Clay Waters was director of Times Watch, a former project of the Media Research Center.
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The front of the New York Times Sunday Review gave very unconvincing credence to the self-serving liberal idea of “authoritarian” Republican voters: “Is There Such a Thing as an Authoritarian Voter?" In case the point was missed, the inside page and online teaser to the story by Molly Worthen (a professor and contributing opinion writer) featured a photo of a speechifying President Trump. Even though it’s the Democratic Party that wants a larger, more intrusive federal government, more regulation, and favors speech-squelching in the form of online censorship of social conservative statements by big liberal companies (Google, Twitter), Worthen nevertheless ties Trump and Republicans in general to xenophobic and racist beliefs -- and (gasp!) disrespect for the media.
The ascension of Justice Brett Kavanaugh and his “angry” supporters still looms large in the liberal psyche, as shown in two otherwise unrelated articles in the January/February 2019 issue of the Atlantic magazine. Contributing editor Peter Beinart saw “The Global Backlash Against Women,” an extremely strained attempt to link international extremists with a feminist backlash. There was also a Kavanaugh link shoehorned into Charles Duhigg’s cover story on political anger: "Witness the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, in which the nominee and his Republican backers in the Senate denounced the proceedings in red-faced diatribes."
Reporter Ron Nixon recounted the story of a Guatemalan girl who died, possibly of dehydration, after her father illegally crossed the U.S. border, in Saturday’s New York Times. But Nixon and his headline writer weaponized the tragedy to immediately put Trump on the defensive: “White House Says It’s Not to Blame for Girl’s Death.” He laid blame directly at the Trump Administration’s feet, while also linking it to Trump’s “zero-tolerance” policy on illegal immigration: "A White House official said on Friday that the Trump administration was not responsible for the death of a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl who died from dehydration last week while in the custody of the Border Patrol."
The New York Times co-hosted a “Cities for Tomorrow” conference in New Orleans that promised a wide-ranging discussion including “cultural and sports figures.” One result was a Thursday story about the National Basketball Association congratulating itself on its “woke” politics and the Times cheering them on, while mocking the NFL’s treatment of Colin Kaepernick, in “N.B.A. Voices -- A league that lets players speak out.” But the paper’s embrace of the NBA is pretty hypocritical, given its part treatment of athletes who make conservative gestures. Reporter Talya Minsberg celebrated the left-wing concept of “wokeness” at length, while lamenting the NFL's treatment of Colin Kaepernick.
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 Pelosi’s liberal politics and her purported political victory in the Oval Office arena.
Entertainment Weekly’s 2018 year-end double issue wasn’t as politicized and anti-Trump as the 2017 edition, but it contained this stark contrast, a “Worst Books of 2018” sidebar mocking a Christian book author's "cultural appropriation" and "white privilege," that shared the page with an homage to former First Lady Michelle Obama and her autobiography Becoming.
“Midwest Power Grab May Fuel G.O.P. Backlash,” blared the New York Times front page. Lambasting Republicans for post-election legislative maneuvering has been a drumbeat recently at the Times, providing momentum for Democrats to finish in 2020 what they started in the House in 2018. Elsewhere reporter Emily Badger cried racism in the first sentence of “Urban-Rural Divide At Center of Fight In Wisconsin Politics.”
A scheduled vote in the U.K. Parliament on “Brexit” has just been postoned, adding to the national angst over the still-pending withdrawal by the United Kingdom from the European Union, which has been a source of bitter political fighting, and smug liberal media opposition. The New York Times has spent the intervening period mocking the majority of British people who voted for withdrawal in smug and juvenile terms, when it wasn’t actually blaming Brexit for violence and hate crimes. Benjamin Mueller and Ellen Barry revealed their sympathies through slanted labeling: “Britons on Both Sides of Brexit Take to London’s Streets in Dueling Protests.”
New York Times’ Susan Chira, a “senior correspondent and editor on gender issues,” interviewed Anita Hill for some reason for Friday’s paper, “Hill Reflects: ‘Clearly the Tide Has Not Turned.’” Hill is seen by the press as a victim of both Clarence Thomas and the all-white, all-male Senate Judiciary Committee who brutally questioned her and has achieved secular sainthood, so there are never any inconvenient questions. Interviewing and citing Hill in the aftermath of sexual allegations against Republicans is a regular thing at the paper now. This one is keyed to the accusations hurled against now-Judge Brett Kavanaugh, whom the paper promises “we’re still investigating.”
New York Times reporter Astead Herndon had an unwelcome surprise for Times readers on the front of Friday’s paper -- a bit of actual scrutiny of Democratic 2020 presidential hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren, based on her clumsy handling of a DNA test meant to prove she had Native American heritage: “Warren Facing Cloud of Anger Over DNA Test.” The story got some pushback within the mainstream liberal media -- no surprise -- but from an unlikely source: the paper’s own former opinion page editor Andrew Rosenthal (recently in the news for his 1992 fake news attack on George H.W. Bush over a supermarket checkout scanner).
