The New York Times went all nuclear on Google in this hatchet piece. This isn’t exactly objective journalism: there is an agenda as traditional media got their collective backsides whumped by Google, Twitter, and Facebook.
Even the headline is kind of cute:
Critics say the search giant is squelching competition before it begins.
And who are these critics and competition? The Gray Lady, perhaps?
It wasn’t always like this. In fact, the New York Times has a very interesting habit: they chase after Titans of Industry and Great Men with shameless fawning…and then somewhere along the way, the love affair turns sour, and then the Gray Lady has public tirades disguised as investigative pieces.
Which means that they ignored red flags, kept certain things to themselves, and then lash out when things go south.
Let’s start with how they once loved, loved, loved, Donald Trump (I have mentioned this one before, but let’s mention it again), when they first wrote about their heartthrob on November 1, 1976:
He is tall, lean and blond, with dazzling white teeth, and he looks ever so much like Robert Redford. He rides around town in a chauffeured silver Cadillac with his initials, DJT, on the plates. He dates slinky fashion models, belongs to the most elegant clubs and, at only 30 years of age, estimates that he is worth “more than $200 million.”
Wow, he looks like Robert Redford! He has nice teeth! And a cool ride! And goes where all the cool kids go! Yay, Donald!
But when Trump called the Gray Lady and her little friends “fake” and then won the presidency without her drooling over him, she was very angry. How dare Mr. Nice Teeth kick her to the curb like that?
How many exes have I heard diss their former sweeties by calling them crazy?
But their fan cheerleading wasn’t just over Donald Trump: they also had their cutie crush on Harvey Weinstein.
But with Weinstein, it is a different matter: the paper nixed an exposé on his harassment of actresses way back in 2004…but aside from one article assuring readers that he wasn’t going to be charged with one “groping incident” in 2015, you’d never know about that dark side.
In 2012, he was portrayed as a busy man about town, making a serious foray in Broadway with the help of his friends, like Bono:
Now he is relying on the advice of many, including reviewers and friends. Bono and the Edge of U2 saw the show early on; beyond friendship they were returning a favor, because Mr. Weinstein offered feedback on their Broadway musical “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.” Bono suggested a joke about the local Leicester paper, which got laughs, while the Edge talked about tightening the storytelling. The composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, the Broadway theater owner and producer Jordan Roth, and the Tony-winning actor James Corden were among others weighing in.
Yes, he was a Great Man as another article gushed from 2013:
Seven minutes before Sunday’s premiere screening, Mr. W himself was out on Yonge Street, a foot from the red carpet, buffed and beaming. He didn’t look like a man who had been up all night, fending off competitors and buying up distribution rights to “Can a Song Save Your Life?,” a festival darling that was herded into the Weinstein fold on Sunday.
And in another 2012 piece, the saccharine sugar mode was in full blast:
The Punisher. The Boss. God. Harvey Weinstein earned a lot of nicknames during the Golden Globes, not least among them “Winner.” So when the Bagger saw him at the Weinstein Company afterparty…we naturally asked: what was his favorite nickname of the night?
…“My favorite nickname,” he said, “ is Dad.”
You mean, not “monster“?
Only when Ronan Farrow started openly nosing around why Weinstein was called a “monster”, did the Gray Lady rush to beat him to the punch with their own exposé on him as she turned on him.
There are others, but let’s get back to Google.
While the Gray Lady was always a little wary of the brash young Google, she still had her crush.
Wasn’t there anything Google couldn’t find? Google was always efficient and knew what they were doing.They were future-focussed visionaries. They were in demand with “quirky brilliance”. They were almost godly in so many ways.
They were decided titans in 2003:
In the last few years, Google has risen as a force on the Internet by offering its smarter, faster searches as a free public service. Now the band of technoinsurgents who run the company are striking a blow against the business strategies of giant Web portals like America Online, Yahoo and Microsoft’s MSN by rewriting the rules of Internet advertising.
Emerging as a powerful new marketing medium, Google has found a route to profitability that stands apart in a Silicon Valley that is still crippled by the dot-com crash.
Today? Not so much.
The love affair has turned into a hate fest.
That the Gray Lady is fickle is an understatement. She adores you one day, and then wants to break you into pieces the next.
That is not journalism. That is a mood swing.
It is one thing to be wrong about people in the beginning. There is a lesson to be learned about not relying on spin or publicists, and then doing what you need to do: find facts as they are, and then reveal them. Lay off the superlatives. Perhaps polished people seem great on first appearance, or maybe they take a wrong turn. That’s more than possible, but sooner or later, when it happens one time too many, you have to start questioning how you are presenting information.
In the case of Weinstein, they were already given the memo. Even if they didn’t share that memo to their readers, it should have been a reminder that cheerleading isn’t reportage, and it should have stopped. It didn’t for another thirteen years.
It is for that reason the profession lost credibility. The narratives were directives, telling people how to frame their perceptions of reality, instead of just presenting reality as it was.
The Gray Lady has issues. She goes from publicist to vindictive revenge-seeker, and it is time her temper tantrums were called out and she gave her flip-flopping opinions and narratives a permanent rest.