Psychologists will tell you that the best way to rid someone of a distasteful behavior is to put it on “extinction.” Ignore it, experts say, and the offender will soon realize the conduct is not getting the negative attention hoped for and will cease the activity. This aptly describes legacy media outlets’ general attitude toward conservative news sites. For years they paid no mind to these pesky purveyors of news they commonly refer to as right-wing. All this changed last week when The New York Times announced the formation of a news desk that will – in its words – “pioneer a new beat covering right-wing media.”
That the Gray Lady has decided it can no longer ignore conservative news outlets is a sign of the latter’s successful penetration into the media marketplace. Lest there be any doubt, The New York Times and legacy newspapers of similar ilk are businesses whose purpose is to make money. This has always been so. It is no secret the establishment press has been bleeding red ink for some time, and one suspects the alternative sites they plan to police are cutting into mainstream media profit margins.
However, the official spin is: “The Politics desk created a new beat on this topic because many Americans rely solely on right wing media for their information, which often bears little resemblance to what is being reported in mainstream media,” a Times spokesperson told Fox News Digital.
Take a Left at the Right-Wing Media Desk
A skeptic should not be faulted for believing this new beat might not be handled with the utmost honesty and integrity. Why? Because at its core, The Times will be evaluating competitors that have collectively lowered its profits. Times nobility would scoff at such a notion, but one cannot be criticized for sensing a five-star review of the conservative media will not be forthcoming. Thus, who is in charge matters.
Chosen as political editor of this new beat is Ken Bensinger of BuzzFeed fame. According to his LinkedIn page, Bensinger previously worked at the Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, and as a Mexico correspondent for Variety. His journalistic work ranges from writing about the Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer kidnapping case to penning articles on the Oath Keepers. However, his claim to fame, so to speak, was as part of the BuzzFeed team that published the Steele Dossier on Jan. 10, 2017, in an “unverified” report that “contains errors” (their words, not ours).
In announcing Bensinger’s appointment, Fox Digital quoted The Times’ political editor David Halbfinger, who spoke of the purpose behind the project. These articles will focus on “people who reject mainstream narratives and question the institutions that hold up our democracy. Understanding the way information is developed, circulated and absorbed on the right is vital at this precarious moment, and requires a healthy measure of patience, empathy and understanding along with investigative chops, skepticism and toughness.”
There is a lot to unpack in that last sentence. Halbfinger’s inclusion of “patience, empathy and understanding” conveys a sense that such right-wing sites harbor those who are to be pitied above all. One perceives a not-too-hidden stereotype of “smelly Walmart shoppers” lurking in his carefully chosen words. However, Halbfinger shores up his benevolence with the need to investigate, be skeptical, and tough. In other words, forbearance in dealing with these lower, less-educated classes of people will have to take a back seat to a good, solid roughing up.
Where to Begin?
Perhaps the old Gray Lady will save its column inches to battle the big boys in the conservative news publishing movement? Of course, strength and power in numbers do not always add up to legitimacy. As the 800-pound media gorilla, it might be more advantageous for them to pick on the little guy. Some of the sites The Times will cover will be nothing more than blogs filled with loonies and haters, and in doing so, the newspaper of record can paint the conservative media with a broad brush. If they examine these folks, why not expose the loonies and haters on the left? While they are at it, why not add a left-wing media beat?
And where will those in the middle fall in the queue? For example, some readers may think Liberty Nation is not nearly as conservative as it should be. Others may deem it too right wing. This, we feel, is an excellent place to be.
Our goal is to make a valiant effort to rachet down the vitriol and offer facts coupled with thoughtful, intelligent analysis as we endeavor to cover the issues of the day. LN openly states we are a conservative news entity and believe the legacy media purveyors should also acknowledge their leftist bias. Here is where The Times could do much good: own up to who they really are.
Ultimately one must ask why there is a need to examine “people who reject mainstream narratives and question the institutions that hold up our democracy”? Hasn’t this always been the stated mission of a free and fair press? When did The New York Times forget that it is not in the business of promoting mainstream narratives and should utilize the eye of a skeptic by questioning “the institutions that hold up our democracy”?
Perhaps a poster-sized quote from Mahatma Gandhi over the new editor’s desk could provide inspiration. “The press is called the Fourth Estate,” the Great Soul once intoned. “It is definitely a power, but, to misuse that power is criminal.”