Clay Waters was director of Times Watch, a former project of the Media Research Center.
Latest from Clay Waters
The New York Times is lining up excuses for why the Democrats’ brilliant impeachment case against Trump is not sinking in with Republicans: Conspiracy! That’s the thrust of an op-ed by professor Nicole Hemmer, “Scandalize! Minimize! Repeat as Necessary -- Right-wing media have been laying the groundwork for Trump’s acquittal for half a century.” She made dubious use of space by defending President Lyndon Baines Johnson, described even in left-wing papers as an awful man with credible allegations of election-stealing and sexual misconduct.
Since the beginning of the trial to impeach President Donald Trump, the New York Times has eagerly trumpeted the case laid out by the House impeachment managers, especially Rep. Adam Schiff of California. Congressional reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg gushed over Schiff, who had “secured his place as a liberal rock star -- and villain to conservatives -- with the fiery closing argument he delivered Thursday night, imploring senators to convict and remove Mr. Trump because ‘you know you can’t trust this president to do what’s right for this country.’”
New York Times media reporter Michael Grynbaum's story dealt mostly with media griping about restrictions on the impending impeachment trial coverage. But the lead paragraph rehashed last week’s spat between Sen. Martha McSally, Arizona Republican, and CNN reporter Manu Raju. The print story oddly included two photos of McSally: a CNN screengrab of her “lashing out...,” and one from Fox News. But attacks on journalists are treated differently when it’s heroic liberal congresswoman Nancy Pelosi making them, especially against a right-leaning reporter.
The New York Times’ double standard on ideas it considers “conspiracy theories” was ably demonstrated in Sunday’s New York Times by reporters Annie Karni and Jeremy Peters: “How a Pelosi Conspiracy Theory Spread, From Twitter to Fox to Trump.” That headline hit the paper’s two main enemies: Fox News and President Trump.
On the front page of Saturday’s New York Times, reporter Lisa Lerer wondered why so many women were reluctant to vote for a woman (i.e. Elizabeth Warren) to run for president in “Taking Feminism to Heart, if Not to the Caucuses – Beating Trump Matters More Than Electing a Woman, to Some.” As is often the case, unfettered abortion rights was a priority: "Ms. Schlenker has seen how the current political moment has convinced her daughter that her rights could be taken away, and that sexism remains a force in both of their lives."
Wednesday’s signed lead editorial by Mara Gay of the New York Times editorial board attacked a conservative news rival the New York Post while demading that New York Democrats to buck up on the newly instigated "bail reform," despite the street violence that has already resulted from the controversial policy: “Democrats Run From Their Own Shadows.” Gay flirted with blaming victims of violent crime for the movement, in this case Hasidic and Orthodox Jews as well as its more conservative tabloid rival the New York Post.
On the front page of Tuesday’s New York Times, political reporter Jeremy Peters cynically spun President Trump’s so-far successful showdown with the terror-supporting regime in Iran in “Trump 2020? Move on Iran Gives Pause – Questioning 2016 Vow to End Wars.” Peters wrote from Dubuque, Iowa, where all the campaign reporters are hanging out in anticipation of the caucuses. The online headline: “Trump’s Iran Strategy May Cost Him in 2020 Election.” Perhaps, but not based on this very selective report of public opinion. Peters used Trump’s 2016 intervention-skeptical campaign rhetoric to condemn him today (not that the media credited him with his stand at the time):
The New York Times continues to ruin nights at the movies.Brooks Barnes and Nicole Sperling lamented the Academy Awards film nominations: “The Oscar Leaders, And the Overlooked – With 11, ‘Joker’ scores the most nominations.” “The Irishman,” “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood” and “1917” each received 10 nominations. Black actors and actresses were largely overlooked.” Don’t forget women either! The Times certainly didn’t. (It won’t shut up about it.) Also, Kyle Buchanan’s “Carpetbagger” column on Oscar nominations, “The Big Surprises And Glaring Snubs,” made a radical case for quotas.
Big news on the...textbook front? The front page of Monday’s New York Times was dominated by the results of education reporter Dana Goldstein’s examination of differences between history textbooks approved for California students, and those given to students in Texas: “Two States. Eight Textbooks. Two American Stories.” This paragraph was unintentionally revealing of the paper’s Bernie Sanders-style economics bias and obsession with “inequality”: "California’s curriculum materials, by contrast, sometimes read like a brief from a Bernie Sanders rally. 'The yawning gap between the haves and have-nots and what is to be done about it is one of the great questions of this time,' says the state’s 2016 social studies framework."
David Marchese, staff writer and “Talk” columnist for the New York Times Magazine, got some things off his chest during a challenging interview with black Republican congressman Rep. Will Hurd of Texas. He clearly used the interview as his own personal anti-GOP gripe session: "Don’t you think that, for example, the Republican Party’s being the party generally in favor of stricter voter-ID laws -- laws that have a disproportionately negative effect on communities of color -- is as much a hindrance to the party’s ability to attract voters from those same communities as messaging?"
