Clay Waters was director of Times Watch, a former project of the Media Research Center.
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New York Times reporters Katie Rogers and Maggie Haberman were offended that President Trump doesn’t like to watch CNN, using a leaked anecdote from Air Force One for a full-page story Wednesday: “A Bit of a Stir’ Aboard Air Force One: A TV Tuned to CNN.” The headline writers went overboard. The text box: “A president who rages against reality wants to keep the remote control for himself.” The online headline: “Spotting CNN on a TV Aboard Air Force One, Trump Rages Against Reality.” So in Timesland, “reality” equals CNN?
In Wednesday’s New York Times, Michael Wines targeted Commerce Secretary Wilbur L. Ross Jr.’s explanations for why the Trump administration added a question about citizenship to the 2020 census -- or more accurately, re-added and expanded. In “A Question’s Murky Path Onto the 2020 Census,” Wines went on the warpath against a very basic proposed Census question about citizenship, one that last appeared on a Census form -- the “long-form” version -- in 2000 (the next to last Census taking).
Jaclyn Peiser’s front-page New York Times autopsy for a fading New York tabloid, “Daily News, Lean but Brassy New York Staple, Cuts Staff in Half.” Peiser mourned the brutal downsizing announced at the local tabloid rival whose hard-left turn in recent years failed to save it. The right-leaning New York Post, on the other hand, is clearly loathed by the Times.
New York Times “Interpreter” writer Max Fisher made Monday’s front page with his overwrought 1,500-word criticism of Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, as no longer democratic: “Israel, Riding Nationalist Tide, Puts Identify First. It Isn’t Alone.” The online headline suggests Israel is in the lead of the awful movement -- this after two years of fretful articles from the Times about the nationalist right taking hold in Hungary and Poland and Turkey: “Israel Picks Identity Over Democracy. More Nations May Follow.”
The New York Times indulged in some self-owning irony on Sunday’s front page under the byline of Jim Rutenberg and Ben Protess. The subject was American Media Inc., the tabloid company that publishes the National Enquirer: "Federal authorities examining the work President Trump’s former lawyer did to squelch embarrassing stories before the 2016 election have come to believe that an important ally in that effort, the tabloid company American Media Inc., at times acted more as a political supporter than as a news organization, according to people briefed on the investigation." The high irony of that sentence evidently escaped The Times.
“Teenagers Fight Climate Change, From the Front -- Meet the Leaders of a National Movement Called Zero Hour," reads the headline. Is it a press release? An opinion piece? No, a full-page “news” story in Sunday’s New York Times, , following the same laudatory tone and lack of journalistic rigor that characterized the paper's coverage of the last children's crusade, for gun control.. Alexandra Yoon-Hendricks, intern-reporter at the New York Times, orchestrated the fawning interviews of six representatives of the ostensibly teen-led movement at the D.C. offices of the Sierra Club.
Israel, always to blame at the New York Times. A front-page photo of fleeing Palestinian protestors at the Gaza border was deceptively captioned: “Israel Strikes in Gaza – Protesters at the Gaza border flee from an Israeli air assault on Friday. One Israeli soldier and four Palestinians were killed.” The picture introduced Isabel Kershner’s story , “Israel Launches Broad Air Assault in Gaza Following Border Violence.” From neither headline would you learn that it was the Palestinians that attacked first by assassinating an Israeli soldier, with Israel retaliating. Kershner’s story also implied faulty timelines making Israel appear the aggressor.
The media is ready to convict President Trump of “treason” for his shaky summit in Helsinki with Russian dictator Vladimir Putin and has been obsessed with Trump’s supposed “collusion” with Russia during the 2016 election campaign. But this new-found fear of all things Russia is more than a little politically expedient. The New York Times is just one outlet that dismissed the very idea of Russia as a threat back in the spring of 2012, mocking then-Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney:" Two decades after the end of the cold war, Mitt Romney still considers Russia to be America’s ‘No. 1 geopolitical foe.’ His comments display either a shocking lack of knowledge about international affairs or just craven politics. Either way, they are reckless and unworthy of a major presidential contender."
New York Times' Alice Hines has blessed us with “The Ultimate List of Cool Happenings -- Man-free zones, a Native gathering, a leather weekend, witch camps, a trans pageant and music and dance events.” The full-page article was radically counterculture even for the Times -- so far left that segregating by race and sex, reviled in all other contexts, became totally “cool” again. “A gathering for non-binary Native Americans, and perhaps most “problematic” (to coin a phrase): “Sweden’s inaugural 'man-free' music festival.”
