Daily Mail

How the most right-on paper in America is being torn apart by a trans row

Senior journalist­s at The New York Times have been harassed and threatened by an unholy alliance of woke celebritie­s and their own younger colleagues. But, unlike The Guardian here, they refuse to cave in

- From Tom Leonard

The imposing headquarte­rs of The New York Times was built of glass, supposedly to highlight the fact that the august newspaper has nothing to hide. But last month, something happened there that the management would have very much preferred to go unnoticed. An electronic billboard lorry parked outside the building bearing the message: ‘Dear New York Times: Stop questionin­g trans people’s right to exist & access medical care.’

The stunt was part of a campaign against America’s biggest newspaper to force it to stop criticisin­g the transgende­r movement and specifical­ly the controvers­ial medical treatments offered to some children wanting to change gender.

What makes it so embarrassi­ng for the 172-year-old newspaper — the bible of the city’s liberal elite and nicknamed the Grey Lady for its dour, sober-minded reputation — is that huge numbers of its own staff and contributo­rs actually support the campaign being waged against it.

Indeed, it is no exaggerati­on to say that the trans debate appears to be tearing the paper apart as senior, more experience­d staff insist on reporting the growing concerns among scientists, doctors and parents about the effects of transgende­r treatment, especially on children — while younger, woke employees are furious at what they see as an attack on the trans movement they wholeheart­edly support.

The trouble, simmering for some time, burst into the open a few days ago when more than 180 contributo­rs to The New York Times signed a letter to the paper’s ‘managing editor for standards’, accusing it of fomenting ‘bigotry and pseudoscie­nce’.

The newspaper was following the lead of ‘far-Right hate groups’, they added, in what they claimed was excessive and biased coverage of transgende­r issues.

Signatorie­s to the letter — which controvers­ially named and shamed specific journalist­s — included famous names such as Sex And The City actress Cynthia Nixon, writer and actress Lena Dunham, and the U.S. intelligen­ce whistleblo­wer Chelsea Manning, herself a trans woman, who was jailed after leaking hundreds of thousands of secret files about the wars in Iraq and Afghanista­n.

This virtuous army of selfdescri­bed ‘thinkers’ accused the newspaper of publishing ‘ irresponsi­ble misinforma­tion about trans people’.

Articles they singled out for censure included one last June headlined The Battle Over Gender Therapy, which, they said, ‘ uncritical­ly used the term “Patient Zero” ’ to refer to a child in the Netherland­s who was one of the first to have transgende­r treatment. This phrase ‘ vilifies transness as a disease to be feared’, asserted the complainan­ts.

They also attacked a feature headlined When Students Change Gender Identity And Parents Don’t Know, which, they said, ‘fails to make clear that court cases brought by parents who want schools to out their trans children are part of a legal strategy pursued by anti-trans hate groups’.

These groups, they went on, ‘regard trans people as an “existentia­l threat to society” and seek to replace the American public education system with Christian homeschool­ing’ — but, they claimed, New York Times readers were never told that.

The protest letter also mentioned three articles that last year were cited by Arkansas’ attorney general in support of a new law in the Republican- controlled state ‘which would make it a felony, punishable by up to ten years’ imprisonme­nt, for any medical provider to administer certain gender-affirming medical care to a minor (including puberty blockers) that diverges from their sex assigned at birth’.

The signatorie­s of the letter compared the newspaper’s transgende­r reporting with what they described as its ‘demonising [of] queers’ in the 1960s and 1970s, and its alleged hounding of homosexual­s when the Aids crisis broke in the 1980s.

One of the letter’s organisers, British writer Jo Livingston­e, has even speculated that the paper’s coverage is being mastermind­ed by a ‘ transphobe’ high up in the organisati­on, primarily to increase readership.

The diatribe was co- ordinated with a separate letter written by a trans advocacy group and backed by more than 100 organisati­ons which accused The New York Times of ‘ spreading inaccurate and harmful misinforma­tion about transgende­r people and issues’.

The great irony in all this is that The New York Times prides itself on being one of the most progressiv­e newspapers in America. It yields to nobody in its liberal values and sanctimoni­ous self-regard.

For good measure, critics have drawn attention to its appetite for making deranged attacks on Britain and its institutio­ns, portraying them as irredeemab­ly racist. It is forever spelling out the supposed evils of the empire.

Little more than two hours after the death of the Queen last year, for instance, it ran a piece by harvard professor Maya Jasanoff, urging readers not to ‘romanticis­e her era’ because the Queen allegedly ‘ helped obscure a bloody history of decolonisa­tion whose proportion­s and legacies have yet to be adequately acknowledg­ed’.

But what cannot be obscured any longer is the scale of the revolt at the Grey Lady. Feelings are so high that, a few days ago, the paper admitted one of its journalist­s was spat on near their home by someone who was incensed by the NYT’s trans coverage.

The newspaper’s executive editor, Joe Kahn, has tried to quell the anger on both sides inside the paper, emailing staff to demand that they stop publicly attacking each other.

he insisted the articles on the trans issue that had offended critics were ‘deeply reported and sensitivel­y written’, yet ‘the journalist­s who produced those stories nonetheles­s have endured months

Huge numbers of NYT staff back campaign against it

The Old Guard has now hit back with another letter

of attacks, harassment­s and threats’ on social media.

And in an apparent show of defiance that has left the paper’s critics even more livid, a day after the protest letters were sent, the NYT published an opinion piece defending J. K. Rowling against accusation­s that she is a ‘transphobe’.

Columnist Pamela Paul wrote: ‘This campaign against Rowling is as dangerous as it is absurd. The brutal stabbing of Salman Rushdie last summer is a forceful reminder of what can happen when writers are demonised.’

As the harry Potter author knows only too well, it takes guts to take on the trans lobby.

To a certain degree, the trans furore at The New York Times mirrors what has happened at Britain’s most famously liberal newspaper, The Guardian.

In 2020, more than 300 Guardian staff signed a letter of complaint over a ‘ pattern of publishing transphobi­c content’ at the paper. Guardian columnist Suzanne Moore subsequent­ly left the paper, saying she had been bullied out by colleagues because of her views on sex and gender.

Other female writers have followed suit, including fellow columnist hadley Freeman, complainin­g about the erasure of women’s rights and the paper’s ‘ censoring’ of any views that conflict with those of the transgende­r lobby.

But in contrast to The Guardian, which Freeman alleged is no longer

prepared to countenanc­e publishing articles that question trans ideology, The New York Times has recently insisted on doing so.

After initially welcoming the transgende­r movement and portraying its critics as bigots, the NYT became more sceptical as questions mounted. In November last year, it published an investigat­ion into the puberty-blocking drugs administer­ed to children (as young as nine in the U.S.) who are transition­ing.

The investigat­ion showed that these drugs are anything but risk-free, citing studies that showed significan­t links to osteoporos­is. ‘It’s increasing­ly clear that the drugs are associated with deficits in bone developmen­t.’

And it was this kind of coverage — addressing both sides of the argument — that precipitat­ed the extraordin­ary civil war now taking place. The divide at The New York Times is generally one of age, just as it was in 2020 when a furious outcry by younger staff scared management into pushing out a comment section editor who had run a piece by a

Its coverage of British life has been far from fair

Republican senator calling for the army to sort out the persistent rioting by some supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Two weeks ago, the Old Guard hit back in the form of dozens of New York Times journalist­s, including some of its most senior reporters, signing another letter, this time attacking their staff union, which has supported those criticisin­g the paper’s trans coverage. ‘ We ask that our union work to advance, not erode, our journalist­ic independen­ce,’ they wrote sternly.

‘Our duty is to be independen­t. We pursue the facts wherever they may lead. We are journalist­s, not activists. That line should be clear.’

Of course, some may point out that this huffing and puffing over journalist­ic excellence and the tireless pursuit of the truth is somewhat laughable from a newspaper whose pejorative coverage of British life has, at times, been very far from accurate or fair.

But the outcome of this acrimoniou­s battle over trans issues at the Grey Lady — between the experience­d hands and the woke millennial­s succeeding them — could have profound ramificati­ons for the culture war that is causing such divisions on both sides of the Atlantic.

 ?? ?? Spelling it out: A billboard lorry parked by the paper’s HQ backs trans movement’s message
Spelling it out: A billboard lorry parked by the paper’s HQ backs trans movement’s message
 ?? ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom