Bacon Bits: Purges, Clickbait, and Drunkenness

Pushing back against the New York Slimes. Liberty University is suing the New York Times for defamation, accusing the paper of crafting a “clickbait” story intended to create the erroneous impression that there was a COVID-19 outbreak on the school’s campus this spring, reports the News & Advance. The lawsuit says that reporter Elizabeth Williamson misrepresented the statement of a university-affiliated physician, who said that twelve students showed signs of “upper respiratory infection,” which can refer to the common cold, as evidence of a COVID-19 outbreak. “We’re not looking for money,” said Liberty President Jerry Falwell Jr. “We want to expose the New York Times for the liars and Buzzfeed clickbait organization they’ve become.”

VCU’s purge of the past reaches logical conclusion. Having completed its review of buildings, names, plaques and places, the Virginia Commonwealth University’s Committee on Commemoration and Memorials has targeted 16 memorials on the campus for removal. Regardless of life-long accomplishments and contributions to the community, any individual who served in the Confederate army in any capacity is being stuffed down the memory hole.

One memorial identified for removal a plaque honoring Simon Baruch. In 1939 philanthropist Bernard Baruch gave $100,000 to the Medical College of Virginia to renovate a building in honor of his father, Simon. The elder Baruch graduated from MCV in 1862 and served as a surgeon in the Confederate army. The plaque outside the auditorium lists his accomplishments and mentions his Confederate service. Similarly, the committee recommends de-commemoration and deletion of all references to the university’s Ginter House on the grounds that Lewis Ginter, one of Richmond’s great business leaders and philanthropists of the late 19th century, served in the Confederate army.

Drunken revelry and the COVID epidemic. If you wonder what’s contributing to the uptick in COVID-19 in Virginia, here’s a hypothesis: Drunken young people are dispensing with their masks and infecting one another.

“This past weekend,” writes Allen W. Groves, Dean of Students at the Universitiy of Virginia, “large numbers of students gathered in Corner bars, rental houses and apartments, and a few fraternity houses as part of Midsummers. Despite rapidly rising cases of COVID-19 in many parts of the country, students were observed by peers and other sin the community disregarding social distancing requirements and forgoing use of facial masks.”

Question: Does Governor Ralph Northam’s imposition of new workplace safety rules, the first in the nation, address a real problem? Will his crackdown on bars and restaurants displace alcohol-fueled partying in private homes and fraternity houses?

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35 responses to “Bacon Bits: Purges, Clickbait, and Drunkenness

  1. Is there any weekend that does not have an official bacchanal at UVA? I mean, who else but Druids throws a party for midsummer?

    And then there is VCU. If you were born 1815 to say, 1845, and chose or got drafted into the Confederate Army, or chose to bind up its wounded soldiers (and probably plenty from the other side), you must be erased. Rubbed out. Your bios will be removed from Ancestry.com…..No matter if you cured diseases, won international scientific acclaim, or took up the Freedman’s cause as a Reconstruction Republican. You gotta go.

    So which school is sillier, UVA or VCU? Toss up.

    • I think UVA will be opening up their memory hole soon enough.

      I can’t wait to see how they go about removing all traces of Thomas Jefferson’s existence from the campus – pardon me, the “Grounds”.

  2. The New York Slimes? Ouch.

    • Any thoughts on the very liberal NYT editorial writer who just stormed out and slammed the door behind her? Can’t dismiss her as a right winger, not her….Silence from you, I’m betting. (On the lawsuit, I’m sure you and I had the same thought about the Falwell Senior – Larry Flynt case, which became such a media circus for both egos.)

      • Every morning I watch this lady:

        There are others like her – that also “stormed out and slammed the door”.

        it happens……

        • You are pulling a red herring across the trail, Larry. The topic here is the lady who just revealed Pandora’s Box at the NYT…..

          • It’s not an uncommon thing across most newspapers and broadcasters… it happens… what’s the real point?

