Day After Bush Blackout, NYT Shows Its Version of Front-Page Balance

March 9th, 2015 10:34 PM

After former President George W. Bush failed to make the cut in the New York Times' photo collection of the march commemorating the 50th anniversary of Selma, the Times on Monday showed its idea of political balance.

That is, it led the paper with yet another hammering of an incompetent ultraconservative Republican-led Congress, while another front-page report critical of Democratic presidential front-runner in waiting Hillary Clinton hid under a mild headline and was peppered with anti-GOP caveats.

 "G.O.P. Is Divided As Budget Bills Start Piling Up – Leadership Struggles – Courting the Democrats Further Alienates Conservatives" by Ashley Parker was only the latest in a series of "Republicans are doomed" stories that began even before the new Republican majorities were sworn into the House and Senate.

In their first major test of governing this year, Republicans stumbled, faltered -- and nearly shut down the Department of Homeland Security.

And that vote may have been the easy one.


Republicans emphatically regained power with the midterm election, but those victories also masked pronounced divisions within the party. That friction was on display during the fight to fund Homeland Security, with more conservative members forcing Speaker John A. Boehner into a strategy in which he had to win passage in the House with Democratic votes.

Even many congressional Republicans have started to say they need an approach beyond a reflexive “no” to prove their ability to function effectively as a majority.

Representative Tom Cole, Republican of Oklahoma and a close ally of Mr. Boehner, said he hoped his colleagues had learned to “stop making the perfect the enemy of the good.”


The Republican turmoil has, in turn, empowered congressional Democrats, who found that by standing unified, they can wield significant power from the minority, something Republicans in the Senate had done to great effect in the last Congress.

Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the minority leader, held Senate Democrats together to prevent Republicans from even opening debate on a House-passed bill that would have funded the Homeland Security agency but also gutted President Obama’s recent executive actions on immigration.

Liberal House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi was again ready for her flattering New York Times close-up both in text and in pictures. Although he couldn't make room for Bush, NYT photographer Doug Mills managed to make several flattering photos of Pelosi in her office, one of which made it into this story of the bumbling GOP.

Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the minority leader, kept her members together on the funding fight as well so they did not vote for any Republican measure that did not ultimately result in a long-term “clean” spending bill for the agency.

On the morning that she first held Democrats back from supporting a short-term measure to fund the agency, Ms. Pelosi said her members were skeptical about voting against a bill that would have kept the agency open, albeit briefly. “And by the end of caucus, they were saying we have to stay together to make sure that we will keep government open until the end of the year,” she said, with a delighted laugh. “But you have to show them a path.”

The Times hammered conservative Republicans with their more moderate (i.e. responsible) colleagues.

The coming fights are already causing agita among House Republicans. “What we’re going to have to do is help do a better job of selling why things have to be done,” said Representative Pete Sessions, a Republican from Texas and chairman of the House Rules Committee. “We’ve got to sell it to the American people to make our ideas popular.”

Moderate Republicans said they hoped their more conservative colleagues would internalize the lessons of the Homeland Security fight and be willing to make compromises.

“We have to straighten that out,” said Representative Peter T. King of New York. “Otherwise, it’s going to be a rough two years.”

But Mr. King represents a quieter faction within the Republican majority. Many more hard-line members said they planned to double down on their strategy of opposing their leadership when they did not think the Republican proposal was sufficiently conservative.

To be fair, reporter Amy Chozick, the paper's chief Hillary follower, also made Monday's front page with "Clinton  Faces Test of Record Aiding Women," an extremely mild headline masking a moderately challenging story about unsavory, hypocritical foreign donations to the Clinton family's charitable foundation. Nevertheless, Chozick couldn't help portray conservatives as vengeful and Hillary's "maternal" credibility with women as unchallenged until now:

And for someone who has so long been lampooned, and demonized on the right, as overly calculating, playing up her gender as a strength would also allow her to demonstrate her nurturing, maternal -- and newly grandmotherly -- side to voters whom she may have left cold in the past.

Even her most strident critics could not have predicted that Mrs. Clinton would prove vulnerable on the subject.

But the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation has accepted tens of millions of dollars in donations from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Algeria and Brunei -- all of which the State Department has faulted over their records on sex discrimination and other human-rights issues.