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The New York Times Opinion (Left bias) has been accused of flip-flopping on the issue of the 'deep state.' A new video in its Opinion section published this week said the "deep state" is “actually kind of awesome,” while a 2017 piece in its analysis section denied its existence, reading, “What Happens When You Fight a ‘Deep State’ That Doesn’t Exist.


Several media outlets and pundits criticized the Times for its framing of what the “deep state” actually is, and the publication’s track record of writing about it in the past.

In the new video, Times journalists Adam Westbrook and Lindsay Crouse said they went on a road trip to find out who the “deep state” really is. They spoke to several government officials, and noted that if "Donald Trump were elected, he would have the power to eviscerate the so-called deep state and replace our public servants with people who work for him, not us."

The officials interviewed included Scott Bellamy, a Mission Manager at the Planetary Missions Program Office, Radhika Fox, the Assistant Administrator for Water at the Environmental Protection Agency, and Nancy Alcantara, the Acting Director for Enforcement in the Wage and Hour Division for the Midwest Regional Office at the U.S. Department of Labor.

Westbrook and Crouse heralded these officials for acts of public service such as “saving the world” from being hit by an asteroid, replacing lead pipes that carry drinking water, and removing children from harmful work environments.

Several times, Westbrook and Crouse told viewers that these projects are funded by “your tax dollars.” 

“The ‘deep state’ is hard at work making America great,” they claimed, “Just because we know about it doesn’t make it suspicious.”

In a short written piece that accompanies the video, the authors ultimately conclude that these workers are not only necessary for American society, but that they have much in common with everyday Americans:

“As we met the Americans who are being dismissed as public enemies, we discovered that they are … us. They like Taylor Swift. They dance bachata. They go to bed at night watching ‘Star Trek’ reruns. They go to work and do their jobs: saving us from Armageddon.

Sure, our tax dollars pay them, but as you’ll see in the video above, what a return on our investment we get!”

How The Times’ Critics Reacted

The opinion video was mostly criticized by voices from the Center and Right, who said it was an example of bias from the Times.

Independent journalist Glenn Greenwald (Center bias) called the video a “perfect expression of predominant US liberal ideology” and a “perfect illustration of the subservient relationship between corporate media and the US Government.”

UnHerd (Center bias) noted that in 2017, the Times “insisted” that the American “deep state” did not exist.

Fox News (Right bias) television host Jesse Watters framed his coverage through the context of Operation Mockingbird, an alleged Cold War-era CIA operation that aimed to bait journalists into spreading false narratives. He also claimed several liberal media outlets had previously denied the existence of an American “deep state” and described the Times’ video as a “PR campaign” run by the “deep state” itself.

Several other commentators,, like X owner Elon Musk (who called The New York Times “the mouthpiece of the state”) also chimed in.

What is the ‘Deep State?’

There is undoubtedly an element of derisiveness to the Times’ video opinion piece. Its placement of the phrase “deep state” in quotes implies that the writers disagree with what it perceives as Donald Trump’s definition of the “deep state.”

This likely explains the criticism from conservatives, and lack thereof from liberals on the Times’ piece.

While Trump has spoken in the past about sweeping budget cuts, in recent times it appears conservative ire has been directed more toward the intelligence community, which has reportedly spied on his presidential campaign in the past.

By framing public servants who work on workplace safety and water quality as the “deep state” Trump is upset with, some would argue that Westbrook and Crouse errantly equated the more shadowy idea of the “deep state” conservatives consistently criticize to the “kind of awesome ‘deep state’” seen in the video. This can be seen as a form of slant — a type of media bias in which journalists play up one angle of the story while ignoring another perspective.

However, opinion pieces by nature are slanted — their aim is often to slant the reader’s view towards the writer’s opinion. But when media outlets only showcase one perspective on their opinion pages, they show a bias. In The New York Times’ case, the overwhelmingly left perspectives on the opinion page have earned it a Left media bias rating from AllSides. (We also weight the Editorial Board’s bias by 60% in opinion ratings.)

Westbrook and Crouse worked to humanize the government officials they interviewed, making no bones about their defense of the so-called “deep state,” while neglecting to dig into the more shadowy realm that some voices from the center and right remain skeptical of. 

The Times’ video sparked controversy by not acknowledging the difference between the two or covering a wider variety of perspectives on the issue. 

Getting opinion pieces across the political spectrum can help you to get the full picture and decide for yourself — the AllSides balanced newsfeed and Balanced Search tools can get you out of your bubble. 

Editor's Note: Shortly after its publication, this piece was updated by the AllSides Staff to include additional description of the video, and context on bias in opinion journalism and the Times.

Andy Gorel is a News Editor and Bias Analyst at AllSides. He has a Center bias.

This report was reviewed by Joseph Ratliff, AllSides Content Designer and News Editor (Lean Left bias), Henry Brechter, AllSides Editor-in-Chief (Center bias), Julie Mastrine, Director of Marketing and Media Bias Ratings (Lean Right), and Johnathon Held, Bias Analyst (Lean Right bias).