NY Times Uses Speaker Fight to Tar GOP With 'Far Right,' 'Ultraconservative' Labels

January 9th, 2023 7:00 PM

The New York Times took advantage of the Republican kerfuffle around the days of voting it took to install House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy as House Speaker, to wedge in as many scary “far-right” style labels and frantic messaging as it could throughout several days of intense coverage.

Carl Hulse and Emily Cochrane reported “At Heart of Speakership Battle Is Aim to Diminish Government’s Reach” for Thursday’s edition. The online headline: “What the Far-Right Republicans Want: To Remake Congress and the Government.”

The rebellion against Representative Kevin McCarthy of California and his bid for the speakership is rooted not just in personal animosity, but in a deeply ideological drive by a group of hard-right conservatives to drastically limit the size, scope and reach of the federal government, and overhaul the way Congress works to make it easier to do so.

It took three reporters to exhaustively document “How Far Right Are the 20 Republicans Who Voted Against McCarthy?” with a hostile labeling pattern throughout (one sees very few or no similar labels of left-wing U.S. politicians characterized as “hard-left lawmakers” or members of an “ultraliberal” faction).

The Republicans who voted against the bid by Representative Kevin McCarthy of California for House speaker include some of the chamber’s most hard-right lawmakers. Most denied the 2020 election, are members of the ultraconservative Freedom Caucus, or both. Here’s a closer look at the 20 lawmakers.

Luke Broadwater’s “news analysis” on Saturday’s front page, “Reaching Out For the Gavel In Handcuffs,” had loads of labeling bias and an online headline deck that painted a hostage situation brought about by “far right” Republicans:

Speaker Quest Reveals McCarthy’s Tenuous Grip on an Unruly Majority -- As the Republican leader has made concessions to the far right, he has effectively agreed to give them carte blanche to disrupt the workings of the House -- and to hold him hostage to their demands.

Annie Karni’s front-page story on Saturday contained not one but two “ultraconservative” labels.

Lastly, a Sunday morning front page “news analysis” by Times contributor Robert Draper, who just happens to be the author of the new book Weapons of Mass Delusion: When the Republican Party Lost Its Mind, took a historical view of House Speaker fights and found it all started with Republican Newt Gingrich’s combativeness in the 1980s: “Through Line From Gingrich to Gaetz: Combat, Not Compromise.”

Mr. Gingrich's triumph in 1994 in wresting the House from a Democratic majority for the first time since 1952 was the starting point for the zero-sum brand of politics that mutated into the Tea Party movement, the grievance-based populism of the Trump era, and what was garishly displayed on the House floor in a raucous four-day speaker battle that ended in the small hours of Saturday.