Clay Waters was director of Times Watch, a former project of the Media Research Center.
Latest from Clay Waters
How does the New York Times (and especially reporter Peter Baker) treat accusations that the F.B.I. overstepped their authority in a politicized effort to take down a president? That depends on who is president. On the front page of Monday’s New York Times, Peter Baker’s “news analysis,” “Trump Faces ‘Nonstop’ War For Survival,” used an overhyped Times blockbuster about an FBI counter-intelligence investigation to spread the idea of Donald Trump as a “Russian agent.” Yet Baker took the completely opposite tack on the F.B.I. when the bureau was accused of abuse of authority against Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky investigation.
Reporter Maggie Astor wrote the liberal-boasting New York Times lead National section story: “Democrats In the House Give Science New Respect.” But are Democrats really the party of science they and Astor assume?They fear safe, clean nuclear power, and spread paranoia about genetically modified “Frankenfood,” or promote scaremongering over vaccinations. Astor found science-challenged GOP congressmen, but ignored Democratic ones.
On the front of the New York Times Sunday Review, Frank Bruni warned his media colleagues not to fall for the old fairness ploy when it came to helping the Democrats defeat Donald Trump in 2020: “Will the Media Be Trump’s Accomplice Again” -- We have a second chance in 2020. Let’s not blow it.” Bruni more or less argued (as his colleague Jim Rutenberg had done in August 2016 on the front page) that it was the mainstream media’s solemn duty to defeat Trump:
Friday’s New York Times covered the start of the second term of Venezuelan autocrat Nicholas Maduro, but managed to avoid unflattering descriptions like that, in “With Venezuela in Free Fall, Its President Starts New Term." Yet other stories on Friday tossed around the word “autocrat” to complain about President Trump’s embrace of Egypt’s leadership. Also as usual, the Times’ use of the S-word (socialism) was limited and perhaps even positive, even though socialist economics have ravaged oil-rich Venezuela and rendered it a starving basket case.
The New York Times reported on a controversial set of guidelines released by the American Psychological Association to “help” psychologists treating boys and men -- by discouraging “traditional masculinity.” It’s there in the headline to Jacey Fortin’s story: “Traditional Masculinity Can Hurt Boys, Say New A.P.A. Guidelines.” Fortin wrote: "They acknowledge that ideas about masculinity vary across cultures, age groups and ethnicities. But they point to common themes like “anti-femininity, achievement, eschewal of the appearance of weakness, and adventure, risk, and violence.”
New York magazine’s Eric Levitz spent nearly 3,000 words making excuses for the many factual errors committed so far by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the gaffe-prone young socialist representing part of Brooklyn, in “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Critique of Fact-Checking Is Valid.” Levitz excused the verbal missteps in the name of a higher progressive morality while cheerfully dismissing the vaunted media “fact checking” that was until last week so vital in keeping the Donald Trump administration in line. Now, after some modest media pushback on some of Ocasio-Cortez’s wackier claims, especially in the Washington Post, fact checking is suddenly unfair to the left.
The New York Times did some historical suppression in a story by Niraj Chokshi about a group rescinding a “civil rights” award for radical leftist and former Communist Party vice-presidential candidate Angela Davis, amid protests over her support for boycotting Israel. Davis is a former fugitive for murder who backed the imprisonment of Soviet political dissidents and defending the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. The Times skipped all that in favor of noting Davis as a “progressive.... civil rights activist and scholar” known for her work against mass incarceration (except for “Zionist fascist” Jews, apparently).
The front of Wednesday’s New York Times declared all was well on the Southern border, no matter what President Trump or his alarmed supporters may say: “No Crisis Here, Say Neighbors Close to Mexico -- Citing Other Problems ‘That Need Fixing.’” The reporting team found nothing but “tranquility” all along the border. The jump-page headline: “No Immigration Crisis Here, Tranquil Town Along Southern Border Says.” Even as the television networks reluctantly aired a few concerns about border security, the tone of the Times story was utterly dismissive of border security concerns.
Teresa Hanafin didn’t hold back against Trump in her Fast Forward email news digest for the Boston Globe, warning that Trump would be spewing “his agitprop live tonight” during the first Oval Office address of his presidency: "The major TV networks all caved to Trump's request that they broadcast his agitprop live tonight when he addresses the country from the Oval Office at 9 p.m. about the southern border. But news anchors and execs are wringing their hands over the prospect of being hapless conduits for Trump's umpteen untruths....he's desperate to stop those big meanies Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter from yelling at him."
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez did a dance while in college several years ago, an edited version of it hit social media. Newsweek’s Jason Le Miere squeezed two misleading articles out of the spat, furthering the media myth that Republicans are somehow offended or outraged by her dancing, while never actually naming a single outraged conservative. The first was "Conservatives Mock Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for College Dancing Video, Everyone Else Thinks It’s Adorable.”
David Leonhardt made the front of the New York Times Sunday Review wanting Congress to hurry up with the vital task of impeaching President Trump in “The People vs. Donald J. Trump.” The subhead: “He is demonstrably unfit for office. What are we waiting for?” Leonhardt, who was the paper's Washington bureau chief from 2011-2013, garnered front-page, over-the-fold placement in the prominent Sunday Review section for his long indictment.
New York Times deputy Washington editor Jonathan Weisman made the Sunday Review with the dramatically titled “American Jews and Israeli Jews Break Up.” Weisman is author of the book (((Semitism))) Being Jewish in America in the Age of Trump, which blames Trump and the alt-right for a rise in U.S. anti-Semitism. But he is unwilling to acknowledge anti-Semitism on the left, as Ben Shapiro found in his evisceration of Weisman’s book. That held true in his latest for the Sunday Review, where he made Trump the villain.
A post from an obscure Twitter account tried to mock new left-wing political and media darling Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, with an edited clip of an old video showing her dancing. The mainstream media and liberals lined up to cheer it and condemn conservatives for being offended by it. The only problem: Conservatives were not actually offended. New York Times reporter Tiffany May piled on in “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Dancing Video Was Meant as a Smear, but It Backfired." On whom?
The New York Times Thursday ran a long investigative piece by climate reporter Hiroko Tabuchi, “E.P.A. Retreat Leaves Wound In Small Town.” The online headline made it political: “A Trump County Confronts the Administration Amid a Rash of Child Cancers.” It’s the old “cancer cluster” concept that alarmist reporters use to push business regulations or in this case protect regulations from repeal, with the Times trying to imply a link that isn’t proven or even substantiated, even by the scientists quoted,, while keeping the Trump administration (which had nothing to with the underlying pollution) front and center and suggesting hypocrisy by Trump supporters.
California Democratic Rep. Nancy Pelosi is Speaker of the House again, and the New York Times Sheryl Gay Stolberg, fresh off whitewashing the reputation of new Rep. Ilhan Omar, is thrilled: “Same Gavel, but Whole New Challenge for Pelosi.” The online headline had more room to gush: “Nancy Pelosi, Icon of Female Power, Will Reclaim Role as Speaker and Seal a Place in History.” The text box on the story’s inside continuation page: “Poised to be the public face of the opposition in the ear of #MeToo.”
New York Times congressional reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg went all out in “glorifying” the election of Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota a left-wing woman with a history of anti-Israel rhetoric newly elected to Congress: “Glorified and Vilified, Former Somalia Refugee Makes Her Way to Capitol.” The text box to the Monday edition story: “Sure-footed and tough, with a flair for inspirational rhetoric.” Stolberg didn’t completely avoid Omar’s controversies, but carefully spun them in Omar’s direction, and minimized or skipped the creepier aspects, totally avoiding Omar’s paranoid anti-Israel tweet from 2012, that Israel had “hypnotized the world” to ignore its “evil doings.”
While the front page of Monday’s Arts section of the New York Times showed a crop of the paper’s political reporters mocking Trump supporters as uncultured yahoos and praised a hostile SNL skit about Brett Kavanaugh, the inside pages featured a “news” story by Christina Caron with the exact opposite angle: Praising a former Democratic president’s cultured tastes: “Out of Office but Still in Step.” The paper really gave the list the full treatment, even providing linked to previous New York Times reviews when applicable.
New York Times politics editor Patrick Healy led an informal, unprofessional roundtable of the paper's political reporters Matt Flegenheimer, Astead Herndon, and Katie Rogers, who happily passed around liberal stereotypes of conservatives in their year-end wrap-up discussion. Healy joined the list of media elite who just loved Saturday Night Live's anti-Kavanaugh skit: "[Actor Matt] Damon reminded us how Kavanaugh’s aggressive, grievance-driven performance turned the tide for the Republicans against a credible woman, not unlike what Trump’s aggressive, grievance-driven performance did in 2016." Katie Rogers lamented of Trump's rally music: "Elton John is forever ruined for me."
Under the guise of photojournalism, the New York Times Sunday Review put in some more oozingly positive, photogenic coverage of sympathetic individuals riding with the famous migrant caravan. The paper devoted a full page to a short essay by proud illegal immigrant (but don’t you dare call him that!), former Washington Post journalist, and amnesty activist, Jose Antonio Vargas, “Portraits From a Caravan – Migrants escaping peril wait in Tijuana for their American dream.” Interesting that the Times would admit (indirectly) that even in a country led by supposed anti-immigrant racist President Donald Trump, there’s still an “American dream” to be had.
The New York Times reacted with typical petulance to Donald and Melania Trump’s first visit to the troops in Iraq, bashing not only Trump himself (typical) but the U.S. troops in Iraq for bringing Trump their personal MAGA hats to sign, while pondering if the troops would be disciplined. The headline to Annie Karni’s Friday edition report led with the negative: “President Crossed Political Line in Visit to Soldiers Abroad, Critics Say.” The online headline was blunt: “Trump Iraq Visit Is Called a Political Rally.”