New York Times reporter Trip Gabriel was clearly smitten with Richard Ojeda, a Democratic congressional candidate in West Virginia, who rose out of the Times-supported teachers strikes in that state. The gushing headline matched the story’s enthusiasm: “How to Flip Coal Country? Ask the Democrat in Combat Boots.” Gabriel was busy arranging flattering vignettes for the Democratic candidate: "Even more than for his politics, Mr. Ojeda is known for his big personality, with a gung-ho idea of leadership and a rousing speaking style. He is George Patton with an Appalachian twang and minus the profanity."
Somini Sengupta made Wednesday’s New York Times front page with “In India, Summer Heat Becomes a ‘Silent Killer’ -- 111-Degree Days Hit Poor the Hardest.” First, insert the Mort Sahl joke about a post-Armaggedon Times headline: "World Ends, Women & Minorities Hardest Hit." Then notice that one obvious solution goes almost completely unmentioned: Air conditioning. Why not? That’s where the paper’s knee-jerk concern for the poor crosses its knee-jerk “save the planet” instincts. Air conditioning may be good for people, but “it’s hurting the planet.”
“Summer of Rage,” feminist author Rebecca Traister’s entry for New York magazine, actually attacked the Democratic Party and journalists from the left while defending harassment of Trump officials in public. The online subhead set the tone: “White men are the minority in the United States -- no wonder they get uncomfortable when their power is challenged.”
The labeling bias came straight from the very top of the New York Times lead National section story Monday. Richard Fausset reported from Georgia under the headlines, “A Race Pivots on Guns, Saws and Trucks – In Georgia’s heated G.O.P. runoff, two candidates for governor court voters on the far right.” Fausset played up the controversies and heated rivalry in Georgia, while a story on the emerging Democratic 2020 presidential choices was sedate and politely headlined: “Warren Is Warming Up for 2020. So Are Many Other Democrats.”
The front page of Sunday’s New York Times brought the expected comprehensive dissection of President Trump’s second Supreme Court justice nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, in 4,500 words: “Trump’s Choice: Beltway Insider Born And Bred – Father Was A Lobbyist – Supreme Court Nominee Is Being Promoted as Business Friendly.” A photo caption online made the ideological toneclear: “The Supreme Court nomination of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, center with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Vice President Mike Pence, is the culmination of a 30-year conservative movement to shift the judiciary to the right.”
President Trump’s visit to the United Kingdom was accompanied by attacks on British Prime Minister Theresa May and London Mayor Sadiq Khan. Saturday’s “fact check” by New York Times London-based digital editor Palko Karasz took objection solely to the attacks on Khan: “Gauging London’s Record On Crime and Terrorism.” Karasz claimed to employ “expert analysis,” but actually made excuses and blamed the Conservative government, inequality, and “austerity” -- anything but the actual mayor of London.
Things got frenzied at a House hearing on the federal investigation into possible Russia influence in the Trump campaign, as Republicans lobbed accusations at anti-Trump FBI agent Peter Strzok, who responded by accusing them of playing into Vladimir Putin’s hands, while a Democrat said he deserved a Purple Heart. Strzok’s play of the Russia card worked for the Times, where an editor liked his quote enough to make it the story’s text box: “Another milestone in our enemies’ campaign to tear America apart.”
Reporter Penelope Green feted a "cute" new politically mixed couple in nauseating fashion and with a partisan edge in the New York Times. The mischaracterizations started in the subhead: "Margaret Hoover and John Avlon: Lessons of a Post-Partisan Union -- A great-granddaughter of a G.O.P. president and a centrist CNN anchor make peace. Green led off by ludicrously labeling Hoover a “conservative,” which is as inaccurate as the subhead labeling Avlon a CNN “centrist.”
The New York Times will never forgive conservative Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker for taming his state's public unions and then surviving the vengeance of a union-funded recall election. It found another line of attack in Thursday’s Arts section: Book critic Jennifer Szalai’s laudatory look at The Fall of Wisconsin: The Conservative Conquest of a Progressive Bastion and the Future of American Politics by liberal author Dan Kaufman. Szalai idn’t mention that Kaufman, who has also contributed to the far-left Nation magazine, has written several passionate encomiums to Wisconsin unions for the paper.
California has released its annual “hate crime” report, and the media is eagerly pouncing on an opportunity to blame a statistically measured increase of race-based crime on Donald Trump. The Los Angeles Times and Newsweek took advantage to blame President Donald Trump’s "violent rhetoric" for "helping fuel the surge." Yet the uptick started in 2015.
The front page of Monday’s Boston Globe once again featured a hostile anti-Trump story by Annie Linskey, who saw racism in every turn of phrase and policy decision: “Trump's joy ride on a third rail: President turning caustic racial comments into policy.” Linskey showed no journalistic skepticism before tying every policy or idea Trump supports into one seamless racist garment.