NY Times Devotes Story to Texas Candidate Embracing Ted Nugent, Barely Noticed Obama Embracing Spike Lee

When you work at that “Valhalla” of liberal journalism called The New York Times, you can’t believe it when Republicans associate themselves with trash-talking celebrities who make wild charges about President Obama.

But when President Obama associates himself with trash-talking celebrities who made wild charges about President Bush, that’s not newsworthy at all. See these lead paragraphs of the Times, one from Wednesday’s story on Ted Nugent and Texas candidate Greg Abbott, and the other one from 2012 on Spike Lee and President Obama:

HOUSTON — Attorney General Greg Abbott of Texas, the leading candidate for the Republican nomination for governor, on Tuesday defended his decision to campaign with the pro-gun musician and conservative commentator Ted Nugent a month after Mr. Nugent called President Obama a “communist-nurtured subhuman mongrel.”

The campaign events and Mr. Nugent’s long history of inflammatory speech stirred outrage among Democrats in the state, including Mr. Abbott’s main Democratic rival, State Senator Wendy Davis, who called the decision to campaign with Mr. Nugent “an insult to every Texan.” – Manny Fernandez, February 19, 2014 story headlined “Candidate for Texas Governor Stands by Outspoken Musician.”

Versus:  

WASHINGTON -- As President Obama prepares to address the state of the union on Tuesday night, the state of his presidency has been improving lately -- thanks to encouraging economic news as well as divisive infighting among Republicans.

''I'm absolutely confident we're going to win this thing,'' Mr. Obama told about 50 donors dining at the Manhattan town house of the filmmaker Spike Lee last Thursday evening. – Jackie Calmes, January 24, 2012 story headlined “Confident Obama Knows Wild Cards Can Loom Large.”

The entire Texas article was about Nugent and Abbott's refusal to reject Nugent despite his "extreme political speech." The Calmes article was all about how the Republicans were destroying each other in the primaries, not about Spike Lee.

Fernandez and the Times had no problem throwing the rhetorical kitchen sink at Nugent: "Democrats had no shortage of comments or behavior from Mr. Nugent’s past at which to take offense. They called him a 'sexual predator,' citing an episode of VH1’s 'Behind the Music' that stated he had admitted to liaisons with underage girls and had persuaded one girl’s mother to sign papers making him the girl’s legal guardian."

That's really rich from Democrats who didn't mind Clinton's liaisons with college-age interns, or charges of rape. But when you call Bill Clinton a sexual "predator," as Rand Paul did on TV, the Times avoided any mention of the word.

In October of 2005, Brent Baker reported at NewsBusters that Spike Lee endorsed wild charges made by racist Rev. Louis Farrakhan about the Bush administration seeking to drown black people in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which is at least as serious a charge as being a communist.

Lee insisted: “It's not far-fetched. And also I would like to say it's not necessarily blow it up. But, the residents of that ward, they believe it, there was a Hurricane Betsy in '65, the same that happened where a choice had to be made, one neighborhood got to save another neighborhood and flood another 'hood, flood another neighborhood.”

When Michel Martin of ABC (now with NPR) tried to sympathize with the conspiracy theorists, but couldn’t endorse the conspiracy, Lee shot back: “Presidents have been assassinated. So why is that so far-fetched?”

Martin replied: “Because it would require, because it would require no white person in the government to have a moral compass. It would require no black person to have a spine and I think that's a very hard case to make.”

Republicans have "no shortage of comments or behavior" from Spike Lee's past to deserve some mention in the Times when Obama raises campaign cash at his house.


On January 12, 2011, Lee came on the Today show after the Tucson mass shooting that wounded. Rep. Gabby Giffords and said “ the United States of America is the most violent country in the history of civilization”

On December 17, 2002 Lee appeared on ABC‘s "Good Morning America" and claimed, falsely Republican Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott "is a card-carrying member of the Klan." Lee said "He [Lott’s] gotta go....he doesn’t belong in the Senate. I know he has that [Klansman’s] hood in the closet somewhere, the hood and the robe....” When Diane Sawyer pressed Lee to prove it, Lee responded, “Look at the man's statements. The man is a segregationist.”

In the aftermath of the Columbine school shootings in May 1999, The New York Post reported Lee offered hate speech against National Rifle Assocation president Charlton Heston at the Cannes Film Festival: "Shoot him--with a .44-caliber Bulldog," He was also quoted as saying he'd like to "dismantle the NRA."

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis