Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Left Wing Paper?

The New York Times is widely considered a left wing paper. This is mostly because the American right wing, which has been driven increasingly to the right by it's plutocratic sponsors, keeps saying so. In fact, the NYT is yet another paper owned by plutocrats, operating in a mainly liberal town, and steering a rather middle of the road course. Many readers are outraged by the fact that its op-ed pages have added a racist, anti-feminist, climate denialist to its stable of right wing columnists, an op-ed page that includes zero comparably left wing columnists.

Jim Naureckas, writing in the arguably left-wing FAIR, takes a look at, among other things, the history:

To understand this anomaly—and the real reason that the New York Times would rather have a climate-denying bigot on its staff than a single-payer advocate—it helps to go back to the beginning of the Times dynasty, as Times veteran John L. Hess (Extra!, 1/00) did in his review of The Trust: The Powerful and Private Family Behind the New York Times, by Susan Tifft and Alex Jones (not that Alex Jones):

How did [Adolph] Ochs, a virtual bankrupt from Chattanooga, persuade Wall Street to set him up with the moribund New York Times? Answer: The financiers were anxious to keep the paper alive as a Democratic voice against the populist Democratic candidate for president, William Jennings Bryan, who was stirring the masses with that speech about the Cross of Gold. Ochs bought a fine new suit, set up a fake bank account as reference, and persuaded J.P. Morgan and others to bankroll the purchase. His paper promptly pilloried Bryan, and Ochs marched with his staff in a businessmen’s parade against him.

Much has changed since 1896, but in 2017, the Times still defends establishment, business-oriented liberalism against the populist left. In part it does this by attacking the left directly—see the columns of Paul Krugman during the 2016 Democratic primaries—but the more meaningful sustenance they give to the liberal elite is to validate them as the left-most pole of respectable discourse.