Daily Kos - July 25, 2019

... as Trump signals his clearly racist strategy for re-election with his recent taunt that Democratic congresswomen of color should "go back" to where they came from, the Times' continued fawning over his most devoted followers helps amplify his bigoted message. In the work of Times reporters and editors, racism is being presented as just another wedge issue that should not be judged too harshly, and that both sides can agree to disagree on.  

"In the Times’ view, those issues are just the same as left-right debates over taxation, surveillance, the size of government, and a host of issues where there are legitimate differences of opinion," wrote Oliver Willis in the wake of the Times' latest front-page piece on white Trump loyalists. "But on these core issues, there are not two morally equivalent sides. In America this was enshrined a long time ago with the Declaration that all men are ‘created equal.’"

Indeed, as part of its chronic coverage of Trump devotees since the election, the paper usually makes little mention of the dark cultural forces that may be propelling the president’s biggest fans. Instead, they’re simply presented as hard-working Americans in search of a new voice in Washington. The Times’ message remains undeniable: White working-class voters, and specifically men, are the voters who matter most.

... But wait, didn’t the GOP just get pummeled in Michigan during the midterm elections, and wouldn't that suggest that Michigan voters have soured on the Republicans' divisive ways? Indeed the GOP did, with Democrats winning statewide races for governor, secretary of state, and attorney general, while also flipping two congressional seats. But the Times skates over that inconvenient fact as it stresses the wishes and desires of white Trump supporters in Michigan and their embrace of his (racist) "Send her back" chant.  

By the way, this is common practice at the Times. This spring, the paper published a rosy look at Trump's electoral prospects in Wisconsin, complete with—you guessed it—lots of quotes from white Trump supporters. Omitted, however, was the fact that Trump's net approval in Wisconsin had dropped 19 points since he was inaugurated.

The Times and the media's utter devotion to Trump's base represents a completely new form of political journalism. Note that during Trump’s first 100 days, the Times published more than 130 articles in its news and opinion sections that mentioned Trump supporters or Trump voters, according to Nexis. By contrast, during Obama’s first 100 days in office, the Times published just seven articles in the news and opinion sections that mentioned Obama supporters or Obama voters. Back then, what did the Beltway press think was exceedingly important as Obama’s first 100 days approached? The president’s most fevered critics in the tea party, of course. And that press obsession stretched on for years and greatly exaggerated the movement’s importance.

The irony today is that Times columnist Charles Blow recently lamented the timidity that still lingers with regard to clearly labeling Trump a racist. "When did we arrive at the point where applying the words racist and racism was more radioactive than actually doing and saying racist things and demonstrating oneself to be a racist?" Blow recently asked, in an excellent column headlined, "Denying Racism Supports It." The paradox is that the Times newsroom remains among the worst offenders on this front, as it timidly dodges telling the truth about Trump.

When Trump first tweeted out his clearly racist taunts against the Democratic congresswomen, the Times didn't label them as such. Instead, the paper hid behind Democrats, reporting that they thought the attacks were racist. Later, the Timesconceded that Trump's attacks were "widely viewed as racist"—just not by the newspaper itself.

That institutional squeamishness remains rampant. In a recent analysis of Trump's race-baiting attacks, the Times insisted he was tapping into "white anxiety" and "racial anxieties." Then, with this week's article on Michigan voters and how they're fine with Trump's racist rhetoric, the paper opted for lazy euphemisms in order to avoid hard truth-telling. The Times reported that "Mr. Trump signaled his intent last week to rely on nationalism and identity politics," later stressing the "racial divisiveness" of Trump's attacks. Using terms like "white anxiety," "racial anxieties," "identity politics," and "racial divisiveness" is what reporters do when they're trying not to offend Trump's bigoted supporters.

By refusing to call out Trump's racism, the newspaper's giving the invective a pass—and that's dangerous. ...
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