Clay Waters was director of Times Watch, a former project of the Media Research Center.
Latest from Clay Waters
The New York Times shut down their Public Editor position last May, a position established in 2003 in the wake of the mortifying scandal involving reporter Jayson Blair. Andy Robinson talked to all six former Public Editors of the New York Times for the Columbia Journalism Review. Among the questions about anonymous sourcing and testy newsroom relations, Robinson re-surfaced one that conservatives have a ready answer for: “Is the Times a liberal newspaper?”
For at least one New York Times political reporter, the Trump presidency is literally a joke. Matt Flegenheimer’s Washington Memo was headlined “Like a ‘Soap Opera,’ Only Not as Fun.” The text box longed for better, non-Trump days: “If only it were all just the figment of the imagination.” He wrote: It’s Iran-contra with a spray tan, Lewinsky with a grande covfefe. Exploring the studio space, Flegenheimer sounded like an improv comedian: "It's 'The Godfather,' but this time there’s a silent son-in-law in charge of Middle East peace for some reason."
How "far right" can Texas go? The scare-mongering theme about “vanishing Republican moderates” is a popular myth at the Times and other liberal media outlets, especially in red states like Texas. The New York Times really went overboard with it Wednesday in “Bathroom Bill Tests the Clout of a Rare Moderate in Texas” by Manny Fernandez and David Montgomery. Fernandez, Houston bureau chief for the Times, is clearly not comfortable in what he has called “ultraconservative Texas.”
New York Times film critics A.O. Scott and Jason Zinoman remember horror zombie master George Romero on the front of Tuesday Arts page, “Old Master of Horror -- In George Romero’s signature zombie films, the living make for their own fright show.”
Hootie Johnson, former chairman of the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga., home of The Master’s Golf Tournament, died on Friday at age 86. The New York Times recognized him in an obituary by Richard Goldstein and could not resist getting in last swings at its unlikely foe. In 2002-03, Johnson was in the paper’s cross-hairs for refusing to admit women members to Augusta National. In a notorious editorial in November 2002, “America’s All-Male Golfing Society,” obsessive anti-Augusta crusader and Times executive editor Howell Raines even suggested Tiger Woods, then king of the golf world, boycott the tournament in solidarity. Raines targeted CBS as well, which had the broadcast rights to the tournament, and did multiple stories, many on the front page, keeping the pressure on CBS and Augusta National.
The recent New York Times Sunday Review outdid itself in anti-conservative wackiness. Lisa Feldman Barrett, a professor of psychology at Northeastern University, offered some kooky junk science in the name of banning “offensive” right-wingers like Milo Yiannopoulos from campus in “When Is Speech Violence?” In the same section, liberal journalist Joshua Green took on the “hallucinatory” right-wing media for the sin of not obsessing over Russia, in “The World Through Breitbart-Vision.”
The New York Times Sunday Review really outdid itself, with contributing opinion writer Michelle Goldberg smearing the pro-life movement while fiercely defending Planned Parenthood from phantom foes: The headline and text box were grimly amusing in a hypocritical way: “A Playboy President and Women’s Health -- Trump has already made a grab for abortion rights. What next?”
Los Angeles Times health reporter Noam Levey, in a report that appeared in various Tronc (formerly Tribune Publishing) newspapers, filed “Equal Access to Coverage at Risk," an aggressive attack on Trump and Congressional Republicans as dishonest Medicaid slashers who pine for a return to a "medical gulag," while portraying Obamacare as a savior.
Entertainment Weekly magazine, once known for its pop culture reviews, now more for its feminist grandstanding, stuffed its summer double issue of July 21/28 with bits and bobs of chic liberal activism, particularly of the feminist variety. The News & Notes section was particularly political: “Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman is the hero we deserve and the hero we need -- a fearless female walking tall through a literal No Man’s Land, a symbol of resilience in an era of so many sexist talking heads and internet trolls.”
New York Times economics reporter Alan Rappeport furthered the myth that Trump’s health bill would be “cutting deeply into Medicaid” spending in Thursday’s Times, “Risky Mix: Cutting Taxes For Rich and Aid for Poor.” He was harsher on Twitter: “Cutting taxes for the rich and aid for the poor is proving to be a politically toxic combo.”
