Home / General / “Free Speech” Is Not A Defense For Hiring a Redundant Bullshit Artist

“Free Speech” Is Not A Defense For Hiring a Redundant Bullshit Artist

Comments
/
/
/
1226 Views

BretStephens

Where David Roberts’s critique of the Times’s decision to hire Bret Stephens is concerned I strongly recommend Reading the Whole Thing. The bottom line:

In all these examples, a similar theme emerges: Stephens just doesn’t seem to have thought much about climate change. He’s enacting the rote conservative ritual of groping around for some reason, any reason, to a) justify inaction and b) blame liberals, in the process saying false things and making terrible arguments.

Editorial page editor James Bennet said this to public editor Liz Spayd:

The crux of the question is whether [Stephens’] work belongs inside our boundaries for intelligent debate, and I have no doubt that it does. I have no doubt he crosses our bar for intellectual honesty and fairness.

Let’s ponder this a moment. The question is not whether Stephens has said false and misleading things about climate change in the past. If you believe the work of NYT reporters, then yes, he has. His latest column indicates that his rethinking on the subject remains inch-deep.

The question is whether it matters — whether dismissing climate change as a “mass hysteria phenomenon” is, or ought to be, disqualifying, below any reasonable “bar for intellectual honesty and fairness.”

The line separating what’s inside and outside the bounds of reasonable debate is not fixed. We draw it together, through our decisions and actions. We push and pull on it all the time.

When a trusted institution deems a particular perspective within the bounds of reasonable debate, it carries a certain imprimatur, a signal to elites and readers alike. The same is true when those institutions exclude certain perspectives. Institutions are, whether they like to acknowledge it or not, referees in this game. They make calls about what’s in and out of bounds.

Bennet does not endorse (or even address) anything Stephens says on climate, only waves his hands, as he did to Washington Post’s Erik Wemple, that Stephens is “capturing and contributing to a vitally important debate.”

Through hiring and defending Stephens, he is signaling that bullshitting about climate change is not disqualifying from a position at the NYT. It is within acceptable mainstream bullshitting limits. Even if you dismiss climate change as a totalitarian delusion for years, as long as you’re willing to publicly acknowledge the most rudimentary science, the rest is fair game.

Make no mistake: This isn’t new. Bullshitting about climate change has never carried much censure in US media. The Washington Post ran some George Will bullshit on climate just a couple weeks ago.

This has long been the norm. Bennet just reaffirmed it.

Still, he shouldn’t have.

Amazingly, the Times is actually trotting out “free speech” defenses of the hire. To state the obvious, the Times gives a forum to a very small number of people. And even in this narrow frame it doesn’t represent a particularly broad spectrum; there isn’t a socialist or an anti-interventionist conservative, for example. There isn’t a strong voice for feminist issues. And Stephens makes three highly unrepresentative anti-Trump conservative Republicans. Every hire the Times makes a choice about what voices merit representation and what don’t. The retreat to specious “free speech” justifications is an excellent indication that perspectives Stephens brings are not valuable. The climate denialism should in itself be disqualifying, and even that aside he’s a standard-issue propagandist.

Like Roberts, I myself do not plan on cancelling my online subscription or to stop buying the paper edition on Sundays. But people who have cancelled their subscriptions aren’t suppressing free speech — they’re entitled to their judgment about whether on net the Times provides value to them. Hiring someone to witlessly troll your readers (and then, of course, to whine and demand a safe space when they take the bait) is an odd business model, and you can’t really complain when some paying customers decide they’ve had enough.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+Share
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Linkedin
  • Pinterest
  • PunditusMaximus

    And people wonder why us lefties are starting to view “free speech” as nothing more than code for “propelling the lies of hard righties with massive institutional machinery”.

    • PunditusMaximus

      I myself do not plan on cancelling my online subscription

      aaaaaand scene

      • Judas Peckerwood

        “But he said he was really sorry and that he really loves me and that it will never, ever happen again.”

      • Dilan Esper

        aaaaaand scene

        Yep.

        The commentary about the New York Times and other big time media around here (other than Fox News, which this blog gets essentially right) is a constant source of amusement to me.

        The New York Times is not some sort of public trust and doesn’t exist to serve the political goals of LGM bloggers or commenters, or even to serve their definition of what constitutes good journalism.

        In a world where very few newspapers are still financially successful anymore, the Times is. It is run extremely well. And while I think Bret Stephens is a terrible hire (if there is a need for a third conservative columnist, there were far better choices available), it could very well be true that this is perfectly sensible as a business decision.

        And saying “I hate these guys, they are terrible, they do a lousy job, but I’m still gonna give them my money” is a perfectly fine result as far as the Times is concerned, I assure you. :)

        • LeeEsq

          Its the same with the Sunday Styles. The Sunday Styles gets lambasted a lot on this blog and other liberal and leftist blogs but it helps pay for all the in-depth investigative journalism we like. During the Golden Age of the Metropolitan daily, newspapers made more money by selling ad space to merchants and people writing personal ads than it did by subscription price. The light entertainment sections were a bigger draw than deep investigative journalism. Investigative journalism and political reporting does not sell themselves.

    • Cassiodorus

      Hasn’t that always been the case?

      • PunditusMaximus

        It might be that we’re waking up to a long-true concept, yeah.

        The fact that Milo really was utterly vile helps a lot — it sets up an unassailable synecdoche. “Do you really want to be on the hook for defending yet another kidtoucher apologist?”

      • NewishLawyer

        Free Speech is still important but it doesn’t justify hiring right-wing hacks. Who gets to judge what is and what is not “irresponsible” speech? Why should I trustthey don’t have ulterior motives of their own?

        • aturner339

          If I might restate your position (feel free to let me know how wrong I get it) the question is about allowable means to protest an institution granting a platform to a bad actor and I don’t think that’s an easy question for either side of the discussion. We are always discussing gatekeeping. There is no truly “free speech” on that sense because bigger platforms necessarily involve more bureaucracy.

          • NewishLawyer

            Oh yeah protest away. I support the Berkeley protests against Milo Y and I support the right to boycott even if I disagree with a boycott.

            But when leftists call freedom of speech, a “bourgeois freedom”, I cringe because it gets very close to advocating for official government censorship even if it never happens.

            Any tool or weapon that you can use can also be used by your opponent. This is something that people should take in mind.

