Clay Waters was director of Times Watch, a former project of the Media Research Center.
Latest from Clay Waters
New York Times music critic Jon Caramanica pompously condemned an entire genre of music for not writing about what he cares about: Gun violence. It follows the paper’s recent expressed annoyance that country isn’t on the entertainment industry’s ineffectual gun-control bandwagon: "It should be neither remarkable nor courageous for a country singer to address the plague of gun violence in this country. That mass shootings tore apart a country music festival a year ago and a country-music bar just two days ago makes the genre’s silence on the matter irresponsible and infuriating."
New York Times Nicholas Kristof has taken on an old nemesis, the National Rifle Association, in two multi-media pieces over the last two weeks – two weeks that have witnesses shooting tragedies. The Sunday Review brought the photo-heavy “Witness the N.R.A’s Evolution -- It’s magazine covers show how it shifted focus, to fanaticism.” A week earlier he said the group had been "hijacked by extremist leaders."
Paul Krugman’s Friday New York Times column, “Real America Versus Senate America,” is another dose of Blue State urban smugness from Krugman. He becomes the latest liberal who, while accusing Trump of violating all political norms, turns around and advocates tossing aside traditional political structures like the Electoral College, the Supreme Court, and now the Senate when they interfere with Democrats obtaining power. Krugman also asks, :how do we explain those Senate losses?" without mentioning Brett Kavanaugh.
Perhaps annoyed that “jingoistic” country music is not yet as infested with left-wing promotional politics as other musical and entertainment fields, a major newspaper again used the annual Country Music Association Awards to push gun-control politics onto the industry, Reporter Elizabeth Harris garnered the front page of the New York Times Arts section for her Saturday piece “Singing About Pain, But Not Its Source -- A country awards show may discuss its slain fans, but guns and politics are unlikely topics.”
The Republican Party did better in the midterm elections than many in the media and the anti-Trump “Resistance” expected. The New York Times let its pro-Democratic hopes overwhelm its objective journalism in several instances before and after the voting. The lead National section story on Election Day morning was “Democrats See Close Sun Belt Races as Key to Senate.” Meanwhile, the Times has ignored one historic "first" from Tuesday: Republican candidate Young Kim is on track to become the first Korean-American woman to serve in Congress.
Texas-based New York Times reporter Manny Fernandez sounded perturbed that the “Kennedyesque” Texas hope, Democrat Beto O’Rourke, lost to that unlikable conservative incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz on Wednesday: “Cruz Stays in Senate As Democratic Gains Fall Short in Texas.” On Thursday, Fernandez hewed to Democratic talking points by proclaiming Beto O’Rourke the moral victor in “Texas Looks Less Daunting to Democrats After Narrow Loss to Cruz.” The article was graced with a sentiment-inspiring photo of O’Rourke and his wife hugging. It’s clear the Times doesn’t want to give up on the charismatic liberal Texan just yet.
New York Times Sheryl Gay Stolberg argued in a “news analysis” that “G.O.P. Folds Up the Big Tent and Unfurls Its Banner as the Party of Trump.” The online headline: “Two Years and Hundreds of Inflammatory Ads Later, the G.O.P. Is the Party of Trump.” Stolberg predictably found racist appeals from Republican presidential candidates going back to Ronald Reagan.
Vanity Fair’s Joe Pompeo wrote on a web-based internet phenomenon that political “junkies” (to coin a phrase) are obsessed with: “Certain Readers May Have a Nervous Reaction’: The New York Times Election Needle Is Back, with a Few New Safety Feature -- After the trauma of November 8, 2016, the Times is taking steps not to trigger its readers -- even as it rolls out not one, but two midterm-election needles.” The needle injected Democratic political addicts with a false sense of well-being. And managing editor Joe Khan revealed a bit too much about the special snowflakes that populate his paper’s newsroom.
The New York Times devoted two full pages of its Sunday pre-election edition to “The Faces of Change in the Midterm Elections.” It's an enormous statistical breakdown of “These 410 -- women, people of color and L.G.B.T. candidates – are running for House, Senate and governor seats.” But the paper’s commitment to political diversity only goes so far. The paper apparently hasn’t devoted a full story to Republican congressional candidate Young Kim, who could be the first Korean-American woman elected to Congress. But rest assured they’ve got the Democratic “faces of change” well covered. Maggie Astor profiled Native American Paulette Jordan a long-shot candidate for Idaho governor in “Winning Idaho? Isn’t Unlikely. But She Is Turning Heads.”
Monday’s pre-Election Day New York Times was absolutely stuffed with bias. First, the front page featured Kevin Roose and Ali Winston’s web warning, “Web’s Far Right Can Hear Itself As Trump Talks -- Cheering the Spread of Once-Fringe Views,” which conflated Trump supporters with neo-Nazis. Reporter Michael Shear went to West Virginia to mock Trump supporters as trapped in a “presidential bubble,” from his own liberal bubble of snotty smugness. And Jim Rutenberg took a trip down “Racist Republican” memory lane with the Willie Horton ad.
