Part 2—The Times does one hopeful a favor: Last Saturday, the New York Times performed its latest favor for the Republican party.
The favor took the form of the Times’ latest inane, less-than-obsessively-honest “news report.” This report concerned the driving record of a leading Republican hopeful.
The candidate in question is Marco Rubio. His troubling record behind the wheel had the Times upset.
Concerning the Times, you must know this—workers at the famous newspaper often seem a bit Coneheaded, something other than human. Their sheer inanity seems to know no limit or bound. Beyond that, they’re often less than obsessively honest when they pursue the disturbing stories which have them deeply concerned.
So it was when the New York Times gave the GOP this latest familiar gift.
For the record, we aren’t entirely sure if the “news report” in question appeared in Saturday’s hard-copy Times. Even today, the silly newspaper’s “Today’s Paper” site records the publication of no such report. By way of contrast, Nexis says the report appeared on page A12, at least in the “Late Edition.”
Either way, the silly report was a gift to the GOP. In classic Times fashion, it took two reporters and a researcher to compile this embarrassing, slippery mess.
This is the way it started:
RAPPEPORT AND EDER (6/6/15): Plenty of Notice for Rubios on the RoadThe piddle proceeds from there. “Kitty Bennett contributed reporting,” the Times also says, apparently without embarrassment.
Senator Marco Rubio has been in a hurry to get to the top, rising from state legislator to United States senator in the span of a decade and now running for president at age 44.
But politics is not the only area where Mr. Rubio, a Republican from Florida, has an affinity for the fast track. He and his wife, Jeanette, have also shown a tendency to be in a rush on the road.
According to a search of the court dockets in Miami-Dade and Duval Counties in Florida, the Rubios have been cited for numerous infractions over the years for incidents that included speeding, driving through red lights and careless driving. A review of records dating to 1997 shows that the couple had a combined 17 citations: Mr. Rubio with four and his wife with 13. On four occasions they agreed to attend remedial driving school after a violation.
Mr. Rubio's troubles behind the wheel predate his days in politics...
Has Candidate Rubio “shown a tendency to be in a rush on the road?” We’d have to say he hasn’t. For all their brilliance, the three reporters turned up exactly four tickets for the candidate in a period covering at least the last eighteen years.
“Mr. Rubio's troubles behind the wheel predate his days in politics?” Sadly, that’s the problem with this Times report! The first traffic ticket the Times discovered was issued in 1997, when Rubio was 27 years old. As best one can tell from this silly report, the candidate has been ticketed exactly four times in his entire life!
Making matters even worse, two of the charges were dismissed, according to the three reporters. In classic fashion, the reporters don’t explain why.
There you have it! A leading Republican candidate has received four tickets in his life, two of which were dismissed. Even for the extraterrestrials who seem to prosper at the Times, it’s hard to tease a “news repot” out of such slender gruel.
How did the newspaper handle this problem? Of course! Mrs. Rubio does seem to have a rather sketchy driving record. The solution was obvious:
You add her traffic citations to his! This lets you report a grand total of seventeen traffic tickets!
Has any newspaper even done “reporting” of this type? Has even newspaper, even the Times, ever been this dumb and this slippery?
Has any newspaper ever done his-and-her joint ticket reporting? In which a hopeful gets slimed, in this slippery way, for the tickets acquired by his wife?
At the Washington Post, Eric Wemple was apparently struck by the strangeness of this report when it appeared on line. Pitifully, the New York Times Washington bureau chief explained her newspaper’s rush to publish:
WEMPLE (6/5/15): The New York Times denies playing a passive role. “We came across this on our own,” says New York Times Washington Bureau Chief Carolyn Ryan in an e-mail to the Erik Wemple Blog. “Steve Eder and Kitty Bennett noticed it on Tuesday while looking into something else—it is almost all on line.” There was a plan to keep the piece waiting until next week, notes Ryan, but Rappeport found out that the story had other suitors, so the paper expedited it. “We hired a document retrieval service in Florida and got copies of the paper records ourselves. They came back yesterday.”Others were going to break this “news.” So the Times rushed into print! That said, who but the Times would treat it this way—adding thirteen tickets to the candidate’s four, producing an eye-popping total!
This is slippery, brain-dead work; the Times excels in both areas. That said, what makes this “news report” a gift to the GOP?
Surely, you don’t have to ask.
The conservative world has complained for decades about the Times’ famed “liberal bias.” American voters of all persuasion have heard this familiar claim again and again and again and again over the 18-28 years during which Candidate Rubio was failing to tear up the roads.
During that period, the Times has conducted a series of wars against both Clintons and against Candidate Gore. One of those wars sent George Bush to the White House. But for reasons of career and social standing, leading “liberals” in the media have always refused to discuss this.
