Clay Waters was director of Times Watch, a former project of the Media Research Center.
Latest from Clay Waters
The New York Times blames President Trump for everything, including the nasty and personally insulting tone of the Democratic primary race. Trump was blamed no less than four times in Trip Gabriel's story ostensibly about divided Democrats: “A Sign of the Times? The Democratic Primary Has Become a Free-for-All.” The text box expressed who was really at fault: “A level of personal animus that was rare before the Trump era.”
After Sen. Bernie Sanders doubled down on his past praise for aspects of the Communist regime of Cuba, Patricia Mazzei reported “Florida Democrats Try to Limit Harm From Sanders’s Castro Comments” in Tuesday’s New York Times. But the paper’s sudden concern about Sanders noting the high literacy rates under Fidel Castro’s dictatorship look hypocritical, considering how often Times reporters have embraced the factoid in defense of the island regime. That suggests this new concern is motivated more by fears of Trump than of communism.
Though The New York Times is undeniably liberal in its reporting, it has been distinctly cool in coverage of the most left-wing Democratic candidate, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT). It was obvious back in 2016, when reporters tried to pester Sanders out of the race against Hillary Clinton. Is it principled ideology on the part of reporters, or partisan fear? Either way, the paper fired a shot across Bernie’s bow Sunday with a story bluntly warning Sanders he better watch out, then laid out why, even using an old insult to Ronald Reagan: “Sanders, the Teflon Candidate, Faces New Tests as a Front-Runner.”
Well, the big lead story in Friday’s New York Times shouting “House Is Warned Or Russian Effort To Bolster Trump,” has been challenged by a national security official cited by CNN’s Jake Tapper. But don’t think the Times is done trying to resuscitate the Russia controversy as a cudgel against Trump. The paper reported petulantly on Richard Grenell, ambassador to Germany and now the new acting director of national intelligence, in the slanted “Grenell Brings In Expert On Trump Conspiracies To Help Run Intelligence.” "Conspiracies" defined here as "justified concern over treatment of Trump campaign official Carter Page."
In the aftermath of the fiery Democratic debate in Las Vegas, the New York Times queened Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s return to form, but provided a chillier reception to Sen. Amy Klobuchar. Friday’s piece, “Facing a Potential Last Stand, Warren Unleashes Rhetorical Howitzers,” played Warren’s attacks on debate newbie Michael Bloomberg dramatically, with her as vanquishing hero. But the paper insulted "largely white" editorial boards for daring to endorse the supposedly "centrist" Sen. Amy Klobuchar.
The New York Times news pages are attacking Donald Trump from all angles to deny him a second term: The Europeans don’t like him! On Wednesday, Steven Erlanger, the paper’s chief diplomatic correspondent, fretted about how “Europe Ponders a ‘Deeply Damaging’ Trump Re-election.” Erlanger’s piece has a strong whiff of anti-Trump, pro-European superiority for a “news” story: "Many anticipate a collapse in the already eroding trust in American leadership and credibility."
New York Times reporter Maggie Astor noted Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s fierce takedown of late entry Mike Bloomberg Thursday morning after the fiery Las Vegas debate, and betrayed both pro-Warren cheerleading and grievous gaps in her knowledge of popular political analysts: “Elizabeth Warren, Criticizing Bloomberg, Sent a Message: She Won’t Be Ignored.” Astor: "Even before the debate had ended, some commentators -- including the conservative Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin...were criticizing Ms. Warren as 'mean,' 'angry' and 'nasty.' But others saw it quite differently."
The New York Times headline echoed its hostile lead story Wednesday: “Trump Exerts His Power With a Spree of Pardons – Critics Denounce Clemency for Blagojevich, Milken and Kerik as Undeserved” by Michael Shear and Maggie Haberman. Catch the echo of “crime spree” in the headline? "But the president’s announcements on Tuesday were mostly aimed at wiping clean the slates of rich, powerful and well-connected white men." But the Times took a different tone when it was Barack Obama making controversial pardons and commutations:
New York Times reporter Katie Rogers used the wedding of White House immigration advisor Stephen Miller to Katie Waldman, press secretary to VP Mike Pence, to show Trump staff as purposefully isolating themselves from D.C. society in Tuesday’s “Pairing Off in Trump’s Political Bunker.” Rogers ignores the left-wing groups and outraged individual lefties mobbing Trump staff (including Miller himself) and Trump supporters as they go about their lives in the city.
The front of Sunday’s New York Times featured yet another climate lecture from Australia bureau chief Damien Cave. The alarmism was labeled a “Reporter’s Notebook,” but was not so much reporting as pleading with his unfortunate subjects to radically reorganize their lives in the name of “climate change.” The online headline deck: “The End of Australia as We Know It -- What many of us have witnessed this fire season feels alive and monstrous. With climate change forcing a relaxed country to stumble toward new ways of work, leisure and life, will politics follow?”
