Clay Waters was director of Times Watch, a former project of the Media Research Center.
Latest from Clay Waters
New York Times opinion columnist Farhad Manjoo mounted a silly defense for BuzzFeed, which recently cut staff, in “Media Layoffs As Democratic Emergency.” The column’s text box: “Last week’s job cuts suggest a reason for panic.” Panic? He’s worried about the decline and fall of that vital democratic-building journalistic titan -- BuzzFeed? "It’s the site that gave us The Dress and published The Dossier, a company that pushed the rest of the industry to regard the digital world with seriousness and rigor."
The front page of the New York Times Business Day on Monday featured two stories on Donald Trump and the media, one chiding his opinion journalism supporters, the other suggesting the mainstream press failed its mission by not stopping his election in 2016. Michael Grynbaum’s “Media Memo,” “2020 Looms, And News Faces Test Of Judgment” may have revealed more anti-Trump media bias than intended. Jim Rutenberg worries about Trump fans embracing Fox News-fostered "political conspiracy theories."
In Monday’s New York Times, Astead Herndon front-page story from a rally in South Carolina, “To Get Leg Up, Warren Aims to ‘Nerd Out" casts Democratic candidate Elizabeth Warren, who is pushing a hard-left confiscatory tax plan as her political calling card, as endearingly nerdy and wonky (his favorite word): "By the end, she had many in the audience cheering...Ms. Warren is making a personal and political wager that audiences care more about policy savvy than captivating oration."
New York Times political reporters Maggie Haberman and Annie Karni clearly objected to President Trump meeting with “hard-right” activists led by Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, in Sunday’s “Trump Is Said To Have Met Wife of Justice And Activists.”
The New York Times’ former editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal weighed in on the Lincoln Memorial controversy on Facebook January 22. Keep in mind that Rosenthal served nine years as Editorial Page editor and became an op-ed columnist for the Times in 2016. And yet with all that experience, he is incapable of objectively interpreting video evidence right before his eyes, piling on his hateful assumptions about the Covington High school kids because of their MAGA hats, "a clear symbol of white supremacy," while making a historically ridiculous statement blaming Trump for conflict between the Black Israelites and the Native American protesters.
New York Times political reporter Katie Rogers specializes in fan notes to prominent Democrats, tied the government shutdown to a vintage revolutionary left-wing motif in “A Team of Millionaires Haunted by the Ghost Of Marie Antoinette.” The “Marie Antoinette” vibe could also be detected in Jim Tankersley’s report on Democrat Elizabeth Warren’s confiscatory tax plan: “Warren to Unveil Plan To Raise Taxes on Rich.” The text box is merely a quote from Warren: “It’s time to fundamentally transform our tax code so that we tax the wealth of the ultrarich, not just their income.”
Is the New York Times book review truly a haven of centrism and neutrality? Lara Takenaga talked to Book Review editor Pamela Paul (Times Book Review editor since 2013) and section staffers Gregory Cowles and Barry Gewen. The piece was posted online in October 2018 but not printed until this week: “‘Political Switzerland’ for Books.” The “Switzerland” quip is from Paul, referring to the section's supposed ideological objectivity and neutrality. But a glance at any Times’ book review section (from either before or after Paul’s editorship) renders that assertion laughable.
No bad immigration news in a single town on the Mexican border equaled headline news in Thursday’s New York Times. Jose A. Del Real’s dispatch from the California-Mexico border, “A Wall? To a Border Town, More Like a Headache” was the latest attempt by the Times tried to suggest that one quiet border town hostile to Trump and his wall idea could be extrapolated into a conclusion that there is no problem at the Mexican border and that any idea otherwise is merely Trump “political theater.”
In his New York Times profile “Hebrew Israelites See Divine Intervention in Lincoln Memorial Confrontation,” reporter John Eligon downplayed the obvious offensiveness of the racist and homophobic Black Hebrew Israelites cult, while even shelling out some praise. The group is in the spotlight thanks to their verbal assaults on the Kentucky Catholic school teens, captured on video as part of the infamous Lincoln Memorial viral video saga. Eligon offered some criticism between a bizarre sandwich of admiration at the beginning and end. He began with strange new liberal respect for aggressive preaching: "They are sidewalk ministers who use confrontation as their gospel."
The Razzie Awards, given out annually for the “worst in cinema” of the year, may not be the first place you think of when you think of political bias. But the 2019 edition of the Golden Raspberry (“Razzies”) Awards took an obnoxious anti-Trump angle that extended to the First Lady. One nominee for Worst Actor: Donald Trump, for his appearances in two documentaries, right-winger Dinesh D’Souza’s Death of a Nation, and left-winger Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 11/9. Two of the nominees for Worst Supporting Actress were former Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway and First Lady Melania Trump (both for clips in Fahrenheit 11/9).
