Clay Waters was director of Times Watch, a former project of the Media Research Center.
Latest from Clay Waters
The New York Times reported on a controversial set of guidelines released by the American Psychological Association to “help” psychologists treating boys and men -- by discouraging “traditional masculinity.” It’s there in the headline to Jacey Fortin’s story: “Traditional Masculinity Can Hurt Boys, Say New A.P.A. Guidelines.” Fortin wrote: "They acknowledge that ideas about masculinity vary across cultures, age groups and ethnicities. But they point to common themes like “anti-femininity, achievement, eschewal of the appearance of weakness, and adventure, risk, and violence.”
New York magazine’s Eric Levitz spent nearly 3,000 words making excuses for the many factual errors committed so far by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the gaffe-prone young socialist representing part of Brooklyn, in “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Critique of Fact-Checking Is Valid.” Levitz excused the verbal missteps in the name of a higher progressive morality while cheerfully dismissing the vaunted media “fact checking” that was until last week so vital in keeping the Donald Trump administration in line. Now, after some modest media pushback on some of Ocasio-Cortez’s wackier claims, especially in the Washington Post, fact checking is suddenly unfair to the left.
The New York Times did some historical suppression in a story by Niraj Chokshi about a group rescinding a “civil rights” award for radical leftist and former Communist Party vice-presidential candidate Angela Davis, amid protests over her support for boycotting Israel. Davis is a former fugitive for murder who backed the imprisonment of Soviet political dissidents and defending the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. The Times skipped all that in favor of noting Davis as a “progressive.... civil rights activist and scholar” known for her work against mass incarceration (except for “Zionist fascist” Jews, apparently).
The front of Wednesday’s New York Times declared all was well on the Southern border, no matter what President Trump or his alarmed supporters may say: “No Crisis Here, Say Neighbors Close to Mexico -- Citing Other Problems ‘That Need Fixing.’” The reporting team found nothing but “tranquility” all along the border. The jump-page headline: “No Immigration Crisis Here, Tranquil Town Along Southern Border Says.” Even as the television networks reluctantly aired a few concerns about border security, the tone of the Times story was utterly dismissive of border security concerns.
Teresa Hanafin didn’t hold back against Trump in her Fast Forward email news digest for the Boston Globe, warning that Trump would be spewing “his agitprop live tonight” during the first Oval Office address of his presidency: "The major TV networks all caved to Trump's request that they broadcast his agitprop live tonight when he addresses the country from the Oval Office at 9 p.m. about the southern border. But news anchors and execs are wringing their hands over the prospect of being hapless conduits for Trump's umpteen untruths....he's desperate to stop those big meanies Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter from yelling at him."
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez did a dance while in college several years ago, an edited version of it hit social media. Newsweek’s Jason Le Miere squeezed two misleading articles out of the spat, furthering the media myth that Republicans are somehow offended or outraged by her dancing, while never actually naming a single outraged conservative. The first was "Conservatives Mock Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for College Dancing Video, Everyone Else Thinks It’s Adorable.”
David Leonhardt made the front of the New York Times Sunday Review wanting Congress to hurry up with the vital task of impeaching President Trump in “The People vs. Donald J. Trump.” The subhead: “He is demonstrably unfit for office. What are we waiting for?” Leonhardt, who was the paper's Washington bureau chief from 2011-2013, garnered front-page, over-the-fold placement in the prominent Sunday Review section for his long indictment.
New York Times deputy Washington editor Jonathan Weisman made the Sunday Review with the dramatically titled “American Jews and Israeli Jews Break Up.” Weisman is author of the book (((Semitism))) Being Jewish in America in the Age of Trump, which blames Trump and the alt-right for a rise in U.S. anti-Semitism. But he is unwilling to acknowledge anti-Semitism on the left, as Ben Shapiro found in his evisceration of Weisman’s book. That held true in his latest for the Sunday Review, where he made Trump the villain.
A post from an obscure Twitter account tried to mock new left-wing political and media darling Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, with an edited clip of an old video showing her dancing. The mainstream media and liberals lined up to cheer it and condemn conservatives for being offended by it. The only problem: Conservatives were not actually offended. New York Times reporter Tiffany May piled on in “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Dancing Video Was Meant as a Smear, but It Backfired." On whom?
The New York Times Thursday ran a long investigative piece by climate reporter Hiroko Tabuchi, “E.P.A. Retreat Leaves Wound In Small Town.” The online headline made it political: “A Trump County Confronts the Administration Amid a Rash of Child Cancers.” It’s the old “cancer cluster” concept that alarmist reporters use to push business regulations or in this case protect regulations from repeal, with the Times trying to imply a link that isn’t proven or even substantiated, even by the scientists quoted,, while keeping the Trump administration (which had nothing to with the underlying pollution) front and center and suggesting hypocrisy by Trump supporters.
California Democratic Rep. Nancy Pelosi is Speaker of the House again, and the New York Times Sheryl Gay Stolberg, fresh off whitewashing the reputation of new Rep. Ilhan Omar, is thrilled: “Same Gavel, but Whole New Challenge for Pelosi.” The online headline had more room to gush: “Nancy Pelosi, Icon of Female Power, Will Reclaim Role as Speaker and Seal a Place in History.” The text box on the story’s inside continuation page: “Poised to be the public face of the opposition in the ear of #MeToo.”
New York Times congressional reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg went all out in “glorifying” the election of Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota a left-wing woman with a history of anti-Israel rhetoric newly elected to Congress: “Glorified and Vilified, Former Somalia Refugee Makes Her Way to Capitol.” The text box to the Monday edition story: “Sure-footed and tough, with a flair for inspirational rhetoric.” Stolberg didn’t completely avoid Omar’s controversies, but carefully spun them in Omar’s direction, and minimized or skipped the creepier aspects, totally avoiding Omar’s paranoid anti-Israel tweet from 2012, that Israel had “hypnotized the world” to ignore its “evil doings.”
While the front page of Monday’s Arts section of the New York Times showed a crop of the paper’s political reporters mocking Trump supporters as uncultured yahoos and praised a hostile SNL skit about Brett Kavanaugh, the inside pages featured a “news” story by Christina Caron with the exact opposite angle: Praising a former Democratic president’s cultured tastes: “Out of Office but Still in Step.” The paper really gave the list the full treatment, even providing linked to previous New York Times reviews when applicable.
New York Times politics editor Patrick Healy led an informal, unprofessional roundtable of the paper's political reporters Matt Flegenheimer, Astead Herndon, and Katie Rogers, who happily passed around liberal stereotypes of conservatives in their year-end wrap-up discussion. Healy joined the list of media elite who just loved Saturday Night Live's anti-Kavanaugh skit: "[Actor Matt] Damon reminded us how Kavanaugh’s aggressive, grievance-driven performance turned the tide for the Republicans against a credible woman, not unlike what Trump’s aggressive, grievance-driven performance did in 2016." Katie Rogers lamented of Trump's rally music: "Elton John is forever ruined for me."
Under the guise of photojournalism, the New York Times Sunday Review put in some more oozingly positive, photogenic coverage of sympathetic individuals riding with the famous migrant caravan. The paper devoted a full page to a short essay by proud illegal immigrant (but don’t you dare call him that!), former Washington Post journalist, and amnesty activist, Jose Antonio Vargas, “Portraits From a Caravan – Migrants escaping peril wait in Tijuana for their American dream.” Interesting that the Times would admit (indirectly) that even in a country led by supposed anti-immigrant racist President Donald Trump, there’s still an “American dream” to be had.
The New York Times reacted with typical petulance to Donald and Melania Trump’s first visit to the troops in Iraq, bashing not only Trump himself (typical) but the U.S. troops in Iraq for bringing Trump their personal MAGA hats to sign, while pondering if the troops would be disciplined. The headline to Annie Karni’s Friday edition report led with the negative: “President Crossed Political Line in Visit to Soldiers Abroad, Critics Say.” The online headline was blunt: “Trump Iraq Visit Is Called a Political Rally.”
New York Times media reporter Michael Grynbaum wrapped up the anti-Trump year for the press in “Trump’s Year of Escalating Press Tensions,” on the front of Thursday’s Business section. Grynbaum implied that refusing to deal with CNN showboat Jim Acosta makes you complicit with dictators: "Presidents usually avoid criticizing American journalists on foreign soil; visiting Britain, Mr. Trump called NBC News “dishonest” and refused to take a question from Jim Acosta of CNN. ('Music to the ears of dictators and authoritarian leaders,' said an official at the Committee to Protect Journalists.)"
Lebanon-based Islamic anti-Israeli terrorist group Hezbollah, they helped whitewash the reputation of the murderous organization in “In This Arab Nation, ‘Jesus Isn’t Only for the Christians.’” Hezbollah’s objective is to obliterate the state of Israel. They have killed Americans as well. A suicide bomber the American Embassy in Beirut in 1983 killing 63. Later that year a Marine barracks was attacked in similar fashion, killing 241 Marines. The U.S. State Department has designated Hezbollah a foreign terrorist organization. But to the Times, it’s just a claim made by the U.S. government.
There is a pernicious media trend to treat ordinary partisan things as out of the ordinary and a danger when conservatives do them. One offender is New York Times Supreme Court reporter Adam Liptak. Recently he worried about the Supreme Court’s legitimacy, now that it was finally leaning somewhat rightward. He exhibited a sudden concern about the ordinary partisan phenomenon of “judge shopping,” which liberal lawyers have been doing for years (as Liptak himself admits). But now it’s a “problem” in “How Judge Shopping in Texas Led to Ruling Against Health Law.”
New York Times Supreme Court reporter Adam Liptak sent up a warning flare for Chief Justice John Roberts from the front page of Monday’s New York Times: It would be “dangerous” for the Supreme Court to be seen as conservative. The headline: “As Supreme Court Tips Right, Chief Justice Steers to Center." patting Roberts on the back for his perceived shunning of his more right-leaning Justice colleagues. The Court’s “legitimacy” is a new concern for the media, which for decades was used to it making “progressive” rulings that furthered the liberal agenda without Democrats having to mess with passing actual legislation.