The New York State Legislature banned bail for defendants charged with most misdemeanor and nonviolent offenses without giving judges any discretion, which has accompanied a spike in crime. Yet the New York Times has been shilling for the left-wing, soft-on-crime policy, despite the undeniable street violence that has already resulted. Now they’re accusing opponents of racism, the giveaway of a desperate losing argument. The latest comes courtesy of Albany bureau chief Jesse McKinley. “Bail Reform Backlash Has Democrats at War.” The text box: “Some urge judicial discretion, while others accuse critics of fear-mongering.” Guess which argument McKinley favors?
New York Times’ Kevin Roose profiled former Vox journalist and gay/Marxist activist in “A Thorn in YouTube’s Side Digs In Even Deeper -- Carlos Maza, a socialist who calls YouTube ‘deeply unethical and reckless,’ is trying to bolster the video site’s left wing.” Maza, whose Twitter bio refers to Tucker Carlson as a white supremacist, targeted conservative Steven Crowder in 2019. Yet in Roose’s telling, Maza and other leftists have no influence at a YouTube dominated by “reactionary politics” that must be reined in. Roose was unswervingly celebratory of Maza and contemptuous of conservatives.
In its quest to find moderates or even “centrists” among the Democratic field of presidential candidates to pit against the avowed leftists, the New York Times must ignore several of the candidates’ actual voting records and public policy stands. The Times has found no less than four of the Democratic candidates to be not just “moderate” but “centrist.” The paper has termed former Sen. Joe Biden (lifetime American Conservative Union rating: 12.67 out of a possible 100), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (lifetime ACU rating: 4.67), former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Pete Buttigieg as moderates or centrists.
The New York Times, which constantly lambastes Trump for spreading lies, is now critical of Trump for bringing actual news to public attention: “Trump, Once a Fan of Stop-and-Frisk, Uses It to Cudgel Bloomberg.” Notice the word choice in the online headlines: “Trump Takes On Bloomberg and Once Again Hijacks a News Cycle -- Like an assignment editor at a tabloid newspaper, the president poured accelerant on a negative story and got it trending on Twitter and cable news.” “Hijacks a news cycle” by pointing out controversial comments made by a potential rival?
New York Times reporters Mike McIntire and Kevin Roose went after the “pro-Trump” QAnon cult, which spread the discredited “Pizzagate” conspiracy and a myriad others, on Monday’s front page, and tried hard to tie it to Donald Trump in “Web Delusion Oozes Offline To Real World.” But what of the wide world of left-wing conspiracists? For the Times, it either doesn’t exist or is treated affectionately.
“The Billion-Dollar Disinformation Campaign to Reelect the President” is an 8,200-word epic in the March issue of The Atlantic magazine. It launched with staff writer McKay Coppins making a fake Facebook account to follow Trump groups, and was horrified. What was “spin” in the Clinton and Obama administration has become sinister and fascistic when the Trump team employs it for the Internet age: What I was seeing was a strategy that has been deployed by illiberal political leaders around the world....censorship through noise."
In the wake of the failed impeachment of Donald Trump, the New York Times’ Elaina Plott took a 2,000-word front-page look Saturday at how Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has elevated his reputation in the eyes of average Republicans in “A New Image Of McConnell In G.O.P. Eyes.” Plott’s tone was mild, but her word choice harsh: "....Perhaps less obvious, though, is the extent to which Mr. McConnell owes much of his new viability to Mr. Trump -- how his brand of staid ruthlessness has thrived as a counterweight to the brash, whim-driven style of the president."
The New York Times trumpeted Pete Buttigieg’s top-tier Iowa caucus performance on Saturday’s front page in “How Buttigieg Became Surprise of Iowa Caucuses.” Plus: Are young male campaign reporters treating Buttigieg with "kid gloves" at Elizabeth Warren's expense? "...Ms. Warren’s allies, who have seen her frequently faced with questions about whether a woman can win, believe Mr. Buttigieg has been treated with kid gloves by journalists who see themselves in a 38-year-old man more than a 70-year-old woman."
Mitt Romney was the sole Republican to vote to impeach Donald Trump, and the New York Times front page on Thursday demonstrated its strange new respect for the Utah Republican the same candidate it spent 2012 vilifying for standing between Barack Obama and a second term -- in Mark Leibovich’s “An Act of Defiance Against a Party He’d Personified.” A text box on the jump page cast Romney as making a brave stand: “Recognizing that breaking ranks may bring ‘unimaginable’ consequences.” Yet Leibovich gleefully went along with Obama’s smear tactics against Romney during the 2012 campaign.
Reporters at ABC and CBS went offensive over the sad news that renowned conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh is fighting lung cancer. An ABC News writer posted an extraordinarily hostile article after Limbaugh was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom: "....President Donald Trump's decision to award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh -- a polarizing figure who has insisted it was unfair to blame white Americans for slavery, blamed gay marriage for the decline of Christianity, and attempted to slut-shame a woman seeking coverage for contraception -- stood out." CBS was no better: "Mr. Trump's decision drew fierce blowback from critics who pointed to Limbaugh's decades of bigoted rhetoric and spreading conspiracy theories and misinformation on his show...."