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New York Times editor Joe Kahn says defending democracy is a partisan act and he won’t do it | Press Watch

🌈 Abstract

The article discusses the criticism of New York Times executive editor Joe Kahn's comments on the newspaper's coverage of democracy and its perceived shift away from progressive values under his leadership.

🙋 Q&A

[01] Kahn's Dismissal of Democracy as a Key Issue

1. What are the key criticisms of Kahn's comments on democracy?

  • Kahn dismissed the importance of democracy as a political issue, stating that it is not the top concern for readers based on polls, and that the Times should not prioritize it over other issues like the economy and immigration that are "favorable to Trump"
  • Critics argued that democracy is the fundamental issue that enables free public opinion and should not be treated as just another partisan topic
  • Kahn's view was seen as marching towards dictatorship and an abdication of the Times' responsibility to cover the threat to democracy posed by a potential second Trump presidency

2. How did Kahn justify the Times' coverage priorities?

  • Kahn claimed the Times needs to cover the "full range of issues that people have" based on polling data, and argued that prioritizing democracy coverage would make the Times a "propaganda arm" for the Biden campaign

3. How did critics respond to Kahn's poll-driven approach?

  • Critics argued the Times should not simply defer to polls when deciding what issues to prioritize, and that the Times has made other editorial decisions that go against poll data when it suits them

[02] Kahn's Views on the Times' "Woke" Period

1. What did Kahn say about the Times' response to events like the 2020 protests?

  • Kahn acknowledged a "period of peak cultural angst" at the Times during events like the Trump presidency, COVID-19, and the George Floyd protests in 2020
  • He said the Times "found its footing" after that "extreme moment" and has worked to "reestablish our norms and emphasize independent journalism"

2. How did Kahn's views compare to those of former Times opinion editor James Bennet?

  • Bennet saw the Times' response to 2020 events as emblematic of a broader shift towards "illiberal" and "woke" values, while Kahn viewed it as a temporary aberration that has been corrected

3. How did critics respond to Kahn's characterization of the Times' post-2020 changes?

  • Critics argued Kahn's portrayal of the Times going "woke" was not supported by evidence, and that Dean Baquet, the previous executive editor, was not a "woke pushover" as Kahn implied

[03] Critiques of Kahn's Honesty and Transparency

1. What concerns were raised about Kahn's honesty and transparency in responding to criticism?

  • Critics argued Kahn was not being forthright or honest in his responses, and was defending and justifying the Times' editorial decisions rather than engaging substantively with the criticisms
  • It was noted that Kahn chose a "shmoozy" former Times employee as his interviewer, rather than an independent journalist, which raised questions about his willingness to face tough questioning

2. How did critics characterize the Times' general approach to criticism from the left?

  • Critics argued the Times does not take criticism from the left as seriously as it does criticism from the right, and that the paper's leaders often avoid engaging with the substance of the critiques
Shared by Daniel Chen ·
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