Journalistic Malpractice at The New York Times


An obsequious press corps now serves as the mouthpiece for the country’s vast censorship apparatus. Last Sunday, The New York Times ran a front page story “How Trump’s Allies Are Winning the War Over Disinformation.”

The Gray Lady covered the battle for the First Amendment in familiar doublethink. As we’ve covered throughout the Missouri v. Biden (now Murthy v. Missouri) proceedings, the censors deny the censorship exists while insisting we should be thankful that it does. 

Government lawyers have argued that plaintiffs manufactured the case, and the allegations of censorship are nothing more than “an assortment of out-of-context quotes and select portions of documents that distort the record to build a narrative that the bare facts simply do not support.” At the same time, they insist the censorship is necessary “to prevent grave harm to the American people and our democratic processes.” 

Harvard Law Professor Larry Tribe followed their lead, arguing that the private-public censorship apparatus is a “thoroughly debunked conspiracy theory” but that eliminating it “will make us less secure as a nation and will endanger us all every day.”

Now, The New York Times and other news outlets have joined in supporting the censors. The piece cites Nina Jankowicz, the aspiring tyrant known for her Mary Poppins-themed calls for censorship, who claimed there was “no shred of evidence” behind allegations that the Biden administration called to stifle dissent. 

The article describes the censorship apparatus as a farcical right-wing fever dream in which President Trump “casts himself as victim and avenger of a vast plot to muzzle his movement.” At the same time, the authors cite the American Intelligence Community’s leading advocates for restricting the flow of information. 

Jankowicz headed the Department of Homeland Security’s board on disinformation until the Biden administration suspended the Domestic Ministry of Truth in response to reports that Jankowicz was a prolific spreader of misinformation, including the Steele Dossier and the Hunter Biden laptop. 

Jankowicz complained, without irony, to the Times that the resistance to online censorship created a “chilling effect.” She explained, “Nobody wants to be caught up in it.” 

The Times also quoted Katie Starbird, who said that “the people that benefit from the spread of disinformation have effectively silenced many of the people that would try to call them out.” The Gray Lady did not note the irony that Starbird claimed to be “silenced” as the paper of record quoted her on the front page of the Sunday edition, nor did they explain her role at CISA, the Department of Homeland Security agency at the center of the censorship industry. 

While serving on CISA’s “Misinformation & Disinformation” subcommittee, Starbird lamented that many Americans seem to “accept malinformation as ‘speech’ and within democratic norms.” Of course, those “norms” have been protected by the First Amendment for over 200 years. But CISA – led by zealots like Dr. Starbird – appointed themselves the arbiters of truth and worked with the most powerful information companies in the world to purge dissent. 

The Times, Starbird, and Jankowicz represent the foundational lie underpinning the entire censorship complex: that the government and its bureaucrats hold a monopoly on truth. Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson apparently shared this view in oral arguments for Murthy v. Missouri, as she advocated for the right to abridge free speech provided the government offers a “compelling state interest.” 

The First Amendment does not discriminate between true and false ideas; it offers a blanket protection of speech regardless of veracity. But notwithstanding legal protections, the Government has been the most prolific spreader of “misinformation” in the last four years. From natural immunity, to lockdowns, to vaccine efficacy, to mask mandates, to travel restrictions, to fatality rates, the “trust the science” crowd has silenced dissent that has often been more accurate than their government decrees. 

In this process, left-wing institutions have abandoned their liberal values in the pursuit of power. As Brownstone outlined in “A Close Look at the Amici Briefs in Murthy v. Missouri,” supposedly liberal groups like Stanford University and Democratic Attorneys General urged the Court to promote censorship while the ACLU remained derelict in silence. 

Journalists – once heralded as the Fourth Estate – have joined forces with the regime to disparage its challengers. In Slate, Mark Joseph Stern referred to Murthy v. Missouri as “inane” and “brain-meltingly dumb.” He made no effort to report the hundreds of pages in discovery that revealed the coordinated censorship campaigns directed from the White House, the Intelligence Community, and Big Tech, nor did he grapple with the laundry list of follies that flourished under government-sponsored censorship, including the Iraq War, Covid lockdowns, or Hunter Biden’s laptop. 

Instead, he declares definitively that the Biden administration – the same one that proudly ignores the Court’s orders on student loans and demands the censorship of its political enemies – acted within its powers in response to “a once-in-a-century pandemic.” 

These conclusory statements, utterly detached from the truth, are nothing new for Stern, whose work reveals him to be little more than a spokesman for the Democratic Party. In the confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh, he called for increased investigations into Julie Swetnick’s easily-debunked allegation that Kavanaugh was a ring leader for a group of high school gang rapists. He described Christine Blasey Ford, a serial liar who has no evidence she ever met Kavanaugh, as a “folk hero to the left for the rest of time.” He chastised justices for not wearing masks as late as 2022 and derided judicial review of the nonsensical airline mask mandate as evidence of a “power-drunk juristocracy” and “badly broken” system.

Like so much of the authoritarian left, there is no nuance or variety to the power-seeking gambits. From mail-in voting to vaccine mandates to lockdowns to Elon Musk to affirmative action, the Slate author moves in lockstep with the mindless herd. 

Stern is in no way remarkable, but he represents the transformation of the American left, which has ushered in a new era of authoritarianism draped in progressive language. Like Justice Jackson, the wolf comes in sheep’s clothing, dressed in politically correct standards of affirmative action and diversity politics. But the rainbow veneer cannot overcome the insidious threat to our republic. 

The federal bureaucracy has hijacked our information centers to protect their own interests. They’ve stifled dissent to perpetuate their power, and the mainstream press has bowed to the Leviathan. Supreme Court Justices, perhaps the last line of defense against the tyrants’ aspiration to codify totalitarianism into law, appear primed to abandon the First Amendment. 

A ruling for the government in Murthy v. Missouri could permanently transform the nation, the relationship between Government and private businesses, and Americans’ right to information. Even more alarmingly, it would suggest that due process no longer reigns supreme over political favoritism. 

In Robert Bolt’s A Man for All Seasons, Thomas More asks his son-in-law, William Roper, if he would give the Devil the protection of the law. Roper responds that he’d “cut down every law in England” to get to the Devil.

“Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat?” More asks. “This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down…do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!” 

Justice Jackson, the Biden Administration, Katie Starbird, and their allies in the media may believe they have a divine mission to censor alleged misinformation, that the Devil’s reincarnation has taken multiple forms in the bodies of RFK Jr., Alex Berenson, Jay Bhattacharya, and others; under our Constitution, however, the self-professed nobility of their missions does not excuse violations of the First Amendment.

Let us hope the Court realizes the graveness of the threat.

  • Brownstone Institute is a nonprofit organization conceived of in May 2021 in support of a society that minimizes the role of violence in public life.

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