23 YEARS LATER: Leading liberals complain!


Part 1—The Times and a trio of problems:
Does the New York Times “have a problem covering Hillary Clinton?”

Is the Times engaged in some sort of “Clinton vendetta?”

Despite a long history of groaning error and highly peculiar combat, such questions aren’t easy to answer. After all, let’s be fair:

At various times, the New York Times has written ludicrous front-page reports about various presidential candidates. That includes some major Republican hopefuls.

A few months ago, this strangest of all major American newspapers even moved an expose of the seventeen traffic tickets compiled by Candidate Rubio and his wife. (This wasn’t a front-page report.)

But uh-oh! Only four of those tickets had been issued to Rubio himself! And two of the troubling quartet of tickets had been dismissed.

In short, the Times finds ways to publish “news reports” which are ludicrous on their face, in ways no one else in American journalism has even so much as imagined. Not all the paper’s ludicrous work has been aimed at the Clintons in the twenty-three years since its current alleged “vendetta” began.

That said, there is a long history of peculiar, bungled coverage aimed at one or both of the Clintons. That starts with the bungled front-page reports which created the Whitewater “scandal”—and, in the process, helped create and give the name to a whole era of “scandal.”

The first of those bungled front-page reports appeared on March 8, 1992, more than twenty-three years ago. And hallelujah!

In recent weeks, twenty-three years later, some liberal leaders have begun to complain about this peculiar, long-standing pattern of journalistic combat and error.

Back to our original question:

Does the New York Times “have a problem covering Clinton?” In yesterday’s editions, the newspaper’s current public editor seemed to suggest that it just maybe possibly does.

Yesterday, in her weekly column, public editor Margaret Sullivan discussed reactions to the Times’ latest bungled front-page report—the recent, multiply-bungled report which falsely alleged that a “criminal referral” had been filed against Candidate Clinton.

Sullivan had already discussed this latest debacle in an earlier post. Citing readers and journalists alike, she quoted reactions to that previous post about the Times’ latest disaster:
SULLIVAN (8/2/15): My post quickly generated more than a thousand reader comments (a record), many of which had the same complaint: The reporting on Mrs. Clinton from such a dominant news source has an unfairly critical edge.

Arlene Williams, a longtime subscriber, wrote and objected to “what I see as jaded coverage concerning Hillary Clinton.” News articles and opinion columns are “just consistently negative,” she said. And Ben Lieberman of Acton, Mass., said The Times seemed to be “on a mission to cut her down to size.”

These readers aren’t alone. The press critic and New York University professor Jay Rosen wrote on Twitter: “I have resisted this conclusion over the years, but after today’s events it’s fair to say the Times has a problem covering Hillary Clinton.” Rachel Maddow said last week on MSNBC that the attitude of the national press corps, including The Times, is, “Everything Hillary Clinton does is a scandal.” And James Fallows of The Atlantic called what he sees as a Times “Clinton vendetta” a “serious lapse,” linking to a letter the Clinton campaign wrote in response to the Times story.


I agree with this sentiment from a reader, Evan Hannay, who is troubled by some of the Clinton coverage: “Hillary deserves tough questions when they are warranted. But it is undeniable that she is already facing significantly tougher coverage than any other potential candidate.” He thinks The Times should make “a promise to readers going forward that Hillary is not going to be treated unfairly as she so often is by the media.”

Last Thursday, I handed [Times executive editor Dean] Baquet a printed copy of Mr. Hannay’s email and asked him to address it.
Sullivan explicitly agreed with reader Hannay’s assessment. She explicitly said that, in her opinion, Candidate Clinton “is already facing significantly tougher coverage than any other potential candidate.”

Hannay called this fact “undeniable.” Sullivan seemed to agree.

Beyond that, Sullivan didn’t dispute the assessments which came from major voices in the press corps and the academy. More specifically, she didn’t dispute Professor Rosen’s claim that the Times “has a problem covering Hillary Clinton.” She didn’t even challenge Fallows’ reference to a “Clinton vendetta” at the Times—and “vendetta” is a very strong term.

Does the Times “have a problem covering Hillary Clinton?” Does some sort of “Clinton vendetta” exist within the paper’s grumbling bowels?

Such questions aren’t easy to answer. We’ll attempt to evaluate those questions all this week.

On the other hand, two things can be said, right now, about the work of the New York Times and about its history covering the Clintons:

First, forget that alleged problem with Candidate Clinton. The New York Times has an obvious problem with the normal practice of journalism itself.

