When conservatives, Republicans, or others viewed as “privileged” individuals are accused of wrongdoing, the New York Times wastes little time in describing the allegations in the harshest of terms. In addition to that, they label the accused in terms that are designed to get readers fired up to the max in outrage.
But when it comes to Democrats and liberals, it’s a little different.
Ok, it’s a lot different. And the paper reaffirmed their commitment to this double standard just this week, which we’ll get into in a minute. But first, some previous examples.
One example is how the paper described George Zimmerman in a March 2012 piece on the controversy surrounding the death of Trayvon Martin at Zimmerman’s hands (bolded emphasis added):
Mr. Zimmerman, 28, a white Hispanic, told the police that he shot Trayvon in self-defense after an altercation. The teenager was walking home from a convenience store, where he bought iced tea and Skittles, when he was shot once in the chest.
As media critic Bernard Goldberg correctly pointed out at the time:
The national media doesn’t do stories on black-on-black crime. . . . They don’t do stories on black-on-white crime. . . . The New York Times, in almost a caricature of a liberal media, refers to George Zimmerman as a ‘white Hispanic.’ I guarantee you that if George Zimmerman did something good — if he finished first in his high school graduating class when he was younger — they wouldn’t refer to him as a white Hispanic, he’d just be a Hispanic. . . . He’s only a ‘white Hispanic’ because they need the word ‘white’ to further the story line, which is, White, probably racist vigilante shoots an unarmed black kid.
Back in February as the blackface scandals involving Virginia’s Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam and their Attorney General Mark Herring were heating up, the Times was slammed for the alternative term they used to describe blackface:
NYT headline writers what are you thinking? “Dark Makeup” pic.twitter.com/t9dIcwWych
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) February 6, 2019
The NY Post noted that the paper ended up changing the headline in response to the uproar:
The Times later changed the headline, which now reads: “Second Virginia Democrat Says He Wore Blackface, Throwing Party Into Turmoil.”
New York Times Politics Editor Patrick Healy responded to the backlash in a series of tweets.
“The initial coverage was based on Herring’s statement that in 1980, he put on ‘brown makeup’ and a wig to try to dress as the rapper Kurtis Blow while an undergraduate at UVA. We relied on Herring’s quote to inform our initial language; we used the phrase dark makeup in our story,” he continued.
“The coverage should have said blackface; once we realized this, we made the change. It was never my intent to hide the change we were making. This was a breaking news story, and the headlines and text in breaking news stories are often revised and updated.”
Fast forward to this week, and we got to see the Times doing what they do best – again. In describing the four allegations of inappropriate touching against Joe Biden, here’s what they wrote (bolded emphasis added):
Biden’s Tactile Politics Threaten His Return in the #MeToo Era (headline)
But the political ground has shifted under Mr. Biden, and his tactile style of retail politicking is no longer a laughing matter in the era of #MeToo. Now, as he considers a run for president, Mr. Biden is struggling to prevent a strength from turning into a crippling liability; on Tuesday alone, two more women told The New York Times that the former vice president’s touches made them uncomfortable.
To be sure, “tactile” is defined as “of, pertaining to, endowed with, or affecting the sense of touch.” But that’s a really charitable term to describe what Biden’s accused of doing. Can you imagine the Times describing a Republican accused of similar behavior in the same benign terms?
Furthermore, can you imagine the paper describing Biden’s “tactile” approach as a “strength” for a Republican who stood accused?
Standards, NYT. Apply them to all. Or not at all.
—Sister Toldjah is a former liberal and a 15+ year veteran of blogging with an emphasis on media bias, social issues, and the culture wars. Read her Red State archives here. Connect with her on Twitter.–