Clay Waters was director of Times Watch, a former project of the Media Research Center.
Latest from Clay Waters
New York Times columnist (and former White House correspondent for the paper) Frank Bruni gets nasty and personal again in his Tuesday column "The Right's Righteous Fraud," picking on 21-year-old Bristol Palin, daughter of Sarah, for blogging about gay marriage, even throwing out a date rape reference. Judging by the time stamps at Bristol's blog, Bruni has stirred up another round of hateful lefty comments to Palin's original May 10 blog post, some of them simply regurgitating Bruni's bile.
In March, Bruni devoted a column to a former classmate providing a pat liberal morality lesson that seemed a lot like an invasion of doctor-patient privacy, then attacked Newt Gingrich and insulted Gingrich's wife. Today Bruni, who is openly gay, goes after Palin's oldest daughter for hypocrisy and being a bad mother, after Bristol had the audacity to blog her opinion on gay marriage (she's against it):
New York Times reporters Mark Landler and John Cushman Jr. covered President Obama's plea to women's voters disguised as a commencement address at Barnard College, a woman's college in Manhattan: "In Graduation Speech to Women, Obama Leaps Into Gender Gap." What the paper failed to bring up was that according to its own polling, the female "gender gap" is currently Obama's problem, not Mitt Romney's.
There was also no mention in the Times of the irony of supposedly feminist Obama dislodging the originally booked (female) graduation speaker, the paper's own executive editor Jill Abramson.
The latest New York Times/CBS News poll suggested President Obama's sudden stand on gay marriage was hurting him, and also showed him slightly behind in the expected fall match-up with Mitt Romney, in a story buried on page A17: "New Poll Finds Voters Dubious of Obama’s Announcement on Same-Sex Marriage." Peter Baker and Dalia Sussman reported:
Most Americans suspect that President Obama was motivated by politics, not policy, when he declared his support for same-sex marriage, according to a new poll released on Monday, suggesting that the unplanned way it was announced shaped public attitudes.
Psycho-capitalism? The overwhelmingly liberal readership of the New York Times is predictably eating up a charged story in the increasingly pretentious and hard-left Sunday Review section, "Capitalists And Other Psychopaths," by left-wing essayist William Deresiewicz, a critic who often writes for The Nation. Bringing the article to life is a cartoon of two men with painted smiles torturing ants with a magnifying glass. The text box: "Rich people are more likely to lie, cheat and break the law. No surprise."
As of Monday afternoon it was the paper's second-most read and e-mailed story (behind a more substantive Times magazine cover story on diagnosing children as psychopaths), as liberal readers ironically used tools honed and perfected by capitalists to spread a tale -- published by a capitalist organization, the New York Times Company, with revenues of $2.3 billion in 2011 -- of the utter wickedness of capitalists.
Perhaps setting the tone for the 2012 election coverage, the New York Times leaned "staunchly" on "deep-seated" conservative labels in Sunday's front-page off-lead by Jennifer Steinhauer (pictured) and Jonathan Weisman: "Tea Party Focus Turns to Senate And Shake-Up-- Pursuing a House-Style Conservative Fervor." After months of hinting that the Tea Party was losing influence, the toppling of veteran Republican moderate Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana has convinced the Times that the group now poses a danger to moderates and deal-makers in the party.
The primary victory of a Tea Party-blessed candidate in Indiana illustrates how closely Republican hopes for a majority in the Senate are tied to candidates who pledge to infuse the chamber with the deep-seated conservatism that has been the hallmark of the House since the Republicans gained control in 2010.
The New York Times's Monica Davey and Trip Gabriel shared Democratic "giddiness" over the possibility of winning a Senate seat in the Republican-leaning state Indiana on Thursday: "With Primary Over, a New Battle for Indiana Senate Seat Begins." The text box was all sunshine for the Democratic Party's prospects for the Indiana seat: "Strategies emerge as Democrats now see a chance at a win."
