According to the newly leaked transcript of a New York Times staff meeting last year, editorial page editor James Bennet wants his employees and the public to believe that the paper of record is dedicated to open debate, not committed to any particular ideology, and opposed to "simply assert[ing] that we know what the right answers are."
"Call me a conspiracy theorist but I think there may be a connection between the NYT editorial page editor saying 'we are pro-capitalism' and the NYT having no Sanders backers on staff."
—Adam Johnson, media analyst
Oh, except when it comes to one small matter: capitalism.
"I think we are pro-capitalism," Bennet said, according to the Huffington Post, which was given a video of the meeting. "The New York Times is in favor of capitalism because it has been the greatest engine of, it's been the greatest anti-poverty program and engine of progress that we've seen."
After taking a few moments to insist that the Times "is very concerned with fairness" and outlining what the Huffington Post's Ashley Feinberg described as "an ideology of no ideology," Bennet went on to express support for a lower corporate tax rate—one of the central components of the tax bill President Donald Trump signed into law last year.
"In thinking about, for example, the tax bill in this and that, you know, we actually like the idea of reducing corporate rates," Bennet said. "We're not for taxation for purposes of taxation, but we are very concerned about fairness and equitable distribution. And it's sort of wrestling with the, with the tensions there is, I think, how we come out where we do."
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Bennet's remarks came as he was facing intense criticism—both internally and externally—for bringing on right-wing climate denier Bret Stephens as a full-time columnist.
While Bennet insisted during the December meeting the Stephens hire demonstrates the paper's commitment to ideological diversity, one Times employee called that expressed commitment into doubt by highlighting the fact that the paper doesn't have a "strong advocate" for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) or his policy agenda on staff.
Bennet responded with what independent journalist Adam Johnson, who also works as an analyst for Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR,) called a "comically incoherent" answer, one that didn't directly address the employee's observation and instead called on Times staffers to send him possible columnist "nominations."
Further reacting to the leaked staff meeting on Twitter, Johnson suggested there may be some connection between Bennet's remarks in support of capitalism and his failure to hire a supporter of America's most popular democratic socialist for a full-time post.
Call me a conspiracy theorist but I think there may be a connection between the NYT editorial page editor saying “we are pro-capitalism. The New York Times is in favor of capitalism” and the NYT having no Sanders backers on staff and hiring a never-ending string of neocon ghouls.— Adam H. Johnson (@adamjohnsonNYC) February 27, 2018