Dear NYTimes – “easily debunked facts” are not facts at all

The sooner the New York Times realizes it needs to identify the Administration’s lies as “lies” in print, the better

The New York Times‘ Jim Rutenberg, author of the Mediator blog, wrote a post yesterday titled “‘Alternative Facts’ and the Costs of Trump-Branded Reality.” The article focused on how Sean Spicer, Donald’s Press Secretary, and Kellyanne Conway, Donald’s spokeswoman, have already engaged in an “aggressive use of falsehoods” and that attacking the media might not serve the administration’s long-term goals.

The article itself is relatively unremarkable, tut-tutting Donald for attacking the media and lying without having the intestinal fortitude to actually directly attack Donald in a way that would prove effective. And it sends a mixed message about how to address an Orwellian, post-truth administration. The following image and caption represents the worst of it.


“Easily debunked facts” are not what Spicer said. Given how slow the New York Times is to adapt to new realities, what Spicer said was “claims” or “statements” or “allegations.” Not facts. If it’s easily debunked and shown to be false, it’s not a fact. There will come a point when the Times is finally comfortable calling what Spicer said “untruths” or “falsehoods” or, best and most succinct of all, “lies.”

The New York Times is a conservative media behemoth that finds itself facing a new media reality that it doesn’t yet know how to handle. The sooner it understands that new reality and updates its editorial practices to match, the better off we, and it, will be.