            My girlfriend is from a country known for being somewhere along the lines of not-quite a Democracy but not-quite an Authoritarian government. They have free speech along the lines of personal essays and literature and it is loosening up but political speech is still monitored and the system is designed to keep one-party rule in place. A lot of the censorship that is still done is done to reduce ethnic tensions and disagreements between very different cultures.

            • PunditusMaximus

              I’m so old I remember when lefties understood that large private actors also have power in a capitalist system.

            • SatanicPanic

              Any tool or weapon that you can use can also be used by your opponent. This is something that people should take in mind.

              The problem is that free speech already is used against minorities, and has been since the Constitution was written. You can imagine that hearing “the solution for bad speech is more speech” gets old after a while.

              • Murc

                You can imagine that hearing “the solution for bad speech is more speech” gets old after a while.

                I don’t have a ton of sympathy for this, because it basically boils down to “being told something that’s true gets old.”

                Without the first amendment and a robust tradition of political debate the oppression of minorities and political undesirables would have been so very, very much worse than it was, and the progress we’ve made on those matters would have either been markedly less or marked by a lot more violence than it already was.

                • SatanicPanic

                  It gets old because it’s a lame platitude. “Free speech saved the minorities” is another lead balloon.

          • Murc

            the question is about allowable means to protest an institution granting a platform to a bad actor and I don’t think that’s an easy question for either side of the discussion.

            It depends massively on what you mean by “allowable.”

            If you want to see some epic cases of people talking past each other, look at a person who is using it to mean “what should be legal” and another who is using it to mean “what should be considered socially above reproach and criticism in form” and a third using it to mean “what should be considered socially above reproach and criticism in content.”

            • I allow as how you might have a point there, pardner.

        • DrDick

          “Free Speech” protections do not cover private actions, only government actions. They also do not cover demonstrably false and misleading statements, particularly where those could cause serious harm.

          • Murc

            They also do not cover demonstrably false and misleading statements, particularly where those could cause serious harm.

            Legally speaking I’m not actually sure this is true.

            • DamnYankees

              Depends how you think of slander and libel laws. It’s a valid argument to say that the government enforcing those laws is a limitation on certain kinds of speech.

              • Murc

                Oh, no. That much I knew. I meant that I’m legitimately unsure that making demonstrably false and misleading statements is actually legally actionable; that is, I think legally speaking we might in fact have the right to lie loudly and proudly, and that libel and slander laws to a large extent actually allow this.

                I confess however that I’m unsure of this in the extreme.

            • DrDick

              I was thinking of libel, slander, false advertising, and the like, but should have said, “all demonstrably false and misleading statements.”

    • SatanicPanic

      I always liked that line in Big Punisher’s Twinz- the first amendment’s culturally biased. There is something deeply smug about the dominant culture loudly trumpeting free speech as all important.

      • Origami Isopod

        Nobody uses their free speech to suppress the rights and freedoms of straight cis white dudes. Q.E.D., free speech is all rainbows and puppies.

        • SatanicPanic

          Right? And my point isn’t that free speech isn’t a great thing, it’s that some absolutists don’t like to hear that there’s any sort of power imbalance that can’t be solved by talking louder.

    • Especially concerning Trump’s views on free speech.

    • Murc

      And people wonder why us lefties are starting to view “free speech” as nothing more than code for “propelling the lies of hard righties with massive institutional machinery”.

      We don’t wonder; we know. It’s because you’re either really dumb, being played, or authoritarians. I have sympathy for… two out of three of those things.

      • PunditusMaximus

        Welp, the important thing is that you’ve got a paternalistic reason to suppress and ignore us.

        • Murc

          Another content-free and lie-containing “response” from the man who openly admits he comes here to lie to our faces to provoke a reaction.

          • PunditusMaximus

            Oh come on. You were totally laying the groundwork for “we don’t have to listen to these fucking retards useful idiots poor little dears.”

            “Free speech” more or less exclusively means giving Milo a platform to doxx women, from what I can tell. It never means “hire columnists based on whether or not their predictions turn out to be valuable to readers”, or “actually allow people to call out right-wing lies when they happen”. That shit gets suppressed.

            I never hear the free speechers squawking when there’s a media blackout on #NoDAPL, for example. Because the system’s working as designed. As long as it would be possible for someone to discuss it, who cares if anything that’s valuable always gets drowned out by right-wing drivel in the corporate media?

            • Murc

              You were totally laying the groundwork for “we don’t have to listen to these fucking retards useful idiots poor little dears.”

              Yes. Yes I was. I often make the case that there are people not worth listening to entirely, or not worth listening to on certain issues. Your point?

              “Free speech” more or less exclusively means giving Milo a platform to doxx women, from what I can tell.

              No, it doesn’t. Free speech does not require anyone to give Milo any such thing.

              It never means “hire columnists based on whether or not their predictions turn out to be valuable to readers”,

              It’s never meant this, no. It merely means publishing outlets have the legal freedom to hire any columnists they wish.

              or “actually allow people to call out right-wing lies when they happen”.

              Nobody is stopping anyone from doing this. However, nobody is required to provide anyone with a platform for doing it either.

              I never hear the free speechers squawking when there’s a media blackout on #NoDAPL, for example.

              Because that’s not a matter of free speech?

              As long as it would be possible for someone to discuss it, who cares if anything that’s valuable always gets drowned out by right-wing drivel in the corporate media?

              Those are two different things. Whether or not major media organs are run by right-wing hacks who are by turns incompetent, evil, or both is not, in fact, a free speech issue.

              • PunditusMaximus

                To summarize:

                If the only speech that gets regularly amplified is right-wing hate or corporate propaganda, then “free speech” is fundamentally an empty ideal. It’s meaningless, like the slowly-gutted 4th Amendment for anyone who isn’t wealthy. It only helps the power structure. Noticing this doesn’t make one a dupe or authoritarian; it makes one in touch with reality.

                Free speech does not require anyone to give Milo any such thing.

                I don’t even understand this. “Free speech” was always the justification given for Milo and his buddies’ doxx-fests on college campuses.

                • Murc

                  If the only speech that gets regularly amplified is right-wing hate or corporate propaganda, then “free speech” is fundamentally an empty ideal.

                  Even if your first clause was true, which it isn’t, it still wouldn’t prove your second clause. I like being able to call Donald Trump names without being ram-raided by the cops, thank you, and even if my audience for doing so is small it is only free speech protections that allow me to do so.

