The curious case of the New York Times and Nikki Haley’s curtains
Of all the things to focus on when covering the often-undiplomatic and belligerent US envoy to the world organization, the Times chose to focus on the curtains the State Department purchased for the new ambassadorial residence in Manhattan.
Nikki Haley’s View of New York Is Priceless. Her Curtains? $52,701. https://t.co/Y8k6QXeQhs— Gardiner Harris (@GardinerHarris) September 14, 2018
The headline of the article: “Nikki Haley’s View of New York Is Priceless. Her Curtains? $52,701” – unequivocally suggested who is to blame for allegedly squandering taxpayers’ money.
The bombshell report has triggered a torrent of angry tweets from the anti-Trump #Resistance crowd, with Rep. Ted Lieu (D-California) even calling on the House Foreign Affairs Committee to hold an oversight hearing.
This is not okay. As a Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, I call on @HouseForeign Chairman @RepEdRoyce to hold an oversight hearing on @StateDept spending on @nikkihaley and her deputy. https://t.co/c2ipX1s79d— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) September 14, 2018
The drapes for the residence indeed cost $29,900, according to the State Department contracts, while the complex mechanism to open them automatically cost another $22,801. The problem, however, is that while the curtains were installed after Haley was sworn in, they had been ordered during the presidency of Barack Obama. The Times did include a quote from Haley’s spokesperson clarifying that in the original version of the article – this was buried close to the end, however.
Why Massive Mainstream Media Distrust?— Charles V Payne (@cvpayne) September 14, 2018
Headlines: State Department Spent $52,200 on Nikki Haley apartment curtains
Media Reaction: Outrage
Fact: Curtains order under Obama administration
Media Reaction: Crickets (looking for next outrage)
Many high-profile conservatives, including Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) and President Trump’s son Donald Jr, jumped to Haley’s defense, criticizing the Times for pushing its own political agenda with a clearly misleading title.
Want an example of subtle ways media pushes their bias? See this completely false & misleading headline about @nikkihaley. They are not “her curtains” & buried deep in story is the fact that this purchase was made under Obama administration. https://t.co/fus7Ds6pEc— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) September 14, 2018
Shocking! Weird how it won’t get coverage now. The $52,000 curtains for Nikki Haley's office were bought by Obama's State Department, not Trump's https://t.co/GbrlKKp7Yc— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) September 14, 2018
Responding to the backlash, the Times changed the title to a more neutral “State Department Spent $52,701 on Curtains for Residence of U.N. Envoy” and issued a correction, admitting that “an earlier version of this article and headline created an unfair impression about who was responsible for the purchase in question.”
The Times’ decision to criticize Haley for what turned out to be her predecessor’s interior decorating choices follows a pattern of media attacks on other members of the Trump cabinet, involving the spending habits of EPA chief Scott Pruitt – who has since resigned – and the $31,000 dining furniture set of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson.
What the Times has not done, however, is criticize Haley on the substance of her actions on East River, despite what could be described as a target-rich environment. Earlier this week, Haley threatened US intervention on behalf of Al-Qaeda affiliates in Syria’s Idlib province. Last week, Haley declared she would know “exactly” who was going to use chemical weapons in Idlib, blaming the Syrian government in advance of any such incident.
In July, Haley said the US “never will” trust Russia or its president Vladimir Putin. Russia is “never going to be our friend,” Haley added, directly countering Trump’s publicly stated desire for better relations with Moscow.
But it’s the curtains at Haley’s residence that are the real problem, you see – at least according to the New York Times.
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