Clay Waters was director of Times Watch, a former project of the Media Research Center.
Latest from Clay Waters
New York Times Supreme Court beat reporter Adam Liptak used his “Sidebar” analysis to lapse into liberal judicial activist mode, praising Obama-appointed Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s unjudicial public opposition to the death penalty, “In Death Penalty Cases, Sotomayor Is Alone in ‘Bearing Witness.’” She was praised for maintaining "a sort of vigil in the capital cases other justices treat as routine." Liptak shows passionate devotion to the liberal side of the judicial decisions he covers, especially when that side loses.
New York Times reporters David Sanger and Neil Genzlinger marked the passing of Joseph Wilson, who became a media hero in 2003, when he published an op-ed in the New York Times challenging the Bush administration’s case for war in Iraq. He became a fierce anti-war activist against President Bush and the case for war against Saddam Hussein. The Times used Wilson’s death as a chance to push an incomplete, if not false, narrative regarding the evidence of Hussein’s weapons capability in the run-up to the Iraq War, just as it did at the time.
On Friday, New York Times reporter Jeremy Peters wrote about the purported right-wing, talk-radio centered news bubble around the Ukraine-impeachment imbroglio -- from the confines of his left-wing Times news bubble -- in “Talk of Misinformation, Just Not a Lot of Facts.” The online headline: “‘Everything You’re Seeing Is Deception’: How Right-Wing Media Talks About Impeachment -- The pro-Trump media has wasted no time constructing its own version of events about Ukraine.” Peters confidently informed his readership: "Their narrative omits key facts." So does the Times' own version.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s push for Brexit has made the New York Times lose its wits. Reporter Benjamin Mueller filed the audacious story on Friday: “Johnson Is Told His Slurs on Opponents Could Incite Violence – Female M.P.’s Against Brexit.” The text box: “Linking a leader’s incendiary language to death threats.” Such a story takes an amazing amount to nerve for the paper to publish, given that Brexiteers have been routinely smeared in the Times. The paper has blamed Brexit for, among other things, shorter life spans; racist and Islamophobic attacks, even “Talibanization.”
The New York Times is stepping up its attack against the “right-wing media,” while ludicrously insisting that it itself is objective, which no one buys. After ostensible “news” coverage hailing 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg, the editorial page devoted its entire space Friday to condemning media outlets who would question her heroism. “Climate Kids and Right-Wing Media” was the sole editorial in Friday’s edition, an unusual signed editorial from Charlie Warzel, “Opinion writer at large.” Warzel loved Thunberg, but loved her apparent defeat of the “right-wing media” even more.
The New York Times joined the rest of the mainstream press in hiding behind 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg’s angry, unscientific ranting before the United Nations to push a message of environmental apocalypse. Tuesday’s front-page story by “international climate reporter” Somini Sengupta and Lisa Friedman left out the full bitter flavor of Thunberg’s rant. The Times pronounced the so-called climate crisis as an undeniable scientific fact starting with the headline: “World Dawdles On Climate Aid As Clock Ticks.”
The New York Times unleashed a farrago of fear-mongering opinions over the weekend, targeting the Republican Party as dirty, dangerously dogmatic, and downright evil. Columnist Farhad Manjoo produced another example of his recent free-floating fear of the Republican Party in his thought experiment: “Tucker Carlson 2024.” The text box: “I imagined a president worse than Trump. Welcome to my nightmare.” The graphic showed host the popular Fox News host Carlson as a wounded cyborg with his metal frame showing from under his skin camouflage. Contributor Annalee Newitz profiled notorious moralist Anthony Comstock to compare him to modern-day social conservatives.
The Education of Brett Kavanuagh's disparate treatment of the dueling testimonies of Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh was striking. Ford's appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee was a “master class in authenticity and simplicity." The book downplayed the lack of specificity of Blasey’s account, laughably suggesting Blasey had her assault accusation narrowed down to “a conceivable location and time period." They event went after Ford's friend Leland Keyser for daring to doubt Ford's account: “But Keyser’s skepticism was structured on some erroneous or irrelevant tent poles...Keyser’s memory might be affected by her struggles with alcohol and other substances.”
It was not quite a year ago that the riveting hearing took place pitting the dueling testimonies of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford. New York Times reporter Robin Pogrebin parlayed her slanted reporting on the case and her Yale connection into a book deal with fellow reporter Kate Kelly. Both reporters contributed slanted anti-Kavanaugh reporting during the controversy, and retained the same tone for the book, The Education of Brett Kavanaugh – An Investigation.
The New York Times’ Saturday edition brought an update to the world-wide “climate strike” by schoolchildren from the paper’s apocalyptic-sounding international climate reporter Somini Sengupta. It's a huge two-page story with photos from around the world: “Young People Around the World Take It to the Streets.” The text box: “Anxious about the future and doing something about it.” Doing something about it apparently means skipping class.Sengupta wrote the introductory text for an even more panicky story in Saturday’s edition, “‘This Is Our Terrifying World,” featuring photographic profiles of six young climate activists worldwide.
Schoolkids around the world are cutting class Friday for the “climate,” and the New York Times is very excited (so much for the value of education). The editorial page was especially hyped up, issuing a call online for protest sign pictures: “Are You Going to the Climate Protest? We Want to See Your Sign! -- We want to share young people’s illustrations and videos with the world.” Thursday’s lead National story featured the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, accompanied by a huge promotional photo of Thunberg's testimony to Congress. “She Didn’t Mince Words: ‘Listen to the Scientists.’”
New York Times “climate reporter” Hiroko Tabuchi went to war against “secretive” conservative free-market groups that are fighting counter-productive regulations in Wednesday’s edition: “Warriors Against Environmental Rules Champion the Dishwasher.” Tabuchi found herself in the strange position of embracing corporate public-relations-speak from dishwasher manufacturers, in the cause of defending regulations.
New York Times national security correspondent David Sanger’s “news analysis” on the font page basically took Iran’s side in the fraught geopolitical confrontation over the recent attacks on oil fields in Saudi Arabia, against U.S. President Trump and his “tirades and untruths.” The online headline suggested Trump could be lying about the Iranian threat: “Trump’s Challenge: Can His Word on Iran Be Trusted?” Sanger used Trump’s exaggerations and fibs in his partisan speeches to suggest his word can’t be trusted on Iran (meanwhile, the Times has a history of whitewashing the mendacity of the Iranian regime).
The latest anti-Kavanaugh hit job comes in book form: “The Education of Brett Kavanaugh: An Investigation,” by New York Times reporters Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly. An excerpt appeared Sunday: “Brett Kavanaugh Fit In. She Did Not.” That “she” is Deborah Ramirez, whose uncorroborated sexual allegation against Kavanaugh (were part of the hearings frenzy. The reporters claim a new and damaging account involving Kavanaugh and a lewd act at a party. But there was also one staggering factual omission that once again suggested the New York Times still cares more about ruining Kavanaugh’s reputation than the pursuit of truth.
New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg latest Trump-fearing packet of fury was promoted with a comic-book image that took up the entire front page of the Sunday Review: “The Changing Face Of Dystopia -- In the sequel to “The Handmaid’s Tale,” the truth saves. If only that still worked in real life.” Goldberg unashamedly conflated fiction and reality and saw the usual ominous parallels between Atwood’s fantasy and reality under President Trump.
New York Times reporter Christine Hauser reported on a very strange happening in the art world. The Biennale of Visual Arts exhibit in Venice featured an exhibit of a stack of printouts of Hillary Clinton’s infamous “emails” -- with a surprise cameo by Clinton herself dismissing their import. Hauser helped her avoid the controversy: “The pile of papers is rather unimpressive, rebutting Trump’s efforts to make them monumental,” the materials say. “In this way, Goldsmith creates the greatest poem of the 21st century, an anti-monument to the folly of Trump’s heinous smear campaign against Clinton.”
Again showing the New York Times is at its most liberal on the issue of immigration, Times reporters Azam Ahmed and Paulina Villegas reported from Mexico City after a Supreme Court ruling allowed the Trump administration to limit asylum applications: “For Most Asylum Seekers, New Rule Ends ‘All Hope.’” He wrote: "The new rule, which has been allowed to take effect pending legal challenges, is consistent with the Trump administration’s posture of hostility and rejection for those seeking protection in the United States."
New York Times' Rome bureau chief Jason Horowitz travelled with Pope Francis on the pope’s recent round-trip to Africa. Horowitz’s previous reporting clearly shows his affection for the politically left-wing emphases of this pope, especially on migrant rights and the environment, and a mutual hostility to American critics. Under two datelines marked “Aboard The Papal Plane,” Horowitz let Pope Francis fly, nodding along to the pontiff’s left-wing political views versus "ultraconservative" American Catholics.
New York Times political reporter Astead Herndon’s “Political Memo” Wednesday hails from a Trump rally in Fayetteville, N.C., on Monday (in the district that held a special congressional election won by Republican Dan Bishop the next day), under a loaded headline that suggested both Trump and his rallygoers were racist: “To Message of Racial Division and Fear, Crowd Responds With Cheers.” Reporter Annie Karni laid out similar tropes to characterize Trump’s speech to a conference commemorating black colleges and universities, in this case inserting racial allegations where none were brought up: “Trump Glosses Over Taunts to Focus on Black Gains.”
The New York Times devoted a full page to a strikingly condemnatory profile of Dominic Cummings, a political consultant who directed the successful Leave campaign in 2016, and is also an “evil” “puppet master,” “Rasputin,” and “political assassin.” It’s of a piece with the paper’s extraordinarily slanted coverage of Brexit and the new Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a stout and aggressive fighter for “Brexit” -- the withdrawal of Great Britain from the European Union. The online headline simply states the slur as a fact: “Dominic Cummings, Boris Johnson’s Rasputin, Is Feeling the Heat of Brexit.”