Clay Waters was director of Times Watch, a former project of the Media Research Center.
Latest from Clay Waters
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.
The New York Times' front page on Saturday featured political reporter Sydney Ember in Iowa savoring all the wonderful Democratic candidates primed to defeat President Trump in November 2020: “‘Beat Trump’ Fervor Lifts All 2020 Democrats.” Meanwhile, another odd article praised losing Georgia governor candidate Stacey Abrams for...being a Trekkie? "Ms. Abrams, with her precision and relish for the tax code, veers toward the Spockian."
The New York Times again took on basic biology and sex traits in the....paper's Design section (!), which devoted a full page on Thursday to “Free to be -- Making a space without gender cues, so children can develop their identities.” The online title was sillier, answering a question only the most left-wing gender-fluid parents are asking: “How to Raise a Child Without Imposing Gender.” Michael Tortorello wrote on Thursday about imposing gender neutrality from infancy, to avoid what was assumed (not even argued) to be harmful gender stereotyping that the human race has been thoughtlessly, “conservatively” burdening itself with for generations untold.
New York Times reporters Glenn Thrush and Sheryl Gay Stolberg kept up with the ongoing (and for Democrats, seemingly never-ending) saga over the constant spew of anti-Semitic statements emanating from controversial new Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar. The suspiciously regretful-sounding “Democrats Let Their Message Escape Them” appeared on the front of Thursday’s edition. Indeed, the reporters appeared to lament the controversy less for Rep. Omar’s actual anti-Semitic statements than for distracting Democrats from liberal legislation. A previous story sported tougher anti-Republican language, calling out "bigoted" remarks by the GOP.
The New York Times’ Susan Chira interviewed the media’s favorite losing candidate, Democrat Stacey Abrams, who lost her 2018 race for the Georgia governorship, in “After Her Narrow Loss, Abrams Takes Stock and Regroups -- Georgia Democrat May Run for President, Senator or Governor," which led the paper’s National section. Chira's sympathetic talk with Abrams hit the race and gender issues hard, with cheerleading for her future prospects. There was virtually no criticism of her sore-loser conspiracy theories blaming her 2018 defeat on voter suppression, all of which have been found wanting.
Reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg was concerned about the ramifications of the latest (it’s hard to keep track) anti-Semitic controversy around new Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar. But it’s not concern over Omar’s latest offensive statement, in which she said during a friendly interview that Israel activists “push for allegiance to a foreign country.” Instead, Stolberg is concerned Omar is right about the harmful and outsized power wielded by the pro-Israel lobbying group American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC): “Ilhan Omar’s Criticism Raises the Question: Is Aipac Too Powerful?”
Two ghastly pieces published at The Independent, a British newspaper, provided further depressing proof that the journalistic left is no defender of free speech. Alleged stand-up comic Liam Evans came out for hate-speech laws to be enforced against comedians: “As a new comedian working the circuit, I’m appalled at disgusting ‘jokes’ creeping back into the industry -- Comedians, crying ‘free speech’ isn’t good enough -- hate crime laws should apply to all of us.” And an editor demanded that Salman Rushdie's The Satanit Verses be banned under "anti-hate legislation."
The trouble started with the headline under Karen Zraick’s story in Saturday’s New York Times on Rep. Ilhan Omar’s latest anti-Semitic controversy: “Lawmaker Stung Again By Remark About Israel.” During a discussion at a left-wing bookshop, Omar spouted, “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is O.K. for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country.” But the headline reads as if Omar didn’t so much make the remark, as the remark was something bad that happened to her.
New York Times reporter Michael Shear analyzed Donald Trump’s supposed admiration for strongmen, turning President Reagan’s admonition on its head against Trump: “For President, It’s Just ‘Trust,’ No ‘Verify.” Many conservatives have criticized Trump for his credulous remarks on what North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un knew about the treatment of American prisoner Otto Warmbier. But it’s a bit rich to hear the Times accusing someone else of embracing “strongmen," as Shear does: "...in more than two years in the Oval Office, the president has demonstrated an unmistakable pattern: He tends to believe what strongmen say."
New York Times environmental reporter Coral Davenport returned to a favorite subject on Friday, “As G.O.P. Trust in Climate Science Widens, an Isolated Trump Hunkers Down.” The administration is considering creating a panel to question the National Climate Assessment, which concluded last year that fossil fuels were raising the earth’s temperature to possibly catastrophic levels. The text box: “Exploring the idea of creating a panel to debunk facts.” By “facts,” Davenport means climate doomsaying over greenhouse gases and rising temperatures. And non-scientist Bill Nye got a strange shout-out.
“Trump Court Pick Causes Stir With Abortion View,” in Wednesday’s New York Times contained a hefty dose of extraneous “conservative” labeling: 12 “conservative” labels in non-quoted material in a 1,200-word story. Meanwhile, Times science reporter Denise Grady tried to quell any qualms from the paper’s liberal readership under the soothing headline: “‘Executing Babies’: Here Are the Facts Behind Trump’s Misleading Abortion Tweet -- Infants are rarely born alive after abortion procedures, and if they are, doctors do not kill them.”
New York Times Hollywood reporter Brooks Barnes made Tuesday’s front page with a petulant look at the Academy Awards and the Oscar-winning movie “Green Book": "While admired by some as a feel-good depiction of people uniting against the odds, the movie was criticized by others as a simplistic take on race relations, both woefully retrograde and borderline bigoted."
With special counsel Robert Mueller’s feverishly anticipated report on the Trump campaign’s alleged ties to Russia expected to drop soon, the front page of Tuesday’s New York Times threw the spotlight (and some air kisses) toward Andrew Goldstein, a prosecutor in Mueller’s office, in “Cautious and Calm Prosecutor Quietly Anchors Mueller Team.” The reporters also doled out some praise for Robert Mueller, "omnipotent fact-gatherer," and found strange significance that the Obama-donating Goldstein's father was a Republican-appointed U.S. attorney.
Today’s front-page story: 19 year-old hates job, rejects capitalism! That was indeed the big feature on the front of Monday’s New York Times: “Growing Up in U.K. and Giving Up on Capitalism.” It’s part of the paper’s left-wing “Britain’s Big Squeeze” series against so-called austerity measures in England. The online deck of headlines signals the paper making a purposeful shove to the left: “‘Austerity, That’s What I Know’: The Making of a U.K. Millennial Socialist -- Alex McIntyre, 19, was brought up in a Britain being reshaped by government cuts. He gave up on capitalism after a year in college.”
California’s Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom has made liberals crestfallen by conceding to fiscal reality and scaling back the massively expensive and delayed high-speed rail project. But Monday’s New York Times didn’t quite frame it that way: “California Curtails a Rail Project, Undercutting Dreams of Building Big." The online headline: “Can America Still Build Big?" The text was slightly less starry-eyed about California’s ambitious, European-style high-speed rail project than Fuller’s previous embarrassing story two years ago.
The New York Times devoted 2,200 words on the front of its Sunday Review opinion section to “Can Peer Pressure Defeat Trump?” The text box: “Democrats need millennials to turn out. These apps can help.” But the piece, which cheerleads for liberal millennials to pressure their friends into voting against Trump in 2020, didn’t come from an outside liberal writer, but Amy Chozick -- who covered the Hillary Clinton campaign for the paper in 2016. Now billed as a “writer at large," she no longer has to try to be objective -- not that she tried overly hard on the Clinton campaign.
The New York Times’ got rather overdefensive in Thursday’s “In Attack, Trump Aims ‘Enemy of the People’ Directly at The Times.” The paper stretched its complaint against Trump’s concerning slogan to cast blame on him for every worrisome development experienced by a Times (or Washington Post) journalist anywhere: "They have added up to a rough few days for freedom of the press, a once-sacrosanct American notion that has been under sustained assault since Mr. Trump made fiery denunciations of journalists -- and the rallying cry “Fake news!”-- into hallmarks of his campaign and presidency."
New York Times reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg went into a defensive crouch on behalf of the Democratic Party as it was being “vilified” by the GOP in Monday’s “Republicans Hope to Sway Voters With Labels That Demonize Democrats.” The online headline was even less objective: “Republicans Already Are Demonizing Democrats as Socialists and Baby Killers.” Stolberg’s lead resembled more the work of a whining liberal columnist than a hard-nosed political reporter: "In the 116th Congress, if you’re a Democrat, you’re either a socialist, a baby killer or an anti-Semite."
The New York Times Sunday Review devoted its entire front page to unembarrassed, literal climate panic. It’s right there in the headline, over a blood-red background: “Time to Panic.” The subhead: “The planet is getting warmer in catastrophic ways. And fear may be the only thing that saves us.” It was penned by New York magazine’s literary editor David Wallace-Wells, who is evidently trying his hand at apocalyptic fiction. He previously tried to instill panic in the population with his alarmist piece in the summer of 2017, “The Uninhabitable Earth.” Now he’s imported it to the paper, 3,000 words of it.
The New York Times’ reaction to the anti-Semitic controversies engulfing two freshmen Democrats shows that “whataboutism” -- trying to discredit an opponent's position by charging them with hypocrisy -- is no longer “the last refuge of scoundrels” but is back in favor. Mark Landler used Democratic-friendly rhetoric to change the subject and tar Trump as the one with the anti-Semitism problem, in “Trump, No Stranger to Jewish Stereotypes, Rejects Ilhan Omar’s Apology.” Sheryl Gay Stolberg’s story, “In Surprise Vote, House Republicans Lift Anti-Semitism to Political Issue,” also had a distinct “Republicans pounce” vibe, casting Omar and Rashida Tlaib as poor, passive victims of cynical Republicans: