Clay Waters was director of Times Watch, a former project of the Media Research Center.
Latest from Clay Waters
A new Netflix offering, The Highwaymen, is the story of the murderous bank-robber duo Bonnie and Clyde, with a twist: The tale is told from the other side. It’s advertised as “the untold true story of the legendary detectives who brought down Bonnie and Clyde,” with the lawmen played by Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson. It debuted on Netflix last week, and the film put New York Times movie critic A.O. Scott in a grumpy and sour mood – a disposition he projects upon the law-and-order audience he assumes is the movie’s audience. His review led off with moral preening and political disapproval.
New York Times Magazine staff writer Jonathan Mahler and media reporter Jim Rutenberg teamed on a colossal, three-part investigation of Rupert Murdoch’s family drama and media empire that served as a hit piece on Fox News. The Times offensively attempted to tie the network to recent anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim terrorist attacks: "...some Fox News hosts and guests had been moving ever closer to openly embracing the most bigoted sentiments of the white-nationalist movement. A few days before the anti-Semitic attack on a Pittsburgh synagogue that killed 11 Jewish worshipers, a guest on Lou Dobbs’s show had said that a migrant caravan headed to the United States border from Honduras was being funded by the “Soros-occupied State Department.”
New York Times Magazine staff writer Jonathan Mahler and media reporter Jim Rutenberg teamed on a colossal, three-part investigation of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire (and family drama), using the mogul’s sale of his 21st Century Fox empire to Walt Disney as the catalyst for an incredibly noxious hit piece on Fox News, which is accused of virtually everything wrong with the world. The tone is amazingly ideological and personally hostile, perhaps the most virulent and conspiracy-minded attack on Fox News ever issued by the paper, certainly the longest one, against some stiff competition. It reads more like a paranoid left-wing screed from The Nation or In These Times than it does content for an objective newspaper.
New York Times reporter Campbell Robertson was puzzled, wondering how the February scandals of Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, accused of posing either in a Klan hood or blackface, and Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, accused by two women of sexual assault, somehow faded into the ether. Actually there’s no mystery: It’s because the politicians are Democrats, and Republicans threaten to take over the Virginia General Assembly in November 2020.
Tuesday’s New York Times kept track of new allegations of inappropriate behavior with women by potential Democratic candidate Joe Biden with “Second Woman Says Biden Made Her Uncomfortable,” by Sydney Ember and Jonathan Martin. Yet half the story was composed of strenuous denials and unrelated minor gaffes by right-leaning entities, in what seemed a ham-handed attempt to distract from or neutralize Biden’s behavior: "Mr. Biden’s advisers believe that the more the right pushes images of him, real or fake, the more it will help them persuade Democrats that Republicans are trying to derail a potential challenger who performs best in polls against President Trump...."
The latest New York Times Sunday Magazine found room for 11,000 words by Nathan Thrall to push the anti-Israel, often anti-Semitic, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. (B.D.S.) Thrall is a director at the International Crisis Group, which the paper notes but fails to mention is funded by the Gulf state of Qatar, which funds the anti-Jewish terrorist group Hamas. The deck of headlines for Thrall’s story: “The Battle Over B.D.S. How the Battle Over Israel and Anti-Semitism Is Fracturing American Politics -- The growing prominence of the B.D.S. movement -- and the backlash to it -- is widening fault lines from college campuses to Capitol Hill.”
The April 2019 issue of Esquire features a long, eye-opening article on how attacks on Trump may have permanently damaged the media’s reputation (always fragile) for objectivity. Boyer's main focus was the New York Times: “Donald Trump Changed The New York Times. Is It Forever? -- Donald Trump has shattered presidential standards. In response, The New York Times and other elite news organizations have scrapped their rigorous, long-held standards of objectivity. But will the Times’s changes have unintended consequences? And what does Trump himself think of all this?" The president had some criticism for one Times story in particular.
New York Times reporter Nicholas Fandos has for two years spun in favor of the Democrats’ Russian collusion theory, supporting Robert Mueller and Democrats on the committee, especially ranking member (now chairman) Rep. Adam Schiff. He did so again after Republicans demanded Schiff resign from the House Intelligence Committee in Friday’s “Demands for Ouster at Explosive House Hearing.” Fandos’ revealed his apparent disdain for the Republican move: "It went downhill from there."
New York Times reporter Peter Baker managed to peel himself away from the Mueller report long enough to lavish almost 1,400 words on a biography of the late first lady Barbara Bush, The Matriarch, on Thursday: “To Barbara Bush, Donald Trump Represented ‘Greed, Selfishness.’ The story’s text box expanded the argument: “Because of Mr. Trump, Mrs. Bush gave up on her party.” Baker reveled in Barbara Bush’s hostility toward Trump, and Nancy Reagan.
Reporters and columnists took a petulant tone in Wednesday’s New York Times in the aftermath of the Mueller report and the Trump Administration’s triumphant reaction. One can visualize gritted teeth and pursed lips of the paper’s journalists reporting on Trump administration insiders, celebrating vindication, But fear not, there is hope for the Democrats. Wednesday’s lead story, “Move to Nullify Health Care Act Roils Democrats,” had this cheery text box summary: “A chance to shift the conversation from the Mueller report.”
