In the British Army of a past era, cavalry officers were regarded, with good reasons, as the somewhat stupid, possibly inbred, and unemployable byproduct of the upper classes, particularly the minor nobility. There was one such worthy, so the story goes, who was so deficient in intellect that the horses and begun to notice. To carry than analogy over to cable news, the New York Times has finally reached the point of the skeptical horse in this story. Or at least pretending to be.
On Sunday, May 19, New York Times finance editor David Enrich got a request from a producer at MSNBC to appear on Rachel Maddow’s show the following night. Enrich had a red-hot front-page story for Monday’s paper, about anti-money-laundering specialists at Deutsche Bank flagging suspicious transactions involving Donald Trump and Jared Kushner, and Maddow wanted to bring him on air to talk about it.
Maddow is MSNBC’s ratings queen, jostling with Sean Hannity every night for the crown of most-watched time slot in cable news. That’s why reporters tend to relish the exposure they get from doing her show. Enrich said yes, but after mentioning the planned appearance to the Times’s communications department, he was told he would have to retroactively decline. The reason? The Times was wary of how viewers might perceive a down-the-middle journalist like Enrich talking politics with a mega-ideological host like Maddow. The producer, who was informed that the Times asks members of the newsroom not to appear on opinionated shows to discuss political subjects, was miffed about the cancellation, sources said. Enrich declined to comment.
As incredible as it seems, the New York Times is concerned that Maddow and Larry O’Donnell and Don Lemon are such batsh** crazy leftists that viewers might start thinking that the New York Times employs batsh** crazy leftists and sends them out to proselytize. Ironically, there is a platoon of NYT journalists on retainer at either CNN or MSNBC:
A number of high-profile Times journalists have landed political-analyst gigs either at CNN or MSNBC (Maggie Haberman, Julie Davis, Patrick Healy, Mike Schmidt, Nicholas Confessore, Jeremy Peters, and others). It’s unclear whether they, too, would be encouraged to stay away from Lemon or Maddow or O’Donnell going forward, but the way cable-news contracts work is that contributors are obligated to appear on a network generally, not on this show or that.
Let’s be serious on this. The New York Times’s straight news section is at least as bug-eating crazy as Maddow or Lemon or O’Donnnell. Most probably make those three look rational. There is no one watching Maddow or Lemon or O’Donnell (this is almost literally true in the latter two cases once you eliminated airport terminals and waiting rooms at psychiatric hospitals) who thinks what they are watching is slanted left to begin with. This is simply a prophylactic measure the Times is taking before a very ugly presidential election so that it won’t have to own what is said by hosts of shows its reporters are guests on and what its reporters say when they are on those shows.