Clay Waters was director of Times Watch, a former project of the Media Research Center.
Latest from Clay Waters
Jay Michaelson, legal affairs columnist at The Daily Beast (plus appearances on CNN and MSNBC) has an advanced degree in Jewish Thought. But that didn’t stop him from sounding appallingly ignorant, finding excuses for black liberal anti-Semitism in “What’s Behind the New Wave of Anti-Semitic Hate? -- The suspect in the Monsey, NY stabbings has some things in common with classic anti-Semitic conspiracists, but the differences between them may be more important.”
Reporter Liz Robbins wrapped up the year in left-wing athletic activism on the front of the New York Times sports page New Year’s Day, though she put it in more flattering terms in “Playing for Trophies, and for Change.” Robbins doesn't seem to like sports: "Long a bastion for abuse, homophobia, misogyny and injury, the sporting world has started to embrace diversity, vulnerability, gender equity and activism." Hooray?
Criticize the media, and you’re threatening the freedoms and lives of journalists. That’s the gist of the story from New York Times media reporter Michael Grynbaum: “After Another Year of Trump Attacks, ‘Ominous Signs’ for the American Press -- Threats of ‘retribution,’ more accusations of ‘fake news’ and the end of the White House briefing made 2019 the darkest yet for journalists in the Trump era.”
Michiko Kakutani, former chief book critic for the New York Times, saw out the decade in paranoid fashion, laying out her left-wing overview of the 2010s in the Sunday Review, “The End of Normal -- Over the past decade, social media, the Great Recession and Donald Trump combined to bring out the ‘indigenous American berserk." She ranted: "With his calls to 'Make America Great Again,' Mr. Trump appealed to a different sort of nostalgia -- for an era when white men were in charge and women, African Americans, Hispanics and immigrants knew their place."
Reporter Shane Goldmacher had some hard-hitting news from the Sen. Elizabeth Warren campaign trial that made the front of Saturday’s New York Times. Her poll struggles as the voting public rejects her far-left plans to re-make health care and business? Not quite: “She Has a Plan For Telephoning Early and Often.” (That’s an affectionate take-off on Warren’s assurances of “having a plan” for everything.) The online headline deck: “‘Call Me Elizabeth’: Inside the Hours Elizabeth Warren Spends on the Phone -- She makes time to talk to kids, celebrities and state legislators. She’s not asking for money. She just wants to say hello -- and to court good will.
Rolling Stone’s Peter Wade interviewed NBC political director and Meet the Press host Chuck Todd. Wade provided some publicity for a very special Meet the Press airing December 29, featuring big media bosses discussing the spread of disinformation: "Chuck Todd has had a front-row seat for the spread of disinformation while hosting NBC’s Meet the Press." Todd spouted: "So I do think that is something that this sort of cheering on falsehoods for sport, wow, have we gone off the rails on the right side of the silo of the conversation that’s taking place."
New York Times’ former Washington bureau chief-turned-columnist David Leonhardt has found the problem with the press -- they’re just too middle of the road: “What About Centrist Bias?” The subject line to Monday’s e-mail newsletter questioned the existence of “Liberal bias?” The online headline made it clearer: “How ‘Centrist Bias’ Hurts Sanders and Warren -- The media has a bigger problem than liberal bias.”
This Christmas, could you please spare a thought for the truly unfortunate: D.C. political journalists deprived of holiday parties surrounded by members of the Trump Administration (whom they despise)? The front of the New York Times Sunday Styles section was a microcosm of self-absorbed journalists indulging themselves over the holidays: “The Pall Before Christmas.” It was written by Shawn McCreesh, previously an editorial assistant to Maureen Dowd and who here shares Dowd’s contemptuous irreverence toward Trump.
An odd lead story choice for the New York Times National section Sunday: A fawning profile of the latest resistance leader...thriller author Richard North Patterson? “But nothing he has addressed in his novels, Mr. Patterson says, is as urgent or scary as the events taking place right now in real life. Now 72 years old, he has put thrillers behind him -- the high-wire stories set in courtrooms, in the White House, in countries torn by civil strife -- and embarked on something else entirely: writing about politics in the age of Donald J. Trump."
New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof continued his peculiar tradition of devoting columns approaching religious holidays to asking various religious figures if one really had to believe in the Virgin Birth or the Resurrection to be considered a Christian. The latest entry came Sunday, three days before Christmas. He spoke to evangelist author Philip Yancey for “Was Mary a Virgin? Does it Matter?” His opening question: "Merry Christmas! And let me start by asking about that first Christmas. Do you believe in the Virgin Birth? Doesn’t that seem like one of those tall tales that people tell to exaggerate an event’s significance?"