New York Times religion reporter Elizabeth Dias went to Kentucky to see how the locals were handling the unearned vitriol aimed at their sons at Covington Catholic High School after the viral video of the infamous confrontation at the Lincoln Memorial, for Tuesday’s “A Digital-Era Frenzy Sweeps Up a School Steeped in Tradition.” While the mainstream media has been forced to back off their more inflammatory and false charges against the boys, who were abused and confronted by both the Black Israelites and a drumming Native American activist, Dias maintained a churlish tone:
The “Covington Catholic HS student vs. Native American activist” viral video saga has entered its farcical phase, judging by a ridiculous, if not slanderous report from the New York Daily News, headlined online “SEE IT: Covington Catholic High students in blackface at past basketball game.” The story is attributed to the Daily News Sports Staff (names withheld to protect the ignorant?): "This won’t help Kentucky student Nick Sandmann’s case. A photo said to be featuring Covington Catholic High School students clad in blackface during a 2015 basketball game made the rounds on Twitter Monday morning amid last week’s Indigenous Peoples March controversy."
The New York Times used an old, unrelated local story to slanderously accuse Trump-supporting kids of racism. The charge was based on the now infamous viral video confrontation at the Lincoln Memorial between Catholic students and an American Indian activist. Members of the supposedly fact-based media have been obliged to furiously backtrack from their initial hot take of racist Trump students harassing a passive Native American activist Nathan Phillips. Reporters Nikita Stewart and Eliza Shapiro couldn’t resist in “Elite School in Uproar Over Students in Blackface.” The text box: “A video joined a spate of racist imagery as the nation prepared to honor King.”
Michelle Alexander, a new New York Times columnist, was given front page Sunday Review real estate for her 2,300-word screed offensively linking civil rights hero Martin Luther King Jr. to the Palestinian cause against Israel, in “Time to Break the Silence on Palestine -- Martin Luther King Jr. spoke bravely on Vietnam. We must do the same to meet this moral challenge.” But two sites that cover media bias against Israel knocked down Alexander's myths and distortions.
Reading James Poniewozik’s New York Times review of Brexit, airing on HBO and starring Sherlock’s Benedict Cumberbatch as a consultant for the successful “Leave” movement, it’s clear he isn’t a fan of the choice British voters made in June 2016 (neither is anyone else at the paper). Poniewozik has a pattern of rating shows and movies based on how anti-Trump or politically correct they are.
The annual pro-life rally March for Life took to the streets of Washington, D.C. Friday, and the New York Times acknowledged it -- barely: Reporter Eileen Sullivan's “March for Life Holds Its Rally In Quiet Capital.” Sullivan seemed to work to put a negative spin on the day’s march in her brief story of 330 words. Not even a taped address from the president, and the live presence of the vice president and his wife, could attract more prominent coverage. She didn’t bother mentioning any of the march speakers, including prominent conservative activist Ben Shapiro.
The New York Times has been on a kick to normalize and mainstream the Democratic Socialists of America, and the crusade continue with a long flattering half-page profile of Lee Carter, a socialist elected to represent Manassas, Va., in the state House of Delegates. Reporter Farah Stockman’s story “Challenge to the Status Quo Not Seen Before in Pro-Business Virginia” came with a huge photo of a noble Carter looking thoughtful. The online headline was more direct: “How One Socialist Lawmaker Is Trying to Change His State’s Pro-Business Policies.”
How does the New York Times (and especially reporter Peter Baker) treat accusations that the F.B.I. overstepped their authority in a politicized effort to take down a president? That depends on who is president. On the front page of Monday’s New York Times, Peter Baker’s “news analysis,” “Trump Faces ‘Nonstop’ War For Survival,” used an overhyped Times blockbuster about an FBI counter-intelligence investigation to spread the idea of Donald Trump as a “Russian agent.” Yet Baker took the completely opposite tack on the F.B.I. when the bureau was accused of abuse of authority against Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky investigation.
Reporter Maggie Astor wrote the liberal-boasting New York Times lead National section story: “Democrats In the House Give Science New Respect.” But are Democrats really the party of science they and Astor assume?They fear safe, clean nuclear power, and spread paranoia about genetically modified “Frankenfood,” or promote scaremongering over vaccinations. Astor found science-challenged GOP congressmen, but ignored Democratic ones.
On the front of the New York Times Sunday Review, Frank Bruni warned his media colleagues not to fall for the old fairness ploy when it came to helping the Democrats defeat Donald Trump in 2020: “Will the Media Be Trump’s Accomplice Again” -- We have a second chance in 2020. Let’s not blow it.” Bruni more or less argued (as his colleague Jim Rutenberg had done in August 2016 on the front page) that it was the mainstream media’s solemn duty to defeat Trump: