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Laughably, The New York Times attempts to make the indictment good for Trump, bad for Biden
It's beyond self-parody. And another dereliction of duty.
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Much of the media were back to their old tricks this week as Donald Trump surrendered in Manhattan, was arrested and arraigned, and was charged under a 34-count indictment.
We saw the endless second-guessing of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg in the days before the indictment was announced, with many reporters claiming it was "weak" without even seeing the indictment. This only fed the MAGA base and GOP Trump enablers—until the indictment was unsealed, when those legal experts with experience in New York law said Bragg's was a straightforward and strong case.
And we had the wall-to-wall live coverage of Trump’s motorcade and jet flight—every lackluster mile detailed, from Mar-a-Lago to downtown Manhattan, as pundits talked over it but had nothing much to say.
Then there was The New York Times, once again playing into Trump’s hands via access journalism, trying to convince us that Trump was loving it all while President Joe Biden was somehow going to be harmed by Trump’s indictment.
It began two weeks before, after the possibility of an impending indictment was suggested by Trump, with Times resident gossip columnist and Trump whisperer, Maggie Haberman, offering up one of her palace intrigue stories, which almost always have unnamed sources:
Trump at Mar-a-Lago: Magical Thinking and a Perp-Walk Fixation
Behind closed doors at Mar-a-Lago, the former president has told friends and associates that he welcomes the idea of being paraded by the authorities before a throng of reporters and news cameras. He has even mused openly about whether he should smile for the assembled media, and he has pondered how the public would react and is said to have described the potential spectacle as a fun experience.
Again, there are no named sources, so we have no idea who told this to Haberman or what their agenda is in doing so. And it didn’t comport with the reality of Trump’s unhinged Truth Social posts, which indicated a very frightened, angry man.
As the days went on, Trump’s posts in fact became even more desperate and filled with fear, as he threatened Bragg and attacked the judge in the case. Haberman and her colleague Jonathan Swan tempered their palace intrigue stories in the days following, seeming to realize the initial reporting was off.
They added in that it may have just been "bravado" on the part of Trump and noted that Trump was—according to “people” around him —deep down, perhaps afraid. But honestly, any of us could have written this, as we didn’t need sources to see it. And Haberman and other Times reporters still kept reporting on how the indictment was a boon to Trump’s campaign, which was raising lots of money and thus helping him against his GOP primary opponents, without the context of what the indictment and the prospect of a candidate going to prison meant for a general election.
Meanwhile, Times political reporter Peter Baker began telling readers that the entire affair was not good for President Biden, while Trump was reveling in it.
First came "Trump Flourishes in the Glare of the Spotlight" last Sunday in which Baker framed the indictment, bizarrely, as something that was an exciting opportunity for Trump, and difficult for Biden:
Rather than hide from the indignity of turning himself in to authorities this week, Mr. Trump obligingly sent out a schedule as if for a campaign tour, letting everyone know he would fly on Monday from Florida to New York, then on Tuesday surrender for mug shots, fingerprinting and arraignment. In case that were not enough to draw the eye, he plans to then fly back to Florida to make a prime-time evening statement at Mar-a-Lago, surrounded by the cameras and microphones he covets…
…For President Biden, who has assiduously avoided commenting on Mr. Trump’s legal travails, the first criminal prosecution of a former commander in chief will surely make it that much harder to generate interest in his dutiful speeches promoting the latest bridge project or other achievements he hopes to tout as he prepares to kick off a re-election campaign.
Baker added in:
In today’s sizzle-saturated media environment, White House officials understand perfectly well that an incumbent president doing his job can hardly compete for attention with a former president possibly doing time.
"Sizzle-saturated" indeed, but Baker seems to have no awareness of or take any responsibility for adding to the "sizzle."
But it was two days later when Baker served up a rehash of this that was beyond self parody. The headline said it all:
Biden Has the Oval Office. But Trump Has Center Stage.
I mean, really, wouldn’t you rather be arrested and charged under a 34-count felony indictment than be president of the United States, working in the Oval Office?
The story was idiotic, to say the least. It is part of a pattern at the Times of making even the worst thing that could happen to Trump—a felony indictment, which might be the first of several—into something that possibly can’t hurt him and might help him. And then discussing Trump’s woes as a challenge for Biden.
Access journalism—getting access to Trump’s team by writing softball stories—is a big part of the problem. But this pattern is also connected to the fear of the GOP labeling them as the "liberal media," which often has reporters trying to show "both sides." The result is always ridiculous, like this from Baker’s story:
No commander in chief in more than a century has been eclipsed in the public eye by the leader he succeeded the way Mr. Biden has at times. Now with the first criminal prosecution of a former president in American history, it will be that much harder to command the national conversation.
Yet it is a contrast that Mr. Biden’s team hopes will eventually benefit him.
Hopes will eventually benefit him? Really?
That's ludicrous. The "contrast" to Trump and all of his insanity has in fact benefited Biden since he beat Trump in a commanding victory in the 2020 election and won formerly red states like Arizona and Georgia.
It has continued to benefit Biden as Trump’s extremism and threats have been harmful to the GOP in election after election. That includes denying them a red wave in 2020 as Democrats ran on threats to democracy from Trump and just this week costing them a state supreme court seat in Wisconsin, giving liberals control of the court for the first time in 15 years.
And, as his indictment rallies the MAGA base behind him, the GOP may be saddled with Trump in the general election, which he’ll lose again.
But we’ve seen hardly any coverage in the Times of how Trump’s indictment is a disaster for the GOP. Much of the media, with the Times at the forefront, is back to their bad habits, hooked on Trump like a drug. It’s sensational, inaccurate and a dereliction of duty.