On Feb. 27, 2018, President Donald Trump tweeted that several well-known news publications, including The New York Times (NYT), are the “The Enemy of the People.” There was deservedly a lot of pushback from both sides of the aisle for these and other similar statements he made.
Trump has a history of attacking the media. While most of Trump’s attacks are unfounded and purely based on his need to lash out at people he doesn’t like, the media do undercut their credibility by not evaluating themselves honestly in light of his comments, instead merely opting to slam him as a power-hungry demagogue and casting themselves as the guardians of truth.
Here’s a dirty secret: They aren’t.
When Trump calls the media the enemy, he is out of line, but media organizations do have their agendas or have a history of acting partisan and ignoring the truth when it becomes inconvenient for them. One outlet that does that is the NYT.
In late 2017 the NYT published a list of Trump’s lies during his presidency. While there was nothing factually wrong with the list, it is interesting to note that The Times never published anything similar during the Obama presidency.
This wasn’t because Obama never fabricated facts, as this happened quite often. Whether it was Obama’s promise to let people keep their health care plan if the Affordable Care Act was passed, or when he claimed Benghazi was inspired by an inflammatory film, rather than a coordinated terrorist attack.
Had Trump been the man behind those lies, it is highly doubtful The Times would have let those events go without scathing the president, given the double standard.
Another instance of partisianship by the NYT occurred last year when the Senate was set to vote on the GOP tax reform bill. In addition to arguing that the bill was bad in an op-ed, which the paper is entitled to do, the Times editorial board dropped all pretenses of objectivity to temporarily engage in political activism for the Democratic Party. The paper posted several Republican senators’ contact information and urged people to call those senators to oppose the bill.
Afterward, The Times tried to claim it is fair and unbiased, with a straight face.
The problem isn’t that the Times is critical of Trump, it’s that it wasn’t nearly as critical of Obama. This is why Trump calls the media the enemy; it is in large part their clear double standard they have depending on whether the president has a D or R next to his or her name.
If media organizations were the guardians of truth they claim to be, they would cover the political left with the same level of aggression as they do the right.
The New York Times isn’t alone in this behavior; it is simply one of the most apparent amalgamations of the kind of bias and duplicity that have ruined the mainstream media’s credibility.
If journalists want to start becoming the guardians of the public they pretend to be, they will need to understand the attacks launched by Donald Trump, however over the top, are rooted in some obvious facts and those facts should be accepted.
Unfortunately, this understanding hasn’t happened. The public has been saturated with cries that the only thing stopping Trump from becoming the next Stalin and ending all civil rights is a courageous purple-haired feminist with a keyboard at the NYT. With this attitude, nothing will change.