Who Crawled Up The New York Times's Ass And Died?
The New York Times is at it again. The paper ran an article the other day that was almost indistinguishable from a GOP press release.
Those claims aren't just "grisly." They are also bald-faced, bare-assed lies. Democrats probably didn't expect Republicans to shamelessly accuse them of murdering children. If it's always too soon to discuss gun violence, there's apparently never a bad time to "politicize" abortion and claim your opponents are soulless monsters.
But why is the Times burying the lede? The GOP's slander -- not just of Democrats but of American women -- is the actual story here, not that Democrats are unprepared to cope with it.
The Times later deleted this tweet and replaced it with one that is not substantively better.
We're still treated to the appalling photo of a mother and her newborn child with the hashtag #EndInfanticide. (That's actually easier than #FreeTibet because there is no infanticide to end.) The story is still presented as one of Republican strength and Democratic weakness. There is also a larger problem with the Times's political reporting: Their stories detail the Republicans' vicious attacks against elected Democrats or liberal activists specifically but not the "civilians" who conservatives viciously malign. This is a distinct and consistent contrast with how Republicans are covered.
When Donald Trump is president, you wouldn't think the major news story would be the rising tide of liberal infanticide. White nationalists are emboldened. Migrant children are in cages. The president himself has arguably obstructed justice. But the Times struggles with accurately identifying racists.
The Times recently published a story with an actual real-live human woman who had an abortion. We personally love the actor Busy Phillips, but she is not a Waffle House waitress in rural Alabama. Nor should she be for us to empathize with her. However, Republicans want their supporters to view everyone who thinks and lives differently from them as elitist or "others" -- not someone like them in any way. So the relentless stories about racist Trump supporters in Broke Ass, West Virginia, or wherever humanize people who believe awful things. They further the narrative that Trump is a "man of the people," while Democrats are the party of celebrity high rollers who don't "get" America. Worse, they separate people who voted for Trump from the damage Trump has inflicted on marginalized communities. We must appreciate the "anger" of Trump supporters but we must never get angry ourselves or dare call them "racists." No, we need to "understand" them -- maybe take them out for drinks and a mani/pedi.
It's apparently wrong to call someone racist who literally has a Confederate flag in their yard. But it's effective politics to claim people who support abortion rights are A-OK with infanticide. Consider also how screwed up our gun debate is. Our schools are littered with the bodies of murdered children, but David Brooks argued that gun owners should take the lead in any gun control discussion. (They'll get around to that any day now, we're sure.) Meanwhile, people who will never get pregnant are all up in the wombs of people who do.
Where's the call for "respect" for women who have abortions? According to the Times, accusing women of Hitler-style brutality is apparently working. Brooks wrote an op-ed last year where he pretended he was a Democratic consultant wondering if rigid support for abortion rights came at too high a political cost. Even after Sandy Hook, Parkland, and now Denver, there's no implication that the GOP's unyielding opposition to even sensible gun control costs them anything or is an obstacle to wooing moderates.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders is a Disney villain (and not one of the cool ones), so it wasn't surprising that a restaurant owner would want her off the premises. Actual citizens rejecting Trump's cronies should be compelling evidence that the public's turned against his administration. Yet this wasn't covered as a slam-dunk for Democrats and liberals.
How can you screw up this story? But somehow Democrats were accused of a lack of civility because we weren't polite enough to terrible human beings.
Older and more establishment-aligned party officials fear the attempts at public humiliation are a political gift to Republicans eager to portray the opposition as inflaming rather than cooling passions in the nation's capital.
Heckling Kirstjen Nielsen and Stephen Miller was a political disaster for Democrats. We were gift-wrapping political power to Republicans -- except we didn't. Now, however, the Times thinks that Republicans have us on the ropes because they're cruelly accusing one in four women of cold-blooded murder.
What is new about Republican attacks is that they have presented the extremely rare circumstance of ending a far-along pregnancy — terminations after 24 weeks make up less than 1 percent of all abortions — in a way that abortion rights groups say leaves a false but evocative impression: that women who are about to deliver a healthy baby are asking for and receiving abortions, and that Democrats support that.
"False but evocative"? Are they describing a new perfume? The Times advises Democrats to remain ever cautious, which will likely influence the outcome of our their presidential primary. But Republicans can go full "Breaking Bad" for all the glory.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."