The New York Times has now confirmed that it is once again in the tank for President Obama even as it was for candidate Obama four years ago. Over a period of four days beginning last Thursday, it unleashed an astounding four articles and an editorial slamming any discussion by Romney supporters of Mr. Obama’s two decade-long attendance at a church led by a virulent anti-white, anti-American minister on the grounds that such discussion raised the race and religion cards.
But sandwiched around this barrage the Times gave front-page treatments to vague recollections that as a high school student nearly 50 years ago Mr. Romney may have cut the bleached hair of a male fellow student who later came out as gay and to Mr. Romney’s devout Mormonism. The imbalance is staggering and worth keeping in mind when reading the Times during the presidential campaign.
Reverend Wright is a clergyman and President Obama’s connection with him developed in his church – and both are certainly African-American. But Rev. Wright’s rants and whether or not he influenced Mr. Obama’s views – clearly potentially explosive and significant issues – have nothing at all to do with race or religion. But in the Times’s transparent effort to shill for the president, they are conflated. And the Times has embraced a take-no-prisoners approach.
On May 17, the Times reported on its front page:
A group of high-profile Republican strategists is working with a conservative billionaire on a proposal to mount one of the most provocative campaigns.… [which] calls for running commercials linking Mr. Obama to incendiary comments by his former spiritual adviser, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr.…
The next day the Times ran another front-page story by the same writers who fairly exulted that the story from the day before had resulted in a backlash against any effort to tie the president to Rev. Wright and the project was to be abandoned. The authors crowed that the Times report “all but ensured that Republicans would remain under intense pressure not to invoke Rev. Wright’s provocative statements so directly for the balance of the campaign,” and cited as confirmation comments by associates of the billionaire.
But that was not enough for the Times. The same day the second article appeared, the paper fleshed out the implicit theme of both articles in an editorial titled “Racial Politics, 2012-Style,” which touted its news reporting and rubbed the billionaire’s nose in the ground:
It’s hard to imagine why the plan’s authors believed it would change opinions about Mr. Obama. Americans know him well and most know he is not a left-wing radical. But that’s the kind of drivel money buys these days.
And then the next day, Saturday, May 19, the Times ran a piece headlined “Race and Religion Rear Their Heads” which referred to Thursday’s article as having unearthed a Republican effort to bring “the always touchy issues of race and religion” to the fore of the campaign:
A report in The New York Times on Thursday exposed a secret plan by Republican strategists and financiers to rekindle questions about the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., Mr. Obama’s onetime pastor, and his angry black-power sermons.
Finally, Sunday’s paper carried an informally written analysis-type piece, “Bile and Billionaires,” by Times writer Frank Bruni that brought the issue full circle:
Now we know what, in today’s warped political economy, $10 million buys you: a hit job spectacular not only in its cynicism but also its idiocy…. As…reported last week in The Times, a politically agitated billionaire (these days, there don’t seem to be an other kind) was considering forking over that much for an advertising campaign that would have dusted off the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and tried to fashion him anew into a noose for Barack Obama.
So the Times went to extraordinary lengths to keep the issues of religion and race away from President Obama despite the fact that the issue of Rev. Wright’s impact on him is clearly a legitimate topic for a campaign, separate and apart from the race and religion of the two men.
When it comes to Mitt Romney, however, the approach of the Times is quite different. With Mr. Romney, everything is grist for the mill. Although President Obama’s interaction with Rev. Wright occurred when Mr. Obama was an adult – in fact, in the years leading up to his running for president – it is taboo for discussion purposes. Yet on May 10, the Times ran a front page story titled “Bullying Story Spurs Apology from Romney” which, as mentioned above, provided vague recollections from former classmates about whether a teenage Mitt Romney cut the bleached hair of a flamboyant high school classmate who later revealed his homosexuality.
Notwithstanding the Times’s headline, what Mr. Romney actually said was “As to pranks that were played back then, I don’t remember them all, but again, high school days, if I did stupid things, why I’m afraid I’ve got to say sorry for it.”
As for Mr. Romney’s Mormonism, not only does the Times feel no inhibitions about delving into the subject, it in fact ran a lengthy front page story headlined “Romney’s Faith, Silent but Deep.”
In the old days the Times at least made an effort to conceal its partisanship behind a façade of bland headlines and gray prose. The paper no longer even bothers trying.Editorial Board
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