Clay Waters was director of Times Watch, a former project of the Media Research Center.
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Continuing its newly rediscovered fascination with fact-checking, in remission during the eight years of Obama, the New York Times’ Linda Qiu (hired during the Trump era) delivered yet another overheated fact-check of a Trump speech, this one delivered at the World economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland: “Where the Speech Veered From the Truth.” Qiu on Saturday evaluated seven statements (cut to four in print) -- two true, two false, and three that fell into the strange Trump-only category “needs more context." It mean sort of a “yes, but,” followed by a Democratic-friendly rebuttal of Trump’s accurate point.
On no issue is the paper’s bias more obvious than on illegal immigration, and it showed in both the tone and terminology used regarding President Trump’s latest offer in the fight over Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. The front of Friday’s New York Times showcased Michael Shear and Sheryl Gay Stolberg’s “Immigration Offer: Citizenship and Stern Tactics.”
Under the hysteria-inducing headline “End of the World Is a Bit Closer, Scientists Fear,” New York Times reporter Sewell Chan forwarded lefty propaganda from Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and their infamous “Doomsday Clock,” meant to be a sobering reminder of potential nuclear Armageddon. Part of the blame, naturally, is put on Donald Trump for criticizing Obama agreements on climate change and Iran’s nuclear policy. But is this an objective group of concerned scientists or just another left-wing stunt? And why didn't the paper cover even greater clock moves during the Obama administration?
On Wednesday, former reporter Frank Bruni’s ridiculous extended metaphor linked the Super Bowl, the New England Patriots, Donald Trump, and the American economy in a web of corruption: “The Hell of This Year’s Super Bowl.” The text box: “It’s the Patriots, again, and a metaphor for Trump’s America.” Not to be outdone, Nicholas Kristof wrote the next day that "American tobacco executives have killed more people than Stalin managed to...."
NYT reporter Carl Hulse managed to find good news for Democrats in the party’s abject surrender on the government-shutdown front, in his “news analysis” for Tuesday’s front page, “Hope for Bargain in a Swift Surrender.” The jump-page headline: “With Swift Surrender, Democrats Hold Hope Of Reaching a Bargain.”
New York Times media reporter John Koblin took note of a media skirmish between current NBC host Megyn Kelly and “Hanoi Jane” Fonda in Business Day: “In Echo of Fox Days, Kelly Lashes Back at Fonda.” Guess who the Times goes after? Both the headline and Koblin’s text treat Kelly like the attack-dog aggressor regrettably reverting to Fox News-style form, even though Kelly clearly has Fonda dead to rights as a hypocrite regarding the star’s willingness to discuss her plastic surgery.
Max Fisher’s latest explainer piece in Monday’s New York Times, “How the Right Took Israel’s Side,” attacked President Trump and conservatives in general for supporting Israel for no good reason. After flubbing basic facts about the U.S. embassy move to Jerusalem in favor of anti-Israel assertions in December, Fisher again revealed himself untrustworthy on an issue he pays special attention to, offering grossly misleading characterizations of Republican attitudes toward the Israel-Palestinian dilemma.
More proof that the Donald Trump presidency, just one year old, is already working the last nerves of liberals: The New York Times is putting pieces in its high-profile Sunday Review section that may be better handled by a qualified counselor. “A Trump-Size Hole in Our Relationship” by Gina-Abercrombie Winstanley, former US ambassador to Malta, was undiplomatic both to Trump and to a close friend, while using a dubious metaphor to characterize the result of a free and fair election. The section's lead story credits Trump for altering the space-time continuum: “It’s Been a Year of This? – Trump’s presidency has flown by – and felt interminable." The online title: “Is Trump Warping Our Sense of Time?”
Two profiles of prominent female Republicans resulted in two very different takes in Sunday’s New York Times. A long profile of Second Amendment activist Dana Loesch was rendered in dark and sinister fashion on the front of Sunday Styles: “Trigger Warning” by Laura Holson. The online headline deck was loaded: “The National Rifle Association’s Telegenic Warrior -- How Dana Loesch, a onetime Democrat, became a Second Amendment spokeswoman too incendiary for some right-wingers to handle.” It was quite a contrast from the paper’s treatment of the Times’ idea of a good Republican -- GOP-bashing Nicolle Wallace, host of MSNBC’s Deadline: White House.
New York Times reporter Jeremy Peters covered the annual pro-life march in Washington, D.C. under this petulant headline in the print version: “President Reaches Out To Foes Of Abortion.” (Otherwise known as the annual March for Life.) The paper has traditionally ignored the annual march entirely, while devoting copious space to much smaller left-wing protests like those supporting amnesty for illegal immigrants.
New York Times Education reporter Erica Green picked a bizarre fight against a Trump nominee for being too concerned about anti-Semitic violence on campus -- unless one remembers how hostile the paper is to pro-Israel voices and how accommodating it is to radical pro-Islamic ones: “An Advocate for Israel, Named to a Civil Rights Post, Draws Criticism” was the headline in Friday’s Times. The text box took the anti-Israel critics to heart: “Opponents see a narrow focus as a hurdle to fairness.”
Thursday’s New York Times was haughtily dismissive of the Trump-inspired “2017 Fake News Awards” posted on the RNC’s website Wednesday night: “May We Have the ‘Fake’ Envelope, Please?” The Times itself scored two of the coveted slots. Reporters Michael Grynbaum and Matt Flegenheimer tried to shift the blame to Trump right off the bat, while taking the stunt quite solemnly indeed, seeing a threat to “press freedom” in criticism false reports.
Will MAGA murder poor Kentuckians? That was the thrust of Wednesday’s column by Eduardo Porter, liberal New York Times reporter turned leftist economics columnist, “Path Forward In Kentucky (But Don’t Get Sick).” Under the harmless headline, Porter didn’t hedge his contempt for the cost-cutting, bringing in President Trump’s trademark slogan to smear fiscal conservatives as killers for favoring Medicaid reform in the states.
The front of the National section in the New York Times took full advantage of President Trump’s vulgar comment about life in Haiti to accuse him of racism, felicitously timed to appear on Martin Luther King Day. Reporter Sabrina Tavernise’s full-page article was headlined “In Trump’s Remarks, Black Churches See a Nation Backsliding.”
Bye-bye Hillary? Amy Chozick’s profile on the front of the New York Times Sunday Review featured the headline “Without Her.” It was a regretful (possible) goodbye to Hillary the high-profile feminist heroine, while crediting her with igniting the #MeToo movement, and postponing mention of her inconvenient husband as long as possible: "Hillary Clinton, the first woman who had a real shot at the presidency, has finally set off a national awakening among women. The only catch? She did it by losing."
When is increasing pay for hourly workers politically suspect? When are earmarks considered pork? When they are encouraged by Donald Trump, at least at the New York Times. Walmart can do no right in the eyes of the liberal paper. Michael Corkery managed to turn even the liberal-pleasing move against the despised company: "Walmart, the nation’s largest private employer, waded into the bumpy waters of partisan politics on Thursday, announcing that it will use some of its savings under the new tax bill to provide wage increases, bonuses and expanded benefits to its hourly workers."
An editorial in Thursday’s New York Times made hay of a partisan Democratic report concerning alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election: “A Grave Warning on Russian Meddling.” The text box: “Senate Democrats issue the most comprehensive public analysis thus far of Moscow’s war on the West.”
The New York Times may be at its most liberal on the immigration issue, and when President Trump seemed to warm to the idea of a path to citizenship for some illegals, reporters abruptly warmed to him, at least compared to the “hard-line anti-immigration activists” in his party. The lead story by Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Sheryl Gay Stolberg, “Trump Receptive To Working Out Citizenship Path," tempted Trump with chances of political victory, and provided the paper's usual “undocumented” euphemism for illegal immigrants.
Stretching to find racism in every corner of the American psyche, the New York Times Sunday Review found nationalism and white supremacy in finding Asians to be hard-working and attractive, as well as in the new Museum of the Bible in D.C. Audrea Lim’s “The Alt-Right’s Asian Fetish – How the ‘model minority’ myth blends with racist ideology. Also featured was Katherine Stewart's "The Museum of the Bible Is a Safe Space for Christian Nationalists," a smear written by the author of “The Good News Club: The Christian Right’s Stealth Assault on America’s Children.”
The Boston Globe indulged in some early nostalgia for President Obama on the front of Sunday’s edition: “Gone But Still Growing On Us.” The online headline to Astead Herndon’s story: “Trump is making Obama great again.” Herndon used strict methodology to make his case for Obama's popularity: "On Twitter, Obama’s growth in popularity can be quantified. When he wished the country a Merry Christmas in his last year as president, the message was retweeted about 100,000 times." This is Sunday front-page news?