                  It’s meaningless, like the slowly-gutted 4th Amendment for anyone who isn’t wealthy.

                  That doesn’t actually make the protections outlined in the 4th Amendment either meaningless or a bad idea, tho.

                  Noticing this doesn’t make one a dupe or authoritarian; it makes one in touch with reality.

                  Wanting to use the power of the state to punish the speech of others absolutely makes you an authoritarian.

                  “Free speech” was always the justification given for Milo and his buddies’ doxx-fests on college campuses.

                  While doxxing as a whole is sometimes a legitimate exercise of free speech but more often simply harassment, nobody is required to give Milo a platform to do his doxxing, which is what your initial statement was about.

    • djw

      Yes, the sensible course is to abandon any principle or value a the first sign of a bad actor attempting to misuse them…

  • Linnaeus

    But people who have cancelled their subscriptions aren’t suppressing free speech — they’re entitled to their judgment about whether on net the Times provides value to them.

    Indeed, isn’t this how the “free market” is supposed to work?

  • Cassiodorus

    Somehow I doubt the Times would consider comparing any conservative group to Nazis to be outside the bounds of “intellectual honesty and fairness,” but it’s perfectly fine to say about climate scientists…

  • You have to wonder what the business model is for this. Who are they trying to suck up to/afraid of/buy off or whatever as the case may be? This obviously isn’t going to sell more subscriptions.

    • whetstone

      He’s a safe choice. He was at the WSJ; he won a Pulitzer; he’s someone that people along the Acela corridor have heard of. I think the business model is the “minimize effort and risk” model.

      • Well then it was a big miscalculation. I can’t see anybody who didn’t read the NYT before taking up the habit because of this clown; and obviously a lot of people are dumping them, or at least saying they will. What’s supposed to be the upside?

        • NewishLawyer

          I think that the reaction of this blog to the NY Times is still a minority one along the Left. The Times and other MSM newspapers and magazines are reporting rapid increases in subscription rates since the election of Trump. I think for every person that cancels because of hiring a right-wing hack, there are three who sign up to get the news.

          So we are on the losing end here.

          • djw

            I think that the reaction of this blog to the NY Times is still a minority one along the Left. The Times and other MSM newspapers and magazines are reporting rapid increases in subscription rates since the election of Trump.

            I think the main thing is for the most part people don’t care much about the op-eds. The uptick has nothing to do with them, which is why Stephens will have no effect on it. Which makes sense–the news is the main thing. Op-eds are an extra. Since the op-ed pages aren’t sold separately, a market correction to the Stephens hire is unlikely to occur. (As an aside, oh! for the glorious era when the news was free and the op-eds were behind the paywall, but it’s not hard to see why that particular model didn’t last.)

            • Aubergine

              I read the op-ed page about as often as I read “Thursday Style.” They’re both bird cage liner. I’ll make sure Stephens is centered below the perch.

            • Hogan

              Denied the opportunity to use their talents in the service of their country, they began to operate what they called ‘The Operation’. They would select a victim and then threaten to beat him up if he paid the so-called protection money. Four months later they started another operation which the called ‘The Other Operation’. In this racket they selected another victim and threatened not to beat him up if he didn’t pay them. One month later they hit upon ‘The Other Other Operation’. In this the victim was threatened that if he didn’t pay them, they would beat him up. This for the Piranha brothers was the turning point.

            • efgoldman

              I think the main thing is for the most part people don’t care much about the op-eds.

              Yabbutt….
              A very significant portion of their “straight news” reporting/ writing/editorial placement is also bullshit first class with oak leaf clusters.

    • ChrisS

      The Exxon-Mobil endowed editorial seat.

    • PunditusMaximus

      The math is fairly straightforward — Tr45’s election lead to a spike in subscriptions. So…

    • Phil Perspective

      Do you not know already? Do you know Bennett’s brother is a U.S. Senator? That he used to be the boss of two guys(Jeff Goldberg & David Frum) who belong in the dock at The Hague? That Stephens’ wife and and ex-wife both work for the NYT. Does it make more sense now?

      • pseudalicious

        That does make more sense, yeah.

    • pseudalicious

      Clickbait/outrage eyeballs are my only guess.

  • lawtalkingguy

    Gotta give it to the right though. When they grift people out of money,their checks usually come from institutions like the NYT. Poor angry Bruening has to get his beggars cup and grift random college kids to keep his family firmly in the six figure club.

  • NewishLawyer

    There was an article in the Atlantic about “out of touch” Democrats. The interesting revelation is that only a slim majority of Democratic memembers disagree with the assertion.

    Some thoughts and why it relates to the Times hiring the shit:

    1. Years of Republican propaganda and hammering the issue were damn effective and might take decades to unwind.

    2. Liberals are generally insecure perhaps. This blog excepted.

    3. Americans view elite or not elite primarily through a cultural rather than economic lens. So elite depends on your recreative passions and not your income or power level. Museums and theatre and jazz and prestige TV are elite. Hunting and fishing are not.

    4. Wealthy liberals might own businesses but they rarely own the kinds of businesses that provide hundreds or thousands of jobs to people without college degrees.

    5. The exceptions to number 4 are just as likely to have progressive benefits for corporate and not so much for the non-corporate workers. See LinkedIn, Netflix, Facebook, etc.

    So this leads to a perception that the Democratic Party is primarily the party of the upper-middle class and radical chic who don’t care about good Industrial manly jobs. And then “we”get insecure and want to reach out hence hiring Right-wing whisperers like Mr. Wall Street Journal and Ross D.

    • lawtalkingguy

      6) most white people dont know a black person. The fact that the Democrats are a party of black voters is hard to see when your poorest friend is a white collar dude.

      7) 6 makes some progressives butthurt, so like the boys at the Jacobin they are happily ready to scuttle civil rights for ‘economic equality’. Also, conveniently, doing so would remove a powerful block of Democrat voters who dont give a crap about material dialectics of brooklyn based hipsters and thus give them more influence.

      • PunditusMaximus

        Oh yeah, everybody who thinks it’s bad that wages have been stagnant for the past 35 years is secretly super racist. That completely makes sense.

        • lawtalkingguy

          No, not everyone. Just the bros at Jacobin who explicitly say that “there is too much identity politics”

          • PunditusMaximus

            Remember, if a CEO outsources your job and all the jobs in your town, and he’s a white dude, that’s bad, but if she’s a woman of color, that’s empowering.

