Clay Waters was director of Times Watch, a former project of the Media Research Center.
Latest from Clay Waters
The New York Times lead story Sunday told a slanted, sympathetic tale of Democrats being outgunned in social media campaign ads in the 2020 election runup by a ruthless and lying Trump campaign: "On any given day, the Trump campaign is plastering ads all over Facebook, YouTube and the millions of sites served by Google, hitting the kind of incendiary themes -- immigrant invaders, the corrupt media -- that play best on platforms where algorithms favor outrage and political campaigns are free to disregard facts."
The New York Times is again trying to police the boundaries of allowable debate, with a supposed controversy over a scheduled meeting at President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort by a group reviled by the left for its documentation of the threat of radical Islam: “Mar-a-Lago Again Under Fire for Hosting Group That Promoted Islamophobia.” Reporter Mihir Zaveri used two discredited pressure groups to make his case against the Center for Security Policy: the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Islamic pressure group which the U.S. Senate has tied to terrorism, and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), the fundraising mill targeting gullible liberals.
The New York Times, keeping support for free expression at arms length when it appears President Trump may employ it for his reelection campaign. The paper was alarmed by Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, who announced that Facebook would not serve a privatized Ministry of Truth for political ads in 2020, no matter how much the Times (representing the aggrieved Democratic Party) may whine. Cecilia Kang and Mike Isaac listened to Zuckerberg’s speech Thursday at Georgetown University and filed “Defiant Zuckerberg Says Facebook Won’t Police Political Speech -- In an address at Georgetown University, the Facebook chief executive called for more free speech -- not less -- as his company has been assailed for allowing lies and falsehoods to appear.”
New York Times reporter Jennifer Steinhauer’s profile of Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, and how his military career has bolstered his political one, made Thursday’s front page. “A View Outside the Wire Lifts Buttigieg Onstage.” Reading Steinhauer’s loving profile of the South Bend, Indiana mayor is instructive in how easily the liberal press sheds its cynicism toward military heroes in politics when they happen to be Democrats. It also shows how differently she treats Republican presidential candidates.
New York Times reporter Isabella Grullon Paz devoted nearly 1,500 words (plus three flattering photographs of her subjects) in her Wednesday edition profile of the Young Democratic Socialists of America chapter at Ohio State University: “Why Some Young Voters Bolt the Democratic Party For Democratic Socialism.” The long story was long on pushing the students' youthful enthusiasm, and entirely absent of questioning the wisdom of trying to outflank the Democratic Party, already careening toward the left on gun control, abortion, immigration, and transgenderism.
The latest New York Times Sunday Review was graced by Justin Gillis, who served as chief environmental reporter for the paper until late 2017 and is now a contributing opinion writer free to spout in even more partisan and hysterical tones about the “troglodytes” and dangerous deniers who don’t see impending climate catastrophe: “Our Climate Future Has Arrived.” The online headline deck was a call to vote Democrat: “Fire, Floods and Power Outages: Our Climate Future Has Arrived -- The most urgent imperative now is to turn our fear and frustration into votes.” The tone was confidently alarmist: "Now we suffer the consequences."
Newsweek reporter Rosie McCall offered a conspiracy theory as to how a 16-year-old environmental activist somehow failed to win the Nobel Peace Prize this year: “Greta Thunberg Snubbed for Nobel Peace Prize by Committee Run by Norway, One of the World's Biggest Oil and Natural Gas Exporters.” This new theory comes courtesy of a magazine fresh off breaking the news that opening tanning salons in urban neighborhoods were a plot to give gay men skin cancer, or something: "for many, Norway's decision to give the award to a climate activist would have been an important symbolic gesture."
New York Times political reporter Thomas Kaplan performed impressive damage control on behalf of rising Democratic candidate Elizabeth Warren on Wednesday. But he really raised his game in his Friday “news analysis” entitled, “As Warren Rises, Republicans Probe Her Biography for Points of Attack,” which was even more shameless in its feminist favoritism toward Warren. Kaplan hurled the “sexism” card at the GOP for daring to show Warren lied about the circumstances of her leaving a teaching position in 1971.The text box: “Looking to a tactic that is often used against women.”
In a sign of the challenges ahead for Trump from social media censors and their journalistic allies as the 2020 campaign heats up, the New York Times is pouting that Facebook won’t censor a Trump campaign ad attacking Joe Biden over his son’s sketchy dealings in Ukraine. Reporter Cecilia Kang fretted that “Facebook Won’t Pull Ads That Lie.” After avoiding it for decades, the Times has embraced the word “lie” during Donald Trump’s administration, and now uses it in a headline to pressure Facebook, in effect working the refs for Joe Biden and Democrats in general.
