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Tuesday
Aug302016

Why I Cancelled My New York Times Subscription (and You Should Too)

I am a creature of habit. Doing certain things at a certain time on a regular basis gives my life order. My wife thinks I may take this to extremes sometimes and she’s probably right, but it is what it is. I’ll be the first to admit my behavior may border on OCD, but I like doing things the way I do them. My daily routine is something I’ve developed over many years and I wouldn’t do things the way I do without purpose. The reason I spend a portion of every morning reading newspapers is to stay informed. Not the CNN or Fox News versions of informed, but the in-depth, behind the scenes version one can only get by reading quality periodicals. The periodicals I read frequently fall into three major categories; daily news, monthly news and specialty publications. It’s the daily periodicals, the newspapers, that make up a large portion of my routine and those are the ones I’ll address here.

2011 marked the end of an era for me. It was in 2011 when I got an original iPad as soon as Apple would let me order one. A couple of months after unboxing it I began moving my classic newspaper subscriptions to digital ones. I have to admit to going through some growing pains as my morning Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Houston Chronicle popped up a notification on my iPad in lieu of showing up on my driveway (sidewalk, flower bed, neighbor’s yard, drainage ditch…) every morning. It was a huge adjustment trying to find my favorite journalists’ articles by navigating a slew of unfamiliar menus and links versus leafing over to a familiar section of a newspaper I’d grown very familiar with over the years. No more smell of fresh newsprint. No more black fingertips and nothing to roll up and swat a bug (dog, cat, wife) with. It took some getting used to, especially enduring some of the horrendous version 1.0 newspaper apps, but in just a few months I adjusted and the apps got much better. Now, when I do occasionally get a print version, I wonder how I put up with them for all those years. What, no news video? No links to the new restaurant advertised in the lifestyle section? How barbaric! Yep, I quickly became a digital convert. Now with the periodical apps at version 6 or 7 and the new retina display iPad, morning reading is the best experience ever. And I don’t even have to cover up my underwear to retrieve my papers!

I always knew the New York Times was almost as left-leaning as Chairman Mao’s little red book, but I endured (for the most part) by avoiding the editorials. I stuck to the hard news and mainly focused on the business and technology sections. The Times really does employ some of the best writers anywhere. But this election season has caused me to re-think my $20/month digital subscription fee. I expected the editorial staff at the New York Times to be pulling for Hillary as sure as the sunrise, but what I didn’t expect was their willingness to print blatant lies about Mr. Trump while completely ignoring every negative associated with Hillary Clinton. I’ve put up with this crap for a year thinking it will all be over soon and I can get back to my normal OCD behavior when the Times did something that pissed me off so badly I had to immediately cancel my 20-year subscription.

My wife and I were driving home from a trip to visit my daughter at school in Baton Rouge (Geaux Tigers!) listening to a Trump speech on the radio. He was speaking about Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama’s failed foreign policy as well as George Bush’s poor decision to invade Iraq. He spoke at length about the power vacuum created by deposing Kaddafi and Saddam Hussein and the resulting rise of ISIS. He emphasized how terrible the two dictators were using adjectives like “brutal”, “horrible” and “bad” to describe them. He went on to say that as bad as they were, their presence helped keep terrorism in check and that Saddam Hussein was particularly good at killing terrorists within Iraq. He again questioned the wisdom of the foreign policy that deposed them. Within minutes of the end of Trump’s speech, my  Watch chimed and displayed this notification from the New York Times: 

Donald Trump Praises Saddam Hussein for Being ‘Good’ at Killing Terrorists

I showed the notification to my wife and she was astonished. Unlike me, she isn’t a regular Times reader. She said, “He didn’t say anything like that!” Remember, we had just finished listening to his speech in its entirety. I told her that sort of word-smithing and taking phrases out of context is what I’d come to expect from the New York Times. She then asked me why I was paying them for distorted news. It got me to thinking. Had my OCD blinded me? Was I shelling out twenty bucks a month just because I always had and thought I always should?

I really like the Times’ technology section and their business section is second only to the Wall Street Journal, but I had to ask myself if they were worth the $20/month subscription fee. After all, I was basically ignoring the bulk of the newspaper to avoid their leftist propaganda. As a Libertarian, I’ve come to understand all news outlets have an agenda. I see the left-leanings of CNN, NBC & CBS as well as Fox and NewsMax trumpeting positions of the right. All of the above think of us Libertarians as “fringe” not worthy of covering, but being Libertarian lets me see content bias through eyes with no “left” or “right” filter. For example, a myopic leftist like Chris Breen probably views the New York Times election coverage as completely factual and fair while right-wingers like Ann Coulter probably think the same of NewsMax. Come to think of it, I can’t name a single unbiased news source, can you? In the end I decided bias is one thing, but misrepresentation is something else altogether. It’s fine to forward a political agenda within the confines of the editorial section, but it is completely dishonest to present it as “news”. With the example I just cited and many times since, the New York Times has crossed that boundary. I did a quick search on the NYT.com web site for all articles published in the last 30 days relating to Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton. I then did a quick tally of negative stories about each. I expected Hillary to get more favorable treatment, but I was a bit surprised to learn Donald Trump’s negative stories outnumbered Hillary Clinton’s 9 to 1! (For Mr. Breen and those of you in Portland, that means for every negative story about Hillary, there were nine negative stories about Mr. Trump.) Like I said, the Times’ bias was to be expected, but this is more like an unmitigated frontal assault! Both candidates have said some truly outrageous things, but the Times embellishes Trump’s many faux pas while taking every proven lie that comes from Hillary’s mouth at face value. What a shame. What I once considered to be “America’s Newspaper” has disgracefully become little more than a shill for the left. I pointed out this fact to the NYT staff in the space provided on their cancellation page. If you truly believe in unbiased news coverage, I urge you to vote with your pocketbook and do the same.

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