New York Times reporter Liam Stack joined the mob against Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling for transgender wrong-think on Thursday. The headline deck was indeed stacked against Rowling: "J.K. Rowling Criticized After Tweeting Support for Anti-Transgender Researcher -- Ms. Rowling expressed support for a researcher whose views on transgender people were condemned by a court on Wednesday as ‘incompatible with human dignity.’" Stack’s reporting is notoriously snarky and slanted, even in the context of the Times, and his take on Rowling’s bow to basic biology aligned with her knee-jerk critics on Twitter. He put Rowling on defensive in the lead[.]
The New York Times has invested three years of hostile coverage on Brexit and mockery of the (once) hopeless crusade of Boris Johnson to become British Prime Minister. Once in office, Johnson was vilified for attempting to lead the United Kingdom out of the European Union. The Times has blamed the Brexit push for, among other things, shorter life spans; racist and Islamophobic attacks, even “Talibanization.” Brexit supporters were mocked for “virtually cultlike certitude"; an opinion contributor insulted Brexit voters as “old people, 80 and above, wearing blank stares.” Feverish anti-Brexit, anti-Boris bias emanated from the Times in the run-up to Election Day December 12, which ended up wildly successful for the Conservative Party.
The New York Times was unhappy with Trump’s “6-Page Diatribe” Trump to Speaker Nancy Pelosi attacking her for the looming vote on his impeachment. A jump page to Wednesday’s lead story featured this text box: “A missive full of unproven charges that ignores the evidence.” Fact-checker Linda Qiu also tackled what she called Trump’s “rambling and angry letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi.” But in her rush to correct him point by point, several of her corrections fizzled.
The New York Times has gotten itself mired in more controversy and embarrassment of its own making while spending the last week desperately trying to put a negative spin on President Trump’s recent executive order to fight anti-Semitism on college campuses: "The order will effectively interpret Judaism as a race or nationality, not just a religion..." Wrong, said people who actually read the order.
Donald Trump had a decent week politically and New York Times columnists couldn’t handle it, responding in different bizarre ways. Business columnist James Stewart responded with a galling story, “Trump Has Weaponized the Inspector General.” So the Democrats have been weaponizing impeachment since before Donald Trump was even in office -- but suddenly an accurate summation of the ethical meltdown by the F.B.I., as revealed by the Inspector General report, is “weaponizing” and badly political? And columnist Michelle Goldberg melted down (again).
Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch, the deluded duo of former journalists behind Fusion GPS, the Democratic opposition research group responsible for the discredited “dossier” from British spy Christopher Steele, has put out a calling card for business in Great Britain: “Britain needs its own Mueller report on Russian ‘interference.’” Simpson and Fritsch, who helped snarl Donald Trump and his staff in years of bad-faith investigations, may be aiming for new political markets now that the U.S. establishment has belatedly gotten wise after a devastating Inspector General report.
The New York Times demonstrated more strange new respect for Christianity in a prominent story by contributing opinion writer Molly Worthen, including a graphic that took up the entire front of the Sunday Review: “What Would Jesus Do About Inequality?” Push birth control, hate the Koch brothers, and read journalist Jane Mayer, evidently: "Participants are moving beyond the idolatry of the free market to a conversation about economic justice..."
New York Times reporter Marc Tracy made the front of Friday’s Business section with a story on press outrage over the treatment of late Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter Kathy Scruggs, in “Richard Jewell,” directed by Clint Eastwood. Journalists are suddenly outraged over the common practice of Hollywood fictionalizing stories based on real life by adding details to juice up the story. Many movies have portrayed journalists as fictionally heroic without any complaints. But now that Eastwood is holding up irresponsible journalism in an unflattering light, the press is in full howl.
Does the New York Times truly want a quota system for artistic excellence? That’s the gist of Friday's piece by reporters Nicole Sperling and Brooks Barnes, “Female Filmmakers Slighted Yet Again.” With the Times’ approval, the art police are manning (oops, sorry) the perimeters, marking the limits of permitted creativity: "Some are also troubled by the large number of Oscar contenders that feature (white) men lamenting a changing world."
Wired magazine contributing editor Garrett Graff, who is also a CNN contributor, indulged in leftist paranoia this week in “Fox News Is Now a Threat to National Security -- The network’s furthering of lies from foreign adversaries and flagrant disregard for the truth have gotten downright dangerous.” He ranted: "The network’s pantheon of Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Lou Dobbs, and the rotating couch-cast of Fox & Friends’ morning show dunces-by-choice together represent a level of ill-informed demagoguery that would make Father Coughlin and Huey Long wince."