Downplaying its hallowed veneration of “science” for the sake of climate alarmism, the New York Times used the story of a huge iceberg which broke off this week from the Larsen C ice shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula as an excuse to warm up the “climate change” machine. Climate reporter Justin Gillis, who has a long record of alarmist, activist reporting on this issue, and Jugal Patel made the most of the opportunity under the tilted headline “Antarctica Sheds Huge Iceberg That Hints at Future Calamity.” That despite the scientific consensus that this particular collapse was not connected to global warming
Not even the sports page offered respite from the political tussle, as two women golf writers for major newspapers got disturbed over the specter of Donald Trump hanging over the U.S. Women’s Open golf tournament -- it’s being played at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J. First, Karen Crouse on the front of Wednesday's New York Times Sports section followed Cristie Kerr, pro golfer and victim of “microaggressions,” in “Women on Trump’s Turf Tune Out Awkwardness.” USA Today's Christine Brennan trumped that with her own vituperative piece.
New York Times reporter Matt Flegenheimer celebrated the Democratic Party’s latest 2020 hope with some newly minted feminist mythology included: “As Democrats Drift, The Expectations Rise for a Rookie Senator.” The online headline: “Senator, (Un)Interrupted: Kamala Harris’s Rise Among Democrats.” The Times is prolonging the opportunist feminist myth that Harris was a victim of sexist interruptions by Republicans (never mind that Trump’s Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is interrupted by Democratic congressmen at hearings without any handwringing from the feminist left)
The New York Times Used Trump’s overseas trip to pick on “right-wing” Poland and falsely suggest he’s the first president to criticize his country while overseas. The headline and first paragraph of the lead story in Friday’s Times by Glenn Thrush and Julie Hirschfeld Davis: “In Speech, Trump Asks If West has ‘Will To Survive’ – Hits Nationalist Tone – Friendly Polish Crowd Is Warm-Up for a G-20 Summit Meeting.
New York magazine's June 26/July 9 cover story dreaming of a Trump impeachment, “How A Presidency Ends,” is by veteran liberal essayist Frank Rich, who worked at the New York Times for decades. The cover shows a “photo illustration” of Donald Trump in Richard Nixon’s outstretched-arms “V for Victory” pose. The inside headline counseled patience on the part of the magazine’s liberal readership: “Just Wait -- Watergate didn’t become Watergate overnight, either.”
In Wednesday’s New York Times, Dan Bilefsky and Sewell Chan reported from London on the tragic medical and legal controversy around the infant Charlie Gard: “Baby’s Illness Grows Tragic on Global Stage.” The text box declared the science settled, and the opinion of world leaders that the baby’s life should be fought for a mere nuisance that promises to make things worse: “Support from the pope and President Trump may give parents irrational hope."
Monday’s New York Times featured reporter Jeremy Peters sounding awfully pleased about the apparent failure and unpopularity of Republican tax cuts in “Cut Taxes? In States, G.O.P. Goes Other Way.” Peters’ long hostility to the Republican Party is well documented, and he seemed to relish knocking down a GOP idol, a "dogmatic belief" based in "blind faith."
Journalist Sam Tanenhaus, who fancies himself an expert on the conservative movement (without actual evidence of such expertise), has a review of a shoddy attack book on the conservative movement by Duke University scholar Nancy MacLean, Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America. Many fatal flaws in the book have been spotted by conservative journalists, but it’s getting predictable raves in the liberal press and among shallow, wishful thinkers like Tanenhaus, who has supposedly spent at least the last 17 years writing a biography of William F. Buckley but spends most of his time making false links of conservatives past and present to racism.
The New York Times has been quite dismissive of the right to free speech when the right wing is involved, calling it a “canard” abused by racists. Yet the Times can be quite protective when it comes to (imaginary) threats to its own free speech, as shown by two stories on Monday. Both stories reacted to a provocative tweet by Donald Trump -- a video repurposing an old clip of Trump doing a bit at WrestleMania, showing him clothes-lining another man, but with a CNN icon projected over the face of the “victim” of the “assault,” Vince McMahon (quotation marks provided, since the media doesn’t seem to realize that wrestling is fake). First off, Trump and his mean tweet have already ruined sensitive media columnist Jim Rutenberg’s Fourth of July holiday, according to his Monday piece for the front of Business Day, “Celebrating Independence As Free Press Is Besieged.”
That journalistic organ the New York Times often shows deep ambivalence on free speech and free expression when done by opponents of speech-squelching leftists. According to two articles, to say the conservative movement is alternative or in any way defenders of free speech -- or to have a point about liberal hypocrisy -- is nothing but “rhetorical appropriation” of the honorable positions of the left.