How It Ends for The New York Times
Good news. While there were no takers on the flash fiction contest that David Dubrow and I launched in response to The New York Times publishing fiction fantasizing about President Trump’s assassination, I wrote a flash fiction story of my own.
So enjoy, “The End of The New York Times.”
“Then make sure they find more ballots. Find them in a closet, or a car trunk, or something. I don’t care. Do what you have to do to make sure we win the election,” Brainard “Whip” Leach, executive editor of The New York Times, told the woman on the other end of the line. “There’s no way we’re going to let them take back Texas after all the work we’ve done.”
The woman acknowledged she would make sure the Democrat—the true Democrat—got the votes needed to win the governorship. Leach slammed down the phone.
He slid his laptop closer to him on his mahogany desk. “Evidence Emerges Fox News Working with Chinese to Steal Elections,” the onscreen headline of the Times article shouted. But he couldn’t concentrate on the story. All he could think about was Edmonds.
President Antonio Edmonds was supposed to have been the final piece of the puzzle for the triumph of progressivism over the racist, misogynistic, homophobic, and just plan fascist foundations of America. He had run as an open Marxist and journalists across the country had swooned over him. They had always swooned over him. First when he had emerged as a progressive businessman, then when he had become a progressive activist, and finally when he had run for the White House as a Democrat.
But Edmonds hadn’t turned out like they had expected.
As soon as he had been sworn in as president his progressivism disappeared. He began governing like a radical conservative; a white supremacist Nazi, really. Months ago a Times reporter had accused him of lying about who he was. He had responded by telling the country: “I didn’t lie. I’m a new kind of Marxist; one that diversifies what being a Marxist means.”
Leach muttered a curse and closed the laptop.
The midterm elections happened three days ago. Sure, Democrats had overwhelmingly won. There was no other possible outcome since the Republican Party hadn’t been a national party for nearly 20 years. But too many Edmonds-like Democrats had won. And now it was up to journalists to correct the voters’ mistakes.
Leach’s phone chimed. It was a text from Jennifer Ridley, the transgender, Turkish-American, Methodist editor-in-chief of National Review.
Midterms show how dangerous Edmonds’ influence is. Tell us what u need & will help.
He frowned. Before Election Day, the extremist conservative outlet had published an article on how “being a Bible-believing Christian shouldn’t be enough to convict a person of a hate crime.” Ridley had later apologized for it. But it had showed who they really were.
Still, he’d have to consider her offer to help. The country needed all it could get right now.
A knock sounded on the heavy wooden door to his office. “Come in,” he said.
Ria Flores, a 20-something intelligence reporter, entered. Her heels tapped the floor and her long, brown hair swayed freely behind her. She stopped three feet in front of his desk, clasping her hands in front of her.
“So what do you need?” Leach asked, sitting up straighter.
“I’ve been researching FDR for something I’m working on,” she told him. “Did you know he used the National Guard to seize an old department store called Montgomery Ward?”
“I’m kind of busy,” he told her. “Is this really important?”
“Yes. But it will only take a few minutes. Maybe less,” she said.
He sighed. Ria had proven her worth as soon as she had arrived out of college. The Times had quickly elevated her to being one of its top national security reporters. She was a natural at getting scoops. Right now she had the best source deep inside the White House. Leach didn’t want the interruption but she had earned his attention. And she knew it.
“All right. Yes, to answer your question, I knew that about Roosevelt,” he said.
“Bold use of power, wasn’t it?” she said.
“Drastic times call for drastic measures,” Leach said. “Too bad we don’t have a president today who’d round up all the white supremacists instead of supporting them.”
Ria smiled. Leach opened his mouth to say something else but his desk phone rang. He snatched the handset from its base.
“Yes?” he said. His eyes widened. “Wait. What? Here? O-Okay. Got it.”
“That was security,” he said to Ria, hanging up the phone and jumping out of his chair. “The feds are raiding us.”
She didn’t move. “What are you going to do?”
“I don’t know. I’d like to run,” he said with a nervous laugh.
“Do you think that would be wise?”
“It was a joke,” he said. “Still, when a monster controls the government, it’s a thought,” he added, grabbing his suit jacket and cell phone. He hurried from behind his desk, flying past her. “Got to see what’s going on.”
“Don’t worry,” she said, swiveling and keeping him in her sights. “They’ll be here soon enough.”
Leach stopped in his tracks. “What?”
“I learned a lot from Frank,” she said, referring to her White House contact.
“A-A lot about the Edmonds administration. Right?” Leach stared at his office door, his lips suddenly becoming dry.
“No. A lot about the Times,” Ria said.
Leach whirled around. “You can’t be serious. You don’t mean . . .”
“Yes,” she said. “Frank showed me everything about this paper; about journalists in general. And for the past year-and-a-half, I’ve collected all the evidence the feds need to end it all for good.”
He rushed towards her, grabbing her by the shoulders and shaking her. “How could you? How could you?” he asked.
Ria laughed. “After the decades of journalists undermining America? Decades of you demonizing white people as ‘racists?’ Decades of this paper being nothing but a hostile intelligence organization working to overthrow the U.S.? How could I not?”
Leach stuttered. “What do you care about white people? You’re Hispanic.”
She threw his hands off her. “They’re my fellow Americans, you creep.”
He stumbled back from her. “I-I can’t believe . . .”
Noise grew outside his office. He took off for the door but it burst open before he reached it. Kitted up government agents rolled into the room. Leach threw his hands into the air. One of them grabbed him, spinning him around to secure him. He stared at Ria.
She gave him a crooked smile. “Time’s up,” she told him. “For all journalists.”