The New York Times, and every other media outlet, is free to hire or fire whomever it likes. The members of the management team at the New York Times are free to do or say what they’d like. But they are not immune from criticism for their double standards.
Last week, the New York Times named Sarah Jeong the newest member of its editorial board. This wouldn’t be cause for commotion under normal conditions, she is perfectly aligned politically with the other members of that group.
But shortly after the announcement, her previous racist comments on Twitter surfaced. Most won’t be referenced here because of her language, but I think #cancelwhitepeople tells you what you need to know. I think it is fair to say that if you substituted the word “white” with any other race or ethnicity, Jeong’s comments would have been unacceptable.
So, what did the New York Times do? It reaffirmed support, saying, “The fact that she is a young Asian woman has made her a subject of frequent online harassment.” So basically, she received mean tweets, to which she responded with racists replies, which is now acceptable. (Never mind the fact that many of her comments weren’t, in fact, replies but original statements.) And because she is Asian and female, she is allowed to do this?
So in the eyes of the Grey Lady, we need different speech codes depending on one’s race and sex? That might sound racist to you and me, but this double standard is prevalent among our friends on the left.
It is not unusual. And it extends beyond the traditional news media. We certainly see it in the sports media, which has taken on a politically active tone – much to the chagrin of sports viewers – or former viewers rather.
Two years ago, ESPN fired Curt Schilling as a commentator when he shared a meme mocking policies that allow men to use women’s bathrooms. At the time, the North Carolina bathroom bill was one of the trending issues of the day and Schilling came out on the side of the state, which was the side saying that men use the men’s bathroom and women use the women’s bathroom. Not exactly a radical take.
But for ESPN, Schilling’s speech was not consistent with its political viewpoint- and he was let go.
Enter Jemele Hill, another ESPN commentator, who also caused a stir on social media, referring to President Donald Trump as a white supremacist, saying he’s mostly surrounded himself with white supremacists, and he owed his election to a bunch of racist white people…among other things.
In her case, one of Hill’s bosses, Disney President Bob Iger, came to her defense, saying we need to understand the context for how Hill was speaking. Essentially, following Iger’s reasoning, if you have hurt feelings and a liberal opinion, say what you want. So ESPN doesn’t have a problem with political speech, as long as it’s political speech the boss likes.
If a company wants to be inconsistent in who it hires or which speech it finds permissible, that is its right. As a private company, Disney has a lot of latitude in its human resource decisions. But have the temerity to admit what you are doing. Don’t hide behind a claim of objectivity when your actions demonstrate what you really mean is that conservative speech is unacceptable. Conservatives have certainly gotten that message loud and clear from ESPN. A quick look at ESPN’s declining ratings or Disney’s share price over the past few years would seem to indicate the market has gotten it, too.
We see this same speech bias on college campuses. This is what happens when roughly 90 percent of our national media, and roughly 90 percent of our college administrations, think the same way. You don’t see your own bias when you live in ideological bubbles. This is how CNN can spend weeks ranting about the mean things supporters of President Donald Trump say to them while ignoring actual violence from the left.
Because it is always easier to turn a blind eye when someone you agree with is doing something inappropriate. And that is, unfortunately, the case with the New York-D.C.-L.A. media. That is why most on the right don’t trust and frankly, don’t care, what the national media is espousing.
The world would be a better place if our national media organizations and colleges and universities stopped bowing down to online rage mobs fueled by ideological bias and if such organizations were able to move beyond their bubbles and see that the nation’s viewpoint is actually much broader and diverse outside of places like New York, Bristol and New Haven. But at minimum, maybe they could at least drop the facades and the ridiculous double standards. It’s really insulting the intelligence of the rest of us.
Maybe I’ll tweet about it.
This column appeared in the Madison County Journal on August 8, 2018.