In yesterday’s editions, Sullivan’s column was forced to share space with two more of the journalistic groaners which virtually define the political coverage of the modern Times.

Sullivan’s column was buried inside the Sunday Review. It appeared on that section’s last page. Meanwhile, on its high-profile Sunday front pages, the New York Times was showcasing its newest, freshest journalistic debacles.

Atop page A1, the paper’s front page, the Times published a journalistically ludicrous “news report” by the ludicrous Amy Chozick, whose capacity for ludicrous work can no longer be denied or doubted.

Meanwhile, on the front page of the Sunday Review,
the latest ludicrous “opinion column” by Maureen Dowd appeared.

Tomorrow, we’ll examine the journalistic merit of those sadly typical pieces, which worked in tandem, in ludicrous fashion, in yesterday’s Sunday Times. But even as Sullivan told the world that the Times might have a problem with Clinton, Chozick and Dowd made a simpler point clear:

The New York Times has a groaning problem with journalism itself. The Times has had this very large problem for a very long time.

A second problem came to light in Sullivan’s report. This problem belongs to the liberal world, a world which has long refused to examine the truth about such matters and has long refused to fight.

Good God! More than twenty-three years later, Professor Rosen is finally dropping his resistance to the idea that the Times may have some sort of problem with the Clintons! In only took twenty-three years!

And good grief! More than twenty-three years after this syndrome made its debut, Fallows has finally managed to offer a tweet about the practice he calls a “vendetta.”

That’s right—a tweet! Here it is—the thirteen-word tweet to which Sullivan linked! In his first six words, Fallows fawned to the Times, as you can see if you click on that link. Only then did he move to condemn the “vendetta”—twenty-three years later!

The New York Times has had a problem with journalistic practice since roughly forever. In the current context, this problem began in March 1992.

Since that time, for twenty-three years, we liberals have had a major problem of our own. The shape of our problem is captured in names like the ones Sullivan cited.

Tomorrow: Chozick and Dowd and that problem oh my! Also, Times honchos respond!

Our own liberal problem on view: “It starts to sound a little paranoid.”

Last Monday night—twenty-three years later!—that’s what one of our liberal stars said!


  1. This vendetta creates a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation for the candidate herself. If she fails to protect herself from press hostility, she will suffer. If she does protect herself, she suffers too because she is called defensive, lacking in transparency, hostile to the press, unable to manage her coverage, controlling, and similar negative terms. There is no way to win when both actions and inaction will be condemned.

    One of the Clinton rules is that Hillary Clinton will be blamed no matter what is done by others. Detractors will no doubt find a way to blame her for the NY Times coverage.

    1. HRC's bizarre decision to have a private email server in her Chappaqua cellar accounts for the problems she blames on the "vast right wing conspiracy" which now includes the impeccably left wing media credentialed NYT.

    2. She did the same as Colin Powell and others before her. If she did something bizarre, so did he.

    3. @ 11:19

      Negative. Secretary of State Powell did not have a private email server in his home. Condoleezza Rice, Clinton’s immediate predecessor as secretary of state, did not use her personal e-mail for official communication — and did not use e-mail much in general. Madeleine Albright, secretary of state from 1997 to 2001, did not use personal or professional e-mail while in office,

    4. There is no evidence Clinton did anything improper much less bizarre in her use of private servers and email. Rules made after she left her position do not apply retroactively. This is another conservative game to discredit Clinton, as empty as the rest.

      This is a liberal blog. You are wasting your time with this garbage.

      It makes no difference to a server or its users where it is physically located. The Clinton's home, with its security and protection, is arguably a safer place to keep it than government buildings. There is no evidence it was hacked or otherwise not safeguarded. My home would be a different story. Implying that Clinton ever left sensitive information lying around is just wrong.

    5. @ 12:12

      The rules about email did indeed change when HRC was at Foggy Bottom. In 2009, the year Clinton became secretary, federal regulations codified what experts say was a long-held assumption that a contemporary transfer to archives is required of personal e-mails used for official business.

      A server is not secure because a secret service agent is guarding the home. Hackers do not steal the actual server. Of course HRC's server was hacked. She was even using outdated software.

      HRC did send emails that contained classified information at the time she sent them. These were not classified at some later date.

      "At least four emails from the private email account that Clinton used while secretary of state contained classified information, Inspector General Charles McCullough, who oversees U.S. intelligence agencies, told members of Congress in a letter on Thursday"

      "The information was classified at the time that the emails were sent, McCullough said."


    6. cicero, Hillary Clinton's use of the phrase "vast right wing conspiracy" has nothing to do with anything you have discussed.

      In fact, my guess is it was prior to the time you would have been getting trophies for participation in kid's sports. Assuming you were allowed to participate by your parents. Were you home schooled?

    7. At 1:22 PM - cicero matriculated to:

      Welcome to the MRC Internship Program home! Our demanding and challenging internships will provide you with the hands-on experience you need to make it in the fast-paced world of media and public policy. Explore the divisions below to get a feel for the areas in which you could specialize and apply today!

    8. Cut Cicero some slack, he had sworn he'd never vote Republican again in a presidential race because of his principles [LINK] and now he doesn't feel like he can vote for the likely Democratic nominee.

    9. The turf war between the State Department and Intelligence Community over what should be retroactively considered classified material has nothing to do with Hillary Clinton.

    10. Gee CMike. That was some link. Do you think those young staffers working for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when she was sworn in in 2009 had heard of that long ago Bush administration Email scandal in 2007? They might have given her better advice if they had known.

    11. @ 3:30

      What turf war is that? These five intelligence agencies,

      National Security Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the CIA

      all agreed that HRC sent out emails from her Chappaqua server with then SECRET information contained in them. The State Department redacted said info from the released HRC emails.

      The real question is who will POTUS Obama endorse when VP Biden gets in the race?

    12. The State Department did not classify the info as secret at the time the email was sent.

    13. 3:30 PM,

      What do you think was the lesson of what you call the 2007 email scandal? Looks to me like it was if you are a Very Important Person when a scandal surfaces you call it a controversy and move on. That's pretty much Glenn Greenwald's take on what's been a growing institutional reality [LINK] over the last several decades with the exception of the Republicans not playing cricket after the 1998 midterms over a matter of fellatio.

    14. @4:04

      HRC was in charge of Foggy Bottom at the time the emails were sent. Is it your contention that HRC is the one who decides what is considered to be SECRET U.S. Government information and what isn't when all the other agencies and departments recognize the subject matter as SECRET? You seem to be making a case HRC's diminished capacity as Secretary of State.

    15. @CMike,

      Willie's law license was revoked for five years as a result of lying about redecorating Lewinski's dress in the Oval Office.

    16. And that all you Clinton haters can come up with after millions of tax dollars spent and after all these years. What a pathetic lot you all are.

    17. @ Chris

      That is a whole lot of "pathetic" folks who recognize HRC is a congenital liar.

      "Clinton is not honest, voters say 51 - 43 percent"

      "Clinton is not honest, voters say 53 - 40 percent"

      "Clinton is not honest, voters say 54 - 40 percent"


    18. How many said that about the other candidates? Or didn't they ask?

  2. Twenty three years later I'll ask Howler readers to comment on interesting questions raised by this topic of this post.

    Should a governor should be involved in a business deal with the owner of a second business regulated by the state?

    If so, should the governor's spouse be able to receive fees for work done for the second business involving the state's regulation of that business?

    1. Aren't all businesses regulated by the state in some way? You are demanding that the spouse have no occupation.

    2. I demanded nothing. I asked two questions.

      Should a sitting governor (or any state elected official for that matter) be allowed to be a business partner with another individual whose business is regulated by the state?

      If yes, should the spouse of that governor be allowed to receive fees for working on behalf of the partner's business on matters pertaining to the state's regulation of that business?

      It is a fairly simple matter of what level of conflicts of interest one feels should permissible?

    3. "I trolled nothing."

      FTFY - "a show about nothing."

    4. Asking two questions is now considered trolling by team Bob!

    5. 1:08 You must direct your objections to Kenneth Starr, who spent many years trying very, very hard to make a case, any case, out of the Whitewater matter.

    6. urban legend, I asked two questions of you and any other Howler reader.

      I am raising no objections. I am trying to find out if Howler readers believe it is OK for a governor to be a business partner with someone whose other businesses is regulated by the state he/she heads. Further if you believe it is OK for the spouse of that governor to be a paid representative of that business in dealing with state regulators.

      If you think that is fine, just say so.

    7. "I am trying to find out if ...."

      Total BS.

    8. Yet another courageous Howler fan who, when confronted with what seems to be two fairly simple questions, uses the BS of charging BS to avoid an answer.