With her position in the Democratic Party up for grabs as the elections loom, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was the recipient of a loving profile by New York Times reporter Kate Zernike, “Demonized or Celebrated, Pelosi Stands Firm and Refuses to Agonize.” The text box: “A lawmaker eagerly awaits more female legislators to mentor.” Zernike's text is fawning and defensive of her supposed news subject: "The [anti-Pelosi] caricatures come easily."
The New York Times hit the campaign trail around the country over the weekend and offered several dispatches, including the strikingly titled “A purple flying unicorn discovered in Texas” from reporters Manny Fernandez and Mitchell Ferman. The paper’s hostility to incumbent Republican Sen. Ted Cruz is well-documented, so Fernandez’s loaded name-calling wasn’t surprising, but it was odd that he conveniently found on the spot an undocumented “unusual phenomenon” of Republican Cruz-haters that are putting his re-election in jeopardy.
Sunday’s front-page New York Times featured reporter Jeremy Peters’ horrified reaction to President Trump’s aggressive push (or “demonization”) on behalf of Republicans as Election Day closes in: “G.O.P. Tactics Amplify Theme Of Us vs. Them – Sticking to President’s Script in Tight Races.” The Times tried as best they could to paint Trump as a racist and bigoted without actually using the words: "....Mr. Soros, the liberal philanthropist who has been smeared with anti-Semitic attacks; Mr. Kaepernick, the black football player famous for kneeling during the national anthem; and now the migrant caravan."
With elections fast approaching, Friday’s New York Times was packed with accusations of President Trump as a racist and hostile to immigrants, most intensely in the lead story by Michael Shear and Julie Hirschfeld Davis. The headline deck: “Trump Invoking ‘Crisis’ at Border As Voting Nears – Message For Midterms – A Presidential Theme Is Built Around a Fear of Immigrants.” Illegal immigrants, actually, but don’t count on the Times to ever clarify.
Political reporter Astead Herndon appeared on Thursday’s New York Times front page with “Obama Uplifted Them. Now They Want to Fight – Ex-President’s Idealism Tests Supporters in a Time of Hard Hits.” The text box: “Some Democrats say their party needs to fight fire with fire.” As if the Democrats under Obama ever occupied some kind of moral high ground in their political tactics (harassing politicians trying to eat in public, screaming at Republicans while protesting in the halls of Congress). Yet judging by the paper’s coverage of #MeToo, the Times clearly thinks they are).
New York Times media reporter Jim Rutenberg tried to tar mainstream conservative figures as hateful inciters of violence in “There’s Money In Conspiracy, And Outlets Are After It." The online headline: “You Don’t Need to Go to the Dark Web to Find Hateful Conspiracy Theories.” The online version featured a prominent picture of Judge Jeanine Pirro underneath the "hateful" headline. Rutenberg also tried to make a link between Fox news and the Pittsburgh massacre.
Just in time for Halloween, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman tried to scare people into voting Democrat in his column Wednesday. It contained a deathless paragraph that began: "In the midterm elections, vote for a Democrat, canvass for a Democrat, raise money for a Democrat, drive someone to a voting station to vote for a Democrat. I repeat: In the midterm elections...."
On the front page of Tuesday’s New York Times, reporter Jeremy Peters committed a “news analysis” that basically blamed Trump for stoking the recent pipe bomb attack against Democrats and anti-Semitic massacre in Pittsburgh: “Caravan Rhetoric Intersects With Deadly Hatred -- President Stokes Same Fears That Appear to Drive Attacks.” The online headline made the connection even more explicit: “How Trump-Fed Conspiracies About Migrant Caravan Intersect With Deadly Hatred.”
Respected liberal economist turned partisan Democratic columnist Paul Krugman is at his absolute worst during times of national tragedy, from 9-11 to the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, events he invariably tries to exploit for partisan gain. The pattern held after the anti-Semitic massacre at a synagogue in Pittsburgh. He was in typical form in Tuesday’s New York Times, “Hate Is on the Ballot Next Week. Don’t Pretend Otherwise." The text box had a dire warning for those daring to suggest Democrats have contributed to the aura of political violence: “Whataboutism is the last refuge of scoundrels. For cowards, it’s bothsidesism.”
A light satirical article that serves to flatter its Holocaust-denying subject was posted at The New Yorker and in the October 29 print edition, under the headline “Mahmoud from Tehran,” by Zach Helfand, who writes about sports for the magazine. “Mahmoud” would be Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, former president of Iran, murderous tyrant and Holocaust denier who has picked up a weird hobby of tweeting about American sports. But Helfand was notably light on the Iranian dictator, barely mentioning his offenses against decency: