The Fake News Paper of Record

Back stories of the New York Times’ “anonymous” op-ed.

“I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration,” headlined the September 5 op-ed in the New York Times. As the subhead explained, “I work for the president but like-minded colleagues and I have vowed to thwart parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.”

For the unnamed author, “the bigger concern is not what Mr. Trump has done to the presidency but rather what we as a nation have allowed him to do to us. We have sunk low with him and allowed our discourse to be stripped of civility.” The walk-off urges readers to heed the words of John McCain and “break free of the tribalism trap, with the high aim of uniting through our shared values and love of this great nation.”

The next day, a CNN story said the op-ed portrayed the president as weak, played to his paranoia, and was “designed” to make Trump lash out on Twitter. It was “written by someone who works for him,” but CNN did not reveal the author’s identity. As CNN observed a month later,“a move to clean house never occurred,” and “the author’s identity is still a mystery.”

The anonymous op-ed may have been designed by a team of like-minded colleagues at the New York Times, a publication with a long history of prodigious fakery. Consider, for example, New York Times reporter Jayson Blair, who plagiarized other writers and fabricated stories.

In an October 30, 2002 piece, Blair said Beltway sniper John Muhammad was about to confess and named lawyers who were not present as having witnessed his interrogation. The following March, Blair described a videotape of Muhammad’s accomplice Lee Malvo and quoted officials who had reviewed it. The tape did not exist and Blair wrote of a confession that never occurred.

The Times finally forced Blair to resign and called the scandal “a low point” in the paper’s 152-year history. Within a year Blair got a book deal for Burning Down My Master’s House, and several plays and television episodes were based on his story. In 2016, Blair lamented that the biggest problem in journalism is “not calling a lie a lie,” and “one shining example is coverage of the presidential campaign of Donald Trump, the great American narcissist and not-so-great businessman.” In effect, he was still with the Times.

Consider also Herbert Matthews, who made a name for himself reporting on the Spanish Civil War for the New Masses. The New York Times brought Matthews aboard and in 1957 he cranked out articles about Fidel Castro, portrayed as noble idealist with no Communist leanings. Che Guevara said Matthews was more important than victory on the battlefield and in 1959 Castro gave Matthews a medal of honor.

For further reading see _The Man Who Invented Fidel: Cuba, Castro, and Herbert L. Matthews of The New York Times_, by Anthony DePalma. And for the Times’ top-tier fake, don’t forget Walter Duranty.

In the early 1930s Stalin engineered a famine designed to eliminate some five million kulaks, independent farmers who resisted collectivization. “Must all of them and their families be physically abolished?” Duranty wrote. “Of course not – they must be ‘liquidated’ or melted in the hot fire of exile and labor into the proletarian mass.”

As Stalin’s famine killed millions, Duranty wrote “there is no famine or actual starvation nor is there likely to be,” and “any report of a famine in Russia is today an exaggeration or malignant propaganda.” Headlines included “Stalinism Smashes Foes in Marx’s Name,” and “Stalinism’s Mark is Party Discipline.”  

Duranty won a Pulitzer for those articles, which influenced President Roosevelt to recognize the USSR. In 2003, more than 50 years after the fact, the Times made some effort to reckon with Duranty’s pro-Stalin reporting. On the other hand, the Times has never made an effort to clarify Herbert Matthews’ pro-Castro reporting, which helped empower Soviet colonialism in Cuba. 

When it comes to fake news, the New York Times is the paper of record, and from JFK to Hillary Clinton, the Times has endorsed only Democrats for president. With a record like that, a fake op-ed about “resistance inside the Trump administration,” is hardly outside the realm of possibility. The Times, of course, holds no monopoly on fakery.  

As Hanna Rosin recalls, Stephen Glass of The New Republic was _“_probably the most elaborate fraud in journalistic history.” Glass “had been making up characters, scenes, events, whole stories from first word to last,” including Spring Breakdown,” from March, 1997, about conference of  “drunk and dumb” young conservatives at a Washington Hotel.

“On the bed, a Gideon Bible, used earlier in the night to resolve an argument, is open to Exodus,” Glass wrote. The bathtub “is filled with ice and the remnants of three cases of Coors Light.” Young Reagan and Kemp supporters guzzle booze, smoke joints, and get naked with ladies like “Cynthia,” a supporter of Bob Dole.  The piece sounds like the fake stories Democrats deployed at the hearing for Brett Kavanaugh.

Meanwhile, New York Times op-ed columnist Jennifer Senior recounted Christine Blasey Ford’s “memory of being sexually assaulted in high school by President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh.” Senior found Blasey Ford “transparent,” “without guile,” and ultimately “believable.”