Lefty Andrew Rosenthal Leaving Top NYT Editorial Page Job, Trailing Anti-GOP Rancor and 'Racism'

March 14th, 2016 6:07 PM

Andrew Rosenthal, New York Times editorial page editor since 2007, is leaving the position in late April. He will be replaced by James Bennett, who served as White House correspondent and Jerusalem Bureau Chief for the NYT before leaving to head up The Atlantic in 2006.

Over his term, Rosenthal, the son of former Times executive editor A. M. Rosenthal, repeatedly revealed himself to be a charmless and classless critic of conservatives. Rosenthal’s many lowlights are featured on the paper’s Taking Note editorial blog, and he drove the Sunday Review section sharply to the left during his tenure.

Before that, Rosenthal provided a vital (and phony) piece of liberal conventional wisdom that helped to doom the 1992 re-election campaign of President George H.W. Bush: Bush’s alleged shock to encounter a grocery scanner, which became a liberal media symbol of his inability to sympathize with the day-to-day lives of average Americans.

As previously reported by the Media Research Center, even the liberal-leaning myth-busters at Snopes.com debunked the incident as a gross exaggeration on Rosenthal’s part:

Andrew Rosenthal of The New York Times hadn't even been present at the grocers' convention. He based his article on a two-paragraph report filed by the lone pool newspaperman allowed to cover the event, Gregg McDonald of the Houston Chronicle, who merely wrote that Bush had a "look of wonder" on his face and didn't find the event significant enough to mention in his own story. Moreover, Bush had good reason to express wonder: He wasn't being shown then-standard scanner technology, but a new type of scanner that could weigh groceries and read mangled and torn bar codes.

After that auspicious start, the insults, gaffes, and general obnoxiousness came in a steady stream.

Rosenthal showed an ignorance of news events when he accused then House Speaker John Boehner of racism for asking Obama to delay a speech to a joint session of Congress in January 2012. The original web headline of Rosenthal’s screed: “Republican Attacks Have Racist Undertones.” Boehner did not 'reject' Obama's request to address Congress, but instead suggested that the president delay the speech for one day, to avoid it being held on the same night as a Republican presidential debate. (And that's what happened.)

In January 2013 he made the same irresponsible and baseless argument: “Along the way, he faced a Republican Party that was not only implacable in its opposition to his agenda but also hostile toward him personally (no doubt in part because of his race.)”

In a September 2015 podcast he insulted Republican candidates in nasty terms, throwing around the words "idiot" and "xenophobic,” then said the 1988 George H.W. Bush campaign used the Pledge of Allegiance as an issue "deliberately and specifically intended to remind Americans that Michael Dukakis was of Greek descent and therefore suspect."

This March 2 he penned “The Myth of Trump-Hating Republicans.”

Ever since the 2016 presidential campaign began back in 1999 (at least that’s what it feels like), there has been a pattern of wishful thinking about the Republican Party. That pattern reached a crescendo after Donald Trump mostly trounced the rest of the field on Super Tuesday, and it goes like this: The Republican Party is engaged in a battle for its philosophical and ideological soul, Donald Trump somehow is interfering with that, and G.O.P. leaders are really determined to stop him from winning the nomination.


The comments by Mr. Ryan and Mr. McConnell had two things in common.

First they misrepresented (I think deliberately) the position of the Republican Party on issues like racism and the politics of division. O.K., maybe an actual former K.K.K. grand wizard is a bit much, but both racism and divisiveness have been at the heart of the G.O.P.’s governing and electoral strategy for many, many decades. George H.W. Bush won the presidency in 1988 with a campaign designed around appealing to racism and fear. Mr. McConnell was fine with Confederate flags flying from government houses in the South until the political pressure to take them down became too intense. The Republicans don’t have a “seeming ambivalence” about this. Some are more than seemingly ambivalent, and some are ready and willing to embrace the forces of racism when expedient. Only a tiny handful truly distance themselves from those dark forces in American politics.


But the Republican Party long ago doubled down on its movement to the far right, way beyond the American political center and way beyond any kind of real conservatism. It is a party of white people that protects its richest members and feeds off the anxiety of its poorest members by directing their anger at minorities, immigrants and women.

His editorial page success James Bennet was no slouch when it came to slanted reporting during his previous tenure at the Times, but he will most likely be an improvement over his predecessor. It would be difficult not to be.