There is no "Crossroads" podcast this week, seeing as how our friends at Issues, Etc., are off for the holidays. Lutherans do need to party every now and then.
However, I saved something that I thought may be of interest to GetReligion readers/listeners on this Black Friday, a day in which my family has a sacred tradition of staying as far as we can from shopping malls.
This is a radio interview between my self and a man -- Eric Metaxas, by name -- who has been my friend for two decades. The subject of the interview is the debate inside The New York Times staff about the quality and direction of its coverage of, well, non-New York City America during the recent election. Click here to tune that in.
Metaxas is, of course, a New Yorker and a Yale University man. I am a prodigal Texan who has spent most of his life and career -- other than a decade-plus as an outsider in Washington, D.C. -- deep in "flyover country."
What makes the interview interesting, I think, is that Metaxas and I are coming from two different points of view about the status of Citizen Donald Trump. (We also disagree on the Bee Gees.)
As GetReligion readers know, I was outspokenly #NeverHillary #NeverTrump. Metaxas was, of course, portrayed in the mainstream press as one of the Donald's strongest evangelical supporters (forgetting this lovely bit of classic Eric satire in The New Yorker). However, anyone who was paying close attention knew that Metaxas was a strong advocate of VOTING for Trump, based on his conviction that Hillary Rodham Clinton was a uniquely dangerous threat to religious liberty in this country.
Eric and I disagreed on the wisdom of voting for Trump. You'll hear hints of this in this Eric Metaxas Show hour, even though that isn't the subject of the interview. What we agree on is that this whole campaign was not a shining hour for the mainstream press and the great Gray Lady in particular.
Faithful GetReligion readers will already be up to speed on many of the New York Times documents that I refer do during the discussion, especially the remarkable non-repentance letter to readers from Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr., and executive editor Dean Baquet. That was referenced in my post, "Meltdown flashback: Once more into the New York Times 'spiritual crisis' breach." I wrote, in part:
That's the letter that is being interpreted as a mild act of journalistic repentance, stating, sort of, that the Times team -- after missing the whole Donald Trump and middle America thing -- promises to go back to doing basic news coverage, rather than advocacy journalism.
The problem, however, is that this is not what the letter actually says. It says the Times needed to turn "on a dime" in order to react to election night developments, but that the newsroom then did what it has "done for nearly two years -- cover the 2016 election with agility and creativity." Then there was this:
"As we reflect on the momentous result, and the months of reporting and polling that preceded it, we aim to rededicate ourselves to the fundamental mission of Times journalism. That is to report America and the world honestly, without fear or favor, striving always to understand and reflect all political perspectives and life experiences in the stories that we bring to you. It is also to hold power to account, impartially and unflinchingly. You can rely on The New York Times to bring the same fairness, the same level of scrutiny, the same independence to our coverage of the new president and his team."
So there is the issue once again. The Times leaders believe that they have been producing journalism that shows understanding and, dare I say, respect for "all political perspectives and life experiences" in America. ...
Then there are the essential columns written post-election by Times public editor Liz Spayd, especially these two:
In my post on that second essay -- "More letters, even from the left, mourning the Gray Lady's slide into advocacy journalism" -- I stressed this quote from the public editor:
Since the election, I have been on the phone with many Times readers around the country ... to discuss their concerns about The Times’s coverage of the presidential election. The number of complaints coming into the public editor’s office is five times the normal level, and the pace has only just recently tapered off.
My colleague Thomas Feyer, who oversees the letters to the editor, says the influx from readers is one of the largest since Sept. 11.
Read that final sentence again.
This is serious stuff, people. I hope you enjoy this conversation on this topic and others. "Crossroads" will be back next week.