than 2,000 years ago — is too close to today’s reality to do more than enhance the fear that already exists among the increasingly sophisticated Chinese people and even many party members.

China’s continuing struggle to restrain arbitrary power is far from over. [Source]

These signs of faltering support for “core leader” Xi are being reported on as current and former top Chinese leaders are believed to be convening their unofficial annual meetings in Beidaihe, a seaside resort town in Hebei that has long hosted secretive summer discussions for the Party elite. While the internal discussions—and even the actual start of the meetings—are closely guarded secrets, Katsuji Nakasawa looks to evidence that Party elders may currently be voicing their aversion to Xi’s consolidation of power. From the Nikkei Asian Review:

What was not discussed at last year’s  retreat was Xi’s ambition to revise the nation’s constitution by removing the two-term limit on the presidency. When Xi this past spring succeeded in this maneuver, he ensured that he would remain in office indefinitely. The change was bulldozed through the National People’s Congress, China’s parliament, with little opposition.

Party elders felt blindsided. Now, in Beidaihe, they have the opportunity to register their opposition to Xi’s power play, and they are expected to do so by raising the alarm against the cult of personality that is building up around the president.

As if in anticipation of such a response, there have been moves within the party to curb signs of the cult. […] [Source]

Also reporting from Beidaihe, The Economist notes that brief talks with locals and vacationers don’t indicate any faltering public support for Xi. The report also highlights the traps that both opacity and the massive store of power that Xi has gathered and state media has readily publicized set for the top leader during tough times:

This summer’s wildest rumours, involving purported plots against and sackings of senior figures, probably reveal more about the longings of Xi critics than anything else. They also point to the downsides of opacity. Beidaihe’s very agenda is a secret. Comings and goings of leaders must be guessed at from sightings of motorcades and presidential trains, and terse state media reports of side events at the resort. In an age when America’s president tweets his innermost thoughts, China-watchers spent the summer counting fawning references to Mr Xi on the front page of People’s Daily, to see if they had become less numerous (they had not).

It is true that by playing the all-knowing father of the nation, dispensing guidance on everything from military strategy to the building of public lavatories, Mr Xi is vulnerable when things go wrong. It is genuinely damaging that China’s leaders look paralysed in the face of Mr Trump’s attacks over trade. But it is also the case that somebody cannot be beaten by nobody, and Mr Xi faces no obvious single challenger. What he does face is widespread disgruntlement among political and business elites. Mr Xi has not just accrued power for himself, in part by locking up a lot of corrupt officials. He has spent six years making explicit the primacy of the Communist Party, a state-above-the-state that operates a parallel chain of command at every level of government, from the smallest village to the largest ministry or state-owned enterprise.

Image result for Li Keqiang, photos

Communist Party secretaries and party committees are increasingly visible, as they sideline bureaucratic figureheads, from city mayors to provincial governors, right up to the premier, Li Keqiang, who runs the State Council, a body that oversees many government ministries and agencies. A recurring theme of Beijing rumours has Mr Li and the State Council apparatus ready to stand up to Mr Xi and his inner circle, and rebuke them for such errors as bungling relations with Mr Trump. That seems a stretch. At any rate Mr Li has been damaged by a scandal involving defective vaccines given to hundreds of thousands of children, dampening such talk. […] [Source]

August 9, 2018, 6:17 PM
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Categories: EconomyPolitics

Is Liberal Racism a Horse of a Different Color?

August 8, 2018

Bigotry is bigotry, whether systemic, as at Harvard, or idiosyncratic, like Sarah Jeong’s Twitter feed.

One of the gates to Harvard Yard in Cambridge, Mass., June 18
One of the gates to Harvard Yard in Cambridge, Mass., June 18 PHOTO: BRIAN SNYDER/REUTERS

Be honest. Are you really surprised that the New York Times has stood by its decision to hire Sarah Jeong as an editorial board member even after it was revealed she spent years on social media making openly racist and sexist remarks about white men? You may be outraged, sure. But surprised?

