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Op-Ed

What I Told My Kids When The New York Times Ran a Hit Piece on Me

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I had just arrived home after having an emotional conversation with a pastor friend when I got the message that The New York Times had just published a lengthy article about the company I work for.

My wife was out having coffee with a friend who had asked for some advice on loneliness, so it was just me and the kids in the house.

“Dad, can we finish this episode before bed?” my oldest asked. She is 13, kind, articulate and mature beyond her years. I am not biased at all.

“Sure,” I said. “I need to read something on my computer anyway.”

I pulled out my laptop and clicked the link to read the story.

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“Can we have a snack before we brush our teeth?” my youngest asked. I swear that kid could eat a full-grown bison and then eat a second 10 minutes later.

Paywall. Dang it.

Incognito mode didn’t work and I was impatient, so I signed up for a free trial to The Times and clicked again.

As the executive editor of the conservative publication that was the focus of The Times’ article, I didn’t expect it to be a glowing commendation. But I had hoped it would be a fair and objective portrayal of what we do every day at The Western Journal.

My hope was misplaced.

“OK, dad. The show is over. Should we go to bed?” my oldest asked.

I didn’t answer. I was reading the words on the screen.

Disinformation.

Fine-tuned ideological content to an ever-agitated audience.

Misleading.

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Sensationalized.

“Dad, will mom be home soon?”

Clickbait.

Hate speech.

Incitement.

“Dad, what are you reading?”

Deceptive business practices.

Spam.

Impersonation.

“Dad? Are you OK?”

False news.

Hyper partisan.

Alienated, angry conservative users.

“Dad?”

Entirely made-up.

Monetizing of digital mobs.

Divisive.

“I’m sorry, kids. Just one more minute,” I said. They could tell I was more distracted than usual — which is no small feat.

News outlet in reverse.

Spammy backlinking.

Cheating.

I finished the article, sighed and shut my laptop. All four of my kids were looking at me.

My oldest was, as usual, kneading a glob of homemade slime while standing in the kitchen.

“What did it say, dad?” she asked honestly, wanting to know what the Gray Lady had said about her dad. “Was it good or bad?”

“It wasn’t good,” I answered honestly — maybe too honestly for a young teen that doesn’t really know about politics or journalism.

“They said we are liars. They said we are bad people doing bad things. They said we are deceiving people.”

I was sad but trying hard to not let it show. It didn’t work. It had been a long day. After a long week. After a long year. Work and life in 2019 have been hard, and I wish I could say that my kids hadn’t seen their father cry on the couch in the past few months.

“Do they really believe that?” she asked.

I hesitated before I answered.

Isn’t that the question we all ask when we are attacked? Do they believe that? Does Nick Confessore, one of the authors of the article, really think those things about me and what I do?

Does he disagree politically (he does) and this is simply his method to attack opposition regardless of whether we are trying to be truthful and accurate?

“I don’t know if they believe what they wrote,” I told her. “Sometimes people will do anything to hurt those people they disagree with. But sometimes people just see the world differently.”

Last October, I had eaten lunch with Justin Banks, the co-author of the article, when he interviewed The Western Journal staff and observed our day-to-day operation. Some months after he came to our headquarters in Phoenix but well before the article was published (it took almost 10 months for The Times to finish their piece on us), he messaged me on Twitter and asked if I wanted to grab a drink. I was unable to do so.

After the article was published Wednesday night, he tweeted that I posted “flagrantly false” information and used fake author names. Both statements are inaccurate.

“People sometimes think that if you disagree with them, you are a bad person,” I said to her. “Not everyone who disagrees with you will think that, but some will.”

Is The New York Times a credible news source in 2019?

To be clear, I write my fair share of critical pieces, and I’m sure that some of them could be accurately characterized as less than kind.

But as I looked my daughter in the eyes and tried to explain why The New York Times would write a hit piece about her daddy, I saw something more important than the words I had just read.

I love her more than any political idea. She is neither conservative nor liberal and couldn’t care less about politics. And I would die for her.

“Are you going to be OK?” she asked honestly, concerned that the answer might be in the negative.

“Yeah,” I said. “I’m gonna be just fine.”

The views expressed in this opinion article are those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by the owners of this website. If you are interested in contributing an Op-Ed to The Western Journal, you can learn about our submission guidelines and process here.

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G.S. Hair is the former executive editor of The Western Journal.
G.S. Hair is the former executive editor of The Western Journal and vice president of digital content of Liftable Media.

After graduating law school from the Cecil C. Humphries School of Law, Mr. Hair spent a decade as an attorney practicing at the trial and appellate level in Arkansas and Tennessee. He represented clients in civil litigation, contractual disputes, criminal defense and domestic matters. He spent a significant amount of time representing indigent clients who could not afford private counsel in civil or criminal matters. A desire for justice and fairness was a driving force in Mr. Hair's philosophy of representation. Inspired by Christ’s role as an advocate on our behalf before God, he often represented clients who had no one else to fight on their behalf.

Mr. Hair has been a consultant for Republican political candidates and has crafted grassroots campaign strategies to help mobilize voters in staunchly Democrat regions of the Eastern United States.

In early 2015, he began writing for Conservative Tribune. After the site was acquired by Liftable Media, he shut down his law practice, moved to Arizona and transitioned into the position of site director. He then transitioned to vice president of content. In 2018, after Liftable Media folded all its brands into The Western Journal, he was named executive editor. His mission is to advance conservative principles and be a positive and truthful voice in the media.

He is married and has four children. He resides in Phoenix, Arizona.
Birthplace
South Carolina
Education
Homeschooled (and proud of it); B.A. Mississippi College; J.D. University Of Memphis
Location
Phoenix, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English
Topics of Expertise
Culture, Faith, Politics




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