The New York Times’ endorsement of Hillary Clinton against Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary consists of an unreadable, illogical piece of fiction. In this post, I will critique the paper’s position in detail, but first I want to take a step back and explain to people what I think is going on in the bigger picture.
In its endorsement of Hillary, the New York Times editorial board did such a sloppy job I can’t help but think it may have done permanent damage to its brand. Upon reading it, my initial conclusion was that the editorial board was either suffering from Stockholm syndrome or merely concerned about losing advertising revenues should they endorse Sanders. Then I thought some more and I realized my initial conclusions were wrong. Something else is going on here, something far more subtle, subconscious and illuminating. The New York Times is defending the establishment candidate simply because the New York Times is the establishment.
One of the biggest trends of the post financial crisis period has been a plunge in the American public’s perception of the country’s powerful institutions. The establishment often admits this reality with a mixture of bewilderment and erroneous conclusions, ultimately settling on the idea people are upset because “Washington can’t get anything done.” However, nothing could be further from the truth. When it comes to corruption and serving big monied interests, both Congress and the President are very, very good at getting things done. Yes it’s true Congress doesn’t get anything done on behalf of the people, but this is no accident. The government doesn’t work for the people.
With its dishonest and shifty endorsement of Hillary Clinton, I believe the New York Times has finally come out of the closet as an unabashed gatekeeper of the status quo. I suppose this makes sense since the paper has become the ultimate status quo journalistic publication. The sad truth is the publication has been living on borrowed time and a borrowed reputation for a long time. Long on prestige, it remains very short on substance when it comes to fighting difficult battles in the public interest. Content with its position of power and influence within the current paradigm, the paper doesn’t want to rock the boat. What the New York Times is actually telling its readers with the Hillary Clinton endorsement is that it likes things just the way they are, and will fight hard to keep them that way. It is as much a part of the American establishment as any government institution.
This is unfortunate, since the New York Times does some great work and has some fantastic journalists. Indeed, while I have shared many stories from the paper over the years, like Hillary Clinton, it has been tragically and consistently wrong on some of the most important issues of our time. Wall Street on Parade recently published an article highlighting a few of them, such as the paper’s support for the Iraq War and a dismantling of Glass Steagall. While the paper has publicly admitted those opinions were mistakes, by endorsing Hillary, such apologies come across as insincere at best.
As you read the Hillary endorsement, you can’t help but sense a bit of fear and desperation on behalf of the paper. Indeed, it becomes quite clear that the editorial board isn’t actually supporting Clinton as much as it is scrambling to defend the status quo. Much like Congress, the New York Times isn’t working in the public interest. Rather, it’s working to maintain and defend a current system characterized corruption, militarism and injustice — a system which is destroying the social fabric of this once great nation. The reason it fights to maintain this system, is because that system works well for the New York Times. As such, the editorial board seems more than content to continue to provide liberal cover for status quo criminality.
So without further ado, let’s take a closer look at the endorsement. What follows are excerpts from the New York Times piece, Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Nomination:
For the past painful year, the Republican presidential contenders have been bombarding Americans with empty propaganda slogans and competing, bizarrely, to present themselves as the least experienced person for the most important elected job in the world. Democratic primary voters, on the other hand, after a substantive debate over real issues, have the chance to nominate one of the most broadly and deeply qualified presidential candidates in modern history.
Hillary Clinton would be the first woman nominated by a major party. She served as a senator from a major state (New York) and as secretary of state — not to mention her experience on the national stage as first lady with her brilliant and flawed husband, President Bill Clinton. The Times editorial board has endorsed her three times for federal office — twice for Senate and once in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary — and is doing so again with confidence and enthusiasm.
These first two paragraphs set the stage for the entire piece. While it starts off proudly pointing out that Democrats are debating real issues, the following paragraph immediately focuses on superficial things, such as her gender and the fact that she has served in many important positions of power within imperial America.
Mrs. Clinton’s main opponent, Senator Bernie Sanders, a self-described Democratic Socialist, has proved to be more formidable than most people, including Mrs. Clinton, anticipated. He has brought income inequality and the lingering pain of the middle class to center stage and pushed Mrs. Clinton a bit more to the left than she might have gone on economic issues. Mr. Sanders has also surfaced important foreign policy questions, including the need for greater restraint in the use of military force.
In the end, though, Mr. Sanders does not have the breadth of experience or policy ideas that Mrs. Clinton offers. His boldest proposals — to break up the banks and to start all over on health care reform with a Medicare-for-all system — have earned him support among alienated middle-class voters and young people. But his plans for achieving them aren’t realistic, while Mrs. Clinton has very good, and achievable, proposals in both areas.
In the above paragraphs, the paper is forced to admit that Sanders is fighting for economic justice and reduced militarism, but then doesn’t offer a conclusion as to whether he is right on these issues and merely brushes his positions off as “unrealistic.” It once again simply zeroes in on all the “experience” Hillary has attained during the lustful pursuit of money and power that has characterized much of her life.
