How the New York Times Spins the Memo to Divide America

by JOEL B. POLLAK4 Feb 2018

An article in the news section of the Sunday New York Times describing President Donald Trump’s reaction to the release of the House Intelligence Committee memo is a perfect example of how the “paper of record” is spinning the news to attack Trump — and divide the country.

The article, “Trump’s Unparalleled War on a Pillar of Society: Law Enforcement” shows why Trump supporters, and conservatives in general, dislike and distrust the media.

Written by veteran reporters Sharon LaFraniere, Katie Benner, and Peter Baker, with contributions from Maggie Haberman and Adam Goldman, the article is a group effort that reflects the outlook of the Times as a whole.

And It performs two dirty tricks. The first: the article casts Trump’s dispute with senior members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation as a fight with “law enforcement” as a whole, i.e. the FBI rank-and-file or even the neighborhood cop.

Note that this runs against a consistent theme of President Trump’s presidency, which has emphasized support for law enforcement — a clear break with the Obama administration, which often supported the Black Lives Matter movement and its criticisms of police. Trump has also offered unprecedented support for the Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

To call his criticism of the FBI a “war” on law enforcement is just wrong.

The second trick: the article disdains evidence that the FBI and the Justice Department abused their power for political reasons. It notes that “Mr. Trump’s advisers” believe the memo “raised serious and legitimate questions about the way the F.B.I. used information gathered by a former spy paid by Mrs. Clinton’s campaign and the Democrats to help justify a warrant for surveillance on a former Trump campaign adviser tied to Russia.”

But the article never takes that belief seriously as a matter of public concern. To the team at the New York Times, it is just a political perspective.

What must be explained is not the FBI’s agenda, but rather Trump’s behavior, which is interpreted in the light of past interest in “secret document[s]” like Obama’s birth certificate. No past examples of FBI abuses — such as the surveillance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., under COINTELPRO — are examined.

The article cites a number of “experts,” some of whom are almost predictable, like Trump-hating former George W. Bush official Jack Goldsmith, a Harvard Law professor. But to those outside the Times‘ liberal bubble, there is no way to dress up what is a blatant partisan attack masquerading as journalism.

Ironically, the self-assured, conclusory tone of the article suggests that the team who worked on it may have no idea just how partisan they have become.

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