      • Steve says:
        “Any thoughts on the very liberal NYT editorial writer who just stormed out and slammed the door behind her? Can’t dismiss her as a right winger, not her….Silence from you, I’m betting.”

        As the New York Times is the paper of record for progressives, should we be able to connect the dots and discern a trend between:

        1/ the New York Time Covid-19 attack story on Liberty University (joined in by some on this blog),

        2/the Virginia Commonwealth University’s Committee on Commemoration and Memorials efforts to erase not only all history of, but all memory of, all southerners having anything, however remotely, to do with the American Civil War, given the unfortunate fact for them that the war engulfed them and families, and

        3/ the ongoing efforts in Virginia by Virginia officials to purge and erase the thoughts, beliefs, memories and legacies within the minds of their employees and subjects, including all teachers and students in Virginia public schools, and their parents, and prohibit their expressions thereof, that in any way differs from the ideology of progressive doctrine and teaching on any and all subjects?

        Another words, is today’s Virginia state government in power well on its way toward creating the same regime that rules today’s New York Times editors and reporters, as expressed in Bari Weiss’s days old letter, below:

        “Dear A.G.,

        It is with sadness that I write to tell you that I am resigning from The New York Times.

        I joined the paper with gratitude and optimism three years ago. I was hired with the goal of bringing in voices that would not otherwise appear in your pages: first-time writers, centrists, conservatives and others who would not naturally think of The Times as their home. The reason for this effort was clear: The paper’s failure to anticipate the outcome of the 2016 election meant that it didn’t have a firm grasp of the country it covers. Dean Baquet and others have admitted as much on various occasions. The priority in Opinion was to help redress that critical shortcoming.

        I was honored to be part of that effort, led by James Bennet. I am proud of my work as a writer and as an editor. Among those I helped bring to our pages: the Venezuelan dissident Wuilly Arteaga; the Iranian chess champion Dorsa Derakhshani; and the Hong Kong Christian democrat Derek Lam. Also: Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Masih Alinejad, Zaina Arafat, Elna Baker, Rachael Denhollander, Matti Friedman, Nick Gillespie, Heather Heying, Randall Kennedy, Julius Krein, Monica Lewinsky, Glenn Loury, Jesse Singal, Ali Soufan, Chloe Valdary, Thomas Chatterton Williams, Wesley Yang, and many others.

        But the lessons that ought to have followed the election—lessons about the importance of understanding other Americans, the necessity of resisting tribalism, and the centrality of the free exchange of ideas to a democratic society—have not been learned. Instead, a new consensus has emerged in the press, but perhaps especially at this paper: that truth isn’t a process of collective discovery, but an orthodoxy already known to an enlightened few whose job is to inform everyone else.

        Twitter is not on the masthead of The New York Times. But Twitter has become its ultimate editor. As the ethics and mores of that platform have become those of the paper, the paper itself has increasingly become a kind of performance space. Stories are chosen and told in a way to satisfy the narrowest of audiences, rather than to allow a curious public to read about the world and then draw their own conclusions. I was always taught that journalists were charged with writing the first rough draft of history. Now, history itself is one more ephemeral thing molded to fit the needs of a predetermined narrative.

        My own forays into Wrongthink have made me the subject of constant bullying by colleagues who disagree with my views. They have called me a Nazi and a racist; I have learned to brush off comments about how I’m “writing about the Jews again.” Several colleagues perceived to be friendly with me were badgered by coworkers. My work and my character are openly demeaned on company-wide Slack channels where masthead editors regularly weigh in. There, some coworkers insist I need to be rooted out if this company is to be a truly “inclusive” one, while others post ax emojis next to my name. Still other New York Times employees publicly smear me as a liar and a bigot on Twitter with no fear that harassing me will be met with appropriate action. They never are.

        There are terms for all of this: unlawful discrimination, hostile work environment, and constructive discharge. I’m no legal expert. But I know that this is wrong.

