New York Times employee Will Wilkinson thinks the New York Times is doing just fine, thank you. In related news Frito-Lay employees think Doritos are snacktacular. Wilkinson's checks are signed by the NYT. That is all that needs to be said.
What neither Wilkinson nor Elizabeth Spiers bothers to engage with at all are the instances of simple dishonesty on the part of Cade Metz. This is and was inexcusable:
In one post, he aligned himself with Charles Murray, who proposed a link between race and IQ in “The Bell Curve.” In another, he pointed out that Murray believes Black people “are genetically less intelligent than white people.”
As I said before, this could only be written for one purpose: to fool readers into think that the thing he aligned himself with Charles Murray about was Murray's racism. That is not true. This is flatly dishonest writing. Why else would you immediately juxtapose two completely unrelated references right next to one another? There's simply no defending this - so Wilkinson and Spiers don't bother to try. You'd think the fact that this tactic made it into print would color Wilkinson's hagiography of Metz and his embarrassing verbal blowjob of the Times. But, nope.
Nor do Wilkinson or Spiers contend with the most obvious threat to the vaunted objectivity of the NYT: the paper's utter refusal to stand up to its staffers when they invoke social justice. There are the obvious incidents that you've heard about - the Tom Cotton op/ed, James Bennett, Bari Weiss, the guy who just got fired years after the incident in question - but I know from people inside the institution that there are others that don't see the light of day. If NYT staffers call a piece racist, it'll get spiked or rescinded; if they call a staffer problematic, he or she will get fired. The NYT brass can't take heat from Twitter. I think Weiss is an idiot, but when she says that the ultimate editor of the New York Times is Twitter, she is absolutely right. How does Wilkinson integrate that condition into the consideration of why his employer is so totally radical and awesome? He doesn't.
I have for decades now watched as people with unique voices have become homogenized as they steadily trade credibility for money and integrity for social clout. The web in 2008 had a lot of problems, but it also had a lot of people with truly singular perspectives, including Wilkinson. I value Alexander's work despite the fact that we agree about nothing, because it is genuinely dangerous to democracy to have such a paucity of points of view. It's also dead fucking boring. Wilkinson didn't used to be boring. He was even entertaining, in the way that Martin from the Simpsons is entertaining.
What is Wilkinson now? He's a Times man. He has the same politics everyone in his position has, a bloodless technocratic Neera Tanden liberalism, motivated by culture war, indifference to poverty, and a belief that switching to chained CPI will solve all of life's ills. He is, existentially, inoffensive. He has sanded away his former persona until he became someone who would never cause anybody to cancel his subscription. In this he is identical to every other rapidly aging white male Millennial in media: just trying to hold on, terrified that he might get the wrong kind of attention. He vociferously defended Metz - a guy who, thanks to the money and prestige and future employment possibilities of working at the Times, enjoys a more secure life than the vast majority of Americans - because he saw too much of Metz in himself. Every word of that interminable essay cries out, "what if they came after me???"
Why did we need another one of these cookie cutter Times liberals, with the opinions perfectly calibrated to offend no one, the writing designed to flatter the sensibilities of people who still pay for the print edition ? I don't know; they are innumerable. I always thought Wilkinson was wrong about everything, in the old days, but he had a point of view that you couldn't find... well, in the New York Times. Now, he's just another company man. Congratulations, Will.
By the way, Wilkinson goes out of his way to say that the anger against Metz's article is a function of belonging to Alexander's culture, and even suggests that Peter Thiel is funding the backlash. (If I ever become such an institutionalized stooge that I think criticism of my employer must be motivated by the shadowy dealings of a reclusive billionaire, please do me a favor and kill me.) I don't fuck with that culture or Thiel or Silicon Valley or any of it. I think the NYT should die not out of fealty to tech and its army of hideous vampires but for being a corrupt, self-serving, destructive institution. It's a position Wilkinson can't contemplate, because he is paid not to.
"I always thought Wilkinson was wrong about everything, in the old days, but he had a point of view that you couldn't find... well, in the New York Times. Now, he's just another company man. Congratulations, Will."