The New York Times had a sporting take on the unusual live-television argument that occurred in the White House on Tuesday, with President Trump squaring off against Democratic congressional leaders Sen. Charles Schumer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi over a border wall and a government shutdown: “Pelosi Tells Trump: ‘Don’t Characterize the Strength That I Bring.’”
Reporters Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Annie Karni set the scene up as a boxing match, with Pelosi the winner by knockout. The Times even quoted Pelosi in the headline, indicating their collective enthusiasm for her liberal politics and her purported political victory in the Oval Office arena:
It was Round 1: Nancy Pelosi vs. President Trump.
The likely new House speaker arrived at the White House on Tuesday afternoon, ready to take on the president. The subject was a potential government shutdown, and funding for Mr. Trump’s beloved wall. What followed was a remarkable televised exchange between a veteran congressional leader and a president who is far less experienced but rarely challenged to his face in public, especially by a woman.
Of course, The Times portrayed Pelosi triumphant:
Right off the bat, Ms. Pelosi referred to a “Trump shutdown,” knowing full well it would set off the president. (It did.) Then she called Mr. Trump’s bluff -- “O.K., then do it, then do it,” she taunted -- when he suggested House Republicans could easily pass a spending bill that included wall funding. When he interrupted her, she interrupted him, her voice calm and steady, her “Mr. Presidents” constant, even as he wagged his finger and called her “Nancy.”
And when Mr. Trump tried to undercut her by suggesting she was “in a situation where it’s not easy for her to talk right now,” Ms. Pelosi fired back. “Mr. President,” she said, “please don’t characterize the strength that I bring to this meeting as the leader of the House Democrats, who just won a big victory.”
The paper liked her comeback so much, they made it the headline.
And it appeared calculated to send a message to Democrats and Republicans alike that Ms. Pelosi is fully capable of taking on Mr. Trump and brushing off his lecturing, or in this gender-charged case, mansplaining.
For those who study women in politics, it was a notable moment -- a behind-the-scenes peek at a powerful woman negotiating with the leader of the free world. Even Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic nominee for president, did not spar with Mr. Trump in quite the same unscripted way. Their televised debates were controlled by moderators.
As the reviews rolled in, images of Ms. Pelosi emerging from the White House donning sunglasses while wearing a swingy red coat began circulating on Twitter. Later, a triumphant Ms. Pelosi returned to the Capitol, where she met behind closed doors with her Democratic colleagues, whom she regaled with stories.
For all the press laments about the decline in political civility ushered in by Donald Trump, the reporters giggled along with Pelosi when she went vulgar against the President:
According to one Democratic aide in the room, she questioned Mr. Trump’s manhood, calling the wall debate “a manhood thing for him.” She also primly likened the meeting to “a tinkle contest with a skunk,” adding, “I was trying to be the mom.”
For Democratic women, who powered the midterm elections last month that gave the party the House majority, the Oval Office scene was especially satisfying.
Stolberg and Karni also condescended to Trump:
.... Ms. Pelosi appeared to be aiming for civility if not camaraderie. While Mr. Trump waved his hands theatrically, she sat with her hands folded in her lap. When she was interrupted, Ms. Pelosi politely tried to explain to Mr. Trump, who prides himself on his negotiating skills, how Congress works.
Ms. Pelosi’s civics course continued: “Legislating, which is what we do. You begin, you make your point, you state your case. That’s what the House Republicans could do if they had the votes. But there are no votes in the House, majority votes, for a wall, no matter where you start.”
Looking exasperated, Mr. Trump finally relented and called an end to the public portion of their meeting, as White House aides shooed the cameramen out the door.
It’s far from the first time the paper has slobbered over Pelosi. The veteran liberal was the recipient of a loving profile by reporter Kate Zernike last month: “Demonized or Celebrated, Pelosi Stands Firm and Refuses to Agonize,” that rained plaudits upon Pelosi’s head while portraying her Republican opponents as troglodytes.
In 2015 the paper embarrassed itself trying to cover for Pelosi’s pro-abortion Catholicism under the headline "In Pelosi, Strong Catholic Faith and Abortion Rights Coexist."