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The New York Times Fails By Its Own Standards

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In a recent virtual town hall meeting called to address New York Times staffers’ vehement objections to the publication of an op-ed by Sen. Tom Cotton, advocating that federal troops be sent into certain American cities to help end riots, publisher A.G. Sulzberger said Cotton’s piece was “contemptuous” in tone and should not have been published. The Times’ editors subsequently added a note to Cotton’s op-ed purporting to identify factual deficiencies and adding that the piece’s tone was “needlessly harsh.” To demonstrate the Times’ commitment to these standards, the editor of the paper’s op-ed section, James Bennet, resigned under pressure.

As a public service, I’d like to call to the attention of New York Times editors and newsroom staff a column by Paul Krugman recently published in the op-ed section, “America Fails the Marshmallow Test: We lack the will to beat Covid-19,” that may not live up to these standards. The column, unsurprisingly, lectures with a contemptuous tone and blares serious factual issues. You know what to do.

What factual issues? Glad you asked; happy to help. First, this description of what other countries have done is way too oversimplified.

As Lyman Stone has tirelessly pointed out, many of the Asian countries with the best success record never resorted to lockdowns close to as draconian as ours. Their testing and tracing regimes were in large part substitutes for lockdowns, not complements.

Most of those countries were successful because they moved far earlier than did the hardest hit areas of the U.S. — mostly New York — and thus had far less community spread. By the time the United States — again, mostly New York — moved, it was too late to replicate the best records. It’s worth noting that this would be a perfectly legitimate criticism to levy against

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The Federalist

A web magazine of culture, entertainment, and politics. Be lovers of freedom and anxious for the fray.

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