The New York Times was forced to correct a story on Friday after it unfairly targeted Nikki Haley, the United States ambassador to the United Nations, for lavish decorations in her Manhattan ambassador's apartment.
The story focused on $52,701 of taxpayer money spent last year to furnish the apartment — which itself costs $58,000 per month in rent — all paid for on the taxpayer's dime. The story's writer framed the facts as if Haley was responsible for the decorations.
However, Haley — and the Trump administration as a whole — had nothing to do with the installation of the curtains. In fact, it was the Obama administration that approved the exorbitant spending, which came during a time of deep cuts within the State Department. This fact, while cleverly buried in the Times story, was initially ignored, leading to much outrage on social media.
However, conservatives and mainstream media watchdogs were quick to call out the Times for dishonest reporting. Hours later, the Times conceded the story "created an unfair impression."
"An earlier version of this article and headline created an unfair impression about who was responsible for the purchase in question. While Nikki R. Haley is the current ambassador to the United Nations, the decision on leasing the ambassador’s residence and purchasing the curtains was made during the Obama administration, according to current and former officials," the Times said in a statement.
"The article should not have focused on Ms. Haley, nor should a picture of her have been used. The article and headline have now been edited to reflect those concerns, and the picture has been removed," the statement added.
While the story was rightfully corrected, many were left in bewilderment, asking the question: How could such a story make it past editors at the premier newspaper in the world?
According to Ari Fleischer, a communications expert who served as former President George W. Bush's press secretary, the problem with the Times story is a lack of ideological diversity in the New York Times newsroom. Otherwise, according to Fleischer, editors would have seen the story's glaring issues.
The deeper problem here is the lack of ideological diversity at the NYT. It took conservatives on Twitter zero seconds to catch what was wrong. Why didn’t any editors spot the problem before the story ran? Newsrooms would benefit if they thought more like America. https://t.co/xQZeFp7Ghr— Ari Fleischer (@AriFleischer) September 14, 2018
To put a finer point on this, the story had 2 hooks: 1) government waste and 2) a Trump scandal. Gov waste is always a legit story. The problem however was point 2. No one saw the anti-Trump bias because the bias is widespread. Editors who think differently would have caught it.— Ari Fleischer (@AriFleischer) September 15, 2018
This problem plagues nearly every outlet in the mainstream media. Indeed, the media industry largely exists in a bubble, unaware of why President Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016 and unable to understand why he remains extremely popular with his base despite mediocre approval ratings. And countless studies confirm the majority of media coverage portray Trump's administration in a negative light.
The solution, as Fleischer implied, is greater ideological diversity at all levels of media newsrooms. Conservative journalists understand conservatives and liberal journalists understand liberals. Media outlets should make an effort to equally hire both sides of the political spectrum.
If the truth is what the mainstream media seeks, ideological diversity will bring the equilibrium and homeostasis it desperately needs.