The morning after Senator Richard G. Lugar, in his 36th year in office, was overwhelmingly defeated in a Republican primary election, this state awoke on Wednesday to another surprise: A new battle, now likely to be far fiercer and costlier than once expected, was already brewing over the seat he leaves behind.
Friday's off-lead New York Times story by Mark Landler and Jeff Zeleny portrayed a triumphant Obama and his likely November opponent Mitt Romney on the defensive after Obama's announcement that he now supports gay marriage: "Obama Campaign Pushes the Issue Of Gay Marriage – Romney Avoids Subject – Biden Said to Apologize Over Comment That Hastened Action."
As the president traveled to the West Coast on Thursday, where in Seattle he said Americans should have the chance to succeed “no matter who you love,” his presumptive challenger, Mitt Romney, and Republican leaders in Congress, tried, with limited success, to steer the focus of the presidential campaign back to the nation’s sluggish economy.
Now here's a surprise. The lead local section story of the Times on Wednesday was Joseph Berger's profile of the embrace by the city's Soviet immigrants of the Republican Party, in particular Ronald Reagan's anti-communism: "Among City's Soviet Immigrants, An Affinity for Republicans."
To many Russian and Ukrainian immigrants, the cornucopia in the shops along Brighton Beach Avenue -- pyramids of oranges, heaps of Kirby cucumbers, bushels of tomatoes with their vines still attached and a variety of fish, sausages and pastries -- seems like an exuberant rebuke of the meager produce that was available to them when they lived in the Soviet Union.
New York Times reporter Adam Nagourney departed from his L.A.-beat to comment on Obama's announcement yesterday in support of gay marriage, and didn't hedge on its "historic significance." The president's statement, delivered to ABC reporter Robin Roberts, predictably led Thursday's edition, and Nagourney's "news analysis" also made the front: "A Watershed Move, Both Risky and Inevitable."
President Obama’s endorsement of gay marriage on Wednesday was by any measure a watershed. A sitting United States president took sides in what many people consider the last civil rights movement, providing the most powerful evidence to date of how rapidly views are moving on an issue that was politically toxic just five years ago.
New York Times reporter Monica Davey was in Indianapolis to cover the Tea Party toppling of the moderate, establishment Republican Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana: "G.O.P. Voters Topple Lugar After 6 Terms." Davey barely concealed her regretful tone:
Richard G. Lugar, one of the Senate’s longest-serving members, a collegial moderate who personified a gentler political era, was turned out of office on Tuesday, ending a career that had spanned the terms of half a dozen presidents.
New York Times "global health correspondent" Donald McNeil Jr. made a rare trip to Cuba and filed a report praising the Communist island's handling of the AIDS epidemic for Tuesday's "A Regime's Tight Grip on AIDS – In Cuba, rigorous testing, education, and free condoms help keep the epidemic in check." Conspiciously absent from that headline, especially for a newspaper that prides itself on defending civil liberties, were the involuntary quarantines of AIDS patients that took place in Cuba until 1993.
McNeil also downplayed concerns about the sanitarium prisons for AIDS patients ("life inside was not brutal"), a policy the Times would no doubt find dangerous and repellent if done in America. He also praised Cuba's "universal health care" and free condoms and credited "socialism" for Cuba's success.
New York Times Public Editor Arthur Brisbane got in a little food fight with Ariel Kaminer, the Ethicist columnist for the paper's Sunday Magazine, over Kaminer's much-hyped essay contest in which readers were invited to defend the unenlightened, outdated, just plain bizarre practice of...eating meat?
Populist impatience with his paper's righteous liberal fussiness seeped out of Brisbane's copy: "The case for eating meat, as presented in The Times, is a pretty narrow one. If you can crawl through the eye of the needle with your in vitro burger in hand, you may feel free to chow down in good conscience." Proving his point, the winner of the popular vote was an essay from the founder of PETA, a vegetarian.