        I do not understand how you have allowed this kind of behavior to go on inside your company in full view of the paper’s entire staff and the public. And I certainly can’t square how you and other Times leaders have stood by while simultaneously praising me in private for my courage. Showing up for work as a centrist at an American newspaper should not require bravery.

        Part of me wishes I could say that my experience was unique. But the truth is that intellectual curiosity—let alone risk-taking—is now a liability at The Times. Why edit something challenging to our readers, or write something bold only to go through the numbing process of making it ideologically kosher, when we can assure ourselves of job security (and clicks) by publishing our 4000th op-ed arguing that Donald Trump is a unique danger to the country and the world? And so self-censorship has become the norm.

        What rules that remain at The Times are applied with extreme selectivity. If a person’s ideology is in keeping with the new orthodoxy, they and their work remain unscrutinized. Everyone else lives in fear of the digital thunderdome. Online venom is excused so long as it is directed at the proper targets.

        Op-eds that would have easily been published just two years ago would now get an editor or a writer in serious trouble, if not fired. If a piece is perceived as likely to inspire backlash internally or on social media, the editor or writer avoids pitching it. If she feels strongly enough to suggest it, she is quickly steered to safer ground. And if, every now and then, she succeeds in getting a piece published that does not explicitly promote progressive causes, it happens only after every line is carefully massaged, negotiated and caveated.

        It took the paper two days and two jobs to say that the Tom Cotton op-ed “fell short of our standards.” We attached an editor’s note on a travel story about Jaffa shortly after it was published because it “failed to touch on important aspects of Jaffa’s makeup and its history.” But there is still none appended to Cheryl Strayed’s fawning interview with the writer Alice Walker, a proud anti-Semite who believes in lizard Illuminati.

        The paper of record is, more and more, the record of those living in a distant galaxy, one whose concerns are profoundly removed from the lives of most people. This is a galaxy in which, to choose just a few recent examples, the Soviet space program is lauded for its “diversity”; the doxxing of teenagers in the name of justice is condoned; and the worst caste systems in human history includes the United States alongside Nazi Germany.

        Even now, I am confident that most people at The Times do not hold these views. Yet they are cowed by those who do. Why? Perhaps because they believe the ultimate goal is righteous. Perhaps because they believe that they will be granted protection if they nod along as the coin of our realm—language—is degraded in service to an ever-shifting laundry list of right causes. Perhaps because there are millions of unemployed people in this country and they feel lucky to have a job in a contracting industry.

        Or perhaps it is because they know that, nowadays, standing up for principle at the paper does not win plaudits. It puts a target on your back. Too wise to post on Slack, they write to me privately about the “new McCarthyism” that has taken root at the paper of record.

        All this bodes ill, especially for independent-minded young writers and editors paying close attention to what they’ll have to do to advance in their careers. Rule One: Speak your mind at your own peril. Rule Two: Never risk commissioning a story that goes against the narrative. Rule Three: Never believe an editor or publisher who urges you to go against the grain. Eventually, the publisher will cave to the mob, the editor will get fired or reassigned, and you’ll be hung out to dry.

        For these young writers and editors, there is one consolation. As places like The Times and other once-great journalistic institutions betray their standards and lose sight of their principles, Americans still hunger for news that is accurate, opinions that are vital, and debate that is sincere. I hear from these people every day. “An independent press is not a liberal ideal or a progressive ideal or a democratic ideal. It’s an American ideal,” you said a few years ago. I couldn’t agree more. America is a great country that deserves a great newspaper.

        None of this means that some of the most talented journalists in the world don’t still labor for this newspaper. They do, which is what makes the illiberal environment especially heartbreaking. I will be, as ever, a dedicated reader of their work. But I can no longer do the work that you brought me here to do—the work that Adolph Ochs described in that famous 1896 statement: “to make of the columns of The New York Times a forum for the consideration of all questions of public importance, and to that end to invite intelligent discussion from all shades of opinion.”

