The Times Outraged: Panics as Media Matters Tactics Turned on Paper
Jeffrey Lord
by
New York Times publisher A. G. Sulzberger (YouTube screenshot)

Well, this is nothing if not rich.

The New York Times headlined the story this way:

Trump Allies Target Journalists Over Coverage Deemed Hostile to White House

The opening two paragraphs say this: 

WASHINGTON — A loose network of conservative operatives allied with the White House is pursuing what they say will be an aggressive operation to discredit news organizations deemed hostile to President Trump by publicizing damaging information about journalists.

It is the latest step in a long-running effort by Mr. Trump and his allies to undercut the influence of legitimate news reporting. Four people familiar with the operation described how it works, asserting that it has compiled dossiers of potentially embarrassing social media posts and other public statements by hundreds of people who work at some of the country’s most prominent news organizations.

Well.

One doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry at the utter hypocrisy in this story.

Here, for example, is this absolute gem of BS in the story (bold print supplied for emphasis):

But using journalistic techniques to target journalists and news organizations as retribution for — or as a warning not to pursue — coverage critical of the president is fundamentally different from the well-established role of the news media in scrutinizing people in positions of power.

Let’s stop there for a moment. Memo to the New York Times: Your paper — and the media writ large — are the very definition of people in positions of power.” Are you kidding?

And as to the lofty pretense that the Times is merely doing its job as straight, unbiased journalists as opposed to being viscerally anti-Trump and using the Times for that purpose?

Here is the Times’ own former editor, Jill Abramson, on the subject of the Times and Trump. The Fox headline:

Former NY Times editor rips Trump coverage as biased

Fox’s media critic Howard Kurtz said of ex-Times editor Abramson’s recent book Merchants of Truth: The Business of News and the Fight for Facts:

“Though (Times Executive Editor Dean) Baquet said publicly he didn’t want the Times to be the opposition party, his news pages were unmistakably anti-Trump,” Abramson writes, adding that she believes the same is true of the Washington Post. “Some headlines contained raw opinion, as did some of the stories that were labeled as news analysis.”

What’s more, she says, citing legendary 20th-century publisher Adolph Ochs, “the more anti-Trump the Times was perceived to be, the more it was mistrusted for being biased. Ochs’s vow to cover the news without fear or favor sounded like an impossible promise in such a polarized environment.”

Abramson describes a generational split at the Times, with younger staffers, many of them in digital jobs, favoring an unrestrained assault on the presidency. “The more ‘woke’ staff thought that urgent times called for urgent measures; the dangers of Trump’s presidency obviated the old standards,” she writes.

Since that was written and Abramson’s book was released, America has been treated by Slate to the released transcript of that now infamous Times town hall in which it is perfectly clear that Abramson was exactly right.

There on audio tape, plain as day, is the Times leadership saying outright that there had been a failure in the effort to get Trump on Russia collusion. (To quote Baquet directly: “Our readers who want Donald Trump to go away suddenly thought, ‘Holy s–t, Bob Mueller is not going to do it.’ ”) This was a story that the Times and other liberal media anti-Trump outlets have relentlessly presented for two years as truth carved in stone. Failing, the Times announced it would now move on to paint Trump and his supporters, not to mention the founding of the nation itself, as racist.

And the Times is shocked to realize the president, not to mention millions of Americans, think their paper and the larger media is nothing more than the propaganda arm of the Democratic Party and the larger American Left? Really?

Let’s get down to the real problem here, and start with a rewrite of those first two paragraphs in the Times story. Re-writing them this way:

WASHINGTON — A loose network of liberal operatives allied with the Democratic Party and the liberal media is pursuing what they say will be an aggressive, well-funded operation to discredit conservative media deemed hostile to Democrats and the American Left by publicizing damaging information about conservative journalists and other conservative media figures.

It is the latest step in a long-running effort by leftists and their allies to undercut the influence of legitimate news reporting from conservative media. Four people familiar with the operation described how it works, asserting that it has compiled dossiers of potentially embarrassing social media posts and other public statements by hundreds of people who work at some of the country’s most prominent conservative news organizations.

Now that would be the real, crystal clear story within this story. So crystal clear that, yes, even the Times story itself briefly touches on the fact this way, albeit deep in the story (bold print supplied):

The operation is targeting the news media by using one of the most effective weapons of political combat — deep and laborious research into the public records of opponents to find contradictions, controversial opinions or toxic affiliations. The liberal group Media Matters for America helped pioneer close scrutiny of public statements by conservative media personalities.

