Clay Waters was director of Times Watch, a former project of the Media Research Center.
Latest from Clay Waters
The front page of Sunday’s New York Times brought the expected comprehensive dissection of President Trump’s second Supreme Court justice nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, in 4,500 words: “Trump’s Choice: Beltway Insider Born And Bred – Father Was A Lobbyist – Supreme Court Nominee Is Being Promoted as Business Friendly.” A photo caption online made the ideological toneclear: “The Supreme Court nomination of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, center with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Vice President Mike Pence, is the culmination of a 30-year conservative movement to shift the judiciary to the right.”
President Trump’s visit to the United Kingdom was accompanied by attacks on British Prime Minister Theresa May and London Mayor Sadiq Khan. Saturday’s “fact check” by New York Times London-based digital editor Palko Karasz took objection solely to the attacks on Khan: “Gauging London’s Record On Crime and Terrorism.” Karasz claimed to employ “expert analysis,” but actually made excuses and blamed the Conservative government, inequality, and “austerity” -- anything but the actual mayor of London.
Things got frenzied at a House hearing on the federal investigation into possible Russia influence in the Trump campaign, as Republicans lobbed accusations at anti-Trump FBI agent Peter Strzok, who responded by accusing them of playing into Vladimir Putin’s hands, while a Democrat said he deserved a Purple Heart. Strzok’s play of the Russia card worked for the Times, where an editor liked his quote enough to make it the story’s text box: “Another milestone in our enemies’ campaign to tear America apart.”
Reporter Penelope Green feted a "cute" new politically mixed couple in nauseating fashion and with a partisan edge in the New York Times. The mischaracterizations started in the subhead: "Margaret Hoover and John Avlon: Lessons of a Post-Partisan Union -- A great-granddaughter of a G.O.P. president and a centrist CNN anchor make peace. Green led off by ludicrously labeling Hoover a “conservative,” which is as inaccurate as the subhead labeling Avlon a CNN “centrist.”
The New York Times will never forgive conservative Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker for taming his state's public unions and then surviving the vengeance of a union-funded recall election. It found another line of attack in Thursday’s Arts section: Book critic Jennifer Szalai’s laudatory look at The Fall of Wisconsin: The Conservative Conquest of a Progressive Bastion and the Future of American Politics by liberal author Dan Kaufman. Szalai idn’t mention that Kaufman, who has also contributed to the far-left Nation magazine, has written several passionate encomiums to Wisconsin unions for the paper.
California has released its annual “hate crime” report, and the media is eagerly pouncing on an opportunity to blame a statistically measured increase of race-based crime on Donald Trump. The Los Angeles Times and Newsweek took advantage to blame President Donald Trump’s "violent rhetoric" for "helping fuel the surge." Yet the uptick started in 2015.
The front page of Monday’s Boston Globe once again featured a hostile anti-Trump story by Annie Linskey, who saw racism in every turn of phrase and policy decision: “Trump's joy ride on a third rail: President turning caustic racial comments into policy.” Linskey showed no journalistic skepticism before tying every policy or idea Trump supports into one seamless racist garment.
The Boston Globe, which can make the New York Times look reasonable and moderate, pushed back ferociously against President Trump’s mockery of local hero Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, a potential Democratic rival to Trump in 2020, accusing the president in an online headline of woman-hating and racism. The front page of Saturday’s paper featured reporter Annie Linskey’s attack: “With attack on Warren, Trump pushes more buttons: Talk of DNA test, swipe at #MeToo push more buttons.” The online headline was much sharper: “Critics say Trump’s insults of Warren were a double scoop of misogyny, racism.”
Now that Donald Trump seems ready to name another conservative to the Supreme Court, to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, the Times suddenly realizes the Court is “polarized” and politicized, and pleads for a court free from ideology. This after years of pushing to discover abortion, gay rights, and universal health care in the “terse, old” document. Chief Washington correspondent Carl Hulse lamented on Friday that “Political Polarization Takes Hold of the Supreme Court.” The text box: “A reputation for independence has faded, even before a new justice’s arrival.”
New York Times tech columnist Farhad Manjoo is eager to be the left-wing Internet politics czar. He urged cracking down on wrong-think on Twitter in November 2017, by “look[ing] to the community for determining the rights of people on the platform.” His latest social media policing comes in Thursday’s Business Day, where he spent 1,400 words trying to start an employee uprising at Twitter, and apparently begging the social media platform to “censure” the President.