        Ochs’s idea is one of the best I’ve encountered. And I’ve always comforted myself with the notion that the best ideas win out. But ideas cannot win on their own. They need a voice. They need a hearing. Above all, they must be backed by people willing to live by them.

        Sincerely,

        Bari”

        • The left and the right have joined hands in their attack on independent thinking. It’s a sad time time for integrity.

          Fortunately, there are still sources of information and opinion that value diversity of views.

          Thank you, Jim Bacon!

          • never ever – ever – ever – count on one source to never disappoint you. bad strategy.

      • Weiss’s letter is damning. I assume that it is more fallout from the Tom Cotton op-ed that led to the resignation of James Bennett, the Times’ opinion editor. (Weiss had been brought in by Bennett.) Although it is a little ironic that she is criticizing her fellow reporters for criticizing her, I hope that this whole incident will lead to some serious soul-searching by the paper’s management and, to the extent that some voices are discouraged, an encouragement of those voices. I will continue to read the paper; the columns by Gail Collin and Tom Friedman, alone, are worth it.

  3. Are you asking me or Bacon?

  4. What am I? The Frigging Answer Man? Yes, I am all for Woke McCarthyism.

  5. ““This past weekend,” writes Allen W. Groves, Dean of Students at the Universitiy of Virginia, “large numbers of students gathered in Corner bars, rental houses and apartments, and a few fraternity houses as part of Midsummers.”

    This morning I saw a news story about this on Charlottesville’s NBC affiliate. Interestingly, the accompanying video showed no large scale gatherings or parties. It was mostly shots of 2-4 people walking around campus, most of whom appeared to be at least attempting to engage in social distancing. There was one shot of a group of about 12 people sitting on the steps of the rotunda. They appeared to be pretty close together but it hardly qualifies as a large number of people. There was a major disconnect between the words the news reader was saying and the video. It was almost comical.

    It seems to me that if they were going to report on large-scale social gatherings they would make an effort to obtain some video footage of large-scale social gatherings.

  6. No. They’re not changing history, they’re creating an alternate future.

    On the lighter side…
    For just a little while, the virus was gone… well, by GOP standards at any rate.

    “Yes, HHS is committed to being transparent with the American public about the information it is collecting on the coronavirus,” he said. “Therefore, HHS has directed CDC to re-establish the coronavirus dashboards it withdrew from the public on Wednesday.”

  7. VCU – This might come as a surprise to some of you, but the world will not end because VCU changes the name of its buildings. Apart from the Baruch and Ginter families, and a handful of history buffs, nobody will notice or care. Does anybody really think students walking by the building with the Baruch plaque give a rip about Simon Baruch? My guess is few students even know there was a plaque. This issue is a yawn. And now the schools can go out and fleece some new philanthropists who want their name on a building.

    It’s time to stop celebrating the 150 year insurgency. It should have ended in the 60s, but better late than never. We are all for the Union today.

    Let me add – some of the out-of-control destruction is a result of pent-up rage that could have been better managed if the This Is My (Slavery) Heritage folks had accepted the loss of their Jim Crow commemorative statuary years ago (to say nothing of failing to do anything about acts of police brutality that were not documented by iPhone).

    This does not excuse the violence of a small group protestors, the vast majority of protestors having gone about their protest business peacefully. People who destroy public property should go to jail. (Though I don’t recall that sentiment being expressed when Eastern Europeans pulled down Stalin’s statue or Iraqi’s pulled down Saddam Hussein’s). But we reap what we sow – to every political action there’s an equal and opposite political reaction. The stronger we hold on to symbols of white supremacy, the stronger the reaction against it will be.

    That’s just the way people are (and why we can’t defund the police).

  8. Does the removal of the plaque mean that VCU will return the $100,000 gift (in 1939 dollars?) and who do they return it to? To the Belle Baruch Foundation, or will that be cancelled too because her grandfather was saving lives 160 years ago?