The Times goes on to confidently proclaim that Clinton has “good, achievable proposals” for dealing with the crime syndicate known as the big banks, yet fails to mention that Obama also talked a good game in 2008 and still turned out to be a perfect status quo puppet. Obama’s deceit and cronyism is a big reason why the American public is so enraged this election, yet the paper believes Hillary, with an unparalleled history of corporate sponsorship is supposed to be trusted. Can they really be this stupid?
Skipping a few paragraphs, the endorsement starts to become downright absurd. We see the following:
Mr. Sanders has scored some rhetorical points against Mrs. Clinton for her longstanding ties to Wall Street, but she has responded well, and it would be comical to watch any of the Republican candidates try to make that case, given that they are all virtually tied to, or actually part of, the business establishment.
This is where the Times suddenly starts conveniently forgetting that she is running against Bernie Sanders as opposed to the Republicans. It insultingly brushes off Sanders’ justified points on her and her husband being in the pocket of Wall Street by saying “she has responded well.”
How has she responded well exactly? It doesn’t tell us. I for one do recall her shamelessly saying she supported Wall Street due to the attacks of 9/11, did I miss something else? Instead of explaining to readers how she supposedly justified her financier ties, the paper goes on to discuss Republicans. This is very dishonest and condescending.
While that part was bizarre enough, it gets even more confused and irrational when it comes to foreign policy. For example:
As secretary of state, Mrs. Clinton worked tirelessly, and with important successes, for the nation’s benefit. She was the secretary President Obama needed and wanted: someone who knew leaders around the world, who brought star power as well as expertise to the table. The combination of a new president who talked about inclusiveness and a chief diplomat who had been his rival but shared his vision allowed the United States to repair relations around the world that had been completely trashed by the previous administration.
Mrs. Clinton can be more hawkish on the use of military power than Mr. Obama, as shown by her current call for a no-fly zone in Syria and her earlier support for arming and training Syrian rebels. We are not convinced that a no-fly zone is the right approach in Syria, but we have no doubt that Mrs. Clinton would use American military power effectively and with infinitely more care and wisdom than any of the leading Republican contenders.
The paper claims that as Secretary of State she “allowed the United States to repair relations around the world that had been completely trashed by the previous administration.” I keep trying to understand exactly what they mean by that. How exactly did that happen. By revelations that the NSA has been secretly spying on the entire planet? By droning children including American citizens to death all over the world via a shadowy program of questionable legality? Or did she accomplish it by leading the charge in the destruction of Libya, which is now a failed state and an ISIS breeding ground? Perhaps I missed something.
The the paper then doubles down on this preposterous claim by stating “we have no doubt that Mrs. Clinton would use American military power effectively and with infinitely more care and wisdom than any of the leading Republican contenders.”
I’m wondering where this confidence springs from since it certainly couldn’t be from her track record. More importantly, why is the New York Times comparing her to the Republicans when it comes to militarism when this is a primary endorsement against Bernie Sanders. This is the second time the paper has chosen to shift comparisons to the Republican side as opposed to Sanders.
Next, the paper tries to defend her position on the enormous corporate giveaway masquerading as a trade deal known as the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). It writes:
Mrs. Clinton, who has been accused of flip-flopping on trade, has shown a refreshing willingness to learn and to explain, as she has in detail, why she changed her mind on trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership. She is likely to do more to help workers displaced by the forces of trade than previous presidents have done, and certainly more than any of the Republicans.
First of all, she hasn’t “been accused of flip-flopping on trade,” she most definitively did flip-flop on trade. Recall last year’s post: Where Does Hillary Stand on the TPP? 45 Public Statements Tell You Everything You Need to Know.
Moreover, the Times tries to make it seem as if she has suddenly seen the light on this trade deal, when in reality she refused to comment on it until she was able to determine which way the political wind was blowing. All you have to do is go back and look at the headline from the Daily Kos article from 2015: The Reason Hillary Clinton Refuses to Discuss the TPP.
The paper then ends this paragraph with a sweeping statement replete with absolutely no facts to back it up: “She is likely to do more to help workers displaced by the forces of trade than previous presidents have done, and certainly more than any of the Republicans.”
Notice the last part of that line. Yep, it once again compares her favorably to Republicans, when this is a primary endorsement against Bernie Sanders. Why is the paper not comparing her to Sanders? I think we all know the answer.
Incredibly,the paper does it yet again in its closing paragraph.
Hillary Clinton is the right choice for the Democrats to present a vision for America that is radically different from the one that leading Republican candidates offer — a vision in which middle-class Americans have a real shot at prosperity, women’s rights are enhanced, undocumented immigrants are given a chance at legitimacy, international alliances are nurtured and the country is kept safe.
Sanders isn’t mentioned by name, but Republicans are brought into focus yet again. At the end of the day, this entire endorsement is a gigantic puff piece designed to pull on emotional heartstrings and reader bias against Republicans, as opposed to presenting any detailed comparison between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders on the existential issues facing the nation. The reason they have chosen this tactic is clear — it’s because Sanders has the track record, credibility and courage to actually take on the status quo and this scares the New York Times. This is because, unlike the American people, the New York Times quite likes things the way they are. This is the real reason the editorial board supports Hillary, it just can’t come out and say it.
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