One Cheer for the NYT on Democratic Extremism

A bonus follow-up on my Friday column about the way the media covers far-left extremism in the Democratic Party in the most begrudging way they can get away with. Although most of the column was about the media’s slanted coverage of abortion, I added:

Abortion may be the subject where the media’s sins of omission are the greatest, but they do not end there. The New York Times celebrated the swearing-in of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-NY) as a historic triumph over anti-Muslim bigotry and Muslim sexism, while omitting the inflammatory comments that made her a lightning rod for criticism.

Similarly, if newly elected Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) reportedly associates with anti-Semites and conspiracy theorists, you won’t be reading about it in the Post or the Times, or see it on establishment newscasts.”

Well, the NYT got around to correcting those omissions in a story which also ran on Friday, addressing them in paragraphs 26 and 24, respectively. Slow clap.

And that’s not the only curious thing about the story, either. The article is almost entirely about the turmoil Omar and Tlaib are causing within the House Democratic Caucus, but paragraph 2 reads as follows:

Four weeks later, their uncompromising views on Israel have made them perhaps the most embattled new members of the Democratic House majority. Almost daily, Republicans brashly accuse Ms. Tlaib and Ms. Omar of anti-Semitism and bigotry, hoping to make them the Democrats’ version of Representative Steve King as they try to tar the entire Democratic Party with their criticism of the Jewish state.”

Inasmuch as the article barely returns to that “Republicans pounce” theme, readers might be forgiven for wondering whether it gets top billing to prime the paper’s core readership to side with Omar and Tlaib by means of negative partisanship, especially since the lede is about how path-breaking and heroic they are.

People might also be forgiven for seeing the political assessment inserted into a straight news story as a bit of projection, and an explanation for why the establishment media reports these stories as though they are undergoing a root canal. People on the right are sounding the alarm about the growing anti-Semitism within the Democratic Party not because it is currently dominant, but because they fear it might become common and acceptable, as has occurred in the UK’s Labour Party.

The editorializing in the NYT story occasionally gets Orwellian, as here:

Democratic leaders are standing by the women. Mr. Jeffries, the caucus chairman, called them ‘thoughtful colleagues.’ Representative Steny D. Hoyer of Maryland, the majority leader and a staunch ally of Israel, said, ‘I don’t know that I draw the conclusion that these two members are anti-Semitic.’

The first comment is non-specific; the second has leadership withholding judgment. Neither is a defense.

In between, there is much on the pending bill that would allow state and local governments to break ties with companies that participate in the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions [BDS] movement. Opposition to the bill on free speech grounds is what people like Tlaib hide behind, when such measures are almost certainly constitutional.

That does not mean the policy isn’t worthy of debate, only that Tlaib and her ilk would much rather pretend that the issue is free speech, not BDS. Per usual, there is nothing in the coverage explaining why BDS is anti-Semitic, or even suggest there is a debate about it. The NYT story’s focus here is telling, given that both Omar and Tlaib have come out in support of BDS after they got elected.

Furthermore, in reporting that Tlaib said of the bills supporters that “They forgot what country they represent,” the NYT allows Tlaib to offer the unchallenged defense that her comments were not aimed at Jews (but at Sens. Marco Rubio and Joe Manchin). Aiming those comments at anyone is anti-Semitic. Aiming them at non-Jews implies that our government is under the control of Jews or the Jewish state. It’s a “dual loyalty” charge, regardless of the target. And it’s a charge Omar laughed and smirked over in a recent CNN interview.

The sourcing in the NYT story is also selective. The only Jewish group quoted is the progressive J Street (which endorsed neither Omar nor Tlaib, a sign of how extreme these two are). There’s no quote from the ADL, AIPAC, or even the newly-formed Democratic Majority for Israel, despite the group’s launch being the subject of an NYT story just days earlier.

The last omission is doubly curious inasmuch as the formation of the new group underscores the supposed thesis of the article about intra-party friction. It is triply curious given that the new group reportedly may aid Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), who just happens to be one of the Congressmen quoted repeatedly in this new story. The other Reps with multiple quotes are Ted Deutch and Eliot Engel — both are Jewish, Engel is from New York.

A few days ago, writing in part about Democratic leadership teaching Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez her place as a rookie Member, I noted that quietly going to the media with embarrassing material would be another weapon they held in reserve. Friday’s piece on Omar and Tlaib reads like it may have originated that way, even if the reporter then went out of her way to skew the piece in their defense.

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