If you’ve noticed the torrent of negative Hillary Clinton articles flowing from the New York Times recently, you aren’t alone. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has noticed it too – and he’s not pleased.
On Monday, Krugman reached his limit, penning a damning piece that lays waste to the media obsession with finding something, anything, amiss with Hillary or the Clinton Foundation. The whole thing reminded him of the 2000 election and made him worried that the disastrous consequences of a media consumed by horse race narratives will kickstart another nightmare election like the one that gave us George W. Bush.
…throughout the campaign most media coverage gave the impression that Mr. Bush was a bluff, straightforward guy, while portraying Al Gore — whose policy proposals added up, and whose critiques of the Bush plan were completely accurate — as slippery and dishonest. Mr. Gore’s mendacity was supposedly demonstrated by trivial anecdotes, none significant, some of them simply false. No, he never claimed to have invented the internet. But the image stuck.
And right now I and many others have the sick, sinking feeling that it’s happening again.
Backing up a bit, the New York Times as well as several other storied reporting outfits have thrown a lot of their typically high journalistic standards to the wind in order to get an edge on the “Hillary Clinton is corrupt” narrative that has become their bread-and-butter. The biggest obstacle in their way is that they haven’t been able to find even a single instance where this was the case. Instead, they’ve taken to leaning heavily on misleading headlines or ledes to carry the weight. In more desperate occasions, they’ve flat out got the stories wrong. For supporters of Hillary, as well as fans of journalism, the rush to the bottom – particularly from legendary institutions like the NYT or the Associated Press – has been infuriating to watch.
Krugman concludes with some good tips on how to inoculate yourself to the bullshit being shoveled your way:
So I would urge journalists to ask whether they are reporting facts or simply engaging in innuendo, and urge the public to read with a critical eye. If reports about a candidate talk about how something “raises questions,” creates “shadows,” or anything similar, be aware that these are all too often weasel words used to create the impression of wrongdoing out of thin air.
It appears the New York Times is NOT at all pleased that Krugman just put their coverage on notice. According to data journalist Nate Silver, the paper has refused to promote the piece on social media.
— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) September 5, 2016
It’s understandable that many liberals believe this constitutes proof that the media is “in the tank for Trump.” That isn’t necessarily true. All that is needed is for the media to be so consumed with the idea of creating a “horse race” to keep things close until November. To do so they will jump on any opportunity they can to make it happen.
For the past two months, Donald Trump’s campaign has spectacularly imploded. In many of the key battleground states, he hasn’t managed to open a single field office. He spends almost no money on campaign ads. Instead, he rallies in safely white communities in areas that he either cannot lose (Mississippi) or cannot win (Washington, New Hampshire). Whatever gets the biggest crowds. Meanwhile, Clinton is quietly building a sizable lead in all the states that matter. This is incredibly boring. So reporters find other news. And when it’s not there, they string together conjecture to supply readers with at least the appearance of “both sides” being terrible.
So as Trump continues to shoot himself in the face, Clinton gets a constant stream of “scandal” stories to balance out the coverage. And we get Krugman at his best, eviscerating the media hacks who are responsible for this dangerous game.
Featured image via Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images