Ever so slowly, the liberal world has started to turn on this point. It’s now OK to say that the press corps hates Candidate Clinton, a point we’ll examine further as the week proceeds. But the liberal world is still reluctant to name the names of the actual orgs which are hunting this candidate down.
Regarding the names of actual journalists? Yesterday, Salon’s Joan Walsh went out of her way to say that she admires the Times’ Maggie Haberman, even as she criticized Haberman’s latest front-page report, which advanced “the New York Times asinine new Clinton meme.”
For all we know, Haberman may be the world’s nicest person, As a journalist, she’s an utterly useless, second-generation typist by way of Politico. For social and professional reasons, people like Walsh still aren’t eager to tell you that.
No such scruples restrain the conservative world. As soon as the Rubio piece appeared, conservatives began to explain that the New York Times had done it again—had put its famous old “liberal bias” on display!
At USA Today, a Glenn Reynolds column appeared yesterday. “Rubio's four traffic tickets aren't news, unless you're publishing political hit pieces,” the sub-headline said.
Excerpts like these will be bruited far and wide:
REYNOLDS (6/8/15): Rappeport, Eder and Bennett's earth-shattering traffic scoop produced rather a lot of mockery from people on the right, and from some on the left. Longtime political correspondent Jeff Greenfield tweeted: "Rubio TrafficTicketGate? This a parody of political journalism gone nuts, right?"As best we can tell, this column hasn’t appeared in the hard-copy USA Today. But its message will be widely voiced:
Yeah, pretty much. To add to the embarrassment, the Times, though it has since silently corrected the piece, referred to Marco Rubio's Ford F-150 pickup as a "sports utility vehicle," displaying the level of automotive literacy expected of Manhattan residents.
Even most of the major newspapers and networks declined to treat the Times' story seriously. Fox News emphasized the hit-piece style of the story, and The Wall Street Journal mocked it; CNN was mum; and The Washington Post's Erik Wemple warned the Times it is setting itself up for criticism if it doesn't hold other presidential candidates to the same level of scrutiny. Of the major networks, only MSNBC gave the story the time of day.
[I]f Times journalists wonder why so many people think they bend over backward for gotcha stories involving politicians they disfavor, well, perhaps they should ponder this example. Everybody else is.
There they go again! The Times has published another gotcha story about a Republican hopeful!
Is the New York Times “setting itself up for criticism if it doesn't hold other presidential candidates to the same level of scrutiny?” Plainly, yes—it is.
That said, the Times has been publishing strange attacks on the leading Democratic candidate during this same time frame. The difference is, leading liberals refuse to discuss this fact.
Last Saturday, the Times published 647 ridiculous words about Rubio’s driving record. The conservative world roared in fury, pushing an age-old story line about the Times’ liberal bias.
On the previous Saturday, the Times had published 2177 poisonous words, on its front page, about the leading Democratic candidate. Kevin Drum published two well-chosen paragraphs about the strangeness of the report.
Liberal pushback stopped there.
Late in April, the Times had published 4400 poisonous, front-page words about that same Democratic candidate. That report was every bit as puzzling as the later report which Drum critiqued.
On MSNBC, Chris Hayes actually vouched for that front-page hit piece! He called it “a bombshell report.”
Ever so slowly, liberal behavior is turning in this area. That said, what was Rachel Maddow doing last night on her increasingly ridiculous program?
Alas! Maddow spent her first nineteen minutes discussing the jail break in upstate New York. The first ten minutes of that segment were devoted to great jail breaks of the past. Including amusing jail breaks!
She devoted her last two segments to silly reports about Alaska wildlife. In the first segment, a family of moose had been videotaped playing in someone’s lawn sprinklers. In the second report, Maddow shrieked and screeched about the way eagles sometimes drop “creepy, toothy eel-fish” from the sky.
By her own admission, those eel-fish give Maddow bad dreams!
When Maddow discussed the White House campaign, she continued the silly partisan fawning in which she has been engaged for weeks. Most appallingly, she pleasured us liberals once again with videotape designed to show that Candidate Christie is too f*cking fat. She also explained and showed that Candidate Walker shouldn’t have let himself be photographed in a helmet during a recent motorcycle ride.
Maddow would jump off the Golden Gate Bridge before she would discuss the work being done by the New York Times. Increasingly, her work is a loud, undisguised disgrace in which she relentlessly talks down to viewers, apparently as part of a desperate ratings search.
The New York Times’ foolish report about Rubio produced instant, familiar pushback. But as with Candidate Gore back then, so too with Candidate Clinton today:
Leading liberals refuse to discuss what our most influential upper-class newspapers are actually doing. People are dead all over the world because the Maddows of the world behaved this way the last time. On the bright side, their careers and their social standing prospered.
Maddow has become a clownish disgrace. When you watch her ridiculous program, are you able to see that?
Tomorrow: Ever so slowly starting to speak at Salon