New York Times' Hulse Goes Label-Happy Again: GOP ‘Far-Right…Extreme Right'

November 27th, 2023 6:18 PM

New Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson (LA) certainly wasn’t getting a honeymoon at the New York Times. The paper’s chief Washington correspondent Carl Hulse was both a veteran correspondent and a long-time player of the labeling bias game, as he showed in his Sunday edition story. The labeling slant started with the headline: “Mike Johnson's Rise to Speaker Cements Far-Right Takeover of GOP.”

One could make a game out of counting how many labels the historically biased Hulse would attach to Johnson and his “far-right” friends. Hulse even reached back to smear the decades-old Tea Party movement as irresponsible and racist, tracing the “Republican crackup” from there (which at least made a change from blaming Trump for everything):

In early 2009, congressional Republicans were staring down a long exile in the political wilderness. Barack Obama was about to assume the presidency, and Democrats were within reach of a filibuster-proof, 60-vote supermajority in the Senate and the largest House majority in more than 20 years after the economic crisis of 2008.

But Republicans saw a glimmer of hope in the energized far-right populist movement that emerged out of a backlash to Mr. Obama -- the first Black president -- and his party’s aggressive economic and social agenda, which included a federal health care plan. Republicans seized on the Tea Party and associated groups, with their nativist leanings and vehemently anti-establishment impulses, as their ticket back to power.

Hulse commiserated with former influential Congressman Eric Cantor (R-VA) who suffered a shock primary defeat to a Tea Party candidate and still sounded bitter about it.

The ranks of more traditional Republicans had been significantly thinned after the far right turned on them in successive election cycles...

Hulse found a fair and balanced voice from….a leading labor union?

“They thought they could control it,” Michael Podhorzer, the former political director of the A.F.L.-C.I.O. who has studied the House’s far-right progression, said of G.O.P. leaders. “But once you agree essentially that Democrats are satanic, there is no room in the party for someone who says we need to compromise with Democrats to accomplish what we need to get done.”

The result, Mr. Podhorzer said, is a Republican majority that his research shows across various data points to be more extreme, more evangelical Christian and less experienced in governing than in the past. Those characteristics have been evident as House Republicans have spent much of the year in chaos.

Hulse preserved Podhorzer’s pithy insult:

“It isn’t that they are really clever at how they crash the institution,” Mr. Podhorzer said. “They just don’t know how to drive.”

Leading congressional Republicans were leery of the Tea Party’s thinly veiled racism, illustrated by insulting references to Mr. Obama and the questioning of his birthplace, though they said they saw the activists as mainly motivated by an anti-tax, anti-government fervor.

A move by the Freedom Caucus to block a spending measure to protest Johnson’s temporary funding bill to keep the government open moved Hulse to call them among “the most extreme element within his ranks” and claimed the move “underscored the far-right’s antipathy to compromise….”

In all, Hulse used the “far-right” adjective (or “far right” noun) 10 times, “archconservative” once, “hard-line” twice, “extreme” twice, and “extreme right” once to describe Republicans within this 1,280-word story.

It makes one miss the plain old “conservative” label, which he only used twice. Hulse’s labeling slant is a bad habit he will apparently never shake.