Michael Wolraich's picture

    The Grey Lady Takes the Gloves Off

    "Breaking News," tweeted the New York Times yesterday, "Trump backed off birther claims: 'President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period.'"

    Typical of the Times' election reporting, the tweet made no mention of Trump's lies or his dishonest attempt to shift the blame onto Hillary Clinton. (By contrast, the Washington Post called it straight: "Breaking: Trump admits Obama born in U.S. but falsely blames Clinton for starting rumors.")

    But today, the Grey Lady took her gloves off. The headline for the lead story on the front page provocatively declares, "Trump Gives Up Lie But Refuses to Repent."

    The first paragraph begins, "It was not true in 2011." The second begins, "It was not true in 2012." The third begins, "It was not true in 2014." The fourth begins, "It was never true, any of it." The fifth paragraph delivers the coup de grace: "Yet it took Mr. Trump five years of dodging, winking and joking to surrender to reality, finally, on Friday, after a remarkable campaign of relentless deception that tried to undermine the legitimacy of the nation’s first black president."

    On it goes, a searing, unvarnished indictment of Donald Trump's malicious, racist birther allegations. The article is tagged "News Analysis," but no matter. The fact that the Times' editors chose to lead with this story suggests that the venerated paper is abandoning its quixotic effort to treat Trump as a credible candidate. In place of the usual, "he said, she said" reporting, the Grey Lady is finally ready to tell it like it is.

    As if to underscore the change of attitude, the birther story is immediately followed by a straight news story that begins, "Donald J. Trump once again raised the specter of violence against Hillary Clinton." While less directly accusatory than the previous article, it features scathing denunciations by Trump critics without the usual equivocations by his lackeys. The story is peppered with unequivocal rejections of Trump's lies and criticism of his behavior: "Mr. Trump falsely claimed...a false accusation against Mrs. Clinton...Mr. Trump never apologized or disavowed...Violence and allusions to it have punctuated Mr. Trump’s campaign."

    The New York Times is just one one paper, of course, and probably ignored by most Trump supporters, but it is one of the most influential news organizations in the country. If the Times is finally ready to temper its legendary commitment to so-called "journalistic objectivity" with honest reporting, other media organizations may soon follow suit.

    Donald Trump is the most blatantly dishonest presidential candidate nominated by any major party in American history. It's about time the New York Times began treating him as such.



    That was a good article but the bias runs deep. I just read this article at the NYT.

    From Women, Skepticism About Marriage and a Hunger for Workplace Equality

    The latest New York Times/CBS News poll took a reading on the attitudes of American women on a range of topics, from politics to opportunities in the workplace to their overall level of satisfaction in life. We called back a number of them to talk further and also consulted some experts about the challenges facing women today. Here are some of their voices.

    Of the nine women's voices they quoted seven expressed no opinion in the presidential election and the two that did harshly critiqued Hillary and stated they would not vote for her. None critiqued Trump or stated they intended to vote for Hillary. This clearly isn't an accurate portrayal of the poll results on the attitudes of American women.

    The AP story was also uncharacteristically frank.  This is all a good sign, I think, as we go forward in this election.  Trump has gamed the press, in ways I suggested to you in another threat would be forgiven, and if I was wrong about what the press would ultimately stomach, it's to our benefit.

    My worry is that Trump seems to know how to lie effectively and the "Hillary started birtherism and I ended it," lie is a good one for people who are not obsessed with this kind of thing.

    Still, there is an ethos among journalists that when you've been baldly lied to, all other bets are off.  Trump may well have crossed the line.  We'll see if this is a blip or a turn of coverage.

    I read an interesting and somewhat illuminating transcript of an email conversation between Chris Cillizza (WaPo) and Norm Ornstein (AEI and Atlantic editor) earlier today in the Washington Post.  The two men have very different takes on the responsibilities of - and tactics used by - journalists today; your piece here immediately brought it to mind. 

    Now that is a perfect example of a conversation that is not exactly a conversation.

    Chris really clinched the deal by comparing the discussion to a fight promotion stand off with two women acting as bookshelves clutching their crotch Tecate badges to insure that their loincloths did not slide down their legs.

    Distractions aside, Ornstein and  Cillizza  seem to agree that narratives have a certain inertia once they get underway. Can the press break the "I know you are but what am I" cycle? Can they do it quickly enough?

    That is where Trump blows past previous limits. He has a method and he applies it without hesitation.  Thinkers are losers.

    He's also using some kind of repeat 3 times, with also a secondary pattern like attack someone, say how confusing everything is, then how he can fix it all. Over & over.

    In the world of the internet, that pattern suggests a troll is at work.

    Troll for President!!!


    Thanks for the link, barefooted. Good read.

    A sign of Cillizza's cluelessness: He actually thought he won that one and put it out there for everyone to see.  The comments were nearly 100% for Ornstein.  Loved it!  (Thanks for posting it here.  I would hate to have missed it.!)


    The Atlantic had the same exact reaction:

    The Death of 'He Said, She Said' Journalism
    The New York Times responds to a candidate who breaks all the rules by discarding some of its own.

    Latest Comments