Reporters Liam Stack and Elizabeth Dias offered a Thursday New York Times story headlined “Why the Supreme Court Opening Could Affect Gay Marriage as Well as Abortion.” Besides taking sides on the issue of gay marriage, resumed the paper’s bad habit of superfluous ideological labeling, with ten “conservative” references in the 1,200-word report compared to a single “liberal” label, in the first sentence. After that, the paper referred to the left-wing support for gay marriage with the friendly term “L.G.B.T. groups.”
n case you had any doubts, the New York Times really, really wants Democrats to take control of the House and Senate in November. On Wednesday, the paper’s target was Rep. Barbara Comstock of Virginia. Michael Tackett’s fair-enough story nevertheless put Comstock in the national spotlight as a vulnerable Republican. The online headline: “This Republican Always Shows Up. That May Not Be Enough This Fall.” Tuesday’s lead National section story from Colorado was headed: “A Diverse District Where Republicans Hold a Grip.” The online headline was even more whining and partisan: “If Demographics Are Destiny, Why Can’t Democrats Win This Denver District?”
Trouble in a European social paradise? A striking headline on the front page of Monday’s New York Times that made “mandatory” pre-school for immigrants in Copenhagen sound the same as child kidnapping: “For Help From Danish State, a Demand: Give Us Your Children.” The print-edition text box (note the word “values” in danger quotes) reads: “Immigrants Must Take New ‘Values’ Classes.”
New York Times media reporter Michael Grynbaum thinks he’s found a case of media collusion in the “friendship” between President Trump and Fox News: “Fox and Trump: It’s a Friendship Without Equal.” But he conveniently skipped over the decades of “friendship” between the broadcast networks and CNN with Democratic presidents -- not to mention that the other TV news outlets provide a safe space for the anti-Trump resistance and Democratic figures.
A few Supreme Court cases just failed to go the left’s way, and now they are trashing the First Amendment they once revered in such morally preening fashion. New York Times Supreme Court reporter Adam Liptak gave the reversal his seal of approval in a long lead story for Sunday’s front page: “How Free Speech Was Weaponized By Conservatives.” What began in a free-speech backlash by the paper against the Citizens United decision, which lifted the ban on independent political expenditures by corporations and unions, is even more robust now that some influential First Amendment rulings are going the "wrong" way.
How do you get a liberal paper to staunchly defend the Justice Department? Just put President Trump on the other side. New York Times reporter Nicholas Fandos was the latest media figure to stand up for deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein against Republican attacks in a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee. Fandos’s piece took every Rosenstein rebuttal as some kind of clear refutation of Republican charges of investigatory malfeasance.
New York Times reporter Sarah Lyall offered a disturbing look at the World Cup host city of Volgograd, Russia, where some actually have found World War II-related memories of one of the world’s cruelest dictators, Joseph Stalin. But the most important part of a story on Stalin is nearly absent: Why he is such a controversial figure in the first place. Whitewashing the crimes of Soviet Communism is a shameful habit at the Times, whose notorious "Red Century" series did the same to mark the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution.
Liberal Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s latest melodramatic dissent, on the travel ban, warmed the angry hearts of liberals frustrated by the latest 5-4 ruling against them, and provided another clipping for The New York Times' extensive Sotomayor fan-club file. Reporter Catie Edmondson staged the scene in dramatic fashion: "The remarkable dissent was delivered by a woman who has championed her own upbringing as an example of the American dream."
As two major Supreme Court decisions, on the travel ban and an abortion/free-speech question, were settled with 5-4 majorities, the New York Times devoted a front-page story to Trump’s selection of Supreme Court pick Neil Gorsuch, while anguishing over the Republican decision not to give then-President Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland a hearing in 2016, in “G.O.P. Tactics in 2016 Pay Off in Gorsuch, Who Proves Decisive Figure on Court.”
Politically frenzied New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg came out unapologetically for the harassment of Trump staffers (the latest examples being Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Florida’s pro-Trump Attorney General Pam Bondi) as summed up in the column’s text box: “Trump officials deserve public shaming.” She followed up by lamenting as "millions and millions of Americans watch helplessly as the president cages children, dehumanizes immigrants, spurns other democracies, guts health care protections, uses his office to enrich himself and turns public life into a deranged phantasmagoria with his incontinent flood of lies."