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The New York Times has Gone Over to the Dark Side

 

A week or so ago, Trump took a break from the courtroom and held a rally in a picturesque corner of New Jersey, a state he has no hope of winning.

His speech at this rally was even more unhinged than usual, featuring his now-famous tributes to Al Capone and Hannibal Lecter — the latter being as fictional as Trump’s medical records, but seemingly real in his mind.

These speeches are growing worse over time, and they seem to betray a worsening cognitive condition. Unfortunately, the New York Times doesn’t see it that way.

Their reporting of the event was basically a puff piece. To them, this rally was Trump’s well-deserved break from the rigors and indignities of his criminal trial. They marvel that, “after a long and tense week,” he could now head to the Jersey Shore for some much-needed rest and adulation:

Against the backdrop of classic Americana, Mr. Trump repeated his typical criticism that Mr. Biden’s economic policies were hurting the middle class.

What they charmingly call Trump’s “typical criticism” of Bidenomics, was in reality a vicious, utterly deranged attack on Joe Biden himself, having nothing to do with the economy, or with anything else rational:

TRUMP: You could take the ten worst presidents in the history of our country and add them up...and they haven’t done the damage to our country that this total moron has done.

Idyllic setting aside, this tirade — this masterpiece of projection, this irrefutable evidence of unfitness for office — is not mentioned at all in the article.

Indeed, they quote Trump only minimally. They curate the sound bites, editing them so he comes off less as a wannabe tyrant, and more as a candidate with a unique campaign style.

In one of those few quotes, he promises his fans “lower costs, higher income and more weekends down at the shore,” but the Times says not a word about the value of those promises. But they devote three whole paragraphs to a dutiful but needless rebuttal of Trump’s silly claim that “We’re going to win the state of New Jersey,” which seems to be in the article only to scare us.

But none of Trump’s more demented threats are in evidence. None of those holy-shit, WTF-is-he-saying whoppers make it into the article. Messrs. Capone and Lecter rate not a mention, despite their omnipresence in the rest of the media.

Less prominent news outlets of every stripe got this story right, and the speech itself is available to anyone who wants to hear just how nuts it was.

But to the Times, this was just another day on the campaign trail — all banners, balloons, and cotton candy for the kids — as opposed to the crazed ravings of a cornered criminal who’s threatening to take down the country.

It’s just one small instance of how the Times’ editors downplay Trump’s flaws, even as they exaggerate Biden’s.

Even more troubling, however, is their ongoing manipulation of polls, especially their own. Just last week, the latest Times/Sienna poll declared, in a headline, that:

Trump Leads in 5 Key States, as Young and Nonwhite Voters Express Discontent With Biden

Cue the gasps.

Others can explain, better than I, the flaws in this poll, which are many. But it’s not the poll itself that’s so dangerous, it’s the spin that’s put on it. TheTimes slants its coverage of its own polls to fit its own horserace narrative.

Times/Sienna polls tend to be upsetting to Times readers. The upset serves to boost readership, clicks, and ultimately revenue. Presumed to be reliable, these polls invariably lead to at least a week of media attention, first from the Times’ own reporters, then from the pundits getting paid to milk our anxieties for yet more clicks. Ultimately, the bad poll numbers become embedded in the campaign narrative, which gets readers upset all over again. Rinse and repeat.

The Times disproportionately amplifies the polls that show Trump “leading,” even if it’s within the margin of error. And at the same time, they don’t tell us about the polls that show Biden ahead and gaining.

As I’ve said before, polls are not instructive so early in the campaign, when it’s only the informed paying attention. Even in October, the polls will be deeply suspect, but as of now, they’re just noisy click-bait.

The Times makes them noisier than most, and more misleading. Beyond that, the spin they create ripples outward to the rest of the media, who look to the Times to do their thinking for them. This gives the Times more control of the narrative than they’ve shown themselves worthy of.

The stakes in this election are high enough already, yet we’re still forced to live with the failure of the mainstream press to defend the core principles of our society.

The New York Times is among the worst offenders, mostly because we expect more from them. Their preeminent position in the journalism world gives them a responsibility they have apparently chosen to relinquish. We expect them to know better. 

Despite their global enshrinement as the “newspaper of record,” they continue to infuriate us with misleading headlines, slanted coverage, false equivalencies, and a disturbing tendency to give Trump too many benefits of too many doubts.

It’s not that they want Trump elected — I don’t think they’re that stupid. But their smug dishonesty in the pursuit of likes, clicks, and ad sales is pushing us uncomfortably close to that precipice. They might not be working for Trump, but they might as well be.

By making the horserace so important, while ignoring the high stakes of this election, the Times gives Trump’s psychotic behavior a pass, while losing no opportunity to throw shade on Biden.

No, I won’t cancel my subscription, which would be less than traumatic for them. It would also be harder on me than on them, as their basic information-gathering remains an important resource.

It’s just that their editors — at the behest of their ownership — seem to have gone off the rails in search of some mythical “balance” they think they need to foist on us. There’s nothing balanced about Trump.

Still, instead of warning us that he really could be elected, they’re betting that he won’t be.

Which is a bet neither they, nor we, can afford to lose.

Comments

  1. Does Trump still call it "the failing New York Times" while they kiss his ass?

    ReplyDelete

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