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16 Aug, 2019 23:45

NYT shifts from Russiagate to racism, insisting Orange Man Still Bad

NYT shifts from Russiagate to racism, insisting Orange Man Still Bad

Patting itself on the back for getting the Trump-Russia conspiracy story right (they didn’t), the New York Times decided to pivot to calling the US president a racist, in a staff meeting whose shocking transcript ended up online.

On Thursday, Slate published the partial transcript of a Times “town hall.” It reads as a surreal “struggle session” between the rank-and-file outraged that the paper is not overtly anti-Trump and the management twisting itself into pretzels to argue otherwise, while attempting to argue for the virtue of subtlety.

To say there is no love lost between the Times and President Donald Trump would be an understatement. The Gray Lady had endorsed Hillary Clinton back in 2016 and gave her 90-percent-plus chances of winning, only to struggle with the unthinkable when Trump carried the vote instead. 

After what seemed like a moment of introspection, the paper decided to do better – by going all in on the conspiracy theory that Trump “colluded” with Russia! What followed was two years of “bombshell” reports that amounted to nothing, less than nothing, or the wrong thing, over and over again. Yet the paper’s subscriptions rose and it won Pulitzer prizes for such coverage, as executive editor Dean Baquet pointed out at the staff meeting. And then...

"The day Bob Mueller walked off that witness stand… I think that the story changed,” Baquet said. “We're a little tiny bit flat-footed. I mean, that's what happens when a story looks a certain way for two years. Right?”

If you think that “tiny bit flat footed” sounds like the mother of all euphemisms for total failure, that’s because it is. Never fear, however, because Baquet has a “vision” for the Times to redeem itself: going forward, it will call Trump a racist!

While you might be tempted to shrug off this criticism because it comes from Donald Trump Junior, take it from Baquet himself. 

“How do we cover America, that's become so divided by Donald Trump?" he asks. “How do we write about race in a thoughtful way, something we haven’t done in a large way in a long time? That, to me, is the vision for coverage.

Notice the assumption that Trump is the one dividing America, or that the division is about race? It’s fair to say at this point that the Times has learned precisely nothing from the Russiagate fiasco, or its prior blindness about the American electorate.

It gets “better,” sadly. Here is one unnamed staffer with some sweeping assertions that Baquet accepts at face value:

"I’m wondering to what extent you think that the fact of racism and white supremacy being sort of the foundation of this country should play into our reporting. Just because it feels to me like it should be a starting point, you know?... I just feel like racism is in everything. It should be considered in our science reporting, in our culture reporting, in our national reporting."

It is not enough that the paper is launching the '1619 project' – referring to the year the first slaves from Africa arrived to the English colony of Virginia – every story about everything, every day, has to be about racism!

Baquet’s response is to say “of course it should be” and add that “race in the next year is going to be a huge part of the American story… in terms of not only African Americans and their relationship with Donald Trump, but Latinos and immigration.”

Also on rt.com NYT changes front-page mass shootings headline after backlash from Dem 2020 hopefuls

Though Baquet and several other editors kept trying to argue that they are journalists of integrity who are totally not giving in to the mob baying for Trump’s blood, one of the reasons the town hall was convened is that just last week the paper changed a headline after outrage from Democrats, because it was citing Trump rather than attacking him. 

The message was clear: the only narrative allowed after the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio had to be gun control and condemnation of Trump’s “hateful rhetoric.” Nothing else – not even Trump’s explicit condemnation of hatred and white supremacy – would do.

Most of the Democrats gunning for the 2020 nomination have already doubled, tripled and quadrupled down on calling Trump a racist. Now the New York Times is following suit – but no collusion there, folks! – and hoping to cash in on two more years of what conservative memesmiths have already summed up as “Orange Man Bad.”

Remember this next time the Gray Lady and its fellow mainstream outlets accuse Russia of “sowing discord” among Americans.

By Nebojsa Malic

Nebojsa Malic is a Serbian-American journalist and political commentator, working at RT since 2015

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.