            • lawtalkingguy

              Thanks for proving my point. White bro feelings are the only feelings that matter.

              • PunditusMaximus

                Remember, if a person of color loses their job, that didn’t happen, because only white people lose jobs.

      • NewishLawyer

        Even Democratic voters who live in diverse neighborhoods might not interact too much with their black neighbors. I’ve lived in urban neighborhoods with substantial and historical black populations since I was 26 and the two communities don’t interact. They have friendly but distant relations and two different cultures. Black Democrats still seem to go to religious services on a much more regular basis than white, liberal, secular professionals. There are a lot of churches in my neighborhood. They are all African-American.

    • LeeEsq

      Its a combination of one, two, and three. The Republicans have waged a long war of depicting the Democratic Party as out of touch with real America. We are out of touch because we are effete culturally sophisticated urbanites and because we are the party of minorities and other disadvantaged groups. The tendency of some liberals towards insecurity does not help.

      • Phil Perspective

        The Republicans have waged a long war of depicting the Democratic Party as out of touch with real America. We are out of touch because we are effete culturally sophisticated urbanites and because we are the party of minorities and other disadvantaged groups.

        The party elites are certainly out of touch. Have you not seen all the studies proving it?

  • Jonny Scrum-half

    Sometimes I wonder how our society might be different if, instead of having people like Maureen Dowd, David Brooks, Charles Krauthammer and George Will occupying valuable space in major publications we had Noam Chomsky, Daniel Larison, Andrew Bacevich, Martin Longman, and Scott Lemieux (honestly not just kissing ass).

    • Origami Isopod

      Or, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Katherine Cross, and many other excellent political writers who aren’t cishet white dudes.

      • PunditusMaximus

        Heh.

    • sigaba

      Lets make the proviso that Larison only comment on foreign policy and not regale us with stories from his Sons of the Confederacy pool parties.

  • CrunchyFrog

    MARKETING DUDE: Look at these latest numbers. Krugman is generating as much site traffic as the rest of the columnists combined!
    EDITOR: Damn.
    MARKET.: I don’t get it – the guy is our biggest profit maker by far. What’s the problem?
    OMNIBUDSMAN: No, you really don’t get it. He’s our biggest headache. Whenever we go to industry conferences or meet with influencers we hear an earful about Krugman and how biased he is against Republicans.
    ED: Which means we’ve been trying to get rid of him since the turn of the century. But we can’t with those kind of numbers. Nothing seems to work. We’ve tried every paywall in the book and constantly changed his publishing dates, but still people read his drivel.
    MARK: Ok. But didn’t you say you didn’t care if Maureen Dowd babbled about knitting socks as long as she gets the page views?
    OMNI: That’s different. MoDo will make sure to take pot shots at every side and then be nice again to them the next week. Everyone laughs at her, but no one complains about her.
    ED: Any bright ideas, Mr. Marketing Dude, as to how we address this imbalance?
    MARK: Um. Wow. Usually my clients like to figure out what produces the most revenue and profit and leverage those efforts. But you want “balance” instead? Well, I suppose you could hire another Douhat – his ratings are pretty abysmal but if you had another one that would put Krugman under the 50% threshold again.
    OMNI: Done!
    ED: I’m on it.

    • lawtalkingguy

      bravo.

  • Jay B

    What do they imagine this “debate” to be? Brooks, Douhat and Stephens don’t “debate” anything. Other than Krugman who pokes at Brooks every once in awhile, there is no direct countering of Stephen’s points. Indirectly, sure, the countering happens on both the Editorial page and in every single article they fucking write on climate change. But the bullshit in each column is not directly addressed, save by the reader comments, which seems like a bizarre way to debate, since Stephens is too chickenshit to address any of the valid points made against his idiotic hot take.

    The Times doesn’t believe in “debate”. They believe in eyeballs. It’s incredibly cynical and utterly self-defeating.

    • Steve

      Presenting hoary bad faith talking points to teach the controversy is the essence of productive debate. Why do you hate civil society?

    • efgoldman

      The Times doesn’t believe in “debate”. They believe in eyeballs. It’s incredibly cynical and utterly self-defeating.

      Why? Seriously, they’re a commercial enterprise, in business to make a profit. Instead of clothing or gasoline or refrigerators, they’re in business to provide eyeballs to advertisers. Their profit is, and has always been, in the ads, not in the number of papers they sell.
      The fact that the market segment they’ve chosen to attract for their advertisers is the New York (and national) elites of some sort is immaterial. The NYC tabloids cater to a different segment. But Rupert is doing the same thing.

      • DamnYankees

        There’s nothing wrong with being a commercial enterprise, but then don’t defend yourself on the basis of civic virtues. When the NYT and the WaPo try to sell themselves, post-election, as a bastion of truth and light in a dark and scary world, they deserve to be held to the standard of “don’t spread fucking lies for money”.

        • CP

          +1.

        • efgoldman

          There’s nothing wrong with being a commercial enterprise, but then don’t defend yourself on the basis of civic virtues.

          It’s what corporations do. Exxon, BASF, the Oil & Gas institute, many others, run gauzy “institutional” ads about how they love the world, and are doing great things (like fracking) for all of us. Why should NYT Corp be different?

          • DamnYankees

            They aren’t – the NYT is getting criticized, just like those companies do. Do you feel like liberals have great affection for oil companies or something?

            • efgoldman

              Do you feel like liberals have great affection for oil companies or something?

              I feel like some liberals feel proprietary about the NYT in a way they don’t about oil companies. They shouldn’t

    • humanoid.panda

      The Times doesn’t believe in “debate”. They believe in eyeballs. It’s incredibly cynical and utterly self-defeating.

      How many eyeballs would Stepehns, a David Brooks with the string of best-selling books and impressive talents in sophistry, generate?

      Thing is that people keep trying to push either commercial (eyeballs!) or conspiratorial (NYTimes is secretly ran by republicans!) explanations for the Times’ behavior. The truth is much more boring and horrifying: the folks who run the Times think that their behaviour is appropriate for the paper of record, and anyone who says otherwise is blind partisan.

      • jim, some guy in iowa

        “we’re being criticized by both sides- which means we’ve got it right”

      • efgoldman

        is that people keep trying to push either commercial (eyeballs!)….

        To suggest that profit isn’t the prime motivator of a profit-making commercial business is, at best, naive.

  • Downpuppy

    In the same week, the Times produced a huge crop of godawful articles about Trump’s 100 days, continued to defend their horrible reporting from last year, and Spayd defended stealing an artists work.

    I sense a pattern.

  • Steve

    So if you cancel your subscription you “suppress free speech,” but if you keep it you reward the Times for treating you with contempt. This is the analogue of the Right Wing “let’s send some obviously offensive assholes to college campuses and revel in whatever happens,” schtick going on right now. It is like the Right gave up on ideas and just wants to spend all its time trolling liberals and feigning surprise when they object.

    • Lurking Canadian

      It’s almost as if their only principle is to be against whatever liberals want, updated daily.

      • NonyNony

        It’s almost like a law of the universe.

        Someone should come up with a name for it.

  • Q.E.Dumbass

    Bret Stephens may be a reactionary clownfraud, but you don’t demand any of the OTHER columnists be subject to standard peer review, so really, who are you to complain, LIBTARDS? Besides, he made ineffectual anti-Trump noises to the election, so that’s good enough for me, and besides, what are you going to do about it LIBCUCKS?”

  • rp0806

    Why aren’t hardcore white supremacists like Richard Spencer given a voice on the Times op-ed page? What about their 1st amendment rights?

    A significant chunk of the country sympathizes with their views, so the Times isn’t giving its readers an accurate picture of US politics.

    • howard

      hell, something like 25% of americans believe in ghosts: is there a single ghost-believer on the op-ed page?

      • I’m sure Douthat, for one, would claim that he believes in the Holy Ghost. Will that do?

        • howard

          brilliant!

      • howard

        it looks like my recollection was low: i just did a little checking around and depending on the polling and wording, 30 – 40% believe in ghosts (and you can get even higher numbers when you ask whether people believe that other people believe in ghosts).

        they are badly under-represented on the op-ed page, even if i do count douthat!

        • Just_Dropping_By

          and you can get even higher numbers when you ask whether people believe that other people believe in ghosts

          Uh, shouldn’t you expect to get even higher numbers with that kind of question? Because, just using myself as an example, there are all sorts of things I don’t believe, but I definitely know there are other people who believe them….

      • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

        I thought there were ethical journalistic problems with hiring ghost writers?

  • howard

    i’ve discussed here before that i cancelled my subscription last november after it was clear that the times had no intention of rethinking its entire approach to covering politics: expecting the same people to produce different results is our old friend, the definition of insanity.

    so i didn’t have to confront the question of whether to cancel now thanks to stephens, and i don’t think stephens alone would have done it.

    that said, more people have added subscriptions than have cancelled since november, so i don’t think the publisher is getting any kind of useful message, although i continue to suggest writing directly to [email protected] (rather, for example, than wasting time on liz spayd).

    in the big picture, i still have trouble believing that the op-ed page is a money-maker in the age of blogging; were i the publisher i would shitcan the whole concept and re-think it top to bottom, but my name isn’t sulzberger.

    • PunditusMaximus

      +1. This is an area which is trivially ripe for disruption, as I’m absolutely certain that the NYT could cherrypick good blog posts and pay to have them made extra clean for a tenth the money and vastly superior results.

  • Joe_JP

    The NYT continues to have enough good content, often non-political news, for me to skim it at the library, use my free articles & use a trick to read some more on another browser.

    Tiresome predictable talking heads, particularly when they promote bad ideas in uninformed ways deserve to be called out. I’m not really familiar with this guy, but to the degree he’s one of the pool, appreciate the efforts made to call NYT out here.

  • Origami Isopod

    Found in Stephens’ whinefest: What the heck, Emmett Rensin. I don’t expect you to be smart, but what even is this.

    • TroubleMaker13

      but what even is this

      Um, I think that’s called “sarcasm”?

      But in fairness, it is getting kinda hard to tell these days. Crazy times.

      • Origami Isopod

        I wasn’t even sure how to parse the sentence at first. And Rensin isn’t really known for his incisive sarcasm.

    • Hogan

      It’s referring to something Stephens wrote in WSJ.

  • rhino

    Well, seeing as it’s almost certainly too late to do anything about atmospheric carbon anyway, it probably won’t matter.

    So glad I never had children, and my sincere sympathy for all of yours.

  • johio
    • It bears repeating again and again.

    • Rob in CT

      The mouse-over text really ads something to that one, too.

  • Murc

    This kind of shit always enrages me.

    I’m about as close to a free speech absolutist as you can get. I’m actually one of those guys who thinks the FCC regulating TV content in the modern age is something we should move away from, because the argument that the spectrum is a “limited resource” has become intensely risible.

    And the seemingly-limitless number of assholes who are prepared to argue that “free speech means that any platform that offers you a spot is beyond criticism, and also that you’re entitled to spots on other peoples platforms if you so desire” dramatically undermine the case for free speech rights.

    If free speech comes to mean not “the government will always ensure you can assemble your own soapbox and will almost never silence or otherwise punish you for what you say on it, and will in fact protect you from people who want to light you on fire” but rather “you are entitled to get all up in peoples grills in disgusting ways, and to spout whatever drivel you want, and not only will nobody do jack shit about it, but the mere act is beyond criticism” then yes, of course people are gonna decide “fuck that noise.” They’re being massively played, of course, but still.

    In my darker moments I wonder if this isn’t some sort of long con, a game to undermine traditionally held liberal freedoms from the left so that, once gone, right-wing authoritarians can resume doing what they love so much, which is jailing uppity folks.

    It’s just nutty.

    • PunditusMaximus

      Ed Snowden and Chelsea Manning say hi.

      • Murc

        I dare you to make less sense.

        • PunditusMaximus

          Either Obama is a “conservative authoritarian” or locking people up when they say stuff you don’t want said is a bipartisan endeavor, and “free speech” was never a strong ideal.

          • Murc

            It has never been legal to simply say whatever you want, whenever you want, in whatever circumstances you want. This is not in any way, shape, or form inconsistent with a robust and far-ranging freedom of speech as a strong ideal. I challenge you find someone who thinks it should straight-up be legal to shout “fire!” in a crowded theater.

            Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning actually broke laws that exist for good reasons and do not themselves seriously abridge free speech rights in any way, shape, or form. They were heroes for doing so and should be pardoned and rewarded, but they don’t present a strong case that those laws should be, you know, repealed.