New York Times political profile reporter Mark Leibovich's front-page Biden profile on Tuesday , "For a Blunt Biden, an Uneasy Supporting Role," was not as uncritical as his previous profiles of Democratic politicians. But he certainly found a novel angle on the garrulous veep:
In her Saturday column for the New York Times, Gail Collins, who has made a smug little cottage industry out of her obsession (a few dozen column mentions) with Mitt Romney securing the family dog in a hutch on the roof of his car on a family vacation over 20 years ago, finally, if reluctantly, referenced the fact that Obama ate dog as a boy in Indonesia. Romney's story was much worse, she insisted, in "Obama's Wonderful Town."
Collins, the paper's former editorial page editor, also fawned over revelations in an upcoming biography of Obama by David Maraniss excerpted in Vanity Fair.
Bill Keller, former executive editor of the New York Times, devoted his latest Sunday Review column on the evil that is the Rupert Murdoch-owned Fox News: "Murdoch’s Pride Is America’s Poison."
(Times Watch has documented the long anti-Fox, anti-Murdoch obsession of both Keller and Howell Raines, another former executive editor, which recently culminated in the paper's heavy front-page coverage of Murdoch's travails in Britain.)
Linda Greenhouse, former Supreme Court reporter for the Times, got soppy in defense of Arizona's illegal immigrants in "The Lower Floor" her latest biweekly column posted Wednesday evening. Apparently Supreme Court justices were remiss last week when they focused on arguing the law, as opposed to reciting Robert Frost and giving in to sympathetic anecdotes about "the simply humanity" of illegals (or, in Greenhouse's politically correct terminology, "undocumented residents").
(Greenhouse has famously argued that Supreme Court's Obama-care opponents have no case, even after Obama-care was annihilated in oral argument before the justices.)
Returning to form, the last two New York Times updates from the Greensboro, N.C. trial of two-time Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, charged with misusing campaign money to cover up an affair, contain zero mentions of Edwards's Democratic affiliation. The word doesn't even appear in either story.
On Thursday, Lizette Alvarez covered the testimony from Elizabeth Christina Reynolds, who was research director for Edwards during what the Times referred to only as his "2008 presidential campaign." As if the former Democratic senator wasn't running for president as a Democrat.
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman is doing a television tour for his book "End This Depression Now!" Charlie Rose interviewed him twice, once on CBS This Morning Monday, then that night for the full hour of Rose's PBS talk show. Krugman appeared on Bloomberg TV Tuesday debating Ron Paul, and the friendlier confines of MSNBC's Rachel Maddow show that night.
Krugman's economic recovery plan, no surprise, involves lots of government jobs, a smear of Rep. Paul Ryan's budget, and a cavalier attitude toward America's massive debt load: "Britain had debt that was well over 100% of for most of the 20th century. It's not a crisis level problem....you can live with 100% for decades on end." On Rachel Maddow he said Wall Street guys have "destroyed the world."
There's a clear Rupert Murdoch obsession within the headquarters of the New York Times. In anticipation of a report from the British government, the Times in the last week has gone into overdrive with front-page stories attacking the international media mogul and chief executive of News Corporation, which oversees conservative-leaning media organs and is a direct Times competitor in New York with the Wall Street Journal and New York Post.
The "damning report" was featured on Wednesday's front page: "Panel in Hacking Case Finds Murdoch Unfit as News Titan." It marks the fourth time in eight days that the Times has played the unfolding media and political scandal on the front page. In contrast, the Washington Post played today's news in the Style section.
The April 22 New York Times lead story by investigative reporter David Barstow, using internal company documents to ouline how the retailer Wal-Mart bribed Mexican officials to facilitate their way into the country, had reverberations in the business and political worlds, and also managed to hurt Wal-Mart's stock price, which the paper eagerly noted the next day on the front of the Business section.
The attack is still going strong. The front of Tuesday's Business section featured investigative reporter Eric Lichtblau's "Wal-Mart's Good-Citizen Efforts Face a Test" (which the Times seems to think is synonymous with "cozying up to Democrats.") He even went after Wal-Mart's dealings with the American Legislative Exchange Council in order to make an extremely tenuous linkage of Wal-Mart to the Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida.