One of President Donald Trump’s favorite punching bags, The New York Times, found itself in hot water after posting an insensitive tweet regarding Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and the sexual assault allegations against him.
New York Times forced to apologize after putting out a poll asking about Dr. Ford’s testimony credibility pic.twitter.com/dLbPNyX9mg
— Fox & Friends First (@FoxFriendsFirst) September 28, 2018
The New York Times Opinion’s official Twitter account released a poll that many deemed offensive.
“Christine Blasey Ford is testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee today. Do you find her testimony credible?” the Twitter poll asked. The options were “yes,” “no,” and “unsure.”
It didn’t take long for the backlash to ensue.
Ford supporters were unsurprisingly outraged over the poll, chastising the Times for daring to not believe her.
Why is this poll necessary? What exactly are you trying to achieve? Why are you giving credibility to Dr. Ford's detractors? Delete this.
— Tomris Laffly (@TomiLaffly) September 27, 2018
“Why is this poll necessary?” asked film critic Tomris Laffly on Twitter. “What exactly are you trying to achieve? Why are you giving credibility to Dr. Ford’s detractors? Delete this.”
Others felt that the Times were trying to sway public sentiment as the Kavanaugh ordeal continues to head towards a legitimate confirmation.
?…Wonder why…..let me guess, wasn’t working out the way they hoped.
— Jancy☃️ (@iJancy) September 27, 2018
Others just found the entire thing a fruitless exercise meant to stoke controversy.
Why do either? Unscientific poll, limited sample, and inflammatory in nature. No reason to post this at all other than to gain clicks. That’s below the @nytimes
— Ed Muller ? (@GoBigEd) September 27, 2018
The New York Times tried to justify the poll by saying a Kavanaugh poll would’ve been next. That response didn’t fly either.
This is not a reality TV show. Having the intention to tweet a second poll is not exculpatory. Get out of your echo chamber and act appropriately.
— Alyssa Picard (@ThatPicard) September 27, 2018
Once the backlash ensued, the New York Times quickly scrapped the poll and issued an apology.
We're sorry for this tweet. In retrospect, a Twitter poll is insensitive in light of the gravity of this hearing. We've deleted it. pic.twitter.com/4CqRhkuCat
— New York Times Opinion (@nytopinion) September 27, 2018
It’s an interesting and completely unforced conundrum for the New York Times.
On the one hand, questioning an alleged sexual assault victim’s credibility is a bad look. Even if you think Ford is a snake and Democratic operative, which to be clear, I do not, she deserves to be heard. It’s on her to provide evidence, but in and of itself, a victim’s allegations should never be summarily dismissed.
On the other hand, it’s also fair to ask if the Times actually crossed a line here. Could it have been worded better? Without question. But polling public sentiment, regardless of sample size or accuracy, about the hot button issue occurring in politics right now doesn’t seem like that egregious of a blunder.
In the end, it’s just more of the same from the New York Times. Trump likes to call them the “failing New York Times,” but I can’t personally speak to their overall health as a company. What I can speak to, however, is that the New York Times could make such simple changes to avoid the wrath of the president or the American public.
If one day in the future the New York Times actually does fail and disappear, it will have only itself to blame for mistakes as easily avoidable as a poorly worded Twitter poll.
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