The New York Times dilemma and other commentary

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Media critic: The Times’ Dilemma

The New York Times’ media critic Ben Smith examines recent events and muses that the paper’s “unusual, perhaps unhealthy, central place in American news, culture and politics” makes it “an object of obsession” for others, intensified by its “media ambitions” as it “seeks to be the voice whispering in your ear in the morning” and “the curriculum in your child’s history class.” Indeed, the controversies signal “The Times’s unique position in American news may not be tenable. This intense attention, combined with a thriving digital subscription business that makes the company more beholden to the views of left-leaning subscribers, may yet push it into a narrower and more left-wing political lane as a kind of American version of The Guardian — the opposite of its stated, broader strategy.” It must decide: Is it “the leading newspaper for like-minded, left-leaning Americans? Or is it trying to hold what seems to be a disappearing center in a deeply divided country?”

Super PAC watch: The ‘Toxic’ Lincoln Project

At USA Today, Amanda Becker goes “inside the Lincoln Project’s ‘toxic’ workplace,” where women “were sidelined,” leadership used “crude sexual and homophobic slurs” and accusations a founder “sexually harassed young men,” including underlings, “were an open secret.” More than half the $90 million the Never Trump super PAC raised “flowed to firms controlled by” its male founders — with Steve Schmidt frequently quipping the group was his ticket to “generational wealth” — while its sole female founder was paid about $150,000 annually. Schmidt claimed he knew nothing of allegations John Weaver “sexually harassed more than a dozen young men” until they became public in January, but many of the group’s leaders were “told in conversations and in writing” in June, and nearly all knew by August, when they began to craft “a media plan” to address them.

Faith beat: Protect Your Church, Joe

President Biden made much of his Catholic faith while campaigning, and Mary Eberstadt at Newsweek urges him to protect his coreligionists from his “liberal and progressive allies.” The left is increasingly bent on meting out “ostracism and punishment” to orthodox Catholics: Witness Twitter’s suspension of Catholic World Report, Ignatius Press’ online zine, on the “risible” ground that describing Assistant Secretary of Health-designee Rachel Levine as a “biological male” was “hateful.” A question: “If a cultural authority as established as Ignatius Press can be punished online for being Catholic, who will be spared?” As “the most visible Catholic political leader in the world,” Biden has “a unique opportunity” to prove his “stated commitment to being president for all. It’s the bully pulpit. Call off the woke online haters stalking your fellow Christians.”

Conservative: Good Words Can’t Absolve Bad Deeds

As former friends and colleagues accuse “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” creator Joss Whedon of “cheating and abuse,” it’s clear the self-proclaimed “woke bae” embodies “the popular conception of a ‘male feminist’ as someone who self-consciously defends women in public while mistreating them in private,” snarks Ben Sixsmith at Spectator USA. “Human beings are very talented rationalizers,” and some insist “saying good things makes up for not doing good things,” giving words “the power of absolution.” But no words “leave as great an impression on people as our behavior,” and “our ideas and our art do not affect people as powerfully as our deeds affect our friends and family members.”

From the right: Cold Truths About Green Power

“Much of the Midwest and Mountain states are seeing subzero temperatures and blizzard conditions” as a polar vortex sweeps through, but don’t count on “green energy to the rescue,” warns National Review’s John Fund. As Minnesota’s Center for the American Experiment reports, wind turbines shut down when temperatures dip below -22℉ because it’s too cold to run them safely. Solar panels, too, are often disabled by snow and ice and are useless at night. “If — God forbid — Joe Biden realizes his maniacal dream of zero fossil fuels, the people in North Dakota, Minnesota, Chicago and Boston will be in big trouble,” fears Fund.

— Compiled by The Post Editorial Board

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