The New York Times is under fire for the second day in a row over its coverage of transgender people – now for its response to the criticism of its coverage of transgender people, and also its warning to its own journalists made by the Old Gray Lady’s executive editor.
On Wednesday, two very separate, yet damning letters were sent to The Times. One, an open letter signed by nearly 200 current and former Times contributors, criticized the paper’s coverage of transgender people. It was not only fact-based and chock-full of examples, but it also took a deep dive into The Times’ biased history of poor reporting on LGBTQ people overall.
The second open letter came from 100 or more LGBTQ organizations and leaders, including GLAAD and HRC, also criticizing the paper’s coverage of transgender people. While there were some similarities to both letters, they were clearly unrelated and from very different groups.
Wednesday afternoon, The Times sent a statement to several publications that had reported on one or both letters. It accomplished being both defensive and dismissive. Rather than acknowledging any room for opportunity or growth, rather than welcoming honest criticism and offering to sit down with LGBTQ people or groups, The Times’ statement chalked up its biased coverage to having a different “mission” than GLAAD.
“We understand how GLAAD sees our coverage. But at the same time, we recognize that GLAAD’s advocacy mission and The Times’s journalistic mission are different,” the Times’ response from a spokesperson reads.
On Thursday, rather than take some time to review its policies on its coverage, or even its “journalistic mission,” The Times published an opinion piece defending one of the people accused of being anti-transgender, noted author J.K. Rowling.
The campaign to characterize J.K. Rowling as a transphobe “is as dangerous as it is absurd,” writes Pamela Paul. https://t.co/Pa6lVo0vNV
— New York Times Opinion (@nytopinion) February 16, 2023
Regardless of your opinion of Rowling, regardless of your opinion of her public statements about transgender people, publishing a defense of Rowling was a clear shot across the bow, a definite – if you will – middle finger to the transgender community, and every one of The Times’ contributors who signed a letter that might have jeopardized their careers at the paper of record, along with the 100 LGBTQ organizations and leader who sent the separate letter.
“The New York Times isn’t defending J.K. Rowling,” The Human Rights Campaign warned on Twitter, suggesting the op-ed had a greater purpose, “they’re emboldening transphobic views and giving people a free pass to discriminate against and harm trans people.”
But it gets worse.
On Thursday, New York Times executive editor Joe Kahn published a statement chastising its contributors, falsely conflating both the contributors’ letter and GLAAD’s letter, and making clear he does not agrees its coverage is biased, and making clear nothing will change.
Semafor’s Max Tani posted Kahn’s letter to Twitter.
“Yesterday, The New York Times received a letter delivered by GLAAD, an advocacy group, criticizing coverage in The Times of transgender issues. It is not unusual for outside groups to critique our coverage or to rally supporters to seek to influence our journalism. In this case, however, members of our staff and contributors to The Times joined the effort. Their protest letter included direct attacks on several of our colleagues, singling them out by name,” Kahn wrote.
Again, there are two separate letters. Times contributors and staffers signed onto a different letter from the GLAAD letter, yet Kahn appears to suggest they are one and the same.
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Wesley Lowery went even further, tweeting: “pretty wild that the NYT response is to…lie about the origin of the letter.”
“Participation in such a campaign is against the letter and spirit of our ethics policy,” Kahn says, condemning those who signed the letter. “That policy prohibits our journalists from aligning themselves with advocacy groups and joining protest actions on matters of public policy. We also have a clear policy prohibiting Times journalists from attacking one another’s journalism publicly or signaling their support for such attacks,” he adds.
“Our coverage of transgender issues, including the specific pieces singled out for attack, is important, deeply reported, and sensitively written. The journalists who produced those stories nonetheless have endured months of attacks, harassment and threats,” he writes, indicating that he believes they are the real victims, not the transgender people harmed The Times’ biased coverage – coverage cited by right wing lawmakers and officials to defend anti-trans policies and legislation.
Kahn wholly denies any room for growth, any error, any opportunity to do better, claiming, “any review shows that the allegations this group is making are demonstrably false.”
After both stating The Times welcomes “discussion, criticism and robust debate,” and then stating, “Even when we don’t agree, constructive criticism from colleagues who care, delivered respectfully and through the right channels, strengthens our report,” Kahn levels what appears be a threat.
“We do not welcome, and will not tolerate, participation by Times journalists in protests organized by advocacy groups or attacks on colleagues on social media and other public forums.”
The Daily Beast called it “a stern newsroom memo defending the coverage and condemning contributors and staffers who railed against it.”
But The Daily Beast also notes the opinion piece published Thursday, ‘In Defense of J.K. Rowling,’ was written by columnist Pamela Paul, who notably wrote a piece questioning the legitimacy of trans women. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, has been [a] leading critic of trans issues.”
Image: Osugi / Shutterstock
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‘I’m Broke’: One Day Before Shutdown and With No Plan McCarthy Says He Has ‘Nothing’ in His ‘Back Pocket’
Just 30 hours before his own Republican conference likely will have succeeded in shutting down the federal government of the United States, Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy candidly admitted to reporters he’s run out of ideas.