To paraphrase a well-known political figure, Ms. Jeong could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot a white person without losing the support of liberals. It’s a safe bet she was tapped by the Times because of these racial prejudices, not despite them. Editorial board members are hired to help formulate and express the official position of a newspaper. Ms. Jeong is being hired to speak for the Times, and they like where she’s coming from.

The Grey Lady attacks President Trump as a racist and sexist on a near-daily basis, and columnists like Charles Blow write about little else. So is it hypocritical for the paper to hire and defend a new editorial board member who has made no secret of her own biases? Of course it is, but that’s considered beside the point by people who share Ms. Jeong’s worldview.

The liberals who control most major media outlets specialize in applying different standards to different groups. Like the Times, Twitter had no problem with Ms. Jeong’s repugnant observations. Scores of tweets that included offensive phrases—“#cancelwhitepeople”; “are White people genetically disposed to burn faster in the sun?”; “White people have stopped breeding. you’ll all go extinct soon. that was my plan all along”—didn’t faze Jack Dorsey’s content monitors. But when conservative activist Candace Owens decided last weekend to reproduce Ms. Jeong’s posts and replace “white” with “black” or “Jewish,” Twitter temporarily suspended her account. Following a backlash, Twitter restored the account and claimed that “we made an error.”

Of course, the Times can hire whomever it pleases. But if it’s going to give the likes of Ms. Jeong a pass while lecturing us about growing intolerance on the political right, how seriously should readers take the paper’s nonstop Trump-is-a-bigot coverage? The president’s attacks on the media are often misguided and overstated—his daughter Ivanka is right; we’re not the enemy of the people—but major news outlets are doing plenty to erode public confidence in the news without any help from Mr. Trump.

Welcome to another example of the left’s inconsistency on race. If the goal is a postracial America, why does racial identity continue to be liberalism’s overriding obsession? Why is racism viewed as something to redirect rather than end outright? If you’re situated on the progressive left, racist views are OK to harbor so long as they’re targeted at the right groups for the proper reasons?

At Harvard, Asian students are currently out of favor among administrators for the sin of taking up too many slots in the freshman class. America’s most prestigious university, a bastion of liberal thinking, is being sued by Asian students for discrimination. Harvard wants a certain racial balance on campus, and Asians are getting in the way by academically outperforming applicants from other groups. The nerve.

Harvard can no longer credibly deny that it’s engaging in systematic racial discrimination. Internal documents that the school has been forced to disclose to fight the litigation suggest that Harvard is doing what has long been rumored. Nonetheless, school officials justify these racially biased practices. They insist, like Ms. Jeong and her defenders, that such bigotry is in the service of a noble cause. Unlike you or me, Harvard knows how to discriminate the “right” way.

Prior to World War II, and long before Harvard and other Ivy League schools had an “Asian problem,” the concern was too many Jews on the quad. The parallels are instructive. “Jewish students outperformed their Gentile classmates by a considerable margin,” writes Jerome Karabel in his 2005 book, “The Chosen: The Hidden History of Admission and Exclusion at Harvard, Yale and Princeton.”

Then as now, the schools came up with ways to overcome that reality by de-emphasizing objective admissions criteria. Jews were less likely to participate in athletics or belong to social clubs other than Jewish fraternities, both of which were deemed “character” flaws for the purpose of bringing the “Jewish invasion” under control. These days, Asian applicants to Harvard receive consistently low “personal” ratings, which are then used to undercut their academic achievements under Harvard’s “holistic” assessment of their worthiness.

So long as the goal is not to level the playing field but to tilt it in a different direction, expect history to continue repeating itself.

Appeared in the August 8, 2018, print edition.


The soft bigotry of the New York Times — Identity politics and racism

The soft bigotry of the New York Times — Identity politics and racism

August 6, 2018

If l’affaire Jeong has taught us one thing, it’s that the people who claim most vociferously to be anti-racist are nothing of the sort. On the contrary, they’re obsessed with race, seeing almost everything through the prism of ethnicity. They’re in favor of categorizing people according to racial criteria. What they object to is not racial discrimination, but racial discrimination against the wrong groups.

