Clay Waters was director of Times Watch, a former project of the Media Research Center.
Latest from Clay Waters
In the least surprising development of the 2016 presidential campaign, the New York Times on Sunday endorsed “Hillary Clinton for President.” The last Republican the Times endorsed was Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956. What wasn’t as expected was a follow-up anti-endorsement of Donald Trump, “the worst nominee put forward by a major party in modern American history.” The NYT bravely tried to make a positive case for Clinton: "Our endorsement is rooted in respect for her intellect, experience and courage," while dismissing her classified documents scandal as "a matter for the help desk."
New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet is going on a victory tour among his liberal media colleagues, celebrating his paper “Calling Out Donald Trump’s Lies,” the title to Friday’s “Inside the Times” podcast hosted by Susan Lehman. After cueing up Trump’s claim that the Clinton campaign had started the “birther” myth, Baquet responded: “It was demonstrably, unequivocally false, and he had to have known it, and that’s a lie." Neither editor Baquet or host Lehman questioned whether either Hillary Clinton could be accused of lies during her decades in public life and power, including Whitewater, the White House Travel Office, and more recent scandals, like her handling of classified documents and deception about her pneumonia diagnosis.
As the country heads into an election where control of both Congress and the White House hangs in the balance, reporter Emmarie Huetteman wrote a “three act” comedy in loosey-goosey style mocking conservatives, for Friday’s New York Times: “What the House Spends Time On, Before Its Recess.” Paul Ryan can't find his agenda, "Democrats are thrilled" at the prospect of being penalized for June's sit-in, and a defeated conservative representative is compared to a "recalcitrant student trashing the principal’s office after he learns he’s been expelled."
On Thursday's Morning Edition, National Public Radio host Steve Inskeep interviewed New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet regarding the paper’s provocative decision to overturn journalistic convention in the wake of Donald Trump’s success and to start reporting his alleged misstatements as “lies.” But when asked about HIllary, Baquet apparently forgot Clinton's 25 years of public prevarication: “I think all politicians obfuscate, exaggerate, etc. I think that that's what I would say about Hillary Clinton and most other politicians....I don't think Hillary Clinton, to be honest, has crossed the line the way Donald Trump did with the birther issue.”
New York Times culture reporter Dave Itzkoff wrote a supportive article about an anti-Trump rant of TBS "Full Frontal" host and leftist scold Samantha Bee for attacking a fellow late-night comedian for the crime of being playful with one of his guests, Donald Trump. As Itzkoff noted in his story, “From One Comedic Host to Another: Criticism Over Trump,” on the front of Wednesday’s Arts section, Bee was enraged at Tonight Show host Fallon for failing to treat Trump as the second coming of Hitler. Judging by the controversy, there are many on the left who evidently take the words and acts of talk show hosts very seriously indeed. (Fallon treated Michelle Obama in kidding fashion as well, without any liberal hand-wringing.)
The front of the New York Times Sunday Styles section featured a Get Out the Vote effort for the Clinton campaign, hidden under the guise of an innocuous story of two mutual admirers having dinner at a ritzy restaurant in D.C. The twosome were Elizabeth Warren, a liberal Democratic senator and heroine of the left wing of the Democratic party, and Tracee Ellen Ross, a liberal actress on a racially charged television comedy. They were shepherded by Times society writer Philip Galanes, under the headline “The Road to Activism – Senator Elizabeth Warren and Tracee Ellis Ross on the election, family and social change,” where he boasted Warren was "a fierce advocate for the middle class" and selfie-taker extraordinaire, with an "outrageously good" Twitter feed.
The New York Times humorless, bean-counting movie critics Manohla Dargis and A.O. Scott surveyed the fall film season under this pair of judgmental headlines: “Hollywood, Separate and Unequal – The history of American film is the history of American racism.” Dargis and Scott have a regular tag-team movie-ruining-gig: In March they focused their judgmental Oscar coverage on racism and reveled in “Watching a White Academy Squirm.” In the summer of 2015 they indulged in joyless feminist politics. Dargis, a movie critic supposedly concerned about aesthetics over all, is even prepared to deny artistic achievement in the name of racial and gender bean-counting. The text box is ominous: “Insisting on the sanctity of art can just be another way of shutting our eyes and denying ugly systemic realities.”
The New York Times on Sunday attacked Republican Donald Trump on several fronts, including instigating hate crimes against Muslims. Reporter Jonathan Martin filed “Anything Goes Campaign an Alarming Precedent.” The teary-eyed text box: “Long-held ideals seem of little concern to Donald Trump.” And Martin’s colleague Eric Lichtblau fingered Trump for a alleged rise in “hate crimes” against American Muslims.
It's Week 2 of the NFL season, and the controversy over San Francisco 49er's quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the National Anthem still simmers among those die-hard sports fans in the liberal news and opinion pages of the New York Times. Times critic-at-large Wesley Morris had a think-piece at the front of the Times Sunday Magazine, “Stand and Deliver,” while another Times writer fawned over the QB under this headline: "Colin Kaepernick Finds His Voice.”
