Clay Waters was director of Times Watch, a former project of the Media Research Center.
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The New York Times reacted with typical petulance to Donald and Melania Trump’s first visit to the troops in Iraq, bashing not only Trump himself (typical) but the U.S. troops in Iraq for bringing Trump their personal MAGA hats to sign, while pondering if the troops would be disciplined. The headline to Annie Karni’s Friday edition report led with the negative: “President Crossed Political Line in Visit to Soldiers Abroad, Critics Say.” The online headline was blunt: “Trump Iraq Visit Is Called a Political Rally.”
New York Times media reporter Michael Grynbaum wrapped up the anti-Trump year for the press in “Trump’s Year of Escalating Press Tensions,” on the front of Thursday’s Business section. Grynbaum implied that refusing to deal with CNN showboat Jim Acosta makes you complicit with dictators: "Presidents usually avoid criticizing American journalists on foreign soil; visiting Britain, Mr. Trump called NBC News “dishonest” and refused to take a question from Jim Acosta of CNN. ('Music to the ears of dictators and authoritarian leaders,' said an official at the Committee to Protect Journalists.)"
Lebanon-based Islamic anti-Israeli terrorist group Hezbollah, they helped whitewash the reputation of the murderous organization in “In This Arab Nation, ‘Jesus Isn’t Only for the Christians.’” Hezbollah’s objective is to obliterate the state of Israel. They have killed Americans as well. A suicide bomber the American Embassy in Beirut in 1983 killing 63. Later that year a Marine barracks was attacked in similar fashion, killing 241 Marines. The U.S. State Department has designated Hezbollah a foreign terrorist organization. But to the Times, it’s just a claim made by the U.S. government.
There is a pernicious media trend to treat ordinary partisan things as out of the ordinary and a danger when conservatives do them. One offender is New York Times Supreme Court reporter Adam Liptak. Recently he worried about the Supreme Court’s legitimacy, now that it was finally leaning somewhat rightward. He exhibited a sudden concern about the ordinary partisan phenomenon of “judge shopping,” which liberal lawyers have been doing for years (as Liptak himself admits). But now it’s a “problem” in “How Judge Shopping in Texas Led to Ruling Against Health Law.”
New York Times Supreme Court reporter Adam Liptak sent up a warning flare for Chief Justice John Roberts from the front page of Monday’s New York Times: It would be “dangerous” for the Supreme Court to be seen as conservative. The headline: “As Supreme Court Tips Right, Chief Justice Steers to Center." patting Roberts on the back for his perceived shunning of his more right-leaning Justice colleagues. The Court’s “legitimacy” is a new concern for the media, which for decades was used to it making “progressive” rulings that furthered the liberal agenda without Democrats having to mess with passing actual legislation.
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.”