Clay Waters was director of Times Watch, a former project of the Media Research Center.
Latest from Clay Waters
The New York Times still loves Stacey Abrams, who delivered the official Democratic response to President Trump’s State of the Union address on Tuesday night. She also lost the 2018 Georgia governor’s race to Republican Brian Kemp -- but not without making unsubstantiated allegations of voter suppression, cheered on by the newspaper. Now, she’s on the path to the presidency, at least according to Times political reporter Astead Herndon’s “Supporters Nudge Democrat With High Aspirations to Aim Even Higher.” The online headline to his Thursday story: “Stacey Abrams Isn’t Running for President. Should She Be?”
New York Times Berlin bureau chief Katrin Bennhold, a native of Germany, doesn’t seem in tune with her home country, calling the idea of putting a speed limit on the autobahn a “no-brainer,” one tragically scuttled by the “far right,” and maybe, somehow, Hitler. “Speed Limit? Germans Voting With Lead Feet,” on the front page of Monday’s New York Times. Adolf Hitler makes a cameo.
There were lots of lefty angles to the New York Times coverage of President Trump’s well-received State of the Union address. White House reporter Peter Baker opened with a dig: "President Trump...signaled that he would continue to wage war for the hard-line immigration policies that have polarized the capital and the nation. " A fact-check article on the speech insisted socialism wasn’t the problem in Venezuela’s circle down the drain. And Annie Karni, lunging to prove Trump wrong, ignorantly asserted on Twitter: "Trump just ad-libbed 'they came down from heaven' when quoting a Holocaust survivor watching American soldiers liberate Dachau. Jews don't believe in heaven."
The front page of Monday’s New York Times featured national political correspondent Jonathan Martin’s “news analysis” on the Democratic meltdown in Virginia, now involving both Gov. Ralph Northam and Lt. Gov Justin Fairfax: "Trump Behaves One Way on Race. Democrats Demand Better From Their Own.” Martin rather desperately tried to change the subject from damaging stories about a racist Democratic governor into a story about how quickly the Democratic camp tosses their own bad apples.
New York Times' Ken Belson couldn’t confine himself to reporting on the Super Bowl itself, feeling obligated to tell readers how the spectacle failed by not embracing the social justice agenda of former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick: "The presence of the civil rights leaders did not seem to win over supporters of the player, Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who in 2016 began taking a knee during the national anthem to protest racism and police brutality against people of color." And music critic Jon Caramanica revealingly called Maroon 5’s refusal to play the left's political game “stubborn resistance.”
The headline looked promising: “The Six Forms of Media Bias” from the weekday newsletter of New York Times writer David Leonhardt. Would a confession of liberal media bias follow? Not really: "Conservative bias. It’s real, too. Fox News and talk radio are huge, influential parts of the media. They skew hard right, and they often present their readers with misleading or outright false information..."
There is angst in the Democratic Party over the party’s emerging hostile stance on Israel, and it finally broke onto the New York Times front page on Saturday. “Discord Over Israel Reveals Democrats’ Divide,” on two controversial new Democratic Muslim congresswomen, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. Both have gotten themselves into controversy with controversial, inflammatory statements about Israel, though the Times and other outlets have often sidestepped the matter. Sheryl Gay Stolberg’s new story makes up for the omission somewhat, though still pulls some punches and focus on Republican pouncing.
New York Times reporter Jaclyn Peiser paid tribute to BuzzFeed in the wake of layoffs at the site infamous for quizzes and lists. What made the article noteworthy were the final paragraphs, when Peiser tried to make the right wing the bad actor by painting as sinister some mocking "advice" given to laid-off journalists on Twitter as sinister: "Over the last week, many of the laid-off BuzzFeeders found themselves the recipients of ugly messages and tweets sent by trolls and alt-right Twitter accounts. The messages included some variation of 'learn to code'...."
After legislative moves in New York and Virginia to allow abortion far into the third trimester, accompanied by gruesome commentary in which proponents of the Virginia bill let slip that letting an infant die would be allowed both during and after delivery, the New York Times finally caught up with the caustic debate on Friday’s front page, under awful headlines, pro-abortion blandishments, and labeling bias. The Times reacted to those horrific comments with standard “Republicans Pounce” spin in reporter Vivian Wang’s “Republicans Seize on Late-Term Abortion as a Potent 2020 Issue.”
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: