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The New York Times is in the tank

4 min read

I really don't know how the New York Times could make it any clearer that they're in the tank for Donald Freaking Trump—again—now that they've returned to full But Her Emails coverage in order to bend—not report, but bend—the U.S. presidential race in the direction they want to bend it.

Oh come the-fuck on.

Comfortably Numb (@numb.comfortab.ly) 2024-06-28T22:54:11.333Z

That's the Times model of contributing to the discourse, and the notion that Ross Douthat or Bret Stephens or the Mustache of Infinite Awareness has anything of note to say about this subject is only mildly less infuriating than the notion that a single rotten debate performance constitutes grounds for any of this speculative panic. Because all of this is based on a theory that Joe Biden didn't turn in such a gawdawful evening's performance because he was miserable with a cold, or because trying to get words out when you have a stutter is even worse when you're feeling bad, but because the man who was doing a bangin' job a few months ago in his State of the Union address has now withered impossibly and is now a barely sentient being.

I mean, sure. It could be the case. But before a Paper of Record or anyone who claims to either be a journalist or a reality-premised editor runs with that take, you might want to have, at bare minimum, more than a single night's evidence for it.

Is Biden showing up to every event sounding like he's been doped up on Benadryl and is about 30 seconds from falling asleep on his feet? No? Most of his events? No, huh? All right, well then maybe the big important professional opinion havers need to cool their jets. This is sounding an awful lot like another classic case of kids-playing-soccer punditry.

I used to be willing to think the Times was not an intentionally bad actor, at least not in a thumb-on-the-scales way, and that the conspicuous pile-ons turning minor stories (but her emails!) or speculative slop (senile! in the last few months he's gone completely senile!) were just cases of yellow journalism, on the Times' part. The New York Times is, when it comes to politics, a tabloid for people who consider themselves too good for tabloids. It doles out stories about the latest political Bat Boy for the sake of sensationalism and goosing revenue.

But if it was just sensationalism, the Times has had no end of history-shaking moments out of Trump, and has treated all of them with an affected Victorian demureness. The Republican Party welcoming the leader of an attempted insurrection back into the building in which Americans were killed—now that was a sensational moment, one that a dozen Times op-ed writers could have easily turned into a unified call to treat Republicanism as an inherently pro-sedition, anti-American movement.

Or, if the Times considers it to have been a slow news week, Trump's promotion of the notion that Republican former Rep. Liz Cheney was "guilty of treason" and deserving of a "military tribunal" is, and I cannot stress this enough, yet another moment of batshit insanity from the man, and one that shows explicitly that Trump is a frothing madman backed by a fascist movement that includes every damn Republican who continues to support him.

Where are the pulled fire alarms, when Donald Trump again suggests "military tribunals" for enemies who have committed the crime of, in his mind, being mean to him? How is the transparent decay of a presidential candidate into delusional, violence-provoking authoritarianism not worth apoplexy on the Times' front page?

So no, this isn't about sensationalism, from the Times. The sensationalism only goes one way. A Democratic presidential candidate uses personal email for work and the Times considers it one of the dominant themes of the presidential race; the next Republican administration does the same damn thing and now it's not news anymore. Donald Trump, a convicted felon, attempted to overthrow the United States government with the help of a great many Republican Party allies, and the Times can find no through line to link those stories together into a red-letter warning of what Republicans now stand for. A single night of presidential NyQuil Brain, however, is considered obviously and immediately disqualifying.

It's not "balance," and it's not even just cheap tabloidism. It's putting the whole weight of this crappy paper on the scales so as to pretend that even a fully seditionist, anti-democracy, felon-led Republican Party is still a legitimate political party that American elites should not be shunned for supporting.

Biden turned in one of the worst debate performances in modern history, that much is true—though if you think it's the uncontested worst, you may not be fully remembering some of those others. But the voters that evening didn't share the panic of the pundit class. The takeaway message was the Biden was pretty damn old, and Trump was still a half-delusional liar and racist.

That “Black jobs” seems to be the main thing from the debate to go actually viral on social media should give certain columnists some pause about their pulse on the campaign.

Aubrey Gilleran (@aubreygilleran.bsky.social) 2024-06-29T22:12:33.148Z

It's entirely possible that Joe Biden's health could degrade rapidly, because that's what happens when you're old. But Donald Trump is just as old, is visibly in much worse physical shape, and is peppering his speech with dementia-adjacent babbling in every appearance. The only reason Trump hasn't stroked out and died already is because God apparently hates the rest of us and wants us to suffer.

We'll see what happens, but the Times is so far over their skis here that it can't be called anything except dishonest. Once again they're fabricating a story they don't have evidence for, and they're doing it because it's exciting to them and because even the ascendence of a fully fascist party can and must be normalized so that the "conservative" members of the elite, which are a dominant majority, do not have to acknowledge their own moral collapse. We do not have a free press, we just don't.

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