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The New York Times and Me

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I gave up reading the New York Times after getting fed up with its biased reporting and the blatant editorializing in its news pages as seen in the late eighties and early nineties when the Times did everything it could to bring down the Reagan presidency and then demolish the first Bush presidency. In essence they seemed to me to be out to destroy Republicans and exalt Democrats and journalistic standards of objectivity were not going to get in their way. Yet in recent days I’ve found myself reading it again, partly because a Facebook correspondent called me on disparaging the Times’ recent coverage of this year’s presidential campaign when I was no longer a reader of it and partly because a neighbor asked me to take her paper in for her while she was away. (I wasn’t about to start buying the Times again, not, at least, until I became convinced that they had become a fairer media outlet, more deserving of my cash. Still, this confluence of circumstances has prompted me to start reading the so-called “Gray Lady” of journalism once more.) And, indeed, this morning’s Sunday review (an editorial supplement the paper publishes every weekend) has turned out to have some interesting articles int it. But what hit me almost immediately was its lead editorial. In it the writers make the case against Donald Trump, the GOP presidential nominee, and, thus, for his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton. There’s a good case to be made, of course, and yet the editorial writers do a great deal more than just make it.

After what reads like a perfunctory nod to those Republicans who have consistently opposed Trump, and do so to this day, they launch into a savage attack on Republicans in general: “This surreal, miserable presidential campaign,” they write, “exposed a lot of rot in our democracy’s infrastructure, and . . . a sick Republican Party.” My antennas went up immediately as I read on:

“Some in the never-Trump movement tried and failed to stop the nominee. But history will not be kind to the other Republicans who, out of cravenness or calculation, sidled up to a man they knew to be unfit for office. Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio — weaklings all. A party of holier-than-thous standing athwart history, saying, ‘Stop Hillary, whatever the damage’.”

This disdain and demeaning of Republicans is gospel to much of the left and this Times editorial helps explain why many of them feel this way. This paper, their primary media organ, sets the tone for many on the modern left, by exuding a deep dislike for people who think differently than they do and who seek different policies from government. The editorial writers can’t seem to help themselves as they disparage a man like Paul Ryan, caught between the rock of party loyalty and the hard place of supporting a candidate with whom he has profound and extensive disagreements. As if Ryan, leader of his party’s caucus in the House of Representatives and elected Speaker of that legislative body, could simply abandon his own political affiliations and the things he believes in to embrace a Democratic candidate who stands for the things he doesn’t. This year’s GOP nominee may, indeed, be uniquely bad, but Hillary Clinton is equally so on the policy questions serious Republicans favor. Trump may be atrocious on a personal level and in terms of temperament but Hillary Clinton is certainly no bargain. Why would sticking with one’s party and commitment to one’s principles earn the opprobrium of the NY Times editorial writers who evince nothing less than a knee-jerk detestation of all things Republican?

Continuing in their triumphalist rhetoric, rejoicing in what they clearly see as the collapse of the GOP, the Times goes on: “If Mr. Trump is rejected on Tuesday, the nation will have a momentary breather. And some good news to build on. The Republicans who have spent the last weeks and months jumping on, then off, then on the Trump bus will have been discredited, and some may be unseated. Those in the Trump inner circle will be freshly disgraced, and perhaps go away — like Rudy Giuliani, former New York mayor, now Mr. Trump’s conspiracy ghoul, and Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, who has been separately brought low in an unrelated courtroom drama.”

In other words, for the New York Times, as for so many on the “progressive” left, the problem with Trump is the Republican Party itself, not the momentary madness that has seized hold of about 40 percent of the GOP base and some, as yet undetermined, segment of the electorate at large in what turned out in 2016 to have been a crowded and uninspiring presidential field. The Times writers continue: “This country’s problems will still be deep and complex, and the Republicans in Congress show no signs of giving Mrs. Clinton any more respect than they gave President Obama, or of abandoning their jihad against responsible governing.”

Jihad? Have they forgotten the intense disrespect and obstructionism shown by Democrats to the two former Bush presidents not so long ago? Do they imagine that only a Democratic president is worthy of, and entitled to, the respect of all Americans? To the extent the Times sees the problem in this election as the GOP, itself, and not the rise of an anomalous presidential candidate like Trump — or the rebellion of an angry segment of Americans who, feeling disenfranchised by a triumphalist left wing pushing the constitutional envelope with illicit use of executive orders and rule-making from the White House alone, the Times writers can never speak to people like me, can never win us over by exulting in the humiliation and defeat of the party in which we have found our political home.

Indeed, reading this morning’s jeremiad against Republicans, masquerading as it does as an editorial for choosing the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, I am prompted in my heart of hearts to choose Trump on Election Day after all. Why would I follow the recommendations of a newspaper that clearly despises and disdains the principles I favor, treating my side in the current political debates as just so much undeserving trash?

About Stuart W. Mirsky

Profile photo of Stuart W. Mirsky
Stuart W. Mirsky, a former New York City official who last served as Assistant Commissioner for Operations in the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene before retiring in 2002, wrote a column, "The Rockaway Irregular," for The Wave, a south Queens based weekly, for more than a decade (until Hurricane Sandy changed the equation). He is an original founder of the Rockaway Republicans, one of the most active Republican groups in southern Queens, and author of a number of books, including The King of Vinland's Saga, an historical novel of the Norse in 11th century North America, A Raft on the River, a memoir of Holocaust survival, and Choice and Action, a work of contemporary philosophy addressing the implications of relativism and nihilism for our moral beliefs.

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