New York Times' Gabriel Blames Democratic Insult Hurling on...Trump?

February 26th, 2020 10:20 AM

The New York Times blames President Trump for everything, including the nasty and personally insulting tone of the Democratic primary race.

Trump was blamed no less than four times in Trip Gabriel's story ostensibly about divided Democrats: “A Sign of the Times? The Democratic Primary Has Become a Free-for-All.” The text box expressed who was really at fault: “A level of personal animus that was rare before the Trump era.”

No one has tagged a rival with a bully-boy nickname like “Sleepy” or “Liddle.”

But as push comes to shove in the Democratic primary, candidates and their surrogates have descended to a level of personal animus that was rare before the era of President Trump.

(She didn’t call him “Liddle,” but Sen. Elizabeth Warren did make a crack at Mike Bloomberg’s height: "And it's a big threat -- not a tall one, but a big one: Michael Bloomberg.”)

On Monday, Joseph R. Biden Jr. launched a digital ad in South Carolina saying Bernie Sanders “can’t be trusted” after weighing a 2012 primary against “our first African-American president,” Barack Obama.

After Pete Buttigieg attacked Mr. Sanders’s victory in Nevada, Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York lectured Mr. Buttigieg on Twitter, saying “not to be so smug when you just got your ass kicked.”

Gabriel raised the alarm over internecine Democratic fighting, while somehow putting the onus on Trump.

As the primary race becomes a battle of all against all, “Hunger Games”-style, and the field suddenly seems to be constricting, the divisiveness and negative attacks are rising. Mr. Sanders’s commanding win in Nevada -- he earned 24 pledged delegates as the final results were tallied Monday, with Mr. Biden taking nine and Mr. Buttigieg, three -- has triggered alarm among some center-left Democratic officials and voters....

Past presidential primaries certainly had their share of negative campaigning. But much of the intraparty warfare used to be waged behind the scenes -- through “oppo dumps” of compromising research against opponents or anonymous criticism in newspaper stories. Today the combination of social media democratization and Mr. Trump’s habit of lobbing nasty personal attacks have removed the filters.

“Candidates always tried to stay above it and never get down deeply in the mud,” said Joe Lockhart, a former press secretary for former President Bill Clinton. “Trump has changed that. He’s modeled the idea that the presidential candidates are the ones to make the sharpest attacks, and there’s no bottom.”

Yes, there are many examples of Democratic rivals turning negative in past primary races. Strategists for Hillary Clinton in 2008 dangled Mr. Obama’s youthful drug use. In 2016, Mrs. Clinton accused Mr. Sanders of smearing her for receiving donations from rich people.

How about Hillary fans spreading the first “birther” rumors about Obama?

The Times reliably blames the Trump administration for things that aren't his doing, like the decline in civility in Washington, violent attacks on local media outlets, an alleged increase in “white-nationalist violence,” and even Mexico’s shoddy migrant detention centers.