Both newspapers and cable news networks sometimes struggle to explain to their audiences that there is a wall of separation between the editorial departments and the news division. What is written on the Opinion Page is not to be construed, they say, with the straight news articles in the A section. They struggle to make this distinction, of course, because there is all-too-often very little separating these two entities. The editorials reflect the tone of the news coverage and vice versa. Straight news articles come to sound like editorials in disguise, with cherry-picked “quotes” taking the place of the outright opinion of the writer. Readers aren’t dumb. And since newspapers like the New York Times have gotten very careless about maintaining objectivity, the roots of their bias aren’t hard to find.
But even in this day and age, where conservative readers are so sick and tired of mainstream media bias that they’ve begun tarring all of it with the “fake news” brush, what the New York Times was up to last week was egregious and unacceptable. It’s one thing for the paper’s editorial board to advocate against the Republican tax bill in a series of pieces for their readers. That’s fine. That’s what readers expect from a well-run editorial board: You take a position and you defend it. It’s all good, even if you have to ignore their so-called “objective” writers doing much the same thing on the front page.
What isn’t acceptable is then taking to the pages of social media with calls to action. Seriously! The NY Times Editorial Board Twitter account was literally asking followers to call Republican senators like Jeff Flake and Susan Collins and urge them to “reject a tax bill that hurts the middle class & the nation’s fiscal health.” It even included the phone numbers of these senators! This is the work of a super PAC or a paid Democrat activist; it should not be the work of a major newspaper’s editorial board by any stretch of the imagination.
Whether or not the GOP’s tax reform bill is the greatest piece of legislation to ever come out of Washington or the worst piece of legislation since Obamacare is quite beside the point. Either way, newspapers like the New York Times have a responsibility to the public to call it down the middle. Yes, yes, they can give us their opinions on the pages of the editorial section, but they have NO business becoming political activists on Twitter. How could they think otherwise? It’s like they saw Trump’s “fake news trophy” tweet the other day and thought to themselves…Say, how do we get in on this?
Well, congratulations, New York Times. You went and did something that even the pathetic likes of CNN has never quite stopped to doing. If you want the trophy, it’s yours.