  9. Steve,
    On a more serious note, I actually haven’t seen much of Bari Weiss’s writing and am not familiar with her. She seems pretty young. I have read Bret Stephens.
    In my humble opinion, I do not like where the NYT is heading under AG. Sulzberger and not because of its Opinion pages. I get the Times online and I really do not like having their lead stories being listed as “Most Popular.” I want to know what the news is, not what their readers think it is. The Times has lost a lot of its old talent and the new ones seem squishy.
    I have personally known a bunch of Times people over the years. Arthur Sulzberger Jr. is a college classmate of mine and I met him when I was a 17-year-old freshman. He retired as publisher a couple of years ago. I knew former executive editor Bill Keller and former editorial page editor Andy Rosenthal when I was in Moscow. They are both gone (retired). I still have a few close friends there.

    • Peter, my uncle Charlie Graves, for many years Rotogravure editor of the Times (before that having been with RTD), might be rotating below Grade in Hollywood were he to see what the Times has become of late.

      Those Charles City County natives were a bit on the conservative side, sir.

    • Peter, why does the “Most Popular” category bother you? I use the “breaking news” app on my laptop and the “Most Popular” bar is pretty far down the page. I have always ignored it. On my smartphone, the only reason I see which stories are in the “Most Popular” category, is that category is right before the crossword and games section when I scroll to them. By the time I have gotten there, I will have read any of those stories if I were interested in them.

    • Peter, thanks for a more detailed reply, and I’m glad to hear that some of the trends are bothering you. I kinda liked the raw honesty of “Woke McCarthyism,” though.

      Dick – promoting stories based on overall reader preference is just another facet of what Weiss was complaining about when she talked about Twitter mentality having taken over. VPAP does it, to, as do most now. And frankly, somebody has to decide what gets the best placement, it is always somebody’s preference.

      • papers are well aware of readership – and it does matter because it does translate into revenue… and survival…

        I PAY for WSJ, NYT, WaPo and FLS as well as other – and no I do not rely on any of them solely for information…and whoever writes the article is also important sometimes – even on the news side – but do not confuse news with opinion either.

        • I’m with you, except we also subscribe to Bloomberg and the Economist rather than FLS (not sure what that is). I have to admit, I’ve been reconsidering my subscriptions to NYT and WaPo which I find to be overly sensitive to left-leaning sensitivities.

          But what I actually scan each day are The Bulwark newsletters from Charlie Sykes and Jonathan Last, Reuters headlines, Politico Playbook, McIntyre’s Daily on Defense (Washington Examiner), Military Times’ Early Morning Brief, Haaretz (English) Daily Brief, WaPo’s Power up and Daily 202 , WSJ’s 10 points. It sounds like a lot, but I skim the headlines and only read three or four articles.

          I avoid tv and cable news and Twitter.

          TV and Twitter have enabled me to understand Marshall McLuhan’s dictum that the medium is the message. Regardless of the content, tv is always about a spectacle and Twitter is always a rant. Best to avoid both.

  10. Dick. The Times has one if the most extensive news gathering operations in the world. I want access to that and what some of the best editors think is important. I do not care about the most popular as accessed by readers. Some of the most important news is often hidden. If I want most popular I’ll buy a tabloid at the grocery store

  11. Haner. If you think you have a legal deposition, think twice. Was joking

  12. James Wyatt Whitehead V

    VCU is foolish to defame the memory of Hunter Holmes McGuire. This man made the most out of life and was very useful to society. His achievements in the advance of modern medicine, strengthening the Medical College of Virginia, stewardship in the American Medical Association, and his extraordinary service to everyday Virginians cannot be forgotten. He even delivered my great grandfather at birth. Do not donate to VCU. They appear to have no honor whatsoever.

  13. Eric the Half a Troll

    Replace every reference to the confederacy with the word Nazi and see if you are still so offended with the changes at VCU.

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