Earlier Friday in an “embarrassing failure,” 21 House Republicans killed legislation from their own party, a short-term continuing resolution, that would have kept the federal government open.
Later on Friday afternoon, swarmed by reporters, McCarthy was asked if he was going to tell them what his plans are. He sarcastically replied, “No, I’m going to keep it all a secret.”
When pressed, he said he would “keep working, and make sure we solve this problem.”
“What’s in your back pocket, Speaker?” another reporter asked, pressing him for an answer.
“Nothing right now. I’m broke,” he admitted, apparently referring to options and ideas to avoid a shutdown.
But another reporter asked Speaker McCarthy the main question: Would he partner with House Democratic Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries to put the Senate’s bill before the House.
He refused to answer.
After Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) failed House vote to keep the federal government open…
Reporter: “What’s in your back pocket, Speaker?”
McCarthy: “Nothing right now. I’m broke.” pic.twitter.com/pB2SWhOSVr
— The Recount (@therecount) September 29, 2023
Just before 5 PM CNN’s Manu Raju reported on the ongoing House Republicans’ closed-door meeting with the Speaker, a meeting where the 21 Republicans who will likely be effectively responsible for the shutdown reportedly did not attend.
“McCarthy is telling [Republicans] now there aren’t many options to avoid a shutdown, according to sources in room. He says they can approve GOP’s stop-gap plan that failed, accept Senate plan, put a ‘clean’ stop-gap on floor to dare Democrats to block it — or shut down the government.”
He adds, U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) largely responsible for the impending likely shutdown and the impending possible ouster of McCarthy said: “We will not pass a continuing resolution on terms that continue America’s decline.”
At midnight Saturday Republicans will likely have succeeded in furloughing 3.5 million million federal workers – two million of them service members in the U.S. Armed Forces – and countless contractors, while financially harming untold thousands of businesses that rely on income from all those workers to keep running – unless Speaker McCarthy puts a bipartisan continuing resolution approved by at least 75 U.S. Senators on the floor, legislation every House Democrat is likely to vote for.
Should he do so, many believe he will have also signed his own pink slip.
But whether or not the government shuts down, and whether or not McCarthy puts the Senate’s CR on the floor, according to The Washington Post the far right extremists in his party are already moving to oust him “as early as next week.”
The Biden campaign is making certain Americans realize the blame for the impending shutdown sits at McCarthy’s feet.
Here is Kevin McCarthy a few months ago praising the deal he made with President Biden to avert a government shutdown, which he is now reneging on pic.twitter.com/B4rVNzNXkZ
— Biden-Harris HQ (@BidenHQ) September 29, 2023
At 6:23 PM Friday evening, Punchbowl News’ Jake Sherman wrote on social media: “HOUSE REPUBLICANS HAVE NO PLAN TO KEEP GOVERNMENT OPEN.”
Watch the videos above or at this link.
‘See How Easy That Is to Say?’: GOP Mocked for ‘Weaponization’ of DOJ Claims as Democratic Senator Gets Indicted
The U.S. Dept. of Justice unsealed an indictment against U.S. Senator Bob Menendez late Friday morning, accusing the New Jersey Democratic lawmaker of bribery as prosecutors showed photos of gold bars and nearly half-a-million dollars in cash stuffed into a jacket that bears his name and the seal of the U.S. Senate.
Many on the left immediately demanded Senator Menendez resign, a demand he is refusing. He will step down as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, which Senate Democrats require when a chair is criminally charged.
It took little time for liberals to mock Republicans who have been claiming President Joe Biden and Democrats in general, along with the “deep state,” have “weaponized” the Dept. of Justice against conservatives, especially after Donald Trump’s four indictments on a total of 91 criminal felonies.
“Let me get this straight,” wrote journalist and progressive SiriusXM host Dean Obeidallah. “To the GOP, when DOJ indicts President Biden’s son and a senior Democratic US Senator that is great. But when DOJ indicts Donald Trump for attempting a coup and for 32 counts of Espionage that is DOJ’s ‘weaponization’ of criminal justice?!”
“This is the second time that Sen. Bob Menendez has been indicted for corruption. He needs to resign and allow Gov. Murphy to fill that vacancy with someone who does right by the people of New Jersey,” wrote former Human Rights Campaign press secretary Charlotte Clymer. “See how easy that is to say, GOP?”
Journalist, author, and former Clinton White House aide Keith Boykin posted video of the prosecutor announcing the indictment.
US Attorney Damian Williams shows photos of the Mercedes Benz, gold bars, and cash the government alleges Senator Robert Menendez received in bribes. pic.twitter.com/h4hYYwzKVQ
— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) September 22, 2023
Boykin later sarcastically commented, “There goes Biden again weaponizing the Justice Department to prosecute political leaders in his own party.”
“President Joe Biden’s weaponized Department of Justice has now indicted Democratic Senator Bob Menendez and *checks notes* Joe Biden’s son,” observed veteran intelligence officer, activist, and social media personality Travis Akers.