Sarah Jeong is a journalist who was hired by the New York Times last week as an editorial writer. As has now become traditional, her social media history was pored over (or, as Donald Trump might put it, “poured over”). Some pungent Tweets showed up. Those that have attracted the most attention are the straightforwardly racist ones — “white people are bullshit,” “#CancelWhitePeople,” and so on — though, to my mind, her assertion that free speech is a conservative dog whistle is far more alarming in a journalist than any of these.

By Dan Hannan

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Anyway, some conservatives began noisily to demand that Jeong be fired, prompting some leftists to leap to her defense on grounds that there can be no such thing as anti-white racism, because racism is all about power and privilege and oppressing minorities.

The Times is standing by its hire, and rightly so. I have complained often enough in this column about the stupidity and cruelty of online mobs, their refusal to consider context, their insistence that nothing other than a sacking will do. I have especially criticized the unwillingness of institutions to stand up to lynch mobs. If it was wrong for the Atlantic to unhire the brilliant Kevin Williamson because of an earlier Tweet — a far milder one, by any definition, than Jeong’s — then it would be equally wrong for the Gray Lady to cower in the face of anonymous Twitter belligerence.

Far more interesting is the attitude of Jeong’s online defenders, their aggressive insistence that it’s OK to be rude about whites, because “punching up” is different from “punching down.” Here, to pluck an example more or less at random, is the liberal journalist David. S. Joachim:

The most obvious observation to make about this attitude is that it is emphatically not anti-racist. On the contrary, it explicitly endorses treating people differently for no reason other than their ethnic background.

The essence of racism is collectivism. It defines people, not according to their honesty, their kindness, their intelligence, or their opinions, but according to their physiognomy. To argue that someone should, in effect, get a free pass because she comes from a group that is designated as underprivileged is precisely to define her by physiognomy.

Even in its own terms, this strikes me as a bizarre argument. It’s insulting, as well as tendentious, to treat Asian-Americans as a victim group. On most criteria — income, education, longevity — they are ahead of the national average. So much so, in fact, that they are now arguably victimized by the racist admissions policies of certain universities.

But even if these things were not true, even if Asian-Americans en masse were downtrodden and oppressed, no one would be able to make that claim of Jeong, an obviously articulate writer who is about to land a plum job at the most famous newspaper in the land. Why define her, not by her writing skills, her professional background, or her ability, but purely by her appearance? If that’s not racism, what is?

Let me break this down for some of my liberal friends. Identity politics is identity politics whoever it comes from. The alt-right look down upon certain groups on genetic grounds, and now notice that the “woke Left” does the same thing. We are dealing not with two opposed attitudes, but with two expressions of the same attitude — an attitude, incidentally, that flies in the face of a mountain of evidence that differences within racial groups outweigh differences between them, thus sustaining the commonsense view that we are all primarily individuals.

Until recently, the notion that we are all private citizens, equal before the law, was both the liberal and the conservative ideal. That it should need restating says nothing good about the state of our present debate.


Past Social-Media Posts Upend Hiring

August 6, 2018

Employers grapple with screening job applicants’ online personas, including years-old tweets

Walt Disney cut ties with ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ director James Gunn after years-old, inflammatory tweets of his were resurfaced.
Walt Disney cut ties with ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ director James Gunn after years-old, inflammatory tweets of his were resurfaced. PHOTO:CHRISTIAN PETERSEN/GETTY IMAGES

More companies are scouring job candidates’ online personas for racist and other red-flag comments. That hasn’t kept social-media trails from morphing into hiring minefields.

The New York Times has become the latest employer to grapple with a public furor after announcing last week it hired journalist Sarah Jeong as a technology writer for its editorial board. Soon after, tweets she had posted between 2013 and 2015 disparaging white people—in one instance, using the hashtag #cancelwhitepeople—resurfaced and a social-media outcry ensued.

Defending its hire, the Times said in a written statement that it knew about Ms. Jeong’s tweets before hiring her and that “she understands that this type of rhetoric is not acceptable at The Times.” On Twitter, Ms. Jeong said she regretted the posts, which she said had been aimed at online harassers, not a general audience.

