NYT’s Nir, Focus of Protest for Nail Salon Hit Piece, Proudly Covers Odd Pro-NYT Protest

February 28th, 2017 10:58 PM

On Monday the New York Times’ Sarah Maslin Nir covered a rare bird, a pro-media rally in (where else?) Manhattan outside NYT headquarters, which just happened to bestow particular affection upon her own newspaper: “Protesters Gather to Defend the News Media.” The text box: “Resisting Trump’s vilification of the press as the ‘enemy.’” Nir’s short Monday report didn’t include an actual crowd count beyond “large”:

On Sunday morning, the time when many engage in the weekend ritual of reading the news over coffee, a large crowd converged outside The New York Times’s Manhattan headquarters on Eighth Avenue to defend the country’s press.

“It’s a New York Sunday tradition,” read a sign held by Norman Cohen, a freelance TV producer, “Coffee, Bagels, and a FREE PRESS.” The protest, which was led by Get Organized BK, was in response to President Trump’s decision on Friday to bar several news organizations from a White House briefing, including The Times.

Protesters walked from The Times to the offices of Fox News and The Wall Street Journal, and then to NBC’s headquarters at 30 Rockefeller Plaza before returning to The Times building. Protesters made it clear that they championed press freedom for all outlets, regardless of political leaning. Some had masking tape over their mouths, symbolizing a muzzling of the press.

The editor of the paper even weighed in.

Dean Baquet, the executive editor of The New York Times, praised the protesters’ efforts. By blocking certain reporters from attending Friday’s open briefing, the president’s press secretary, Sean M. Spicer, “undermines one of the few institutions that has as its role asking tough, independent-minded questions of the president,” Mr. Baquet said.

Nir made sure to include this little self-promotion of the paper’s new anti-Trump ad campaign of righteous sloganeering, suggesting that this protest was less a bipartisan defense of the media than an enclave of the self-impressed Manhattan cultural elite:

As the protest concluded, some people waved Sunday’s edition of The Times, folded to reveal a full-page advertisement from the newspaper.

It read: “Truth. It’s more important now than ever.”

(Coincidentally, Nir’s shoddy reporting on New York City nail salons in 2015 was the subject of a raucous protest outside Times headquarters by the workers themselves, many new arrivals from Asian countries, the very people the paper claims to feel compassion for. That particular protest somehow didn’t make the Times.)

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Sydney Ember on Saturday wrote an evasive article on the same topic, “Many Critics Detect Bias in News Media, but Not an ‘Enemy,’” and impressively managed not to bring up the term “liberal bias.”

Biased? Probably. Oppositional? Maybe. Essential? In theory. But the enemy? Not so much.

President Trump last week called the news media “the enemy of the American people.” But in interviews around the country this week, Americans of varying political affiliations, even those with serious misgivings about the media, largely allowed that the president’s characterization had gone too far.

“I think that was a bit much,” said Mark Huizingh, 67, a Trump supporter and furniture store owner in Grand Rapids, Mich. “That was a little too strong.”

Mr. Trump’s presidency has exacerbated already deep ideological divisions in the country, and Americans on one end of the political spectrum increasingly find themselves unable even to look their counterparts in the eye. But if there has been one instance in the last month when the rift has not seemed quite as large, perhaps it has been the response to Mr. Trump’s harsh rebuke of the media.

Still, the feeling toward the news media among those interviewed was far from warm and fuzzy. Many said they believed the media was flawed in general, and certainly when it came to the coverage of Mr. Trump and his administration.


Mr. Trump’s attempts to demonize the mainstream media are nothing new. He has referred to the news media as the “opposition party” and repeatedly called legitimate news organizations “fake news.” He and his aides have also consistently attacked the media’s credibility, calling out factual mistakes made by organizations sometimes even after corrections were made. But if the tactics were meant to convince the public that the media was a deceitful adversary, they did not appear to be having quite the desired effect.


Not everyone was so quick to dismiss Mr. Trump’s comments as outlandish, however. (Half of the respondents to the Quinnipiac poll said they disapproved of the media’s coverage of Mr. Trump.)

Ember let dissenting voices have their say without really digging into the liberal worldview of the vast majority of reporters on the Washington-NYC axis.

Gary Abernathy, 61, the editor and publisher of The Times-Gazette in Hillsboro, Ohio, which endorsed Mr. Trump for president, said part of the problem with the mainstream media’s coverage of Mr. Trump was that reporters at major newspapers ”don’t really get other parts of the country.”

“I do think it’s a failure to understand, and also a failure to respect the opinions of Trump voters,” he said.