Clay Waters was director of Times Watch, a former project of the Media Research Center.
Latest from Clay Waters
New York Times Berlin bureau chief Katrin Bennhold managed to make a shocking case of German media malpractice all about Trump, and fretted about how the “far right” in Europe would pounce on the controversy to tar the media, in “German Reporter Made Up Stories and Now Critics Are ‘Popping the Corks.’" Bennhold classlessly dragged the Nazis into the mix, putting the genocidal dictatorship in the same paragraph as the democratically elected Donald Trump.
New York Times reporter Julie Hirschfeld Davis delivered a not-particularly friendly farewell to House Speaker and former vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan of Wisconsin on Thursday. The story is notable for ideological labeling that’s severely slanted even for a Times story, with the prefix “ultra” dropped on Republicans no less than three times in this one report.
Vanity Fair is still investigating Kavanaugh. Evgenia Peretz, Vanity Fair contributing editor, posted a long expose of Kavanaugh’s alma mater: “‘Men for Others, My Ass’: After Kavanaugh, Inside Georgetown Prep’s Culture of Omertà.” Through guilt by association, she tried to imply the school’s code of silence was concealing something foul in Kavanaugh’s past (which she offers zero evidence for) and tied Kavanaugh to a shameful incident that happened at the school two decades after he graduated. The story began with fuzzily sourced observations from Georgetown Prep’s class of ’83 Homecoming this October, featuring cameos from the now-notorious crew from the senior yearbook.
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman was at his old “authoritarian” tricks again in “Conservatism’s Monstrous Endgame." The text box: “Apparatchiks are corroding the foundations of democracy.” Democracy has been dying quite a while in Krugland. Of the judge who declared the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional, he wrote, "...it’s about assaulting democracy in general. And the current state of the endgame is probably just the beginning; the worst, I fear, is yet to come."
The front page of Tuesday’s New York Times focused on the Trump administration “planning to roll back Obama-era policies aimed at ensuring that minority children are not unfairly disciplined, arguing that the efforts have eased up on punishment and contributed to rising violence in the nation’s schools.” Reporters Erica Green and Katie Benner don’t seem to approve of the move, though they make a stronger attempt at balance than the headlines: "Trump’s Parkland Inquiry Shifts To Attack on an Obama Legacy.” The inside-page headline: “Trump Parkland Panel Attacks Obama Policy On Race and Schools.”
Media reporter Jim Rutenberg’s column in Monday’s New York Times went after the National Enquirer for supposedly installing Donald Trump in the White House by withholding scandal dirt on him while throwing it at his opponents: “2016 Put Full Might Of a Tabloid On Display.” Curiously, Rutenberg didn’t come out against tabloid journalism per se, just its target; he would have preferred it to be directed toward hurting Donald Trump. The text box: “The Enquirer hid a story that seemed tailored to its mission.”
The front of the New York Times Sunday Review gave very unconvincing credence to the self-serving liberal idea of “authoritarian” Republican voters: “Is There Such a Thing as an Authoritarian Voter?" In case the point was missed, the inside page and online teaser to the story by Molly Worthen (a professor and contributing opinion writer) featured a photo of a speechifying President Trump. Even though it’s the Democratic Party that wants a larger, more intrusive federal government, more regulation, and favors speech-squelching in the form of online censorship of social conservative statements by big liberal companies (Google, Twitter), Worthen nevertheless ties Trump and Republicans in general to xenophobic and racist beliefs -- and (gasp!) disrespect for the media.
The ascension of Justice Brett Kavanaugh and his “angry” supporters still looms large in the liberal psyche, as shown in two otherwise unrelated articles in the January/February 2019 issue of the Atlantic magazine. Contributing editor Peter Beinart saw “The Global Backlash Against Women,” an extremely strained attempt to link international extremists with a feminist backlash. There was also a Kavanaugh link shoehorned into Charles Duhigg’s cover story on political anger: "Witness the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, in which the nominee and his Republican backers in the Senate denounced the proceedings in red-faced diatribes."
Reporter Ron Nixon recounted the story of a Guatemalan girl who died, possibly of dehydration, after her father illegally crossed the U.S. border, in Saturday’s New York Times. But Nixon and his headline writer weaponized the tragedy to immediately put Trump on the defensive: “White House Says It’s Not to Blame for Girl’s Death.” He laid blame directly at the Trump Administration’s feet, while also linking it to Trump’s “zero-tolerance” policy on illegal immigration: "A White House official said on Friday that the Trump administration was not responsible for the death of a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl who died from dehydration last week while in the custody of the Border Patrol."
The New York Times co-hosted a “Cities for Tomorrow” conference in New Orleans that promised a wide-ranging discussion including “cultural and sports figures.” One result was a Thursday story about the National Basketball Association congratulating itself on its “woke” politics and the Times cheering them on, while mocking the NFL’s treatment of Colin Kaepernick, in “N.B.A. Voices -- A league that lets players speak out.” But the paper’s embrace of the NBA is pretty hypocritical, given its part treatment of athletes who make conservative gestures. Reporter Talya Minsberg celebrated the left-wing concept of “wokeness” at length, while lamenting the NFL's treatment of Colin Kaepernick.
