As the world burns, is anyone paying attention to the New York Times? Because if you’re not, you should: it’s catching fire as well. On May 23, the grand old newspaper published a report by Maggie Haberman about how former Trump aide Hope Hicks has an “existential” crisis over complying with a congressional subpoena. Granted, it’s been full of embers for a while now – as Jay Rosen has been saying for years – but this particular story bares the Times‘s ridiculous position vis-à-vis the Trump White House for all to see.
The first giveaway that something is rotten isn’t in the lede but in the hero image, a glamorous photograph of Hicks as if the words to come were going to discuss her clothes. The words that do come then paint Hicks as an enigmatic ex-administrator caught between a rock and a hard place when in fact the matter is far simpler: either comply with the subpoena from the House Judiciary Committee or find a legitimate reason to skip it, like (it appears) former WH counsel Donald McGahn II has been able. It’s not existentialism; it’s potentially criminal obstruction of justice.
To quote from Rosen’s analysis above:
[Times journalists] want the support, they also want to declare independence from their strongest supporters. … They are tempted to look right and see one kind of danger, then look left to spot another, equal and opposite. They want to push off from both sides to clear a space from which truth can be told. That would make things simpler, but of course things are not that simple. The threat to truth-telling – to journalism, democracy, the Times itself – is not symmetrical. They know this. But the temptation lives.