mendacity on Eighth Avenue

The other day I posted what I thought was a rather witty little aside in which I said that the New York Times might have more interesting material than Fox News but might also have lower journalistic standards. It was meant as a joke, because, of course, Fox News doesn’t have any journalistic standards. But now that I’ve read the Times’s smear of Scott Alexander and Slate Star Codex, I’m not sure that I see my post as a joke any more. The profile, which I don’t even want to link to, is astonishingly dishonest from beginning to end. What’s not an outright lie is a wild distortion; what isn’t a wild distortion is an undisguised attempt to mislead. It is a festival of mendacity.

If you want more details, Scott Aaronson has them. (And Aaronson doesn’t think as badly of the hit job as I do.) Aaronson’s key point:

The trouble with the NYT piece is not that it makes any false statements [ED: I think it does], but just that it constantly insinuates nefarious beliefs and motives, via strategic word choices and omission of relevant facts that change the emotional coloration of the facts that it does present. I repeatedly muttered to myself, as I read: “dude, you could make anything sound shady with this exact same rhetorical toolkit!”

Jesse Singal has more on the piece’s straightforward dishonesty. And here’s Scott Alexander’s own response.

Alasdair MacIntyre once called the New York Times “the parish magazine of self-congratulatory liberal Enlightenment.” Now, despite having some of the best columnists in America, the paper’s reporting side is just the Fox News of the semi-literate left.