Censorship, witch hunts and dirty money at the New York Times
By Andre Damon
12 February 2018
On Wednesday, the New York Times announced that its revenues grew substantially last quarter, driven by a 46 percent increase in digital subscriptions over the previous year.
Notably, the 166-year-old “newspaper of record” had its paid user base grow at a rate usually seen only at start-ups, adding 105,000 digital-only subscriptions in December and January, and hitting a new record.
The newspaper’s stock price has shot up 40 percent since October.
Reporting matter-of-factly on the Times’ earnings statement, Reuters attributed the newspaper’s high earnings and favorable stock performance to two factors:
“Chief Executive Mark Thompson told Reuters that the newspaper will … benefit from Facebook Inc’s initiative to prioritize high-quality news outlets in its social media posts to counter fake news and sensationalism.”
“Subscriptions in the quarter also got a boost from the newspaper’s coverage of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual harassment story, helping the company post the highest-ever annual subscription revenue of $1 billion.”
The Reuters reporter did not feel compelled to note the apparent contradiction between Facebook’s promotion of the Times for its lack of “sensationalism,” and the fact that a major driver of subscription growth for the newspaper has been salacious and explicit tabloid gossip about the sex lives of Hollywood celebrities like Weinstein, actor Kevin Spacey and comedian Louis C.K.
On numerous occasions over the past four months, the “newspaper of record” has led with or run front-page features consisting of breathless and graphic sexual allegations against film or media figures, displacing major international news.
In fact, there is no contradiction, because the promotion of “trusted” news outlets such as the Times and Washington Post by the US technology giants has nothing to do with ensuring the public has access to high-quality, objective reporting.
In 1971 the Times published the Pentagon Papers, which exposed the crimes of the Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon administrations in Vietnam. In the intervening decades, on the other hand, the newspaper has become a clearinghouse for leaks and other disinformation from the American intelligence agencies and military, helping to sell to the public US-led wars in the Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and elsewhere.
Meanwhile the Times has made one of its most critical tasks the blocking of the dissemination of damaging and revealing state secrets. According to former Times journalist James Risen,