Clay Waters was director of Times Watch, a former project of the Media Research Center.
Latest from Clay Waters
The latest New York Times Sunday Magazine found room for 11,000 words by Nathan Thrall to push the anti-Israel, often anti-Semitic, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. (B.D.S.) Thrall is a director at the International Crisis Group, which the paper notes but fails to mention is funded by the Gulf state of Qatar, which funds the anti-Jewish terrorist group Hamas. The deck of headlines for Thrall’s story: “The Battle Over B.D.S. How the Battle Over Israel and Anti-Semitism Is Fracturing American Politics -- The growing prominence of the B.D.S. movement -- and the backlash to it -- is widening fault lines from college campuses to Capitol Hill.”
The April 2019 issue of Esquire features a long, eye-opening article on how attacks on Trump may have permanently damaged the media’s reputation (always fragile) for objectivity. Boyer's main focus was the New York Times: “Donald Trump Changed The New York Times. Is It Forever? -- Donald Trump has shattered presidential standards. In response, The New York Times and other elite news organizations have scrapped their rigorous, long-held standards of objectivity. But will the Times’s changes have unintended consequences? And what does Trump himself think of all this?" The president had some criticism for one Times story in particular.
New York Times reporter Nicholas Fandos has for two years spun in favor of the Democrats’ Russian collusion theory, supporting Robert Mueller and Democrats on the committee, especially ranking member (now chairman) Rep. Adam Schiff. He did so again after Republicans demanded Schiff resign from the House Intelligence Committee in Friday’s “Demands for Ouster at Explosive House Hearing.” Fandos’ revealed his apparent disdain for the Republican move: "It went downhill from there."
New York Times reporter Peter Baker managed to peel himself away from the Mueller report long enough to lavish almost 1,400 words on a biography of the late first lady Barbara Bush, The Matriarch, on Thursday: “To Barbara Bush, Donald Trump Represented ‘Greed, Selfishness.’ The story’s text box expanded the argument: “Because of Mr. Trump, Mrs. Bush gave up on her party.” Baker reveled in Barbara Bush’s hostility toward Trump, and Nancy Reagan.
Reporters and columnists took a petulant tone in Wednesday’s New York Times in the aftermath of the Mueller report and the Trump Administration’s triumphant reaction. One can visualize gritted teeth and pursed lips of the paper’s journalists reporting on Trump administration insiders, celebrating vindication, But fear not, there is hope for the Democrats. Wednesday’s lead story, “Move to Nullify Health Care Act Roils Democrats,” had this cheery text box summary: “A chance to shift the conversation from the Mueller report.”
Days after the Mueller report dropped with a thud, disappointing the vengeful left, the New York Times is hurriedly changing the subject and burying the lead, moving on from “collusion” to unsubstantiated hints that Trump could still be guilty of something. Tuesday’s front-page story found reporters desperately spinning the subject to “obstruction of justice” while smearing Attorney General Bob Barr’s motives: “Barr’s Move Ignites a Debate: Is He Impartial?”
With the Mueller report out and the top-line conclusions (no “collusion,” no obstruction of justice) thoroughly chewed over, the New York Times is clearly disappointed. A “live update” featured these petulant subheads, blaming the Republicans for taking political advantage of Trump’s vindication: “Trump immediately attacks ‘the other side.’ "“Minutes after the details are released, Republicans say it’s time to move on." And the paper’s former Washington bureau chief David Leonhardt bashed Attorney General Barr to pressure him to release the full report or else be condemned as Trump’s lackey.
Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia interference in the 2016 elections is over, after finding no Trump-Russia conspiracy and issuing no indictments against Americans. With “collusion” a dead letter, the liberal press is investing hope in the other charge, “obstruction of justice.” A story by the New York Times focused on that other avenue in “Barr Goes Beyond Mueller in Clearing Trump on Obstruction, Drawing Scrutiny.” The Times unleashed this snide comment that's apparently already been discredited: "Mr. Mueller failed to reach a conclusion on whether to prosecute Mr. Trump after nearly two years of work, but Mr. Barr, with Mr. Rosenstein’s help, decided in a single weekend."
In May 2017, Robert Mueller was appointed special counsel to look into issues around possible Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, which the media and Democrats quickly boiled down to a single word, “Collusion,” a vague charge which Donald Trump nonetheless was almost surely guilty of when it came to Russia. Twenty-two months later, the report has been issued and been summarized by Attorney General Bob Barr. Mueller and his team issued no indictments against Donald Trump or anyone in the Trump administration. To mark the end, here’s an extremely incomplete list of occasions Times reporters, editorialists and columnists freely tossing around the accusation of “collusion."
After 22 months of speculation, special counsel Robert Mueller released to Attorney General Bill Barr on Friday afternoon his report on allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 election (which the press and Democrats winnowed down to the catch-all accusation of “collusion”). While the report itself is under wraps, thus far it appears Mueller and his team have wrapped up their investigation without charging any Americans for conspiring with Russia. Saturday’s New York Times front page was laden with petulance and disappointment.