The New York Times had a sporting take on the unusual live-television argument that occurred in the White House on Tuesday, with President Trump squaring off against Democratic congressional leaders Sen. Charles Schumer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi over a border wall and a government shutdown: “Pelosi Tells Trump: ‘Don’t Characterize the Strength That I Bring.’” Reporters Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Annie Karni set the scene up as a boxing match, with Pelosi the winner by knockout. The Times even quoted Pelosi in the headline, indicating their collective enthusiasm for Pelosi’s liberal politics and her purported political victory in the Oval Office arena.
Entertainment Weekly’s 2018 year-end double issue wasn’t as politicized and anti-Trump as the 2017 edition, but it contained this stark contrast, a “Worst Books of 2018” sidebar mocking a Christian book author's "cultural appropriation" and "white privilege," that shared the page with an homage to former First Lady Michelle Obama and her autobiography Becoming.
“Midwest Power Grab May Fuel G.O.P. Backlash,” blared the New York Times front page. Lambasting Republicans for post-election legislative maneuvering has been a drumbeat recently at the Times, providing momentum for Democrats to finish in 2020 what they started in the House in 2018. Elsewhere reporter Emily Badger cried racism in the first sentence of “Urban-Rural Divide At Center of Fight In Wisconsin Politics.”
A scheduled vote in the U.K. Parliament on “Brexit” has just been postoned, adding to the national angst over the still-pending withdrawal by the United Kingdom from the European Union, which has been a source of bitter political fighting, and smug liberal media opposition. The New York Times has spent the intervening period mocking the majority of British people who voted for withdrawal in smug and juvenile terms, when it wasn’t actually blaming Brexit for violence and hate crimes. Benjamin Mueller and Ellen Barry revealed their sympathies through slanted labeling: “Britons on Both Sides of Brexit Take to London’s Streets in Dueling Protests.”
New York Times’ Susan Chira, a “senior correspondent and editor on gender issues,” interviewed Anita Hill for some reason for Friday’s paper, “Hill Reflects: ‘Clearly the Tide Has Not Turned.’” Hill is seen by the press as a victim of both Clarence Thomas and the all-white, all-male Senate Judiciary Committee who brutally questioned her and has achieved secular sainthood, so there are never any inconvenient questions. Interviewing and citing Hill in the aftermath of sexual allegations against Republicans is a regular thing at the paper now. This one is keyed to the accusations hurled against now-Judge Brett Kavanaugh, whom the paper promises “we’re still investigating.”
New York Times reporter Astead Herndon had an unwelcome surprise for Times readers on the front of Friday’s paper -- a bit of actual scrutiny of Democratic 2020 presidential hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren, based on her clumsy handling of a DNA test meant to prove she had Native American heritage: “Warren Facing Cloud of Anger Over DNA Test.” The story got some pushback within the mainstream liberal media -- no surprise -- but from an unlikely source: the paper’s own former opinion page editor Andrew Rosenthal (recently in the news for his 1992 fake news attack on George H.W. Bush over a supermarket checkout scanner).
The New York Times' lead story Thursday proved that its newish alarmist environmental reporter Kendra Pierre-Louis is a worthy successor to the paper’s previous alarmist environmental reporter, Justin Gillis, in “Emissions Surge, Hastening Perils Across The Globe – 2 New Warming Studies – Rising Greenhouse Gases Likened to ‘Speeding Freight Train.’” The lead sentence was even more histrionic than the left-wing Huffington Post’s take, which treated the carbon report as bad news but didn’t engage in wild extrapolation the way Pierre-Louis and her headline writer did.
New York Times reporter Peter Baker marked the ceremony for former President George H. W. Bush on the front of Thursday’s edition, but his main focus was on attacking one of the attendants: President Trump, through biased interpretation of body language and some light mind-reading. At a moment that promised bipartisan respect, the Times wants to deepen the very divisions it pretends to deplore. Baker condescended: "[Historian John Meacham] also essentially explained Mr. Bush’s thousand-lights phrase to Mr. Trump."
The New York Times vastly disparate treatment of Orthodox Jewish schools, or yeshivas, versus Islamic ones came into focus in Tuesday’s edition. The online headline was harsh: “Do Children Get a Subpar Education in Yeshivas? New York Says It Will Finally Find Out.” Reporter Eliza Shapiro was damning in her critique of the Jewish private schools for not teaching secular subjects. But the paper's past treatment of Islamic schools that teach only the Koran is far different, waving way concerns about lack of secular education. In 2006 the paper ran a puff piece on a Muslim center in Queens, under a jaunty headline, “Memorizing the Way to Heaven, Verse by Verse.”
New York Times reporter Peter Baker tastelessly marked the beginning of the four-day commemoration of the life of former President George H.W. Bush by....whining about the “dog whistle” racist Willie Horton ads from Bush’s successful 1988 campaign against Democrat Michael Dukakis. For 30 years, media conventional wisdom has been appalled at the supposedly racist campaign ads from the Bush camp criticizing the irresponsibly lax prison program of Massachusetts, which featured the story of Willie Horton, a convicted murderer who raped and killed a woman in Maryland while on a weekend furlough.