Last month, Walt Disney Co. cut ties with “Guardians of the Galaxy” director James Gunnafter years-old, inflammatory tweets of his were resurfaced. Mr. Gunn said that the comments were “wildly insensitive” and “don’t reflect the person I am today.” In recent weeks, three Major League Baseball players apologized for unearthed racist and antigay tweets written during their high-school days.

With job recruits’ social-media histories readily available, more employers are trying to head off or prepare for such controversies, especially with high-profile hires. In a 2017 survey of more than 2,300 hiring managers and human-resources executives by jobs website CareerBuilder, 70% said they screened candidates’ social-media histories—up from 60% the previous year. One-third said they had found discriminatory comments that caused them not to hire someone.

Yet social-media screening remains one the murkiest aspects of the hiring process, according to experts in employment law and human resources. Both too little and too much scouring present legal and reputational pitfalls, they say. And though many employers have firm policies on whether to test for drug use or conduct criminal-record checks, fewer have consistent guidelines on how they vet and assess prospective employees’ online histories.

“It’s really all across the board,” said Jason Hanold, whose executive-search firm Hanold Associates specializes in recruiting human-resources executives. “And it’s often determined by the proclivities of the individual” in charge.

Whereas the Times said it had discussed Ms. Jeong’s social-media history with her during the hiring process, the newspaper said it hadn’t been aware of some old, inflammatory tweets posted by journalist and essayist Quinn Norton before hiring her to its editorial board in February. They included the use of racial slurs and referred to her friendship with a neo-Nazi. Hours after a social-media storm erupted over her hiring announcement, the Times and Ms. Norton said she would no longer join the company. After the episode with Ms. Norton, the Times stepped up its efforts to review the social-media histories of its hires, a person familiar with the matter said.

In an emailed response to The Wall Street Journal on Sunday, Ms. Norton said that in stripping the tweets of their context, online critics had wrongly cast what had been intended as antiracist remarks as the opposite. She said that screening people’s social-media histories wouldn’t necessarily catch remarks that could be distorted and inflamed by crowds on the internet.

Companies hiring talent abroad run the risk of violating digital privacy laws, such as the European Union’s new General Data Protection Regulation, which employers are still trying to suss out, said Laurie Ruettimann, a human-resources consultant. And she said that hiring managers poring over applicants’ Facebook pages and tweets could easily learn other details—such as a prospect’s religion, disability or pregnancy—that could bias hiring decisions and that, by law, can’t be taken into account.

“I am incredibly hesitant…to recommend that anyone go on Google and judge anyone for anything because there’s no consistent standard,” said Ms. Ruettimann, who suggests employers stick to traditional third-party background checks that don’t include social-media searches.

A social-media outcry ensued after the New York Times said last week that it had hired journalist Sarah Jeong as a technology writer for the newspaper’s editorial board, and tweets she had posted between 2013 and 2015 disparaging white people resurfaced.
A social-media outcry ensued after the New York Times said last week that it had hired journalist Sarah Jeong as a technology writer for the newspaper’s editorial board, and tweets she had posted between 2013 and 2015 disparaging white people resurfaced. PHOTO: DON EMMERT/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

She recommends that individuals who have posted offensive content online not bring up the issue with a potential employer. Sharing more positive content on sites that are likely to get traction on search engines can help, she said. “Start contributing in a way that’s healthy.”

Minnesota-based employment lawyer Kate Bischoff recommends job seekers delete offensive comments in the hopes they don’t come up.

Still, once something is online it can live forever—including by other people saving and reposting it. That also suggests it could be better for employees and job applicants to be upfront about the past.

Ms. Bischoff advises her corporate clients to direct human-resources employees not involved in the hiring decision to screen for inflammatory or polarizing social-media comments. That way, the direct hiring managers aren’t exposed to other information that could bias them. If they do find a troubling tweet or other material, human-resources staffers usually ask the applicant to explain the matter.

“I’m more concerned about those issues being a problem if we didn’t look at it,” said Ms. Bischoff. In some states, she added, ignoring a public history of, say, racist tweets could legally expose an employer if that new hire, in turn, discriminated against minorities.

“If you bring that risk into organizations, you could be liable for it,” said Ms. Bischoff, who added that she has helped clients fire five people for racist tweets over the past year.

