From Kevin Williams in National Review, Sarah Palin vs The New York Times:

Our friends in the media who bemoan the rise of Donald Trump and Trump-style politics — which is to say, the politics of lies — have some penance of their own to do, because it was not right-wing populists who trained so many Americans to be skeptical of what they read in the newspaper: It was the newspapers themselves, not least the New York Times. As I have written before, the Times does some great work on its news pages, particularly on its local-news pages, but the intellectual standards of its opinion pages can be shockingly low — especially when it comes to the matter of entirely unsubstantiated claims about Republican politicians. And I say that as someone who has written for the Times opinion page.

This isn’t just a problem for the Times opinion pages, it isn’t just a problem for the Times as a whole, and it isn’t just a problem for the press, either: The more elite institutions fail to do their basic jobs, and the more they abuse their positions at the commanding heights, the more room they create for populist demagoguery — ironically, the very kind of politics in which Sarah Palin today specializes, to the modest extent that she remains a political figure.

As every recovering addict knows, the first step toward getting better is admitting that you have a problem. And the New York Times has a problem. The Times may not have any love for Sarah Palin, nor she for it, but the former governor is doing the newspaper a favor by giving it the opportunity to recommit itself to fundamental journalistic values, one of which is not making stuff up about people you hate simply because it is fun and profitable to hurt them.


There are three opportunities for bias in the press: what you decide to cover, what you decide NOT to cover, and how you cover it. The last one requires factual correctness and proper context to avoid misleading the reader. When the staff overwhelmingly leans in a single political direction and embraces a narrative accuracy suffers.

Our media has monetized outrage at the expense of journalistic integrity.  Populism thrives not just from lack of accuracy but from lack of perspective; they just do not see the same world.  Some of the populist media on the right propagates inaccurate information, but the left often does not see accurate information. One side will believe things that are not true and the other side will not be exposed to things that are true.

I do not know that these failures from the old media institutions are the main reason for the rise of the populist press.  Contempt is a powerful and unforgivable force that is also part of the shift.  In their fanaticism for diversity, intellectual diversity should come first.