New York Times political reporter Michael Barbaro, perennially hostile toward Republicans, led Saturday’s edition with 700 words of seething hostility against Donald Trump under the guise of a “news analysis”: “Trump Gives Up a Lie But Refuses to Repent – No Apology After 5 Years of Nurturing ‘Birther’ Issue to Undermine Obama.” Maggie Haberman and Alan Rappeport offered a related story that also categorically denied any Hillary-birther connection: “Trump Drops False ‘Birther’ Claim but Offers New One: Clinton Started It.”
New York Times Jennifer Steinhauer’s “Congressional Memo” was the lead National section story in Wednesday’s edition, dripping with her trademark sneering condescension toward conservatives in Congress for not caving in to the Democrats on their issues: “A G.O.P. Fear In the House: Cooperation After Nov. 8." She wrote: "A big conspiracy theory in Washington these days, perhaps second only to the one concerning Hillary Clinton’s supposed body double, is the fear among some House Republicans of what President Obama and their party leaders might cook up during a lame-duck session of Congress after Election Day."
No points for “compassion” for a Republican from the New York Times, even when the party’s presidential candidate makes a big move in a liberal direction, as Donald Trump did with his proposed child care mandate. Wednesday’s front-page story emphasized the cynical political aspect of the move, while indicating the subsidies were feeble. A related story from Italy treated as bizarre the idea that mothers could be expected to bear and raise their own children without subsidies from the state: "The problem is not a lack of desire to have children, critics of the campaign say, but rather the lack of meaningful support provided by the government and many employers in a country where the family remains the primary source of child care."
The New York Times has covered Hillary Clinton’s botched attempts to hide her illness in two successive lead stories. But as if to undercut that journalistic skepticism, Tuesday’s front page also included a short essay by reporter Susan Dominus (disguised as a “Reporter’s Notebook”) painted Hillary as a sexism victim: “A Resilient Figure Stumbles, And Her Fans Wince in Turn.”
Hillary Clinton may be slipping in the polls of late, but she has one huge asset in her corner, according to Monday’s New York Times: Michelle Obama. Reporter Julie Hirschfeld Davis profiled the First Lady in “Michelle Obama to Lend an Asset to Clinton: Voters’ Trust.” The text box: “Putting the first lady’s popularity to work for the campaign.” In 2014 Davis bragged about Obama’s intellectual dinner talks in Europe, summed up in a text box as "Freewheeling events, with conversations about architecture, art and literature,” and sent him into 2016 brimming over with “accomplishments.” This time it was the First Lady’s turn for the soft pillow treatment:
New York Times “public editor” or ombudsman Liz Spayd is probably not making many friends inside corporate headquarters (and Dan Rather doesn’t approve either) after her latest Sunday Review piece attacked a liberal assumption: “Here’s the Truth About ‘False Balance.’” The text box reads: “For some critics, stories are deemed fair only if they serve their cause.” Paul Krugman, call your office.
On the front of Saturday’s New York Times, reporters Jonathan Mahler and Maggie Haberman shed hypocritical tears over the risks to Rudy Giuliani’s “legacy” -- one the paper has spent over a decade doing its best to slur. The former New York City Mayor oversaw a record plunge in city homicides, led the city through 9-11, and currently advocates for Donald Trump. That last detail was the key to “Giuliani Role Risks Legacy To Aid Trump.” Post-9-11, the Times has rarely acknowledged the “legacy” of the former mayor to be anything but Hillary-hating and race-baiting
In Thursday’s New York Times, sports columnist Juliet Macur followed in the dubious cleats of ESPN’s Howard Bryant in being highly disturbed by displays of patriotism in professional sports -- a subject that’s gotten new life in the wake of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s petulant flag protest: “Protest Leaves N.F.L. Necessarily Uneasy.” The text box portrayed patriotism as negative: “A league imbued with patriotism must confront some issues."
The networks finally notices the presidential candidacy of Libertarian Gary Johnson, when it can show him stumbling. The New York Times jumped on to his "Aleppo" flub with two left feet -- only to fall flat on its face as well. Times reporter Alan Rappeport filed the giddily hostile “‘What Is Aleppo?’ Libertarian Presidential Candidate Asks in an Interview Stumble.” The text box was unyielding: “Gary Johnson revealed a lack of foreign policy knowledge that could hurt his campaign.” Rappeport even suggested the flub was disqualifying, and played the unlikely role of conservative prude by bringing up Johnson's "acknowledged use of marijuana."
Those oh-so-objective journalists at the New York Times went after a fellow journalist, NBC’s Today show host Matt Lauer, for being unfair to Hillary Clinton and not sufficiently attacking Donald Trump, both during and after the MSNBC/NBC Commander in Chief Forum Wednesday night. Reporter Maggie Haberman was particularly perturbed: “Clinton basically got a two-by-four equivalent in the questions, well beyond emails. Trump got tapped on the cheek.”
New York Times obituary writer Douglas Martin penned Tuesday’s front-page goodbye to conservative legend Phyllis Schlafly, who died Monday at the age of 92: “‘First Lady’ of a Movement That Steered U.S. to the Right.” The Times and other media outlets generally file glowing obituaries for liberal figures, but Schlafly, the winner of the 2015 William F. Buckley Jr. Award for Media Excellence from the Media Research Center, received a hostile farewell -- a literal “hatchet job,” with Martin likening Schlafly to “ax-wielding prohibitionist Carry Nation” in the third sentence