Are bitter conservatives "clinging" to spending cuts? That's the tone of New York Times political editor Richard Stevenson's front-page "Political Memo" Monday, "G.O.P. Clings to One Thing It Agrees On: Spending Cuts," which contained a whopping 13 "conservative" labels (and a couple of "liberals" as well).
Conservative governors are signing on to provisions of what they once derisively dismissed as Obamacare. Prominent Senate Republicans are taking positions on immigration that would have gotten the party’s presidential candidates hooted off the debate stage during last year’s primaries.
Spinning the sequester in the New York Times. After weeks of cringing over the supposedly damaging federal cuts due to take effect tomorrow (even as the public shrugs them off) Jonathan Weisman made an 180-degree turn on the front of Thursday's paper: "Parties Focus On the Positive As Cuts Near." The text box: "An onerous possibility turns out to be not quite so onerous."
Suddenly the Times is seeing a win-win-win situation, for liberals, conservatives, and the White House.
Stevenson was dismissive of "the conservative mantra that nearly all problems can be traced back to excess government" and criticized Obama's "more extreme conservative critics" for misrepresenting the moderate Obama.
Newsweek stopped its print edition at the end of 2012, but they still tried to scandalize the country by producing a fake cover honoring Obama’s second inauguration as “The Second Coming.” This absurd attempt at myth-making is a natural progression. The “cover” story was written by Evan Thomas, who proclaimed on MSNBC a few years ago that Obama was “sort of like God” in being above the gritty political fray.
It was just as absurd when Newsweek writer David Frum, the formerly conservative Bush speechwriter, tweeted this piece of media-elite nonsense: “First term Obama: punchee, 2nd term Obama, puncher.”
Sunday's front-page "political memo" from New York Times reporter Richard Stevenson played into the Obama campaign's hands by obsessing over Romney's supposedly ostentatious displays of wealth, in contrast to Barack Obama's down-home populism: "On Tricky Terrain of Class, Contrasting Paths."
The print edition featured large dueling photos contrasting a down-home President Obama at the Kozy Corners restaurant in Ohio, with Romney and family on a boat at his New Hampshire estate. The online headline was blunter: "Obama and Romney Gamble on Wealth Divide."
A Thursday Politico story by Jim Vandehei and Mike Allen struck a nerve among liberal journalists by daring to suggest conservatives have a point when it comes to charges of media bias, singling out slanted coverage in the New York Times and the Washington Post:
On the front page of its Sunday edition, the New York Times gave a big spread to Ann Romney spending lots of time and tons of money on an exotic genre of horse-riding. The clear implication: The Romneys are silly rich, move in rarefied and exotic circles, and are perhaps a tad shady.
Only days earlier, news surfaced that author David Maraniss had unearthed new details about Barack Obama’s prolific, college-age dope-smoking for his new book, “Barack Obama: The Story” -- and the Times made it a brief on A15.
Those GOP moderates just keep “dwindling” away. New York Times Political editor Richard Stevenson Sunday wrote about Americans Elect, a new organization that favors an alternative nominating process for electing a president in the name of nonpartisanship: “Group Clears a Path For a Third-Party Bid.” But what Stevenson called a “process to enable creation of a centrist ticket” was in fact packed with Democratic Party soldiers and disgruntled Republicans. Stevenson employed an old Times trick to denigrate the GOP by singling out for approval “one of a dwindling band of moderate Republicans.”
In “Missed Jobs Forecast in 2009 Resonates in Campaign,” Richard Stevenson’s “Political Memo” buried in the New York Times's Saturday Business section, the paper’s political editor mounted a defense of Obama’s prediction of 6.5% unemployment and "stimulus," while regretting the administration’s “nuanced” argument would be buried by misleading Republicans: "Despite repeated Republican claims to the contrary, the stimulus bill created at least hundreds of thousands of jobs, according to nearly all nonpartisan analysts, including the Congressional Budget Office. But it’s impossible to compress the nuance onto a bumper sticker."
Is Barack Obama just too complex for voters to figure out? That was the premise behind the New York Times's Sunday Week in Review lead story by Richard Stevenson,“The Muddled Selling of the President.”
Stevenson denied Obama was a liberal (despite his push for government-supervised health care and $787 billion in “economic stimulus” spending), suggesting he was too “complex” for such a label. Further, he wondered if Obama's recent political struggles means it's no longer “possible to embrace complexity in a political and media culture that demands simple themes and promotes conflict?”
On this much, President Obama’s friends and foes could agree: He eludes simple labels.
Yes, he’s a liberal, except when he’s not. He’s antiwar, except for the one he’s escalating. He’s for bailouts, but wants to rein in the banks. He’s concentrating ever-more power in the West Wing, except when he’s being overly deferential to Congress. He’s cool, except when he’s fighting-hot.
In a world that presents so many fast-moving and intractable problems, nuance, flexibility, pragmatism -- even a full range of human emotions -- are no doubt good things. But as Mr. Obama wrapped up his State of the Union address on Wednesday night with an appeal to transcend partisan gamesmanship, he was plaintively testing a broader proposition: Is it possible to embrace complexity in a political and media culture that demands simple themes and promotes conflict?
Did the NYT bury reporter Peter Baker's story on a memo written by Obama's own national intelligence director, suggesting that harsh interrogation methods had proved effective in understanding Al Qaeda? Washington Examiner journalist Byron York has his suspicions.
From Baker's 850-word online story, "Banned Techniques Yielded 'High Value Information,' Memo Says, " which has rocketed across the Drudge Report and the conservative web since it was posted at nytimes.com Tuesday:
President Obama's national intelligence director told colleagues in a private memo last week that the harsh interrogation techniques banned by the White House did produce significant information that helped the nation in its struggle with terrorists.
"High value information came from interrogations in which those methods were used and provided a deeper understanding of the al Qa'ida organization that was attacking this country," Adm. Dennis C. Blair, the intelligence director, wrote in a memo to his staff last Thursday.
Baker caught an intriguing bit of redaction by the Obama administration:
New York Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt evaluated two tough political stories in the Sunday Week in Review, one anti-McCain, the other anti-Palin. While he found the McCain piece fair, he faulted the anti-Palin piece.
In both cases, Times reporters and editors rallied to the defense of the pieces, finding McCain guilty of "demonstrable falsehoods" and Palin of"sometimes petty, peremptory" political leadership in Alaska.
When a newspaper like The Times takes a tough, critical look at a candidate in this year's presidential election, it has to give readers enough solid evidence to make up their own minds about whether it is being accurate and fair. Consider two front-page articles last weekend: I think one delivered the goods and one fell short.