Clay Waters was director of Times Watch, a former project of the Media Research Center.
Latest from Clay Waters
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.
It pays to have the right “troll” enemies: The New York Times has three times of late come to the rescue of poor, persecuted Marvel Studios, the capitalist Hollywood behemoth getting by on several billion dollars of box office returns. First up: Defending Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn after he was fired for having made pedophilia jokes. Perhaps the identity of Gunn’s enemies, right-wing Trump-supporting provocateurs, made Hollywood reporter Brooks Barnes take the pro-Gunn side. Another piece: “Trolls Tried to Sink ‘Captain Marvel.’ She Triumphed. -- Those who targeted the new superhero film were, in part, incited by comments made by its star, Brie Larson, who called it a ‘big feminist movie.’”
Reporter Cara Buckley admired the movie review aggregating website Rotten Tomatoes for riding to the rescue of outspoken feminist actress Brie Larson, star of the latest Marvel Studios comic-book hero mega-hit Captain Marvel, in the New York Times Thursday: “When She Became The Target, The Rules Changed -- After attacks on ‘Captain Marvel’ and Brie Larson, Rotten Tomatoes altered its audience participation parameters.” It's an amusing example of how avidly the ostensibly anti-capitalist left will defend a multi-billion dollar capitalist enterprise (Marvel Studios and its ongoing myriad-film superhero saga) when the right (“troll”) enemies are lined up on the other side.
On the front page of Tuesday’s New York Times, reporter Danny Hakim asked another question only liberals are asking: “What Is Making N.R.A. Cringe? Its Own Videos -- 2 Leaders Air Concerns About Incendiary Online Pulpit.” The Times used an internal debate over the streaming service as a jumping-off point for an exaggerated and hypocritical attack on the gun-rights group’s streaming service NRATV (and especially host Dana Loesch, whom the Times has recently elevated into a "villain") accusing it of "inflammatory" rhetoric while letting an enemy smear it as a "terrorist organization."
New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief David Halbfinger was on the front page Monday analyzing President Trump’s popularity in Israel: “For Netanyahu, Trump Offers Election Boost -- U.S. President Popular Among Israeli Voters.” Halbfinger spun that seemingly flattering factoid in the most cynical and hostile way (it is Israel, after all, the paper’s least favorite country), comparing Trump and Israel’s embattled Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu so that neither came off well at all. This particular treatment of an American president’s popularity overseas was quite unlike how the paper celebrated President Barack Obama locking up the Paris slum vote, or candidate Obama’s “tone poems” delivered to a rapturous crowd in Berlin.
The front of the New York Times Sunday Review featured “Think Like a Libel Lawyer,” by David McCraw, press lawyer for the New York Times. He strikes a straight-shooting pose discussing his work vetting stories before publication, while naming who the paper considers villains, a list that includes gun-rights activist Dana Loesch and the National Rifle Association: "I am all about the villains in many pieces -- for a libel lawyer, a little sympathy for the villain is almost an occupational requirement." So what sort of evildoers serve as the paper’s designated “villains”? Besides former Trump aide Steve Bannon there was...Dana Loesch and the National Rifle Association.
The New York Times' front page on Saturday featured political reporter Sydney Ember in Iowa savoring all the wonderful Democratic candidates primed to defeat President Trump in November 2020: “‘Beat Trump’ Fervor Lifts All 2020 Democrats.” Meanwhile, another odd article praised losing Georgia governor candidate Stacey Abrams for...being a Trekkie? "Ms. Abrams, with her precision and relish for the tax code, veers toward the Spockian."
The New York Times again took on basic biology and sex traits in the....paper's Design section (!), which devoted a full page on Thursday to “Free to be -- Making a space without gender cues, so children can develop their identities.” The online title was sillier, answering a question only the most left-wing gender-fluid parents are asking: “How to Raise a Child Without Imposing Gender.” Michael Tortorello wrote on Thursday about imposing gender neutrality from infancy, to avoid what was assumed (not even argued) to be harmful gender stereotyping that the human race has been thoughtlessly, “conservatively” burdening itself with for generations untold.
New York Times reporters Glenn Thrush and Sheryl Gay Stolberg kept up with the ongoing (and for Democrats, seemingly never-ending) saga over the constant spew of anti-Semitic statements emanating from controversial new Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar. The suspiciously regretful-sounding “Democrats Let Their Message Escape Them” appeared on the front of Thursday’s edition. Indeed, the reporters appeared to lament the controversy less for Rep. Omar’s actual anti-Semitic statements than for distracting Democrats from liberal legislation. A previous story sported tougher anti-Republican language, calling out "bigoted" remarks by the GOP.
The New York Times’ Susan Chira interviewed the media’s favorite losing candidate, Democrat Stacey Abrams, who lost her 2018 race for the Georgia governorship, in “After Her Narrow Loss, Abrams Takes Stock and Regroups -- Georgia Democrat May Run for President, Senator or Governor," which led the paper’s National section. Chira's sympathetic talk with Abrams hit the race and gender issues hard, with cheerleading for her future prospects. There was virtually no criticism of her sore-loser conspiracy theories blaming her 2018 defeat on voter suppression, all of which have been found wanting.
Reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg was concerned about the ramifications of the latest (it’s hard to keep track) anti-Semitic controversy around new Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar. But it’s not concern over Omar’s latest offensive statement, in which she said during a friendly interview that Israel activists “push for allegiance to a foreign country.” Instead, Stolberg is concerned Omar is right about the harmful and outsized power wielded by the pro-Israel lobbying group American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC): “Ilhan Omar’s Criticism Raises the Question: Is Aipac Too Powerful?”
Two ghastly pieces published at The Independent, a British newspaper, provided further depressing proof that the journalistic left is no defender of free speech. Alleged stand-up comic Liam Evans came out for hate-speech laws to be enforced against comedians: “As a new comedian working the circuit, I’m appalled at disgusting ‘jokes’ creeping back into the industry -- Comedians, crying ‘free speech’ isn’t good enough -- hate crime laws should apply to all of us.” And an editor demanded that Salman Rushdie's The Satanit Verses be banned under "anti-hate legislation."
The trouble started with the headline under Karen Zraick’s story in Saturday’s New York Times on Rep. Ilhan Omar’s latest anti-Semitic controversy: “Lawmaker Stung Again By Remark About Israel.” During a discussion at a left-wing bookshop, Omar spouted, “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is O.K. for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country.” But the headline reads as if Omar didn’t so much make the remark, as the remark was something bad that happened to her.