Political Observers Criticize NY Times Campaign Coverage

Despite questions about its longterm viability, Twitter has served as a forum for some of the more incisive political discussions of the 2016 campaigns. Currently trending is a conversation among a diverse group of political commentators questioning NY Times coverage of the presidential campaign. A leading voice is Norm Ornstein, resident scholar at the conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute. Joining Ornstein in taking the Times to task for its sloppy news coverage are leading election law scholar Rick Hasen, as well as journalists James Fallows, Eric Boehlert, and Talking Points Memo editor and publisher Josh Marshall, among others.

The main thrust of the group's criticism has been what Marshall calls "parodic coverage" of the Clintons by by the news division of the NY Times — which, "though only as a leading example for the rest of the national press, has a decades' long history of being led around by rightwing opposition researchers into dead ends which amount to journalistic comedy...," while Trump's history of criminal ties, business and political corruption, misuse of a nonprofit entity, and the "Trump University" scam have been mostly ignored.

The Daily Kos's Greg Dworkin storified the Twitter dialog between Ornstein and Times columnist Roger Cohen. Read it here

The most egregious examples of Trump's corrupt behavior to re-emerge recently are the two instances in which state attorneys general quashed investigations of Trump University in apparent exchange for political contributions. Hasen and Marshall ran a Lexis/Nexis search of Times coverage of Trump and Florida attorney general Pam Bondi, and found nothing. [Update: on September 6, possibly in response to widespread criticism, the Times published a story on Trump and campaign finance rules.] Meanwhile the Washington Post's David Farenthold has chronicled Trump's interaction with Bondi, and his sketchy history with nonprofits among other dubious activities.

By contrast the NY Daily News published a story in June with the headline Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi asked Donald Trump for donation before deciding against investigating Trump University. More recently the Daily News has reported on how Trump has profited from business dealings with Saudi Arabia, his questionable history with Rudy Giuliani, refusal to release his tax returns, among other critical coverage.



In his September 5 column, NY Times contributor Paul Krugman compares 2016 campaign coverage to Bush-Gore. Krugman notes particularly the parallels between press treatment of Trump in 2016 and its having pictured "Dubya" as a genial "regular guy" in 2000. As Krugman observes, Bush's lies during his campaign were exceeded by his lies during his administration, including leading the nation to war under false pretenses.