            This also confuses me:

            Either Obama is a “conservative authoritarian”

            You’re not quoting something I said and the context of the sentence would seem to preclude ironic air quotes, so I’ve no idea what the point of those quotes are.

            Actually, I take that back. It doesn’t confuse me at all. You’re just straight-up trying to misrepresent my words.

            • TroubleMaker13

              You’re not quoting something I said and the context of the sentence would seem to preclude ironic air quotes, so I’ve no idea what the point of those quotes are.

              Actually, I take that back. It doesn’t confuse me at all. You’re just straight-up trying to misrepresent my words.

              Punditus Maximus is a bullshit artist. These comments threads are his canvas. The actual topic under discussion is irrelevant. He needed an entree to take a swipe at Obama and your post was as good as any other.

            • PunditusMaximus

              Sorry, “right-wing authoritarian”.

              laws that exist for good reasons

              Actually, they super don’t. For example, the first usage of the State Secrets privilege in Court was explicitly to cover up malfeasance.

              And Snowden’s revelations let us actually talk about massive, systematic lawbreaking in the Obama Administration.

              But it’s fine; I’m used to free speech “absolutists” suddenly be all in favor of censorship in service of the MIC, no matter how many times it’s proven that the purpose of such censorship is primarily to shield the powerful from the rest of us.

              • Murc

                Sorry, “right-wing authoritarian”.

                This also is either an attempt to misrepresent my words or an indication you didn’t actually read them. Or that you’re a poor writer.

                For example, the first usage of the State Secrets privilege in Court was explicitly to cover up malfeasance.

                The State Secrets doctrine, which is not in fact a law, is bullshit, but what it has to do with Manning and Snowden, one of whom was not tried in civilian courts and the other of whom has not come to trial at all, I can’t imagine.

                And Snowden’s revelations let us actually talk about massive, systematic lawbreaking in the Obama Administration.

                Yes? You present this as if it is some point I’d disagree with.

                But it’s fine; I’m used to free speech “absolutists” suddenly be all in favor of censorship in service of the MIC,

                Who are these free speech absolutists who are in favor of this?

                • PunditusMaximus

                  You’re the one who said that Snowden’s speech should be censored using the force of the state, because he shouldn’t be protected by whistleblower exceptions to laws!

                • Murc

                  You’re the one who said that Snowden’s speech should be censored using the force of the state, because he shouldn’t be protected by whistleblower exceptions to laws!

                  I said no such thing. This is another lie.

          • Manning was convicted of leaking classified information, Snowdon has not been charged yet but may be by Trump. Obama commuted Manning’s sentence to time served which is in contrast to the Rosenbergs who were executed for the excercize of their “free speech”. Conclusion: we have progressed somewhat in 65 years.

    • NonyNony

      Honestly, as I’ve gotten older I remain a pretty heavily free speech absolutist, but not for the reasons I used to be.

      Because I used to embrace it out of idealism, but I don’t have any idealism left in me. I’ve realized in my cynicism that the only reason that we have the levels of freedom of speech that we have in the US is because it is something that is in the best interests to those who have power in the US to maintain. If it wasn’t we wouldn’t have it.

      The day that free speech rights go away it will be because those same powerful people decide that free speech is doing them more harm than good. So restricting speech mostly is going to help the powerful, and do jack-all for the powerless.

      And that grates on me because I’d like the easy answer to be the right one – to be able to clamp down on hate speech and not have to rely on social pressure to at least keep it as something horrible that mainstream politicians and journalists are punished for embracing. But I don’t trust that it would actually work that way – if we lose free speech rights we’re more likely to see groups like BLM lose their free speech rights while the white supremacists continue to enjoy theirs. So it wouldn’t help anyone who needs help, and would only continue our slide towards authoritarianism. Even with the best of intentions.

    • SatanicPanic

      It’s not a long con. The left and right had an agreement that white supremacy wasn’t up for debate until the 1960s. Once that agreement fell apart you had the mostly white leftists parroting the same dumb arguements that the right makes- “why can’t Berkeley leftists let everyone speak?” and other people on the left asking why white leftists are so hung up on the right of bigots to be allowed to speak.

      • Origami Isopod

        The left and right had an agreement that white supremacy wasn’t up for debate until the 1960s.

        And there’s a significant chunk of the left that wants to return to that agreement.

        • LeeEsq

          There is a difference between believing certain issues are being handled sub-optimally and wanting to return to a time where white supremacy was opened up for the debate. Intersectionality is not revealed doctrine that can never be questioned by all right-thinking people.

          • efgoldman

            Intersectionality is not revealed doctrine that can never be questioned by all right-thinking people.

            Is that English?

        • CP

          The more I hear the “stop talking about identity politics! It’s so divisive!” argument, the more it reminds me of the post-1877 consensus that the important thing was for white Southerners and white Northerners to hug it out and reconcile, not to preserve the gains black people had made in the previous two decades.

          • PunditusMaximus

            I’ve literally never read a lefty call identity politics “divisive”. I have heard lots of center-lefties call class discussions “divisive”.

        • PunditusMaximus

          And there’s a significant chunk of the left that wants to return to that agreement.

          I keep reading this from the folks who want us to beg the oligarchy for crumbs instead of organize to improve our society for everyone, but I never see anyone who is actually a lefty saying these things.

      • Murc

        The left and right had an agreement that white supremacy wasn’t up for debate until the 1960s.

        This agreement wasn’t working out well, then, because white supremacy has been vigorously debated at all levels of our society since the country was created.

        • DamnYankees

          Yes, because the “identity politics liberals” (e.g. “social justice warriors”) won that argument. Doesn’t mean the argument didn’t happen and isn’t still happening.

          • PunditusMaximus

            “social justice warriors” is a right wing meme. Why is anyone here using it to describe the writings of anyone left of center?

            • DamnYankees

              I’m aware its a right wing meme. I was trying to say that the people the right wing mock as social justice warriors are those who have probably won the most in politics over the past 75 years, and in my opinion are poised to keep winning.

              • PunditusMaximus

                The right mocks literally everyone left of center, including Jacobin, as “social justice warriors”.

                I understand that this was meant to differentiate ACT-UP and #BLM from some purported massive white supremacist Berniebro socialism (following a Jewish guy with a 100% rating from Planned Parenthood but whatevs).

                It’s just a memeset that doesn’t make any sense is all.

