NY Times Not Enjoying Mueller Time: ‘Pouncing’ GOP, Blaming Barr, Changing Subject

March 26th, 2019 11:21 AM

With the Mueller report out and the top-line conclusions (no “collusion,” no obstruction of justice) thoroughly chewed over, the New York Times is clearly disappointed. A “live update” (made up mostly of reporter speculation) featured these petulant subheads, blaming the Republicans for taking political advantage of Trump’s vindication:

“Trump immediately attacks ‘the other side.’”

“Minutes after the details are released, Republicans say it’s time to move on.”

“Some Democrats see bad news for Trump in the findings.”

And the paper’s former Washington bureau chief, now columnist David Leonhardt, bashed Attorney General Barr in his Monday newsletter to pressure him to release the full report or else be condemned as Trump’s lackey.

William Barr, the attorney general, works for the president. By releasing just a short summary on a matter of such importance, he comes off as a cross between a law enforcement officer and a spin doctor....Until we get more information, the most reasonable assumption is that Barr is trying to protect Trump by hiding the full report.

Leonhardt followed up with more sour grapes in the Tuesday edition:

William Barr did a skillful job of managing the news media this weekend. He released a four-page letter summarizing Robert Mueller’s investigation, which rightly received blanket coverage, since it was the only official description of the investigation. But I think much of the media was too credulous about Barr’s letter, producing banner headlines and chyrons that treated it as an objective summary of Mueller’s work rather than as a political document meant to make President Trump look good. And it was very much a political document....It’s still possible that Barr’s summary of Mueller’s report is fair. But the longer that Barr waits to release a fuller version of the report, the more suspicious we should be.

Reporter Peter Baker’s front-page “news analysis” featured some media rhetoric that recurs whenever something politically bad happens to Democrats:

While critics will still argue about whether Mr. Trump tried to obstruct justice, the president quickly claimed vindication and Republican allies pounced on their Democratic colleagues for what they called an unrelenting partisan campaign against him. Even as his own party’s congressional leaders called on the country to move on, however, the president indicated that he may not be ready to, denouncing the very existence of Mr. Mueller’s investigation as “an illegal takedown that failed” and calling for a counterinvestigation into how it got started.

But it was columnist Charles Blow who was really out of control Monday, admitting the Mueller report was a dud but then changing the subject to “white supremacy” so sharply that readers risked an accident: “It’s Bigger Than Mueller And Trump.” The text box: “Whenever black people make progress, white people respond forcefully.”

Blow admitted the obvious:

The Mueller Report has landed…with a thud. According to summary findings released by Attorney General William Barr, the special counsel Robert Mueller’s nearly two-year-long investigation found no conspiracy between Donald Trump and his associates and Russia. The report would seem to support Trump’s mantra: No collusion. Trump will no doubt use these findings as a cudgel against future inquiries, regardless of merit.

But forget Mueller, Blow advised, attack Trump on moral grounds (this is new?).

As for the people, the voters, it is the moral abomination of having a racist, sexist, child-caging, family-separating, Muslim-hating transphobe as president that must remain front and center. That is the only way to move beyond Trump in 2020.

He extended his hostility toward Trump supporters and their racist “iconography” akin to the Confederate flag.

The very symbols of Trumpism -- the MAGA hats, the wall, etc. -- are more than merely physical objects. They have long since transcended their original meaning and purpose. They are now emblems. They are now the new iconography of white supremacy, white nationalist defiance and white cultural defense.

The symbols are tangentially connected to Trump, but they also transcend him. They are a way of cloaking racial hostility in the presentable form of politics.


In America, this recent rise of white nationalism follows a historical pattern: Whenever black people make progress, white people feel threatened and respond forcefully.

Then Blow got paranoid about a hypothetical constitutional convention that might result in the installation of white supremacy, or something (it wasn’t overly clear).