In Which I Get the Tom Cotton Treatment

By Mark Krikorian on September 3, 2020

National Review, September 3, 2020

I have apparently instigated something similar to what happened at the New York Times editorial page, but at the Chronicle of Philanthropy, the bible for fundraisers.

Earlier this week, the site featured an interview with me by an independent podcaster whose shows it cross-posts. — "The Business of Giving", by Denver Frederick, has interviewed literally hundreds of leaders of foundations, non-profits, and the like. Given the nature of that business, they're almost all lefties of one sort or another, but Frederick's interviewing style seems pretty consistent — avuncular, prompting when necessary, but mainly just letting people say their piece.

Last week he posted an interview with me, which the Chronicle of Philanthropy promoted on its home page, as it has done for several years with Frederick's other interviews. That's when the Schiff hit the fan — in a much smaller way than after Sen. Cotton's NYT op-ed, given the smaller forum, but it was the same phenomenon. The commenters were actually pretty small in number, but they were decrying "shocking", "repulsive", "vile hate speech" by "far right fringe groups" — you know the drill. One left-wing activist said she'd canceled her subscription and demanded "Your Editorial Board should either resign or be fired."

Apparently spooked by this handful of complainers, the site appended a trigger warning to the interview and severed its ties with — fired — Frederick, whose future interviews (even with safe lefties!) it will no longer post. The trigger warning claims that "this interview lacked the type of journalistic rigor we value, and we erred in not reviewing it more carefully before posting" — precisely the same sort of weaseling as in the Times' note attached to Cotton's op-ed: "the essay fell short of our standards and should not have been published. ... The editing process was rushed and flawed, and senior editors were not sufficiently involved."

It's not clear what "journalistic rigor" the Chronicle has in mind. Frederick — the chief fundraiser for the restoration of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, for crissake — even asked about accusations of racism, and then let me answer. Perhaps his sin was in not asking when I stopped beating my wife.

The whole incident is a demonstration of my answer to Frederick's question about motives:

This racism charge is simply a political weapon to shut people up. When somebody says, "I think you're motivated by blah, blah, blah," what they're really saying in English is "Shut up." All that is is "Shut up," and we won't shut up.

You would hope that any editor with an ounce of self-respect would respond to reader threats with the words of NR's late patriarch: "Cancel your own damn subscription!" But the Chronicle of Philanthropy, like the Times, is a business designed to turn a profit (it's owned by the Chronicle of Higher Education, Inc.). Both rely on essentially the same customer base of bien-pensant liberals, and placing before them something from outside their bubble is bad business. So despite the Chronicle's supposed commitment "to sharing a broad range of diverse ideas on our site", its goal, as with the Times, is simply fan service.

It would be better for everyone if they just admitted it.