Attorney and former Republican George Conway quickly responded, saying, “senile sleepy Joe is playing 65-dimensional chess again.”
“Menendez should resign. Today,” demanded historian and author Kevin M. Kruse.
“One of the nice things about rule of law is that truly believing in it ensures that you don’t end up as a partisan hypocrite,” observed The Atlantic’s Brian Klaas, an associate professor in global politics at University College London. “If Menendez is guilty, he should go to prison as anyone else would. (And it would be prudent to resign swiftly).”
Meanwhile, some used Friday’s indictment of Sen. Menendez to focus on other political figures.
Foreign policy, national security and political affairs analyst and commentator David Rothkopf, warned, “The Menendez case should have Jared [Kushner] and Clarence [Thomas] ordering extra strength Tums today.”
Rachel Bitecofer, the political strategist and analyst also appeared to point the finger at Justice Thomas and his wife, Ginni.
You know who else hid money from the IRS and ran his bribes through his wife?! pic.twitter.com/kWJuAPCtbJ
— Rachel Bitecofer 📈🔭🇺🇲🇺🇦 (@RachelBitecofer) September 22, 2023
‘Total Breakdown’: House Sends Members Home – Experts Warn ‘Republicans Can’t Govern’ And Have No ‘Working Majority’
Nine days before an increasingly-likely shutdown of the federal government of the United States, Speaker Kevin McCarthy has effectively adjourned the House for the rest of the week, with GOP leadership telling members they may go home and come back next week, after a procedural vote to fund the Dept. of Defense failed for the second time this week.
Fox News’ Chad Pergram reports, “Note that the House has not officially dismissed everyone.. but everyone expects they are done for the week. Why? They House lacks the VOTES TO ADJOURN.”
He later added that “Things are very fluid,” and “there could be votes TOMORROW or this weekend still in the house. This could be a problem if some members already got on flights.”
Fox News online is reporting, “House abruptly cancels votes for the week without spending deal after series of defeats for GOP leaders,” and notes members are not expected back until Tuesday.
McCarthy this week has repeatedly denigrated and attacked the extremist members of the House Republican conference on camera to reporters, and Thursday was no different, saying, “This is a whole new concept of individuals that just want to burn the whole place down.”
U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) blasted House Republicans upon hearing the House was about to adjourn for the week.
“What you need to understand is that chaos is the point for a big chunk of House Republicans. They came to congress to BURN THE GOVERNMENT TO THE GROUND,” the Connecticut Democrat wrote. “Their goal is a shutdown.”
The sentiment is being echoed by political experts, but many of those are placing the blame on Speaker McCarthy.
Democratic strategist Sawyer Hackett, senior advisor to former Obama Cabinet secretary Julián Castro Thursday afternoon wrote: “Reminder: Kevin McCarthy could put a clean bill to fund the government on the floor right now and it would pass easily. Instead, he’s sending members home for the weekend with 9 days until a shutdown—all because he’s afraid he’ll lose his job.”
Evidence that the far-right extremist House Republicans, led by U.S. Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) are effectively in control comes via Punchbowl News co-founder Jake Sherman:
At 1:13 PM ET Sherman posted that Rep. Gaetz had “just emerged from” Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s suite. “Gaetz said that he’s advocating for pausing consideration of the Pentagon spending bill and moving to bills that cut spending. He mentioned: State-Foreign Ops, Agriculture, Energy and Water.”
Sherman noted that Gaetz “said again there are not enough votes” for a continuing resolution, legislation to keep the government open temporarily, possibly 30 days past the September 30 deadline.
“Just to review, the plan right now is to begin passing 11 appropriations bills with relatively open rules allowing for amendments between next tues (possibly wed) and Sunday.”
At 2:40 PM, Sherman added, “This is now the strategy. They’re going to bring up individual approps [appropriations] bills next week, per lawmakers who just met with @SpeakerMcCarthy.”
Others were less pleased.
Veteran foreign policy journalist Laura Rozen wrote: “truly insane. Mccarthy surrendered to Gaetz.”
Even before McCarthy adjourned the House for the rest of the week, political experts had warned the volatile situation was worse than it may have appeared.
Sherman, late Thursday morning, issued this warning on social media after the failed Defense Dept. vote: “Just to put this in context, republicans cannot even agree to debate the pentagon spending bill. This bill usually passes by big margins. It failed twice this week. Kevin mccarthys House Republicans are in a state of crisis.”
Josh Chafetz, Georgetown Law professor of law and politics, responded to Thursday’s failed Defense Dept. procedural vote, writing: “if you can’t pass the procedural stuff you don’t have a working majority.”
Aaron Fritschner, the Deputy Chief of Staff to U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) is calling the state of the GOP House a “total breakdown.”
“I started working in the House nearly 11 years ago, I’ve seen some crazy days and some chaotic votes but never seen anything like what is happening with this majority. Just a total breakdown,” he wrote Thursday morning.
Professor and American historian Aaron Astor on Thursday asked, “Does the GOP actually have a working majority in the House?”
Veteran journalist John Harwood quickly replied, “clearly not.”
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