Sunday NYT Fosters Anti-Trump Racial Fears, as Public Editor Chides Paper’s ‘Blinding Whiteness’

Continuing “Sore Loser Sunday” in the New York Times, the Sunday Review fans fears of Trump in its selection of outside essays, often with a racial angle. But then the paper’s new Public Editor had to ruin the self-righteous love-in by noting that when it comes to racial diversity, the Times, with its "newsroom's blinding whiteness," fails to practice what it preaches.

Left-wing professor Michael Eric Dyson, whose career is based on writing and talking about racism, wrote about “Donald Trump’s Racial Ignorance.” The text box: “The unifying force in the United States is whiteness.” But the text box on the jump page was fascinating: “His lack of knowledge leads him to exaggerate the perils black Americans face.” Is Trump being criticized for being too concerned about black Americans?

Black America never had it so good, evidently, according to Dyson.

It may be that Mr. Trump’s views reveal something just as devastating as not caring for black people: not knowing us.


“I would be a president for all of the people, African-Americans, the inner cities,” President-elect Trump declared during the second presidential debate. “Devastating what’s happening to our inner cities,” he lamented. “You go into the inner cities and -- you see it’s 45 percent poverty. African-Americans now 45 percent poverty in the inner cities.”

Mr. Trump’s views on black people, poverty and cities were quickly challenged as myopic and ill informed. But the administration he is building is emblematic of his ignorance.


Mr. Trump argued that “African-American communities are absolutely in the worst shape they’ve ever been in before. Ever, ever, ever.” President Obama drolly declared, “I mean, he missed that whole civics lesson about slavery or Jim Crow.”

Mr. Obama’s retort underscores a troubling truth: Mr. Trump’s vast ignorance of black life leads him to exaggerate the perils confronting black Americans in all the wrong ways. He overlooks the nation’s vicious history of racism to proclaim that this is the worst racial epoch ever. It is a convenient ruse to make the period under President Obama a foil to his heroic rescue of black people through his magical political powers.

Not even socialist Bernie Sanders was sufficiently attentive:

The road ahead is not easy, primarily because Mr. Trump’s ignorance about race, his critical lack of nuance and learning about it, exists among liberals and the white left, too.

From the start of his 2016 presidential campaign, Bernie Sanders was prickly about race, uncomfortable with an outspoken, demanding blackness, resistant to letting go of his preference for discussing class over race. He made efforts to improve the way he spoke about the realities of racial discrimination. But Mr. Sanders seemed to remain at heart a man of the people, especially if those people were the white working class.

Race was the theme of other NYT Sunday Review pieces. NBC News Digital Reporter Amanda Sakuma contributed “The Patriotism of Time at ‘Camp,’” about the internment camps Japanese-Americans were forced into during World War II. Of course, there’s a Trump angle, as shown in the text box: “My relatives were interned. Now they’re with Trump.”

Another piece was headlined “White Resentment on the Night Shift at Walmart.”

Besides a racism obsession, other signs of the anti-Trump freak-out were present on every page. A perusal of headlines and raised text will suffice: “Is This Collective Trauma?” The text box: “The aftermath of Trump’s election exhibits all the telltale signs.” More article titles: “How the Truth Got Hacked.” “Is Our Democracy in Danger?”

Even a piece on school-bus bullies had a Trump angle: “Those [bus] drives may be about to get longer: Donald J. Trump’s pick for education secretary, Betsy DeVos, is a proponent of vouchers and charter schools, and more school choice means more busing.”

(Forced busing was of course, the liberal solution to school segregation.)

So it must have been annoying for Times readers (and reporters) to see in the very same section Liz Spayd’s latest Public Editor column, the thorn in her paper’s side, accusing it of “Preaching the Gospel of Diversity, but Not Following It.” The text box: “The Times needs to do a better job of making its staff less homogeneous.” The third sentence must have been particularly painful to Times’ staff:

Only two of the 20-plus reporters who covered the presidential campaign for The New York Times were black. None were Latino or Asian. That’s less diversity than you’ll find in Donald Trump’s cabinet thus far. Of The Times’s newly named White House team, all six are white, as is most everyone in the Washington bureau.


The Times can be relentless in questioning the diversity at other institutions; it has written about the white ranks of the technology sector, public schools, police departments, Oscar nominees, law firms, legislatures, the major leagues and the Ivy League. Fixing its own problems comes less easily.

The newsroom’s blinding whiteness hit me when I walked in the door six months ago....


It is possible to change this. But The Times will need more humility, introspection and openness than has been its habit in the past.

2016 Presidential Racism New York Times Donald Trump Michael Eric Dyson
Clay Waters's picture

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