Clay Waters

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Clay Waters was director of Times Watch, a former project of the Media Research Center. His new mystery is titled Death In The Eye.

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New York Times reporter Jodi Kantor, author of a biography of the Obamas, on Tuesday filed a flattering profile of "hugging" Michelle Obama, "First Lady Strives for Caring Image Above Partisan Fray." Kantor excused the first lady's verbal "missteps" ("For the first time in my adult lifetime...I am really proud of my country") but avoided describing them.

The profile appeared the day after a surprisingly critical article from Kantor on the Labor Day front page on President Obama (beyond the complimentary headline): "The Competitor in Chief – In Politics, and About Everything Else, Obama Plays to Win."


Sunday brought an overload of New York Times columnists, including former reporters, calling the previous week's Republican National Convention a celebration of lies and extremism on abortion and gay marriage.

Times columnist and former White House correspondent Maureen Dowd was given more room than usual to rant about Paul Ryan and the Republicans in her Sunday column, "Cruel Conservatives Throw a Masquerade Ball." After calling the Republican Convention "a colossal hoax," she said of Paul Ryan's speech, "the altar boy altered reality, conjuring up a world so compassionate, so full of love-thy-neighbor kindness and small-town goodness, that you had to pinch yourself to remember it was a shimmering mirage, a beckoning pool of big, juicy lies...." Dowd concluded that "....Ryan’s lies and Romney’s shape-shifting are so easy to refute that they must have decided a Hail Mary pass of artifice was better than their authentic ruthless worldview."


Bogus media "fact-checking" continues, and the New York Times's Michael Cooper is leading the pack. His Saturday "Political Memo," "Fact-Checkers Howl, but Campaigns Seem Attached to Dishonest Ads," marks Cooper's second foray into the burgeoning genre in two days, focusing on the alleged false statements emanating from Mitt Romney's ads and the Republican National Convention podium. Cooper heralds the "Pulitzer Prize-winning" fact-check website Politifact as the gold standard of objectivity, though conservatives point to analysis like this:


White House reporter Jackie Calmes talked to Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod for a strong hit of Republican Convention bashing in her Friday New York Times story "Obama Team Sharpens Attacks on Rivals' Character." Calmes cited liberal media analysis to bolster her contention that even "independent fact-checkers" think the Republicans are lying.

As the Obama campaign heads into its convention next week, Democrats see openings both to fill in unpopular details of Mitt Romney’s agenda left unsaid by Republicans in Tampa this week and to raise new questions about Mr. Romney’s character after widespread criticism of misstatements by him and his running mate, Paul D. Ryan.


The latest entry in the media's obsession with picayune and partisan "fact-checking" of the Republican National Convention: New York Times reporter Michael Cooper's Friday "Check Point," "Facts Take a Beating In Acceptance Speeches." The original web headline was ridiculously partisan for a news story: "Ryan's Speech Contained a Litany of Falsehoods."

Representative Paul D. Ryan used his convention speech on Wednesday to fault President Obama for failing to act on a deficit-reduction plan that he himself had helped kill. He chided Democrats for seeking $716 billion in Medicare cuts that he too had sought. And he lamented the nation’s credit rating -- which was downgraded after a debt-ceiling standoff that he and other House Republicans helped instigate.


New York Times "TV Watch" columnist Alessandra Stanley focused Friday on MSNBC's embarrassingly partisan coverage of the Republican National Convention and tried to contrast it with the struggle of NBC's more objective reporters to remain above the fray: "MSNBC, Arch Counterprogramming to Fox." The online head was more interesting: "How MSNBC Became Fox’s Liberal Evil Twin." Stanley even accused MSNBC host Chris Matthews of "thuggish" behavior in an interview with a female Republican governor.

But do NBC reporters Andrea Mitchell and Chuck Todd (or anchor Brian Williams) really "keep their opinions to themselves" as Stanley claims? Hardly. In fact, they fit in quite well with the liberal partisans at MSNBC.


Leave it to former New York Times political correspondent (now Los Angeles bureau chief) Adam Nagourney to find bad news for Romney in his running mate's Paul Ryan's rapturously received convention speech. "With Speech, Ryan May Have Helped Himself More Than Romney," Nagourney nagged in a Thursday afternoon "Caucus" post.

By every measure – the cheers in the hall, the praise from commentators across the country, the elation among aides to Mitt Romney – Representative Paul D. Ryan’s speech accepting the vice-presidential nomination was a hit. He aggressively framed the campaign against President Obama, signaled that he, unlike some previous vice-presidential candidates, had no compunctions about leading the attack, and anchored Mr. Romney in a conservative school of thought that has come to define the Republican Party.


Running scared? New York Times editorial board member and former Times reporter David Firestone, who has never hidden his liberalism in either position, accused vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan of "dishonesty" and "cowardice" on the Opinion Editor's blog early Thursday afternoon, "Beyond Factual Dishonesty."


New York Times reporter Michael Cooper took elaborate pains to emphasize just how far to the right the GOP has come from those moderate days of -- Ronald Reagan's election? -- in Wednesday's, "Platform’s Sharp Turn to the Right Has Conservatives Cheering." The jump page included side-by-side text comparisons of "Republican Party Platforms, Then and Now." Yet Democratic Party platforms are hardly ever scrutinized by the Times for extremist stands on issues like abortion.


New York Times White House reporter Jackie Calmes trailed the Obama campaign to the University of Virginia, "In College Town, Obama Jokes at G.O.P.’s Expense," where the president tried to convince adoring college students to vote by portraying Mitt Romney as a threat to their college loans.

Typically, Calmes praised Obama's "thoughtful" answer to a question he received during a website Q&A session, and became the latest Times reporter to defend Obama from Romney's charge that he gutted work requirements for welfare recipients.(Short answer: Obama did. Here's a longer answer, courtesy of journalist Mickey Kaus.)


New York Times Editorial Page editor Andrew Rosenthal displayed his usual class, charm, and mastery of current events in his Twitter posts leading up to and through the start of the Republican National Convention in Tampa.

Before Tuesday night, Rosenthal didn't seem very clued in to the news, posting this on Monday: "If the GOPers love Chris Christie so much, why is he scheduled to speak tomorrow after 10 pm, when no one will be watching? Some keynote." He later stated: "Was wrong before about the timing of Christie speech. 10-11 is prime time for convention. Hope nothing really good on at that time." Oops.


New York Times reporter Michael Cooper's brief "Caucus" story for Wednesday's edition (not yet online), "'You Didn't Build That,' But He Wasn't Saying That," is yet another tiresome defense of the president from the paper's objective journalists, claiming Obama didn't really mean what came out of his mouth in a speech in Roanoke, Va.: "If you've got a business -- you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen."

(Cooper's cop-out follows similar strained efforts by Times reporters Trip Gabriel and Michael Shear to defend the president against an effective line of attack from the GOP.)


Tuesday's lead New York Times editorial, which cynically used what is now Hurricane Isaac to make pro-Democratic political hay, also displayed the paper's galling hypocrisy on emergency natural disaster spending: "The Storm, Again – As high winds approach the gulf coast, Republicans advocate a less prepared government." Perhaps they were reading old Times editorials on flood control, which questioned the wisdom of building levees in flood plains.

Tropical Storm Isaac is more than just a logistical inconvenience for Republicans gathered in Tampa: it is a powerful reminder both of Republican incompetence in handling Hurricane Katrina seven years ago, and the party’s no-less-disastrous plans to further cut emergency-related spending.


How painfully predictable: The New York Times filled the news gap caused by the cancellation of Monday's events with rumors of party discord. In fact, the Times first tried to gin up controversy at the 2012 Republican National Convention long ago. Here's a May 13, 2010 report from Damien Cave on how toxic beaches in Tampa might ruin the Republican convention, then over two years away:

The wrong mix of poverty juxtaposed with Republicans partying - perhaps against a backdrop of oil-stained beaches – could give Democrats just what they need to portray their opponents as woefully disconnected from the middle class."


When the New York Times sends reporters to compare and contrast the Romney and Obama campaign styles, little surprise who comes off looking best. The banner headline on the front of Monday's special Campaign 2012 section set the scene: "Two Campaigns With Styles as Similar as Red and Blue."

Ashley Parker and Michael Barbaro trailed the Republica candidate in Iowa and found that while "Earnest and Efficient, Romney Spares the Subtlety." (Because electoral campaigns are typically known for subtlety.)


Even the weather is tilting against the GOP, Jim Rutenberg (pictured) and Michael Shear reported from the Republican National Convention in Tampa for Monday's New York Times. They cynically employed the threat of Tropical Storm Isaac, shaping it into a desperate pro-Obama weapon to use against Republican principles of limited government: "Storm Rewrites G.O.P.'s Script For Convention."


Sunday's lead New York Times story by the political team of Jeff Zeleny (pictured) and Jim Rutenberg accused Romney of playing the race card with false ads on welfare reform: "Romney Adopts Harder Message For Last Stretch – Nod To White Workers – A Tropical Storm Threat Forces Party to Delay Convention by a Day."

The Times accused the Romney campaign of ads "falsely charging that Mr. Obama has eliminated work and job training requirements for welfare beneficiaries," claiming such "moves reflect a campaign infused with a sharper edge and overtones of class and race." Yet the claim made in Romney's ad holds up -- unlike the Times's claim that Romney's recent joke about Obama's birth certificate was playing the race card.


In anticipation of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, the New York Times Sunday Review section, edited by liberal veteran reporter Andrew Rosenthal, was crammed with articles, interviews, and features hostile toward Republicans.

Los Angeles bureau chief Adam Nagourney found the GOP in danger of losing the South and maybe even Texas one day in "The Sun Belt, Eclipsed."


Don't believe in global warming? Are you pro-life? Then you're an idiot, says Timothy Egan, a former liberal New York Times reporter turned left-wing Times columnist. In his Friday online column "The Crackpot Caucus" he said of the Republican Party: "...if intelligence were contagious, [the GOP] would be giving out vaccines for it."

Egan strings together quotes of some congressional Republicans making missteps on matters of science and religion, before lumping creationist Republicans with pro-lifers and climate skeptics into one big bag of GOP anti-science stupidity.


On Friday, New York Times political reporter Mark Landler pushed Bill Clinton as Barack Obama's hope to win the white working class, and dubiously defended the Obama administration's gutting of the welfare reform law pushed by Republicans and signed by Clinton in 1996: "It’s the President’s Message, With President Clinton."