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EPISODE # 211

Ashley Rindsberg — The Gray Lady Winked: How the New York Times’s Misreporting, Distortions and Fabrications Radically Alter History

The Gray Lady Winked: How the New York Times's Misreporting, Distortions and Fabrications Radically Alter History (book cover)

As flagship of the American news media, the New York Times is the world’s most powerful news outlet. With thousands of reporters covering events from all corners of the globe, the Times has the power to influence wars, foment revolution, shape economies and change the very nature of our culture. It doesn’t just cover the news: it creates it.

The Gray Lady Winked pulls back the curtain on this illustrious institution to reveal a quintessentially human organization where ideology, ego, power and politics compete with the more humble need to present the facts. Rindsberg offers an eye-opening, often shocking, look at the New York Times’s greatest journalistic failures, so devastating they changed the course of history.

  • How its World War II Berlin bureau chief, a known Nazi collaborator, skewed coverage in favor of the Third Reich for over a decade.
  • Its notorious coverup of the Ukraine Famine, a genocide committed by Stalin, showing that it was the newspaper’s owners who directed the coverup in order to advance their own financial and ideological interests.
  • The “1619 Project,” a cynical, ideologically driven attempt to revise American history by rooting the nation’s birth in slavery instead of liberty.

The result is an essential look at the tangled relationship between media, power and politics in a post-truth world told with novelistic flair to reveal a uniquely powerful institution’s tortured relationship with the truth. Most importantly of all, The Gray Lady Winked presents a cautionary tale that shows what happens when the guardians of the truth abandon that sacred value in favor of self-interest and ideology-and what this means for our future as much as for our past.

Ashley Rindsberg was born in South Africa and immigrated to the U.S. as a child. After earning degrees in Philosophy and Science & Technology Studies at Cornell University, Rindsberg worked at prestigious digital NGO, Internet Archive, where he ran the Internet Bookmobile project. His work for the Archive took him to Egypt, where he installed the country’s first Internet Bookmobile at the Library of Alexandria. Over the course of 13 years spent wandering Israel’s “unholy city,” Rindsberg encountered the beggars, dreamers, artists, musicians and madmen who would inspire his first collection of fiction, Tel Aviv Stories. Rindsberg has contributed essays and journalism to a number of publications. He was managing editor of the short-lived but culturally influential English-language Israeli magazine, 18, and served as a founding associate editor of long-form Mideast policy and culture magazine, The Tower.

Shermer and Rindsberg discuss:

  • why the New York Times has such a reputation vs. the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post
  • Isn’t the Wall Street Journal equally biased toward the right?
  • Don’t all papers make mistakes but the NYTs errors are more prominent?
  • the history of journalism and when fact checking became the norm: “the paper of record”?
  • UAPs/UFOs in the New York Times and how that elevated the previously fringe topic to mainstream,
  • Adolph Ochs, founder of the NYTs and it’s mission “to give the news impartially, without fear or favor, regardless of party, sect or interests involved.”
  • NYTs reported favorably about Hitler, Mussolini and Fascism (while hating Trump),
  • NYTs reported that Poland invaded Germany on Sept. 1, 1939,
  • NYTs reported favorably about Marx, Lenin, Stalin & Communism (while castigating Putin),
  • tyrannophilia,
  • Holocaust,
  • the NYTs rock-star treatment of Fidel Castro,
  • the 1619 Project,
  • critical race theory and safe spaces,
  • antiracism as a religion,
  • reason is a social construct, but they use reason to argue against reason,
  • the business model of click-bait “news” and what has to change,
  • social media platforms and whether or not they should be regulated, and
  • how to restore the search for objective truth, even and including about history.

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This episode is sponsored by Wondrium:

Wondrium (sponsor)
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