NY Times Panics: ‘Menace,' Melodrama On Trump Tackling Twitter’s Censorship

May 30th, 2020 6:18 PM

The brief arrest of a CNN news crew covering the mayhem in Minneapolis prompted New York Times media reporter James Poniewozik to melodramatically take on President Trump for his action against Twitter, in “A Live Look At Censorship, No Tweets Involved” in Saturday’s New York Times.

He launched with one of those dopey counter-factual scenarios the paper digs these days.

For days, President Trump has been on a rampage against Twitter for its treatment of him, and it’s easy to see why. Early Friday morning, after a tweet from him about the violence in Minneapolis declared, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts,” Twitter dispatched police officers to the White House, who handcuffed Mr. Trump and took him into custody on live television in view of the entire nation.

Oh, sorry, quick fact-check: That did not happen at all. The president remains free and tweeting. Twitter, a private company, remains free to set rules on the use of its service....


The arrest on live TV Friday was of Omar Jimenez, a CNN reporter, and his crew, who were handcuffed and walked off down a ravaged Minneapolis block, where they’d been covering protests and violence after the killing of a black man, George Floyd, in police custody.

Poniewozik laid it on thick, somehow linking Trump to the arrest of Jiminez by Minnesota state police.

In the past, though, the arrest did not happen to journalists who work for a news organization that the president had designated the “enemy of the people.” It did not happen under a president who once retweeted a doctored video that showed him beating on a person with the CNN logo covering his face.

And it did not happen in a week when that president threatened punitive measures against a private social-media platform for suggesting that the misinformation he tweeted was misinformation. The president, it seems, considers his inconvenience to be a violation of freedom, and actual press freedom to be an inconvenience.

The paper also reacted with alarm Thursday when conservatives criticized Twitter for its partisan flagging of Trump’s Twitter feed. Tech reporters Kate Conger and Davey Alba saw danger in “Admirers Follow President Into Battle With Twitter.

On Twitter, Mr. Trump’s adherents targeted one of the company’s executives for old tweets in which he had criticized the president and other Republicans....

That would be Yoel Roth, a Twitter executive, who once called Trump a “racist tangerine” on Twitter and mocked his supporters. Later Thursday, Trump would sign an executive order that curtails some legal protections for media companies granted under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 (CDA).

....His supporters -- a mixture of mainstream Republicans, far-right personalities and online acolytes -- then quickly turned to a well-worn playbook of vilifying those whom they saw as slighting him....But this time, the right-wing machinery training its sights on a publicly traded company -- Twitter -- and its roughly 5,000 employees, took on an added menace, disinformation researchers said.