The New York Times' lead story Thursday proved that its newish alarmist environmental reporter Kendra Pierre-Louis is a worthy successor to the paper’s previous alarmist environmental reporter, Justin Gillis, in “Emissions Surge, Hastening Perils Across The Globe – 2 New Warming Studies – Rising Greenhouse Gases Likened to ‘Speeding Freight Train.’” The lead sentence was even more histrionic than the left-wing Huffington Post’s take, which treated the carbon report as bad news but didn’t engage in wild extrapolation the way Pierre-Louis and her headline writer did.
New York Times reporter Peter Baker marked the ceremony for former President George H. W. Bush on the front of Thursday’s edition, but his main focus was on attacking one of the attendants: President Trump, through biased interpretation of body language and some light mind-reading. At a moment that promised bipartisan respect, the Times wants to deepen the very divisions it pretends to deplore. Baker condescended: "[Historian John Meacham] also essentially explained Mr. Bush’s thousand-lights phrase to Mr. Trump."
The New York Times vastly disparate treatment of Orthodox Jewish schools, or yeshivas, versus Islamic ones came into focus in Tuesday’s edition. The online headline was harsh: “Do Children Get a Subpar Education in Yeshivas? New York Says It Will Finally Find Out.” Reporter Eliza Shapiro was damning in her critique of the Jewish private schools for not teaching secular subjects. But the paper's past treatment of Islamic schools that teach only the Koran is far different, waving way concerns about lack of secular education. In 2006 the paper ran a puff piece on a Muslim center in Queens, under a jaunty headline, “Memorizing the Way to Heaven, Verse by Verse.”
New York Times reporter Peter Baker tastelessly marked the beginning of the four-day commemoration of the life of former President George H.W. Bush by....whining about the “dog whistle” racist Willie Horton ads from Bush’s successful 1988 campaign against Democrat Michael Dukakis. For 30 years, media conventional wisdom has been appalled at the supposedly racist campaign ads from the Bush camp criticizing the irresponsibly lax prison program of Massachusetts, which featured the story of Willie Horton, a convicted murderer who raped and killed a woman in Maryland while on a weekend furlough.
New York Times media reporter Jim Rutenberg branches off into global warming alarmism (while still mocking conservatives) with an oddity about a freelance environmentalist going viral with emotional videos of dead dolphins on the beach in Naples, Fla. that she blames on global warming: “Filling a TV News Gap With Just an iPhone.” The online headline: “News Networks Fall Short on Climate Story as Dolphins Die on the Beach.” Note how the Times steals a base, equating climate to the dead dolphins as if there is a clear, proven linkage (there isn’t).
Hypersensitive to any sign of Republican weakness, real or exaggerated, the New York Times used front-page space Monday to push political reporter Jonathan Martin’s “House G.O.P. Brushes Off Losses, Leaving Some Members Baffled.” The Democrats certainly had a good election in the 2018 midterms, gaining around 41 House seats (but losing two in the Senate) against a Republican president. But Republicans had an even better one in the 2010 midterms, gaining 63 House seats, and gaining six in the Senate against Democratic president Barack Obama. Between the losing Democrats in 2010 and the losing Republicans in 2018, guess which losing party the Times found to be more in mortal danger?
Saturday’s New York Times featured unhidden, extraneous hostility toward the president’s reading habits, in a snarky story more fitting to Sunday Styles or the opinion section then the news section. In “Books Trump Can Praise Without Reading a Word,” Katie Rogers quickly termed pro-Trump books from the likes of Jeanine Pirro and Gregg Jarrett to be “conspiracy theory.” It marks a 180 degree tilt from how the paper regularly praised President Barack Obama for... reading.
The New York Times was shocked, shocked, to find “a startling breach of decorum and of the norms” by a member of President Trump’s cabinet. Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Coral Davenport covered a heated social media spat between far-left Congressman Raul Grijalva and Ryan Zinke, Trump’s Secretary of the Interior: “Zinke’s Insults At Lawmaker Rattle Capitol.” It took chutzpah on the paper’s part to complain about Zinke’s insulting tweet about Rep. Grijalva's drinking, given the paper’s support of Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee smearing Brett Kavanaugh on drinking during his confirmation hearings a couple of months ago.
New York Times reporter Adam Nagourney’s front-page obituary for President George H.W. Bush, who passed away Friday night at his Houston home at age 94, was in the main a respectful effort. But it was marred by the inclusion of a liberal media legend that won’t die: The myth of Bush touring the floor of a grocery store trade show in February 1992 during his re-election campaign, and supposedly staring in baffled wonderment at a conventional supermarket price scanner. It was a phony anecdote forwarded by reporter Andrew Rosenthal (who wasn’t even there) to paint the first Bush as an out-of-touch patrician.
The New York Times managed an impressive feat, covering -- online only -- the latest controversy involving anti-Trump porn lawyer Michael Avenatti – without making a single mention of Brett Kavanaugh, whose Supreme Court nomination Avenatti tried to bring down by pushing forward the absolutely bizarre accusations of Julie Swetnick. Perhaps that's because the paper's reporters have basically promised a hit-piece book on the new Justice and want to preserve the integrity of its anti-Kavanaugh crusade?