NY Times Beans John Bolton With Obsessive 'Hard-Liner' and 'Hawkish' Tags

March 23rd, 2018 11:26 AM

The sudden, if not unexpected, appointment of John Bolton as President Trump’s National Security Adviser led The New York Times on Friday and the paper packed a year’s worth of predictable “hard-line” and “hawkish” labels in one edition. The Times has used “hard-line” to describe Soviet Communists and Iranians who support the continuing Islamic death sentence against author Salman Rushdie, so it’s a pretty loaded term in Times-land.

The lead story by Mark Landler and Maggie Haberman included labeling in its headline deck: “Trump Chooses Hawk For Third Security Adviser As Shake-Up – McMaster to Resign – Choice of Bolton Signals Hard-Line Shift in Policy”:

President Trump named John R. Bolton, a hard-line former American ambassador to the United Nations, as his third national security adviser on Thursday, continuing a shake-up that creates one of the most hawkish national security teams of any White House in recent history.

“Hawkish” made two appearances in the print version, but it was “hard-line” that won out:

General McMaster carried out a slow-rolling purge of hard-liners at the National Security Council who had been installed by Mr. Flynn and were allied ideologically with Stephen K. Bannon, Mr. Trump’s former chief strategist, earning the ire of conservatives who complained that his moves represented the foreign policy establishment reasserting itself over a president who had promised a different approach.

General McMaster’s position at the White House had been seen as precarious for months, and he had become the target of a concerted campaign by hard-line activists outside the administration....

Note that both McMasters and his adversaries are “hard-line”:

General McMaster had been among the most hard-line administration officials in his approach to North Korea, publicly raising the specter of a “preventive war” against the North. He was among those who expressed concerns about Mr. Trump’s abrupt decision this month to meet Mr. Kim, according to a senior official.

“Hawk” made a comeback in Peter Baker’s feature on Bolton, “Hawk Among Hawks Eager to Confront Foreign Adversaries.” The text box: “An undiplomatic diplomat who thrills conservatives.” Predictably, the tone was hostile throughout:

With his trademark bushy gray mustache and his take-no-prisoners style, Mr. Bolton positioned himself to the right even of the foreign policy veterans who emerged from President George W. Bush’s administration, a hawk among hawks, a hard-liner who thrills conservatives and chills moderates and liberals. From his perch on Fox News, he has impressed Mr. Trump with a muscular vision of American power and a dark assessment of America’s adversaries.

Reporter David Sanger pushed the “hard-line” label in “Volatile Problems Ahead for a team of Hard-Line Advisers.”

When President Trump suddenly announced two weeks ago that he would meet the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, John R. Bolton suggested a pithy strategy for how the meeting should proceed.

It should “be a fairly brief session where Trump says: ‘Tell me you have begun total denuclearization, because we’re not going to have protracted negotiations. You can tell me right now or we’ll start thinking of something else,’” Mr. Bolton, the hard-line former diplomat, said on a radio program the next day....If so, this new team of hard-liners will be cast, in their first month together, into two of the most volatile nuclear issues of the post-Cold War era....