Days after the Mueller report dropped with a thud, disappointing the vengeful left, the New York Times is hurriedly changing the subject and burying the lead, moving on from “collusion” to unsubstantiated hints that Trump could still be guilty of something. Tuesday’s front-page story found reporters desperately spinning the subject to “obstruction of justice” while smearing Attorney General Bob Barr’s motives: “Barr’s Move Ignites a Debate: Is He Impartial?”
With the Mueller report out and the top-line conclusions (no “collusion,” no obstruction of justice) thoroughly chewed over, the New York Times is clearly disappointed. A “live update” featured these petulant subheads, blaming the Republicans for taking political advantage of Trump’s vindication: “Trump immediately attacks ‘the other side.’ "“Minutes after the details are released, Republicans say it’s time to move on." And the paper’s former Washington bureau chief David Leonhardt bashed Attorney General Barr to pressure him to release the full report or else be condemned as Trump’s lackey.
Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia interference in the 2016 elections is over, after finding no Trump-Russia conspiracy and issuing no indictments against Americans. With “collusion” a dead letter, the liberal press is investing hope in the other charge, “obstruction of justice.” A story by the New York Times focused on that other avenue in “Barr Goes Beyond Mueller in Clearing Trump on Obstruction, Drawing Scrutiny.” The Times unleashed this snide comment that's apparently already been discredited: "Mr. Mueller failed to reach a conclusion on whether to prosecute Mr. Trump after nearly two years of work, but Mr. Barr, with Mr. Rosenstein’s help, decided in a single weekend."
In May 2017, Robert Mueller was appointed special counsel to look into issues around possible Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, which the media and Democrats quickly boiled down to a single word, “Collusion,” a vague charge which Donald Trump nonetheless was almost surely guilty of when it came to Russia. Twenty-two months later, the report has been issued and been summarized by Attorney General William Barr. Mueller and his team issued no indictments against Donald Trump or anyone in the Trump administration. To mark the end, here’s an extremely incomplete list of occasions Times reporters, editorialists and columnists freely tossing around the accusation of “collusion."
After 22 months of speculation, special counsel Robert Mueller released to Attorney General Bill Barr on Friday afternoon his report on allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 election (which the press and Democrats winnowed down to the catch-all accusation of “collusion”). While the report itself is under wraps, thus far it appears Mueller and his team have wrapped up their investigation without charging any Americans for conspiring with Russia. Saturday’s New York Times front page was laden with petulance and disappointment.
New York Times reporter Penelope Green filed an ostensible news story that read more like an earnest undergraduate paper (full of lines sure to mortify when read later) celebrating “second-wave” feminist Carol Gilligan: “Healing a Rupture That Spawns Patriarchy -- Carol Gilligan talks about male privilege, women’s silence, listening and lifting new voices.” Green's "news" story sounds more like an embarrassingly overwritten undergrad paper: "Incidentally, the “cleaning house” that Ms. Kondo teaches is exactly what many want to do with the patriarchy."
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has given up on helping rural whites, judging from his Tuesday column, “Getting Real About Rural America.” The text box: “Nobody knows how to reverse the heartland’s decline.” To strengthen his attack on rural Americans, Krugman hints that social welfare programs often do no good, an interesting perspective from a liberal economist. He shed crocodile tears for rural America, while passive-aggressively sticking the knife in: "Even then, rural areas and small towns weren’t the 'real America,' somehow morally superior to the rest of us."
New York Times reporter Richard Fausset used his slot in the lead National section Tuesday to dump guilt on Duke University in the name of racial and social justice for rejecting permission to use their land to aid an expensive light-rail project: “Opposition By College May Quash Rail Project – Some See Duke’s Veto As Insensitive to Poor.” The online headline emphasized emotion: Durham Dreamed of a Transit Line. Duke University All but Killed It.” Anti-Duke, anti-“privilege” animus seeps through each sentence along with horror that a supposedly “progressive” (at least for the South) institution would fail to go along with a liberal public boondoggle.
New York Times David Leonhardt’s Monday column came right out and said it: “Trump Encourages Violence.” The Times is trying to find a rise of hate crimes that it can blame on the president. Trump made some rhetorical flourishes in an interview with the right-wing news site Breitbart, which nonetheless didn’t rise to the level of a “threat,” and certainly not the “white nationalist” threat Leonhardt tried so hard to prove: "The president’s continued encouragement of violence -- and of white nationalism -- is part of the reason that white-nationalist violence is increasing."
Nina Totenberg, National Public Radio's legal affairs correspondent, talked to Grant Reeher on public radio station WRVO, warning about the Supreme Court’s threat to abortion rights, criticizing the hearing performance of Brett Kavanaugh, and denying her outlet’s liberal bias. The NPR member station, which serves New York state from the campus of SUNY-Oswego, posted on Friday some transcribed highlights from Reeher’s half-hour interview with Totenberg, whose liberal bona fides are well-established on NewsBusters.