Clay Waters

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Clay Waters was director of Times Watch, a former project of the Media Research Center. His new mystery is titled Death In The Eye.

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New York Times Public Editor Liz Spayd conducted a rather cagey and testy talk with Adrienne LaFrance of The Atlantic Monthly. Perhaps Spayd sensed that her interlocutor was armed for bear: The Atlantic journalist comes off almost accusatory when she says Spayd “has developed a reputation for being more interested in ideological balance, for better and for worse” than her predecessor Margaret Sullivan. It’s pretty clear that LaFrance and her media colleagues think it’s for the worst and that they were more comfortable with Sullivan, who focused on bean-counting feminism. The headline was a giveaway: “A Conversation With Liz Spayd, the Controversial Public Editor of The New York Times.”


Monday’s New York Times used a new White House office to go after a conservative who represents two of the things it most loathes: limits on immigration and crackdowns on vote fraud. Both trends are encapsulated in the person of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Reporters Michael Wines and Julie Bosman penned: “A ‘Passionate’ Seeker of Voter Fraud in Kansas Gets a National Soapbox.”


Irony alert: Fear of conservative media bias made the front page of the New York Times. The front-page story in Saturday’s edition. featured media reporter Sydney Ember taking another bite out of Sinclair Broadcast Group, which owns local television stations in many markets: “TV Titan’s Tilt On the News Roils Its Staff.” The Times, you see, is worried about political bias – not the obvious liberal tile of CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, etc., but the alleged right-tilt of Sinclair! The text box is particularly rich, coming in a time when all the broadcast networks and all but one cable outlet are weighted heavily against the sitting Republican president: “Sinclair Requires TV Stations to Air Segments That Tilt to the Right.”


Friday’s New York Times featured an obscure bit of history of interest to liberal Kennedy devotees, including perhaps Times reporter Matthew Haag, who used the hook to hang up some seriously starry-eyed hagiography in his news story, “Sounds of a Young Kennedy In a Harvard Classroom."


Name that party, New York Times edition. On Friday, reporter Matt Stevens covered the verdict in the trial former Democratic Rep. Corrine Brown: “Ex-Congresswoman Is Guilty Of Operating a Fake Charity.” It would seem a juicy story of liberal hypocrisy and greed. Yet the Times initially failed to even mention that Brown is a Democrat, though it had every chance in the 571-word story to cite her Democratic party affiliation.


Wednesday’s New York Times came to the passionate defense of “unauthorized immigrants” (don’t call them illegals!) in danger in “ultraconservative” Texas, and landed some ideological left jabs at the state in the process. Reporters Manny Fernandez and David Montgomery filed a hostile, label-stuffed story from Houston (and notice the quote marks around the term “sanctuary cities”: “With Measure Banning ‘Sanctuary Cities,' Texas Pushes Further to the Right.” Fernandez often looks askance at the scary conservatives who apparently dominate his Texas beat.


The front of the New York Times "Business Day" section on Tuesday featured media reporters Sydney Ember and Michael J. de la Merced's story “Sinclair Will Pay $3.9 Billion For Tribune.” With the imminent sale of Tribune Media to the Sinclair Broadcast Group, the Times has rediscovered a convenient concern for media bias -- conservative bias, that is. The online headline was more opinionated: “Sinclair Unveils Tribune Deal, Raising Worries It Will Be Too Powerful."


The New York Times can make even a local museum opening into an opportunity to fight the Trump presidency. On Sunday, Nick Madigan came out fighting for science under a loaded partisan headline: “A Shrine to Science Rises as Science Comes Under Siege.” Madigan was ostensibly marking the long-delayed opening of a sleek new science museum in Miami with a 500,000-gallon aquarium tank, but waited only three paragraphs before lighting into Florida’s Republican governor for insufficient panic in the face of the theory of “climate change,” the emergency nature of which the paper has been trying to convince the public of for years (that is, when it’s not appealing to its well-heeled readership by sponsoring $135,000 tours “Around the World by Private Jet” on a Boeing 757.)


New York Times Public Editor Liz Spayd again mixed it up a little with the paper’s intolerant liberal readership in “Bret Stephens Takes On Climate Change. Readers Unleash Their Fury.” Spayd has often criticized the paper from the left, but unlike her five predecessors in the Public Editor slot she’s also been willing to note that the Times often functions as a liberal echo chamber. She began by quoting Jim Thomas, a critic of the paper’s new conservative (and very anti-Trump) columnist Bret Stephens, “a gay man living in a red state” who evidently thinks himself tolerant because “He has friends who voted for Donald Trump and he interacts daily with people whose political views he finds questionable.” 


Gloom and doom greeted gave the president’s surprise victory on health care on the front of the New York Times. The paper gave the hard-fought legislative victory the same partisan treatment it gave to Trump’s tax cut proposals. The health care bill that would reverse parts of Obamacare, which squeaked through the House of Representatives, was a legislative victory fraught with “peril” from the paper’s perspective, with baleful predictions that echoed the Times’ treatment of the (shockingly successful) Trump presidential campaign.


The front of Thursday’s New York Times featured more wishful thinking on the part of the paper, which is still waiting for that off-year anti-Trump electoral surge: “Atlanta’s Suburbs Wonder if Newcomers Will Turn Them Blue.” Fausset threw some old, extraneous accusations of racism into the bargain, while emphasizing alleged conservative intolerance of liberals (in a world where the evidence of political intolerance is weighted in the other direction).


The front of Wednesday’s New York Times sported a 2,600-word enterprise piece by Katrin Bennhold with a peculiar focus on fellow journalists, those of the allegedly right-wing tabloid irresponsible variety: “Did Tabloids Cause ‘Brexit’? It’s Covered With Inky Fingerprints.”  Bennhold condescendingly blamed the right-wing tabloid press for Brexit (while her paper steadfastly denies its own pro-Clinton, anti-Trump slant throughout the last presidential campaign). 


Tuesday’s New York Times celebrated the Communist holiday May Day in its own predictable way, signing on to whatever the left was marching in outrage about this year. This time around the goals seemed a bit confused, beyond inchoate hatred for the elected president, but the paper enthusiastically played along with the “extraordinary” gatherings anyway: “On May Day, Marchers Fight for Myriad Goals,” by Jennifer Medina and Vivian Yee.


New York Times book critic Michiko Kakutani made the front of the Arts section Tuesday with her disgusted take on a new biography of Barack Obama by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David Garrow, “On Obama; And On, And On, And ON -- A biography takes a long, long look at the former president’s early years.”


The New York Times is rather desperately still trying to make the idea of a recent, election-related surge in hate crimes stick, even after so many infamous “hate crimes” have been exposed as hoaxes in the Trump era. The latest, from reporter Audra D.S. Burch, made the front of the National section of Monday’s Times, covering three-fourths of the page: “Lawmakers Seek Harsher Hate Crime Penalties.”


Saturday’s New York Times featured the paper unwittingly showing its anti-Trump tilt, with a full page "story' featuring the first 99 days of headlines from its coverage of the Trump Administration, in “(Almost) 100 Days Of Front Page Headlines About No. 45.” While the Times obviously thinks its headlines stand by themselves as some objective and reliable historical recording of the ebb and flow of the Trump Administration, in fact the word, subject, and tonal choices reveal a political double standard.


For two days running, the front page of the New York Times has delivered Democratic talking points about President Trump’s new tax cut plans. The banner over Thursday’s front page said it all, in big bold letters: “Tax Overhaul Would Aid Wealthiest.” The coverage lacked the vital context, pointed out by James Piereson in the Weekly Standard this week, that taxes have already been slashed for the poor and middle class, and it’s hard to structure a tax cut that doesn’t “favor the wealthy” in raw monetary terms. 


The New York Times has an unhealthy obsession with firearms. Recently the paper came in for mockery for a signed editorial that actually attacked the National Rifle Association for featuring guns in its gun museum. On Wednesday it trustingly latched on to a dubious study showing a correlation between gun ownership and road rage killings. Christopher Mele penned “Firearms and Drivers, A Lethal Combination – Rapid Rise in Road Rage Since 2014.”


Television critic James Poniewozik was featured on the front of the New York Times Arts section on Tuesday with another look by the paper at the “newly relevant” Hulu version of the feminist dystopian novel “The Handmaid’s Tale.” The Trump-baiting headline: "Making Dystopia Fresh Again -- Drawing on an Atwood novel that feels newly relevant." And another bogus lefty reference to current events is snuck in: Offred is a captive. Nevertheless, she persists...."


The New York Times is still treating FBI Director James Comey’s decision to reopen the case of Hillary Clinton’s emails as a leading factor in her loss. But the 7,500-word lead story in Sunday’s New York Times: “In Trying to Avoid Politics, Comey Shaped an Election – Behind-the-Scenes Handling of 2 Inquiries Thrust F.B.I. Into Center of Race” also contained a hidden “bombshell” that the Times should acknowledge to defend its own journalistic integrity against Democratic criticism.