Bingo. It is the far-left Media Matters that — and note the saluting description by the Times “helped pioneer close scrutiny” of “conservative media personalities” as a tactic. Here is a list — an incomplete list at that — of Media Matters targets over the years:

Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, Bill O’Reilly, Lou Dobbs, and Glenn Beck. Oh yes, there would be yours truly as well when at CNN. (The latter’s alliance with Media Matters is discussed in my book Swamp Wars: Donald Trump and the New American Populism vs. The Old Order.)

The game is always the same. Spotlight, just as the Times is suddenly complaining of, “potentially embarrassing social media posts and other public statements” from or by those in conservative media with the goal of getting advertisers to abandon them, thus removing them from their media posts. During a not-long-ago Media Matters assault on Sean Hannity, Media Matters president Angelo Carusone was blunt about the group’s tactics. The Associated Press quoted Carusone as saying,

Advertisers will get burned if they continue to associate with Hannity — plain and simple.

Outrage from the Times? None. Just silence.

It isn’t rocket science to understand that when liberal media outlets like the Times either gave a pass to this kind of tactic or cheered it on by spotlighting to the negative the conservative media figure in question, this game would finally backfire — big time. It was inevitable that some conservative activist out there would take the idea and turn it around on anyone and everyone in the liberal media. According to this Times story, that activist turns out to be one Arthur Schwartz, a Republican consultant, who has in essence taken on the task of giving the Times and others a taste of their own medicine.

In the category of liberal media cheering on Media Matters, take a look at this adoring piece on Media Matters that recently appeared in Rolling Stone. The headline:

The 24/7 Fight Against Fox News

On the front lines with Media Matters — the conservative network’s worst nightmare

In this piece, Rolling Stone absolutely celebrates Media Matters and what they do, describing an example of the group’s work this way:

In addition to monitoring broadcasts in real time, Media Matters has a history of unearthing damning past comments by conservatives. Fox’s Tucker Carlson became the latest target in March, when MMFA published his early-2000s sexist and racist on-air banter with shock jock Bubba the Love Sponge (in one clip, Carlson called Iraqis “semiliterate primitive monkeys”). He’s been losing advertisers ever since, which was the goal.

Outrage from Times publisher A. G. Sulzberger and his paper over this? Not to mention a steady flow of similar campaigns launched by Media Matters against those mentioned above, myself included? Zip, zilch, zero, nada.

Now Mr. Schwartz and other conservative activists plus conservative media sites like Breitbart have taken up the Media Matters tactics and turned them on the Times and other liberal media outlets with stories like this one at Breitbart by Matthew Boyle that begins,

A New York Times political editor has a years-long history of antisemitic and racist comments on his Twitter page, a Breitbart News investigation has found.

Tom Wright-Piersanti, who has been a Senior Staff Editor at the New York Times for more than five years according to his LinkedIn page and according to his Twitter page oversees the newspaper’s political coverage, has made a series of antisemitic and racist tweets over the years. Many of them are still public on his Twitter page as of the publication of this article, but some have since been deleted.

The Times is suddenly infuriated. It’s one thing for Media Matters to target Fox’s Tucker Carlson, but it is definitely not OK to have the same treatment dished to the Times’ own Tom Wright-Piersanti. Here is the link to the outraged statement issued by Sulzberger, which is headlined this way:

 A Campaign Targeting Our Staff

A note to staff by New York Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger calling attention to a Times story about a campaign led by President Trump’s allies intended to harass and embarrass individuals affiliated with several leading news organizations.

Sulzberger, without a hint of irony, opens by saying:

This unprecedented campaign appears designed to harass and embarrass anyone affiliated with independent news organizations that have asked tough questions and brought uncomfortable truths to light.

Hello? There is nothing “unprecedented” here. The fact is that the New York Times and others in the liberal media, by their silence or active encouragement of Media Matters and its rich liberal donors, have brought this on themselves.

As the old saying goes: sauce for the goose is now sauce for the gander.

For Sulzberger’s predicament and that of the Times and others in the liberal media that are now targets:

I suggest you send a thank-you note to Angelo Carusone and Media Matters and all their rich liberal donors for a job well done. You could even start here, with a person who boasted to a Daily Kos “YearlyKos” Convention in Chicago back in 2007 that “I helped to start” Media Matters.

That person’s name? Hillary Clinton.

Jeffrey Lord
Jeffrey Lord
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Jeffrey Lord, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, is a former aide to Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp. An author and former CNN commentator, he writes from Pennsylvania at jlpa1@aol.com. His new book, Swamp Wars: Donald Trump and The New American Populism vs. The Old Order, is now out from Bombardier Books.
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