A more common issue to come up in social-media screenings these days is highly politicized rants that risk alienating fellow employees or clients, Mr. Hanold said. “Employers tend to avoid that like the plague,” he said.

Some companies are turning to software companies such as Fama Technologies Inc., which uses an algorithm to sift through applicants’ or employees’ public social-media posts. So far this year, Fama says, it has screened more than 10 million pieces of online content for corporate clients. Of the people screened, 10% had content that raised flags for bigotry, racism or hate speech, while 14% had flags for potential misogyny or sexism.

“Companies are starting to wake up to the fact that this risk is real,” said Fama’s chief executive and co-founder, Ben Mones. “There isn’t a question like, ‘Are you racist?’ on a job application. Most people who are racist don’t think they’re racist.”


CNN’s Acosta: I’m worried Trump’s rhetoric toward media ‘will result in somebody getting hurt’ — Trump supporters chant “CNN Sucks” at Tampa rally

August 1, 2018

CNN senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta expressed concern on Tuesday with the way President Trump‘s supporters heckle members of the press, warning that the president’s rhetoric could “result in somebody getting hurt.”

Acosta posted a video from Trump’s rally in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday showing supporters shouting down members of the press. At one point, one man in the crowd looks into the camera and yells, “stop lying.”

Image may contain: 18 people, people smiling

President Trump speaks to his supporters at a rally in Tampa on July 31, 2018. CHRIS URSO, Tampa Bay Times

“Just a sample of the sad scene we faced at the Trump rally in Tampa,” Acosta tweeted. “I’m very worried that the hostility whipped up by Trump and some in conservative media will result in somebody getting hurt. We should not treat our fellow Americans this way. The press is not the enemy.”

Trump has made his ongoing feud with media outlets that cover his administration critically a centerpiece of his brand of politics, often referring to coverage he deems unfavorable to him as “fake news.”

He has also repeatedly called reporters the “enemy of the people.” That particular accusation was the subject of a meeting earlier this month between Trump and A.G. Sulzberger, the publisher of The New York Times.

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Jim Acosta

Trump revealed the existence of the off-the-record meeting in a tweet on Sunday, writing that the two “spent much time talking about the vast amounts of Fake News being put out by the media & how that Fake News has morphed into phrase, ‘Enemy of the People.’ ”

That prompted a response from Sulzberger, who said in a statement that he had met with the president to urge him to tone town his attacks on the media at large.

“I told him that although the phrase ‘fake news’ is untrue and harmful, I am far more concerned about his labeling journalists ‘the enemy of the people,’ ” Sulzberger said.

“I warned that this inflammatory language is contributing to a rise in threats against journalists and will lead to violence.”


‘CNN sucks’: Trump supporters jeer media at rally in Tampa, Florida



Trump predicts the ‘Fake News Media’ will die before he leaves office

August 1, 2018

President Trump lashed out again at the “Fake News Media” on Tuesday, predicting that they “will be gone” by the time his second term ends.

“The Fake News Media is going CRAZY! They are totally unhinged and in many ways, after witnessing first hand the damage they do to so many innocent and decent people, I enjoy watching,” the president tweeted.

“In 7 years, when I am no longer in office, their ratings will dry up and they will be gone!” he added.

His message echoed one he sent earlier this month.

“The Fake News Media is going Crazy! They make up stories without any backup, sources or proof. Many of the stories written about me, and the good people surrounding me, are total fiction,” he tweeted.

“Problem is, when you complain you just give them more publicity. But I’ll complain anyway!”

At the time, he faced widespread criticism after a news conference with Vladimir Putin in which he appeared to embrace the Russian strongman’s denial of election meddling.

Trump has consistently lambasted the “fake news media,” singling out CNN, NBC News, the Washington Post and the New York Times, among others, for coverage that he considers unfair.


Facebook has detected attempts to interfere in midterm elections

July 31, 2018

  • Facebook confirmed it has identified a coordinated political influence campaign believed to be working ahead of November’s midterm elections.
  • In Washington D.C. this week, the social media company told lawmakers that it detected dozens of fake accounts and pages, people briefed on the matter told the New York Times.