New York Times reporter Penelope Green filed an ostensible news story that read more like an earnest undergraduate paper (full of lines sure to mortify when read later) celebrating “second-wave” feminist Carol Gilligan: “Healing a Rupture That Spawns Patriarchy -- Carol Gilligan talks about male privilege, women’s silence, listening and lifting new voices.” Green's "news" story sounds more like an embarrassingly overwritten undergrad paper: "Incidentally, the “cleaning house” that Ms. Kondo teaches is exactly what many want to do with the patriarchy."
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has given up on helping rural whites, judging from his Tuesday column, “Getting Real About Rural America.” The text box: “Nobody knows how to reverse the heartland’s decline.” To strengthen his attack on rural Americans, Krugman hints that social welfare programs often do no good, an interesting perspective from a liberal economist. He shed crocodile tears for rural America, while passive-aggressively sticking the knife in: "Even then, rural areas and small towns weren’t the 'real America,' somehow morally superior to the rest of us."
New York Times reporter Richard Fausset used his slot in the lead National section Tuesday to dump guilt on Duke University in the name of racial and social justice for rejecting permission to use their land to aid an expensive light-rail project: “Opposition By College May Quash Rail Project – Some See Duke’s Veto As Insensitive to Poor.” The online headline emphasized emotion: Durham Dreamed of a Transit Line. Duke University All but Killed It.” Anti-Duke, anti-“privilege” animus seeps through each sentence along with horror that a supposedly “progressive” (at least for the South) institution would fail to go along with a liberal public boondoggle.
New York Times David Leonhardt’s Monday column came right out and said it: “Trump Encourages Violence.” The Times is trying to find a rise of hate crimes that it can blame on the president. Trump made some rhetorical flourishes in an interview with the right-wing news site Breitbart, which nonetheless didn’t rise to the level of a “threat,” and certainly not the “white nationalist” threat Leonhardt tried so hard to prove: "The president’s continued encouragement of violence -- and of white nationalism -- is part of the reason that white-nationalist violence is increasing."
Nina Totenberg, National Public Radio's legal affairs correspondent, talked to Grant Reeher on public radio station WRVO, warning about the Supreme Court’s threat to abortion rights, criticizing the hearing performance of Brett Kavanaugh, and denying her outlet’s liberal bias. The NPR member station, which serves New York state from the campus of SUNY-Oswego, posted on Friday some transcribed highlights from Reeher’s half-hour interview with Totenberg, whose liberal bona fides are well-established on NewsBusters.
It pays to have the right “troll” enemies: The New York Times has three times of late come to the rescue of poor, persecuted Marvel Studios, the capitalist Hollywood behemoth getting by on several billion dollars of box office returns. First up: Defending Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn after he was fired for having made pedophilia jokes. Perhaps the identity of Gunn’s enemies, right-wing Trump-supporting provocateurs, made Hollywood reporter Brooks Barnes take the pro-Gunn side. Another piece: “Trolls Tried to Sink ‘Captain Marvel.’ She Triumphed. -- Those who targeted the new superhero film were, in part, incited by comments made by its star, Brie Larson, who called it a ‘big feminist movie.’”
Reporter Cara Buckley admired the movie review aggregating website Rotten Tomatoes for riding to the rescue of outspoken feminist actress Brie Larson, star of the latest Marvel Studios comic-book hero mega-hit Captain Marvel, in the New York Times Thursday: “When She Became The Target, The Rules Changed -- After attacks on ‘Captain Marvel’ and Brie Larson, Rotten Tomatoes altered its audience participation parameters.” It's an amusing example of how avidly the ostensibly anti-capitalist left will defend a multi-billion dollar capitalist enterprise (Marvel Studios and its ongoing myriad-film superhero saga) when the right (“troll”) enemies are lined up on the other side.
On the front page of Tuesday’s New York Times, reporter Danny Hakim asked another question only liberals are asking: “What Is Making N.R.A. Cringe? Its Own Videos -- 2 Leaders Air Concerns About Incendiary Online Pulpit.” The Times used an internal debate over the streaming service as a jumping-off point for an exaggerated and hypocritical attack on the gun-rights group’s streaming service NRATV (and especially host Dana Loesch, whom the Times has recently elevated into a "villain") accusing it of "inflammatory" rhetoric while letting an enemy smear it as a "terrorist organization."
New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief David Halbfinger was on the front page Monday analyzing President Trump’s popularity in Israel: “For Netanyahu, Trump Offers Election Boost -- U.S. President Popular Among Israeli Voters.” Halbfinger spun that seemingly flattering factoid in the most cynical and hostile way (it is Israel, after all, the paper’s least favorite country), comparing Trump and Israel’s embattled Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu so that neither came off well at all. This particular treatment of an American president’s popularity overseas was quite unlike how the paper celebrated President Barack Obama locking up the Paris slum vote, or candidate Obama’s “tone poems” delivered to a rapturous crowd in Berlin.
The front of the New York Times Sunday Review featured “Think Like a Libel Lawyer,” by David McCraw, press lawyer for the New York Times. He strikes a straight-shooting pose discussing his work vetting stories before publication, while naming who the paper considers villains, a list that includes gun-rights activist Dana Loesch and the National Rifle Association: "I am all about the villains in many pieces -- for a libel lawyer, a little sympathy for the villain is almost an occupational requirement." So what sort of evildoers serve as the paper’s designated “villains”? Besides former Trump aide Steve Bannon there was...Dana Loesch and the National Rifle Association.