As Donald Trump’s administration tears children from their parents and houses toddlers in cages, The New York Times has decided to publish a piece about “the contagion of incivility” that is spreading across the nation:
The print headline of the article reads “Incivility Infests Life in the U.S. On Trump’s Cue,” while the online headline, published Wednesday night, has been edited to be a little less horrendous:
The Times, which recently acquiesced to the White House’s desire to keep Stephen Miller’s unedited thoughts on immigration off the air, and which has relentlessly published alarmist opinion columns about the suppression of “free speech” in conservative circles, has now framed waning politeness in American society as a piece of news. This is not a piece in the opinion section: It’s a reported article in the politics section decrying the incivility on “both sides” of the country, as the administration lies to the public about a policy it created.
While the Associated Press reports that immigrant teenagers are being locked up naked in solitary confinement, The New York Times writes, on its front page:
While ProPublica publishes heart wrenching leaked audio of children crying for their parents in a detention center, The New York Times writes this:
While CNN reports that federal authorities ripped a child from her mother while she was breastfeeding, The New York Times writes this:
The piece compares actor Peter Fonda’s tweets and comedian Samantha Bee calling Ivanka Trump a “cunt” (which the Times, beacon of civility, only refers to as a “crude word”) to the president of the United States, the most powerful elected official in our country, saying that immigrants are “animals” who “infest our country.”
And, instead of quoting any of the people who are currently being abused or harmed by Trump’s rhetoric and policies, Times reporters decided to quote Christine Porath, a management professor at Georgetown who wrote a book on civility in the workplace whose thesis is about how “ultimately, incivility cuts the bottom line.” In order to support their ideological point that civility is the problem here, the Times had to find someone who is an expert in a field completely irrelevant to immigration policy. According to the Times, Porath showed that the “current harsh climate was affecting people beyond politics, injecting itself into everyday life at home and work.” The inference here is that by being mean to each other, we are damaging the profitability of our country.
All of this is irresponsible journalism at its very core, written, edited, and printed by people who would rather “report” on discourteous words than the actual consequences of language, or a government that willfully distorts the truth.
Today, in an apparent effort at more balance, the Times hired Michelle Alexander, author of the New Jim Crow, as an opinion writer. But at the same time, the paper of record is still publishing work like this—actively harmful both-sides-ism styled as “hard news,” which obfuscates what’s actually going on in our country.
When people are being persecuted and abused, civility is the true scourge, and The New York Times is the powerful entity that is spreading it.