Facebook identifies political influence campaign, not conclusively tied to Russia: NYT

Facebook identifies political influence campaign, not conclusively tied to Russia: NYT  

Facebook confirmed it has identified a coordinated political influence campaign believed to be working ahead of November’s midterm elections.

The social media company announced on Tuesday it had detected and removed 32 fake accounts and pages from both Facebook and Instagram, after idetifying “coordinated inauthentic behavior.”

Facebook said it has not been able to confirm Russia’s involvement. During the 2016 election, the Russian troll farm Internet Research Agency (IRA) was accused in an indictment of election interference. In its announcement, Facebook admitted it did not have all the facts on who was responsible for the effort, but said it was disclosing the fake accounts now ahead of planned protests in Washington, D.C. next week.

“It’s clear that whoever set up these accounts went to much greater lengths to obscure their true identities than the Russian-based Internet Research Agency (IRA) has in the past,” Facebook wrote in a statement.

Just like during the 2016 elections, the fake accounts and pages seem to be focusing in on divisive issues. Facebook has found fake accounts that posted about hot-button social issues like abolishing ICE and an attempt to organize a second “Unite the Right” rally, according to the New York Times. Facebook said the fake accounts spend about $11,000 in ads promoting those divisive posts.

The fake accounts used more advanced techniques to avoid detection, such as hiring third parties to run ads for them, Facebook said. Still, Facebook said it was not able to link the fake accounts to the IRA, even though the fake accounts used similar tactics.

–CNBC’s Julia Boorstin contributed to this report.

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New York Times warns Trump against anti-press rhetoric

July 30, 2018

Trump said, “I will not allow our great country to be sold out by anti-Trump haters in the dying newspaper industry.”

New York Times Publisher and Trump Clash Over President’s Threats Against Journalism


President Trump said on Twitter that he and A.G. Sulzberger, the publisher of The New York Times, had discussed “the vast amounts of Fake News being put out by the media & how that Fake News has morphed into phrase, ‘Enemy of the People.’ Sad!” Credit Tom Brenner for The New York Times

BRIDGEWATER, N.J. — President Trump and the publisher of The New York Times, A. G. Sulzberger, engaged in a fierce public clash on Sunday over Mr. Trump’s threats against journalism, after Mr. Sulzberger said the president misrepresented a private meeting and Mr. Trump accused The Times and other papers of putting lives at risk with irresponsible reporting.

Mr. Trump said on Twitter that he and Mr. Sulzberger had discussed “the vast amounts of Fake News being put out by the media & how that Fake News has morphed into phrase, ‘Enemy of the People.’ Sad!”

In a five-paragraph statement issued two hours after the tweet, Mr. Sulzberger said he had accepted Mr. Trump’s invitation for the July 20 meeting mainly to raise his concerns about the president’s “deeply troubling anti-press rhetoric.”

“I told the president directly that I thought that his language was not just divisive but increasingly dangerous,” said Mr. Sulzberger, who became publisher of The Times on Jan. 1.

“I told him that although the phrase ‘fake news’ is untrue and harmful, I am far more concerned about his labeling journalists ‘the enemy of the people,’” Mr. Sulzberger continued. “I warned that this inflammatory language is contributing to a rise in threats against journalists and will lead to violence.”

This is particularly true overseas, Mr. Sulzberger said, where governments are using Mr. Trump’s words as a pretext to crack down on journalists. He said he warned the president that his attacks were “putting lives at risk” and “undermining the democratic ideals of our nation.”

Mr. Sulzberger’s lengthy, bluntly worded rebuttal was a striking rejoinder to the president by the 37-year-old publisher of a paper with which Mr. Trump has had a long, complicated relationship. And it apparently touched a nerve: The president fired off a series of angry tweets in the afternoon, accusing newspapers of being unpatriotic.

“I will not allow our great country to be sold out by anti-Trump haters in the dying newspaper industry,” he wrote. “The failing New York Times and the Amazon Washington Post do nothing but write bad stories even on very positive achievements — and they will never change!”