New York Times reporter Thomas Kaplan played damage control for Democratic candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren in “Warren Details Account Of Losing Teaching Job Because of a Pregnancy.” It turns out Warren has told two different stories over the years about leaving her teaching position. Previously she had claimed she left because of insufficient educational qualifications. But later she claimed she was fired for being pregnant. But the story’s headlines gave no hint of a possible contradiction in Warren’s account of her “firing” over the years. The Times instead feverishly tried to protect her reputation, even talking on Twitter of Warren “refuting a conservative news site's challenge of her account” when she did no such thing.
Extinction Rebellion, a burgeoning radical group of self-proclaimed environmentalists, that originated in England in the summer of 2018, now has a following among the hard left in America, as they do the usual left-wing protest things, like disrupting the commutes of ordinary people trying to get through the day. In two reportesr the New York Times blandly took notes on the truly bizarre, End Times-apocalyptic nature of this movement (which may not be as much about “saving the planet” after all), and tried to mainstream the disturbing group best they could.
New York Times reporter Jennifer Vineyard had a rundown of commentary on the controversial new movie “Joker,” a grittier-than-usual take on how the clown prince of crime came to be. Predictably, Vineyard hit all the liberal panic buttons in “‘Joker’:" Is it incel propaganda? Might it even be dangerous? The film arrived in theaters last week accompanied by F.B.I. warnings about the threat of related gun violence..."
The latest brand of anti-gay hate crime is sinister in its stealth, as reported by Kashmira Gander, features writer at Newsweek: “Tanning Salons Could Be Targeting Gay Men by Opening in LGBT Neighborhoods, Putting Them at Risk of Cancer.” “Targeting”? Homophobia has certainly had to adapt in this day and age; instead of committing hate crimes, gay-bashers are apparently investing in tanning salons. It’s not just an over-dramatic headline writer at fault. The bizarre “targeting” accusation recurred several times in the text itself.
The scuzzy new “supervillain” movie "Joker” has caused a strange moral panic among the left, who are equating the empathetic portrayal of the Joker to sympathy for the circumstance of “incels” – troubled men rejected by potential sexual partners. But New Yorker critic Richard Brody found a novel left-wing angle in his attack. He constructs an edifice of racism, plucking specific notorious attacks from the pages of New York City’s notorious crime history and overlays them on specific, superficially similar violent scenes from the movie -- then nervily called out the filmmakers for not hewing to the truth of the actual events (again, in a fictional movie about a comic-book character).
John Branch’s ostensible sports column on the front of Thursday’s New York Times Sports section welcomed the return of pro basketball, “Unlike Most Leagues, the N.B.A. Gets Real.” But Branch is being slippery. When he lauds “meaningful conversations” he appaerntly only means liberal political activism. For instance: "[Steve] Kerr...does not keep his gun-control beliefs to himself. [Gregg] Popovich fearlessly chimes in on politics. LeBron James and others expressed support for the Black Lives Matter protests against police violence."
The New York Times has used the term “unsubstantiated” with embarrassing regularity to talk about the charges of Biden family nepotism highlighted by President Trump. Virtually every Times story on the Biden allegations employs that adjective as a warning, signaling Republican partisanship. It’s quite the double standard. The sharp contrast was also demonstrated during the 2004 presidential campaign pitting incumbent George W. Bush against Democratic Sen. John Kerry, whose Vietnam war record came under assault by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. “Unsubstantiated” was also the paper’s favorite word to describe the allegations.
New York Times reporter Katie Rogers rebuked President Trump for his use of the word “treason” to attack his political enemies on Twitter in “As Impeachment Inquiry Advances, President’s Language Takes a Dark Turn.” Rogers was critical of Trump’s overheated Twitter account, where he has been attacking Democrats, including House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who’s leading the impeachment inquiry.
Peter Baker, New York Times White House correspondent, reviewed Tom Lobianco’s book “Piety and Power -- Mike Pence and the Taking of the White House,” but reserved his most hostile, pungent criticism for Pence’s boss: "How does a devoted evangelical Christian serve a foulmouthed, thrice-married vulgarian who boasts of grabbing women by their private parts and paid hush money to a porn star alleging an extramarital affair?"
New York Times Supreme Court beat reporter Adam Liptak used his “Sidebar” analysis to lapse into liberal judicial activist mode, praising Obama-appointed Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s unjudicial public opposition to the death penalty, “In Death Penalty Cases, Sotomayor Is Alone in ‘Bearing Witness.’” She was praised for maintaining "a sort of vigil in the capital cases other justices treat as routine." Liptak shows passionate devotion to the liberal side of the judicial decisions he covers, especially when that side loses.
New York Times reporters David Sanger and Neil Genzlinger marked the passing of Joseph Wilson, who became a media hero in 2003, when he published an op-ed in the New York Times challenging the Bush administration’s case for war in Iraq. He became a fierce anti-war activist against President Bush and the case for war against Saddam Hussein. The Times used Wilson’s death as a chance to push an incomplete, if not false, narrative regarding the evidence of Hussein’s weapons capability in the run-up to the Iraq War, just as it did at the time.