  3. All S & Ls and banks are state-regulated. Should governors not be allowed savings accounts or loans? Did you know that the ill-fated Whitewater deal (a passive real estate investment) was made years before Clinton became governor? That Jim McDougal wasn't in the S & L business at the time? That Whitewater was already financially troubled by the time Clinton was elected? (Although McDougal deceived the Clintons about it for years.) Should somebody then have taken it off their hands? And what questions would that have raised? Did you know that Arkansas regulators tried to shut McDougal's S & L down fully 18 months before the Feds? No, you don't know these things, because the NYT carefully concealed them in order to peddle a phony "scandal" it still hasn't come clean about. The Clintons made a poor investment with a guy who became mentally ill and lost his shirt. That's the whole story.

    1. 12:52, like 11:23 you counter with questions instead of answering the two I asked. The ones you asked are immaterial to the two
      I asked.

    2. The answer is that your questions are immaterial to anything that actually happened. Also, Hillary Clinton didn't represent McDougal's S & L on regulatory matters.

    3. My questions are generic. They are tied to nothing. You cared enough to take time and try and attack the questions. Want to venture an answer?

    4. In that case, they're pointless.

    5. No. They are not pointless. They constitute very basic questions involved in governmental ethics.

      I find it amazing that Howler readers can respond yet avoid answering.

    6. I doubt it is ethical to be so vague.

    7. anon 6:57, why should anyone want to answer your 2 dumb, pointless out of the blue questions?

    8. As long as we are exposing the diabolical plots of Hillary, we might as well display the smoking gun that Republican Congressmen and Fox News have on Hillary's nefarious Benghazi coverup.

      To wit:

      Ryu,Rexon Y

      66la1ned 6YJu81c1aiWaich.Inc. Via ;P..O::C:.A.:;.:_

      From: Rhodes, Benjamin J.[Benjamin:_J._Rhodes@ BE

      Sent: Friday, September 14, 2012 8:09 PM

      To: Vega,Dag; NSC Deputy Press Secretary;Plouffe,David; Pfeiffer,Dan;Camey.Jay;Palmieri, Jennifer; Eames , Joshua R.;Govashiri,Ferial;Ledbetter, Howli J.;Selak,Dawn;Brundag. Daniel; Pelton;Erin;AJhassani,MehdiK.

      Subject: RE: PREP CALLwith Susan: Saturday at 4:00 pm ET

      Goals: •· To convey that the United States is doing everything that we can to protect our people and facilities abroad;

      • To underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet·video, and not a broader failure o(policy;

      Th-Th-That's all folks!

    9. Two more Howler fans with comments about the questions but no answers. "We defend our right to be silent" they almost sound like they are saying, "because we know we don't want to answer yes and we know what it means if we answer no.

    10. anon 10:05, didn't answer your question because it's too stupid and doesn't make any sense. If it's so important to you that questions be answered, I noticed you didn't answer mine.

  4. When evaluating the NY Times's treatment of Hillary, be aware that the Time sometimes ignores stories that would embarrass Hillary. E.g., today's story, which is not in the Times: Clinton aide may have 'delivered favors' for friends, IG finds

    An investigation may have found evidence a top State Department aide to Hillary Clinton took advantage of government employment rules with potential conflicts of interest and overpayments.

    In a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry Thursday, Sen. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said an inspector general probe suggested Huma Abedin leveraged her State Department job to benefit her two other employers at the time: the Clinton Foundation and a consulting firm called Teneo Strategies.

    1. There seems to be an endless supply of accusations. Grassley is, of course, a Republican.

    2. Dinky, you saw your shadow. Back in your hole for another six weeks.

    3. Cronyism! Pure, unadulterated cronyism!!

    4. The charge comes from an an inspector general probe.

    5. DinC's quote almost sounds like Grassley reads the Howler:

      ....Sen. Chuck Grassley..... said an inspector general probe suggested Huma Abedin leveraged her State Department job. ...

      And where thre is suggestion, implication cannot be far behind.

      That said, Bobfans should cheer. Your Howler gets results.

  5. The wonder is that 1,000 commenters had their say before NY[e]T closed the comments. It's been my observation that one has to get up purty early in the morn to get a word in, before the throng of citizen editorialists are cut off, lest moderators are overwhelmed in their thankless search for proletarian snark.

    As far as I can see, the cutoff has nothing to do with the number of comments. Yesterday Ross Douthat's column allowed less than 200 readers on the soapbox before the rest were silenced.

    It reminds me of the time they closed the patent office. Everything that could possibly be said had already been said, snort the gatekeepers. Or maybe it's like what the Koch Brothers say (by implication): Too much democracy can be a bad thing.

  6. http://www.nationalmemo.com/criminal-referral-smear-what-trey-gowdy-knew-and-when-he-knew-it/

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