Mr. Trump, in his initial tweet from his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., on Sunday morning, described the meeting with Mr. Sulzberger as “very good and interesting.” But in referring to the phrase “enemy of the people,” he did not make clear that he himself began using that label about the press during his first year in office.

He has continued to assail the news media at rallies and even at more formal presidential events, encouraging his audiences to chant “CNN sucks!” and to vent their anger at the reporters assembled in the back.

Speaking to veterans in Kansas City, Mo., last week, Mr. Trump said: “Stick with us. Don’t believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news.” As members of the crowd booed and hissed at the press corps, he added, “What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening.”

The president invited Mr. Sulzberger to the Oval Office earlier this month, according to The Times, continuing a tradition of meetings between presidents and the paper’s publishers. James Bennet, the editorial page editor of The Times, accompanied Mr. Sulzberger to the meeting.

Mr. Sulzberger had a different account of his meeting with Mr. Trump, which the president revealed after having asked that it be off the record. “I told the president directly that I thought that his language was not just divisive but increasingly dangerous,” Mr. Sulzberger said in a statement.CreditBenjamin Norman for The New York Times

In a statement, Mercedes Schlapp, a White House communications adviser, said, “The president regularly meets with members of the media, and we can confirm this meeting took place.” She did not provide any further details of the meeting or explain why the president chose to publicize it.

The White House had requested that the meeting be kept off the record, according to the statement from The Times.

“But with Mr. Trump’s tweet this morning,” the statement said, “he has put the meeting on the record, so A. G. has decided to respond to the president’s characterization of their conversation, based on detailed notes A. G. and James took.”

In a telephone interview, Mr. Sulzberger described the meeting with Mr. Trump, whom he had met only once before, as cordial. But he said he went into the Oval Office determined to make a point about what he views as the dangers of the president’s inflammatory language.

Mr. Sulzberger recalled telling Mr. Trump at one point that newspapers had begun posting armed guards outside their offices because of a rise in threats against journalists. The president, he said, expressed surprise that they did not already have armed guards.

At another point, Mr. Trump expressed pride in popularizing the phrase “fake news,” and said other countries had begun banning it. Mr. Sulzberger responded that those countries were dictatorships and that they were not banning “fake news” but rather independent scrutiny of their actions.

Still, Mr. Sulzberger said, by the end of the session, he felt that Mr. Trump had listened to his arguments. The president, Mr. Sulzberger recalled, told him he was glad that he had raised those issues and would think about them.

Mr. Sulzberger said he bore no illusions that his comments would prompt Mr. Trump to curb his attacks on the news media. He said he encouraged the president to complain about news coverage in The Times that he viewed as unfair. But he appealed to him not to systematically attack journalists and journalism around the world.

Tensions between Times publishers and presidents are nothing new. Early in Bill Clinton’s presidency, Mr. Clinton complained to Mr. Sulzberger’s father, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr., who was then publisher, about the paper’s editorials.

Mr. Sulzberger told the president he liked to think of them as “tough love,” according to Susan E. Tifft and Alex S. Jones, who wrote a history of the Sulzberger family.

“Well, just don’t forget the love part,” Mr. Clinton replied.

A decade later, Mr. Sulzberger and top editors of The Times were summoned to the Oval Office by President George W. Bush in an unsuccessful effort to prevent the paper from publishing a long-delayed article about the National Security Agency’s monitoring of phone calls without court-approved warrants.

“Generally speaking, presidents, in their dealings with newspaper publishers, have wanted to court them,” said Martha Joynt Kumar, a longtime expert in the relationship between the press and the White House. “They think if they bring the publishers in and explain their goals and intentions, that would be helpful.”

Mr. Trump regularly mocks “the failing New York Times,” but he has also visited its offices and spoken to its journalists. This weekend, The Times published an article about Mr. Trump’s daughter Ivanka and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, which noted that they had invited the younger Mr. Sulzberger to a dinner at their home in Manhattan in honor of Nikki R. Haley, the American ambassador to the United Nations.

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page A12 of the New York edition with the headline: Times Publisher and Trump Clash Over President’s Threats Against Press.