        • SatanicPanic

          Normally I enjoy your comments, but this is just mind-blowing. Vigorously? I was well into the 19th century before more than a fringe of society even was willing to consider the possibility that black people were full humans. And race relations actually got worse from there, until you had Wilson segregating the federal government in the goddamn 20th century.

          This is what I’m talking about. You’re proposing a solution to something with a timeline of centuries. That might be the the only way to solve some of these issues, but just think about what you’re asking. Would you want to wait that long?

          • DamnYankees

            I was well into the 19th century before more than a fringe of society even was willing to consider the possibility that black people were full humans.

            To be somewhat fair to Murc on this point, that doesn’t mean the topic wasn’t debated. It was debated greatly. It’s just that the white supremacists won the argument for the first 80 years of our history.

            • Murc

              This.

              “The good guys lost” isn’t the same as “didn’t happen”

            • SatanicPanic

              I’m not defining white supremacy as slavery. The first years was about slavery, not about whether white and black people were equal. The proponents of true equality were the fringiest of fringe.

          • Murc

            Normally I enjoy your comments, but this is just mind-blowing. Vigorously? I was well into the 19th century before more than a fringe of society even was willing to consider the possibility that black people were full humans.

            Even if I were to accept your “fringe of society” formulation, which I don’t, what that has to do with free speech or the presence or absence of a vigorous and full-throated debate I can’t imagine.

            And race relations actually got worse from there, until you had Wilson segregating the federal government in the goddamn 20th century.

            Again, what that’s got to do with free speech I can’t imagine.

            You’re proposing a solution to something with a timeline of centuries.

            I’m not proposing any solutions at all to the problem of endemic racism and white supremacy. I… haven’t at all done that during this thread?

            I mean. I do have a solution to that, and my solution is “put together a political majority dedicated to ending those things.” But that seems only vaguely germane to the topic at hand?

            • SatanicPanic

              Because “we allow a fringe position to believe stuff that has no political heft” is no better than somewhere like Russia. Yes, people who believed white and black people could be equal sometimes were allowed to say that outloud in the 19th century and sometimes didn’t get their printing presses thrown in rivers. Big deal.

              You can’t on the one hand lecture everyone about how important free speech is and then when called on to explain why it has a lousy track record on an ongoing problem of American society be like “well I don’t know how this is related and I wouldn’t propose this is a solution”. That’s deeply unconvincing.

              • Murc

                Because “we allow a fringe position to believe stuff that has no political heft” is no better than somewhere like Russia.

                It is dramatically better than somewhere like Russia, where espousing a fringe position with no political heft can get you thrown in jail for life or shot.

                Yes, people who believed white and black people could be equal sometimes were allowed to say that outloud in the 19th century and sometimes didn’t get their printing presses thrown in rivers. Big deal.

                That is, in fact, a big deal.

                You can’t on the one hand lecture everyone about how important free speech is and then when called on to explain why it has a lousy track record on an ongoing problem of American society be like “well I don’t know how this is related and I wouldn’t propose this is a solution”.

                I absolutely can, because my belief in the importance of free speech as a principle has nothing to do with a belief that it can solve intractable political problems stemming from people holding shitty views. Free speech cannot solve the problem of “large majorities of people believe shitty things and make policy based on those shitty things.” It isn’t designed to do that. It is only designed to allow you to make the case that those things are shitty and policy shouldn’t be made based on it without being thrown in jail and then shot for your troubles.

                If people reject the case you made, it does not, nor does it pretend to, have a solution for that. Because there straight-up isn’t one beyond “time to pick up some guns and see who is left standing.”

                I mean… it seems to me it is incumbent on those who denigrate free speech rights to somehow prove how living in a country where the state is allowed to censor, imprison, and punish you for your speech would be a better country than the one we have now, and would have produced better results historically.

                • SatanicPanic

                  It isn’t designed to do that. It is only designed to allow you to make the case that those things are shitty and policy shouldn’t be made based on it without being thrown in jail and then shot for your troubles.

                  This is the saddest defense for free speech I can imagine. Basically you’re arguing that free speech is nothing more than a release valve for people who are full of opinions and will somehow explode if they don’t get them out. If free speech isn’t the way we solve our problems then its value is less than advertised. I’m not making the case for government censorship. I’m saying free-speech absolutists are their own worst enemy.

                • Murc

                  This is the saddest defense for free speech I can imagine.

                  It’s no sadder than “democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others.” I absolutely believe this, and yet I’m prepared to offer full-throated defenses of pluralistic liberal democracy as positive goods.

                  Basically you’re arguing that free speech is nothing more than a release valve for people who are full of opinions and will somehow explode if they don’t get them out.

                  I’m doing no such thing. Among other things, free speech is also a necessary pre-requisite for free elections. Those are kinda important, yes?

                  If free speech isn’t the way we solve our problems then its value is less than advertised.

                  The way we solve our problems is through the political process. Free speech is part of that but is not the only part, nor is it ONLY part of the political process (extending as it does to other areas of society and culture), nor does it pretend to have any solution for that political process producing bad outcomes.

                  No political process has a solution for that. It only holds out the possibility for good ones. Realizing that possibility is up to us. We’re really shitty at it.

                  I’m not making the case for government censorship.

                  I see. So you don’t regard free speech as at all valuable, yet also don’t endorse the only actual alternative to it.

  • DamnYankees

    This sort of shit is enraging, because it falls directly into the game conservatives are playing. Notice how no one defends the substance of this article. Every defense is “it’s good to have both sides!” Conservatives like Stephens can write the laziest, stupidest most trolling article in the world and get people like this to defend it as an artform.

    The problem with Stephen’s column wasn’t that its a conservative – it’s that it was staggeringly lazy, and exactly the type of trolling attitude that used to define college Republicans but has now come to define the whole party.

    You’ve had climate scientists working for decades, doing unimaginable work to come to a consensus on the state of climate, with tons of research. Now go read Stephens’ column – does he address any of that? Wrestle with any of it? Try to state a conservative reaction to it?

    No. His entire column is just 900 words of “eh, who knows”! It’s just the laziest, most intellectually bankrupt way of thinking about things. What is added to the discourse by publishing this? There’s nothing added here. You could hire anyone to write an article about literally any subject if all they are going to do is sit on the sidelines and throw vague, contentless spitballs.

    It’s one thing to see the conservative movement choke on its own bile this way. Their dedication to just kneejerk “LOL LIBRULS” has become so engrained that it’s literally why Trump was elected – the GOP base was trained to be attracted to the person who was most devoted to trolling liberals, with absolutely no other qualities.

