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Weekend reads: The American press gets its groove back

Weekend reads: The American press gets its groove back

U.S. media is ‘dragging itself back from the brink.’ Will Canada follow?

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A story broke last weekend that I’ve been waiting a long time to see. In an interview with Ben Smith at Semafor, Joe Kahn, the executive editor of The New York Times, effectively announced the return of journalism to its pre-Trump era standards, stating that the role of the news media “is not to skew your coverage towards one candidate or the other.” Kahn pushed back on the activist ethos in newsrooms, blasted journalists that expect their work to be a reflection of personal politics, and acknowledged the Times went “too far” in 2020 and is now re-establishing norms in the wake of these “excesses.”

It was a stunning moment.

Speaking about the story on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Ben Smith described the Grey Lady as being “focused on dragging itself back from the brink.” He said that “what’s happening inside the New York Times is a sense that, during particularly the summer of 2020, they aligned themselves too much with particularly the progressive wing of the Democratic Party.” And that Khan considers it his job to pull the institution back.

The context for Kahn’s stance is ongoing tensions between the Times and the White House (in part because the President won’t grant the paper a sit-down interview), and comments from podcaster and former Obama aide Dan Pfeiffer in particular. The Pod Save America co-host recently complained in a Substack post that the Times is “often too worried about seeming balanced to truly articulate the danger of Trump.” And that journalists “do not see their job as saving democracy or stopping an authoritarian from taking power.”

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