New York Times Charges Democracy Threatened, Fails to Look in the Mirror

By Roger Kimball
Roger Kimball
Roger Kimball
Roger Kimball is the editor and publisher of The New Criterion and publisher of Encounter Books. His most recent book is “Where Next? Western Civilization at the Crossroads.”
January 3, 2022Updated: January 9, 2022


The lot of a columnist is not an enviable one.

It’s the details and the logistics that weigh one down. It’s hard to keep everything straight.

Just now, for example, I was looking over “Every Day Is Jan. 6 Now,” the cheery New Year’s message from our former newspaper of record, The New York Times. It’s signed by “The Editorial Board”—“a group of opinion journalists whose views are informed by expertise, research, debate, and certain longstanding values” (please stop giggling).

The point is, we’re not dealing with some random op-ed. This column has the full weight of the institution that gave Pulitzer Prizes to Walter Duranty, the perpetrator of the 1619 Project hoax, and other exercises in politically motivated phantasmagoria.

It’s a splendid example of what Victor Davis Hanson has called “coup porn.”

I must have been absent on the day the memo went out advising all the troops that the narrative was about to get a new wrinkle.

Sam Tanenhaus certainly got the memo, as, right on cue, he wheeled into print at Spectator World, another regime media outlet, to explain that a “sinister … vigilantism” and a suspicion of government were abroad in the land now, a sort of political pandemic that needed to be squashed by the state.

I would be willing to bet that the memo from the Central Committee came with the headline, “Insurrection is the new racism.” It would have been meant as a rhetorical marching order.

But even those of us not directly privy to such a memo could appreciate it, though in a sense other than intended.

“Insurrection”—note the scare quotes—really is the new “racism,” a scary thing that’s ubiquitous but nonexistent.

It’s been fascinating to watch the mythology develop.

Just before Christmas, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced that she would be superintending a spate of “solemn” events to mark the anniversary of the protest. Former political scientist Larry Sabato announced that the “first annual” conference on “America’s First Attempted Coup Since 1865” would be streamed live from the University of Virginia on the big day.

It’s pathetic, I know, but you see how they were preparing the ground.

It was just a short step from solecisms such as “the first annual” conference on Jan. 6 to “insurrection is everywhere and must be stamped out.”

Remember the brave chap who got Joe Biden to agree to say “Let’s Go Brandon” on live television? It turns out that was an insurrectionary act: part of a “slow-moving insurrection,” if you believe the vacant moving mouths at MSNBC.

But this is where things get complicated.

I thought I had my notes on that histrionic effusion from the NY Times organized neatly. But I suspect they got reshuffled.

Yes, there are still some signature nuggets of hysteria and pathological hatred of President Donald Trump. But stray pages from other episodes got stuck in.

The NY Times describes the Jan. 6 protest as “horrifying,” a “deadly riot at the seat of American government” that was “full of bloodshed,” and so on.

But then my notes reminded me to look into the fate of Ashli Babbitt.

Babbitt was the young, unarmed Air Force vet who was shot and killed without warning by a Capitol Hill policeman who got off scot-free.

I looked for Ashli’s name in the NY Times story. But what do you know, it wasn’t there. I thought that was odd because the bullet that killed her was the only one fired that day at the Capitol.

The name Brian Sicknick didn’t make it into the NY Times story, either.

Sicknick was the pro-Trump Capitol Hill policeman whom the NY Times reported was bludgeoned to death by a fire extinguisher wielded by a crazed Trumpist rioter. But Sicknick wasn’t attacked with a fire extinguisher. He died from a stroke a few days after the event.

And what about scenes depicting Washington in flames during the Capitol breach?

Epoch Times Photo
Screen shot of Radio Sputnik report on riots in Washington on June 1, 2020. (Screenshot Radio Sputnik/The Epoch Times)

Oops, wrong file: That was from 2020.

Or how about the scenes of mayhem shown by NBC News from the Capitol and the Supreme Court?

Epoch Times Photo
Protesters against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh demonstrate at the East Front of the Capitol in Washington on Oct. 6, 2018. (Chris Kleponis/AFP/Getty Images)
Epoch Times Photo
Protesters storm the steps and doors of the U.S. Supreme Court building as Judge Brett Kavanaugh is sworn in as an Associate Justice of the court on Capitol Hill in Washington on Oct. 6, 2018. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Nope, those were from 2018, during the “mostly peaceful” Senate confirmation hearings of Brett Kavanaugh. No threats to “our democracy” there, apparently.

The Editorial Board, embodying the “values” of the NY Times, said Trump “incited” the crowd. In fact, Trump asked the crowd to proceed “peacefully and patriotically,” but those are fighting words, right?

The confusion got worse and worse the further I got into the insane manifesto by The Editorial Board. They warn about “regular citizens who threaten election officials and other public servants.”

Wouldn’t you know it, my notes have a direction: “vide Joe Biden, 2018,” which took me to a story describing what Biden said he would have done had he met Trump face-to-face: “I’d smack him in the mouth.”

The actor Robert De Niro experienced similar urges. “I’d like to punch him in the face,” he said.

Remember Kathy Griffin? She was the comedienne who pranced about with a make-believe bloody, severed head of Trump.

It turns out that a lot of “regular citizens” were out there threatening to stab, blow up, shoot, burn, suffocate, or beat Trump to death (Hanson once compiled an inventory of the intended means of execution). But that was OK, just as it was OK that Madonna, when not offering to fellate Hillary voters, fantasized about “blowing up” the White House, because, well, you know, Trump.

The truly insidious thing about this dark effusion from The Editorial Board is its rejection of ordinary politics. Its description of Trump’s tenure is a calumny on a man who had perhaps the single most successful first presidential term in the history of the republic.

But forget that—dispute it even.

The Editorial Board won’t let it go. It might seem that normality has reasserted itself (call upon your inner Coleridge here and deploy a “willing suspension of disbelief”: obviously Joe Biden is not “normal”—just pretend).

No, everything is much worse than you think. “Regular citizens,” most of the Republican Party and followers of Trump: They’re all enemies of our democracy, an “existential threat” to the Republic.

So says the Editorial Board of the NY Times.

“Polling finds that the overwhelming majority of Republicans believe that President Biden was not legitimately elected,” the board’s op-ed reads.

Er, quite right, Kemo Sabe. And your point is?

This desperate, overwrought screed purports to warn us about the presence of many “dangerous … extremists” in our midst, violence-prone folks who would suppress voter rights and destroy our democracy.

The irony is that the Editorial Board might be right about that. Their mistake was in not realizing that they were writing with a mirror in front of them.

In other words, the danger that they warn about isn’t “out there” among the unwashed multitude that the clean, well-educated, and neatly coiffed TimesWorld despises.

No, the danger is with them: They represent the “existential threat” that they see in others.

Who will tell them?

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.