    For the NYT to not only accept this sort of argument, but propagate and then defending this propagation of trolling as some sort of civic virtue is pathetic.

    • PunditusMaximus

      Conservatism has never been meaningfully different from this column in my lifetime. To defend “conservatism” is to embrace intellectual laziness as a founding principle of a social movement.

      • DamnYankees

        There are defenses of conservatism which are not intellectually lazy – they are merely distasteful. You can defend social hierarchies fortrightly. People just stopped doing it long time ago when they realized it was losing the argument.

        • PunditusMaximus

          ok so and

  • Brownian

    1. “Stop being 100% certain. If you understood how science works, you’d have some humility, scientists.”

    2. “Climate scientists have kids, therefore they must not be 100% certain. Checkmate, Libs.”

    He’s good, but with some mentoring he could be great. The NYT should consider hiring a professional creationist to really beef up their starting line.

    • twbb

      Underlying all this is arrogance at a level to which no other publication even comes close. Jayson Blair, Judith Miller, Benghazi, EMAILZZZ…no matter how bad their incompetence the best they can always muster is a shallow, pro forma apology devoid of any true self-deceived or awareness.

      Also LGM is pretty good about naming and shaming individual hacks, but most other liberals are not. James Bennett and Liz Spayd should be mocked for the rest of their lives.

  • D.N. Nation

    The hacks and flacks at the NYT, despite the huffing and puffing, are unable to legitimately argue why saying “piss off, I’m canceling my subscription” constitutes a violation of anyone’s freedom. Though the one doof saying b-b-b-b-b-b-but we have good climate coverage too! was endearing in the same manner as a three-legged puppy.

  • clandee

    How much longer must we wait for Hugh Hewitt?

  • CP

    Amazingly, the Times is actually trotting out “free speech” defenses of the hire. To state the obvious, the Times gives a forum to a very small number of people. And even in this narrow frame it doesn’t represent a particularly broad spectrum; there isn’t a socialist or an anti-interventionist conservative, for example. There isn’t a strong voice for feminist issues.

    To summarize a shorter version of my rant from last week: this is exactly why the “free speech” defense enrages me. Because somehow, it’s gotten to mean, not just “listen to differing viewpoints,” but “the conservative viewpoint specifically deserves to be represented in every argument, no matter how completely and repeatedly it’s been debunked and no matter that the person arguing it can’t even be bothered to do his most basic homework anymore.” Meanwhile, people who actually have done their homework and got something to contribute are crowded out of the conversation. That’s not free speech. It’s exactly the opposite, deciding that a few people deserve to be given a soapbox no matter how wrong, and that nobody needs to hear any of the other views.

    • DamnYankees

      but “the conservative viewpoint specifically deserves to be represented in every argument, no matter how completely and repeatedly it’s been debunked and no matter that the person arguing it can’t even be bothered to do his most basic homework anymore.”

      It’s actually far narrower than that. The three conservatives they now have – Douthat, Brooks and Stephens – are ridiculously non-representative of American conservatism. They manage to have three conservatives who all oppose Trump, even though Trump has 90% approval ratings among Republicans and very high ratings among conservatives.

      There’s no intellectual honest in this at all. As Jeet Heer has been pointing out, the range of acceptable opinion in the NYT doesn’t represent either Bernie Sanders or the current President. It ranges from supporters of Hillary Clinton to supporters of Marco Rubio. What a broad spectrum…

      • CP

        Yeah. I suspect a lot of it is them wanting to convince themselves that there does exist a rational and intellectual and “moderate” True Conservatism. So they give these people a voice and just ignore that they hardly represent anyone.

  • DrDick

    With this addition to the already depressive line up of Brooks, Douthat, Dowd, and Friedman, the NYT opinion pages are virtually unreadable anymore.

    • humanoid.panda

      And honestly, even their good columnists are either not exactly traiblazers in terms of reading enjoyment.. I mean, I like Paul Krugman as much as the last guy, but I don’t bother reading his columns much, because I know what he will say.

      • DrDick

        Charles Blow is also pretty good, but I do not always read their columns and they are the only thing worht reading there.

  • Srsly Dad Y

    And you are thisclose to the solution: Don’t read those two pages. FFS throw the whole A section in recycling right away if you want to … the other 40-50 pages still outshine other papers.

    • Origami Isopod

      I’m sorry, they should be financially rewarded for spreading far-right propaganda because some of their other work is good?

      • Srsly Dad Y

        If you want to flounce, flounce, that’s up to you. “Financially rewarding them” is just big words for buying something you want to read. Refusing to read excellent journalism because it comes bundled with bad journalism is … not a choice I would make, let’s say.

        • PunditusMaximus

          I like how you equate refusing to give them money with refusing to interact with the work separate from the money-giving.

          • Srsly Dad Y

            Tell that to efgoldman and Steve LaBonne next time they come in bragging that they never read the rag. I didn’t start this nonsense.

        • Origami Isopod

          Right, “flouncing.” As if this were nothing more than petty internet drama. I suppose you’d consider these people to be “flouncing,” too?

          • Srsly Dad Y

            Yup. The plain fact is that Americans who care about the issue know most of what they know about climate science because it was reported, or reported best, in The NY Times. One idiot writing twice a week on one page of the A section doesn’t change that. Just as in the Washington Post, which so many people claim to prefer now. George Will? Cancel my subscription!

            • PunditusMaximus

              “reported best”

              hee

              • Srsly Dad Y

                I get the distinct impression that a lot of people ONLY read op-eds. Your hee shows you have no idea what pioneers Andrew Revkin and the others on the environment desk were. But proceed with your neener neener Times sukz, it’s very illustrative.

                • PunditusMaximus

                  It’s cool; the NYT does a good job of reporting 2-5 year old info.

  • wphurley

    “Free speech” and “free markets” are at best acquaintances.

  • The First Amendment, in its majestic impartiality, gives Bret Stephens and a homeless drug addict the right to makes speeches to other homeless addicts under bridges.

  • PunditusMaximus

    No, seriously, free speech is just for conservatives.

    Desiree Fairooz, a woman who laughed when Republican Senator Richard Shelby (AL) introduced now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions by saying his record of “treating all Americans equally under the law is clear and well-documented,” is now on trial for laughing at such a blatant lie.

It is main inner container footer text