NYT Laments Scott Walker's 'Hard Right Turn' on A1, Celebrates 'Extraordinary' Hillary's Gay Marriage Reversal

July 3rd, 2015 8:06 PM

Labeling bias on the front page of Friday's New York Times, with one of the paper's frequent GOP targets in the sights of reporters Maggie Haberman and Jonathan Martin (pictured): "Scott Walker’s Hard Right Turn in Iowa May Hurt Him Elsewhere." It's the paper's latest attempt to poison the well for conservative candidates by warning them of lurching to the right. Meanwhile, the Times celebrated Hillary Clinton (she of the "extraordinary career") and her lurch to the left on gay marriage.

From Friday's front-page report, with some of the frequent loaded labeling in bold:

Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin spent months persuading influential Republicans that he alone had the impressive conservative achievements and mainstream American appeal needed to not only win the party’s nomination but also to recapture the White House.


But the expectations created by that early prominence, as well as a growing threat from conservative firebrands like Senator Ted Cruz, have taken a toll. To protect his lead in Iowa, a state with a heavily conservative Republican electorate, Mr. Walker has taken a harder line on a number of issues than his allies had anticipated.

Now a growing number of party leaders say Mr. Walker is raising questions about his authenticity and may be jeopardizing his prospects in states where voters’ sensibilities are more moderate.

His response to the Supreme Court’s decision legalizing same-sex marriage most emphatically demonstrated his sharp shift to the right: Mr. Walker called the court’s ruling “a grave mistake” and reiterated his call for a constitutional amendment that would allow states to ban same-sex marriage. It sent a clear message to social conservatives, and one that was noticeably not echoed by two of his leading rivals, Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush -- who warned last year that Republicans would need to campaign as if they were willing to lose the nomination if they hoped to win the general election.


But his stance on marriage is what has disquieted people who had counted on Mr. Walker taking a more restrained approach to the culture wars.


At a gathering of Republican donors in New York in the spring, Mr. Walker indicated that his response to an eventual Supreme Court ruling, if it deemed same-sex marriage constitutional, would be in keeping with the spirit of his earlier remark about the question being a settled one in Wisconsin, people who attended the meeting said.

But since then, Mr. Cruz -- whose uncompromising brand of conservatism and potential appeal to evangelical conservatives is, in the eyes of some Walker supporters, a direct threat in Iowa -- is said to have benefited from more than $30 million in donations to “super PACs” supporting him.


On the party’s right, Mr. Walker’s statement in favor of a constitutional amendment on marriage was greeted favorably on Friday but was called into question when, at a conservative conference in Colorado on Saturday, Mr. Walker made no mention in his speech of marriage or the court’s historic ruling the previous day.

“Scott takes this path at his peril in New Hampshire,” said Charlie Bass, a former congressman there. By aligning himself with more conservative candidates on marriage, Mr. Walker puts at risk the support of more economy-focused voters in the first primary state, Mr. Bass said.

The Times found a conservative scholar to accuse Walker of "a lurch to the right" on immigration.

Stephen Moore, a conservative scholar at the Heritage Foundation who backs an immigration overhaul, called Mr. Walker’s embrace of a border security first approach “a lurch to the right and probably something very popular among Iowa conservative voters.”

Meanwhile, Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton only has to worry about sufficiently appeasing the gay left, according to Amy Chozick's celebratory report Thursday on Clinton's belated support for gay marriage, "Clinton Taps Into a Vein of Support Among Gay Voters."

The Times loves making the field of Republican candidates squirm from the left over gay marriage, but the only criticism Chozick made of Hillary is she didn't move left fast enough, while celebrating her "triumphs over adversity, her redemption, and her evolving personal style" and her (really?) "extraordinary career -- from embattled first lady to senator to secretary of state..."

Between the paragraphs of gushing praise, Chozick feinted toward Hillary's late "conversion" to the cause.

Some people criticized Mrs. Clinton’s response to the court’s same-sex marriage ruling as politically opportunistic and overkill, given her relatively late arrival to the cause. “Shout out to Hillary Clinton who opposed gay marriage until 2013. Truly a visionary,” Hamilton Nolan, a writer at Gawker, posted on Twitter.


Several of Mrs. Clinton’s gay supporters cautioned against generalizations. But at the same time, they suggested that there was something visceral about Mrs. Clinton’s appeal to some of her most ardent gay supporters. The campaign’s positioning of Mrs. Clinton as a “fighter” plays into this idea.


George Chauncey Jr., a professor of history and American studies at Yale and author of “Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture and the Making of the Gay Male World,” said that while he had not noticed his students to be particularly enthusiastic about Mrs. Clinton, that resonance of the long-suffering woman with older gay men, in particular, cannot be underestimated.

He pointed to Judy Garland, her tortured relationship with men, her alcohol addiction and the heartbreak felt in her songs.

[Blake Drummond] did say that for a filmmaker, Mrs. Clinton’s extraordinary career -- from embattled first lady to senator to secretary of state -- makes for an irresistible narrative. “Gay men love powerful women -- we just do,” he said. “Go back and look at icons of Liza and Barbra and the kinds of movies we like with big female actors. We understand their fights.”