Former New York Times editorial board member Adam Cohen, who once served as lawyer for the discredited Southern Poverty Law Center, reviewed Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus’s book on the Brett Kavanaugh nomination. (The book’s title gives the slant away: “Supreme Ambition -- Brett Kavanaugh and the Conservative Takeover.”) Cohen’s review unloaded a cheap shot in the text box: “‘If you had asked me who was the biggest drinker in our class I would have said Brett,” one classmate said.” Anonymous hearsay? Now there’s some hard evidence for you. Down the memory hole: Any mention of the paper’s own botched, biased Kavanaugh investigation.
Political reporter Jeremy Peters committed “strange new respect” for the religious left on the front of Saturday’s New York Times in “Why Buttigieg Is Putting Faith In the Spotlight.” Peters introduced Democratic candidate Pete Buttigieg in the midst of doing his “standard riff on the role of faith in politics” in which he “castigated Republicans for using religion as a wedge to divide Americans." Peters admitted some voters find the “Rhodes scholar, military veteran and polyglot” a bit “precocious and lacking in empathy,” then spoke to a “civil rights activist” to lament the Democratic Party ceding faith issues. And who was this “civil rights activist”? Al Sharpton.
The New York Times provided another unasked for encomium to Communism, this time by China correspondent Javier Hernandez, in “Raising Fists and Hearts to Communism" on Thursday. He reported from Nanhu Lake, China, a sacred site for true believers. The Times has made a habit of whitewashing the Communist past as well as the Communist regimes still creaking along in the present. Whitewashing the crimes of International Communism, as in its Red Century series on the Soviet era on the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, is a recurring bad habit.
After President Trump ordered the killing of terrorist mastermind Gen. Qasem Suilemani of Iran, the New York Times devoted the week to paranoia and fear-mongering over a potential war, as a taste of the headlines reveals. On Friday, the left-wing “Interpreter” columnist Max Fisher weighed up things and found: “Scorecard of Washington vs. Tehran ‘Is Looking Bad for Both Sides.'" Fisher’s Friday newsletter, “The Calculus of Conflict With Iran," blamed Trump for the killing of an eight-year-old girl on the commercial flight that Iran shot down.
Sydney-based New York Times reporter Damien Cave found yet another thing to blame on the conservative press and in particular Australian-born newspaper mogul Rupert Murdoch: “Murdoch Manipulates Debate on Australia’s Fires.” The front of the Business Day section on Thursday featured the Sydney-based reporter committing his standard Murdoch-demonizing opinions to the Times’ so-called news pages: "Yet, for many critics, the Murdoch approach suddenly looks dangerous."
Iranian military general and terrorist operative Qasem Soleimani -- like civil rights hero Martin Luther King? That was one of several propaganda-type of comments about Soleimani, killed in a drone strike on Trump’s orders, that were heard on the Tuesday edition of the New York Times podcast The Daily. Host Michael Barbaro cited MLK, and reporter Farnaz Fassihi quoted supporters saying "Gen. Soliemani protected our national security, he transcended politics, he was a national hero."
Alisha Haridasani Gupta, who writes the New York Times’ feminist newsletter “In Her Words,” made Page Two of Tuesday’s edition with “Powering the Democratic Party.” She talked to the Times' Lisa Lerer about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. It's a truncated, version of a month-old Q&A from Gupta’s newsletter, suggesting its sole function is to welcome back “powerful” Pelosi as the impeachment fight kicks in again. Gupta opened with an approving anecdote of a politician attacking a press member, a seemingly odd position for a journalist to take -- until you realize it was a conservative journalist under attack.
Paul Rosenberg devoted 3,000 words in the left-wing Salon to refuting the indisputable liberal bias of the press: “Not fake news: Major study finds no 'liberal bias' in media -- but there are other problems -- Yes, the media is liberal -- but there's no 'gatekeeping bias.' If anything, journalists have become too cautious.” That "Not fake news..." bit in the headline is ironic, given that the counter-example Rosenberg highlights is actual “fake news,” not content analysis, as my colleague Tim Graham pointed out. Still Rosenberg was obliged to make some concessions to the conservative case.
On the front of Sunday’s New York Times, reporters Farnaz Fassihi and Richard Perez-Pena warned Iran was united “in anger at the United States” over the targeted takedown of Iranian military leader and terrorist Qasem Soleimani at Baghdad airport. The online headline deck tilted toward dire warnings from a united, America-hating Iran: “Iranians Close Ranks Behind Leaders After U.S. Kills Popular General -- The death of Qassim Suleimani strengthened the hand of hard-liners, experts say, and undermined those who have tried to normalize relations with the West.”
The front-page lead story of the New York Times National Edition prominently framed conspiratorial Democratic doubts after the killing of Iranian terrorist mastermind Qasem Soleimani, responsible for the death of hundreds of American soldiers in Iraq, was killed by an American drone strike at Baghdad airport ordered by President Trump. That wasn’t quite the paper’s spin. Over the banner headline “Trump Warns Iran As Ayatollah Vows Revenge,” the lead-story headline didn’t emphasize the death of a terrorist but emphasized Democratic doubts and economic fears: “Democrats Question Timing of Strike as Oil Prices Surge and the Stock Market Tumbles.”