Editors' Blog

Times Has a Problem

For decades, the customary and accepted way to dodge responsibility for mistakes on your watch was to say, "Mistakes were made." Now the Times has upped the ante to "Mistakes weren't made." If all mailbag is any measure, it's having an effect.

From TPM Reader MT ...

Quick comment about your Biden piece, but really my comment is about Hillary and the Times. You capture the increasingly bizarre Times coverage of Clinton’s campaign nicely. From a personal perspective, when I saw the headline about Biden considering a run in the Times I immediately dismissed it as being newsworthy because it appeared first in the Times. I don’t recall doing that since the run up to the Iraq war and Judith Miller’s brilliant reporting. One difference, however. With Iraq, they get fooled. With Clinton, they are part of the disinformation process.

Behind the Biden Bubble

I'm a big fan of Joe Biden's. I think he'd be a great president. I'm less certain he'd be a great candidate for president - and his first two runs provide some basis for that judgement. I'm also a bit suspicious of a groundswell or campaign of anonymous leaks in favor of a Biden campaign, all or most of which seem to emanate from The New York Times, which is grappling - or rather, not grappling - with its own institutional problems covering Hillary Clinton. But here's one thing I've been watching closely: Over the past two weeks, among some of the most active and opinion leading center-left voters, those who believe Clinton will be the Democratic nominee has dropped dramatically.

Here are some of the numbers.

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The Declining Marginal Value of Crazy

Several days ago, perennial presidential candidate Mike Huckabee charged that President Obama was ready to lead Israeli Jews "to the ovens." A few days later, he said he might use not only the FBI but even the US military to prevent abortions. And around the same time, Ted Cruz called Obama the world's biggest funder of Islamic terrorism. There was a day when cracks like these would have stopped the political world in its tracks, spurring transgressive glee from supporters and outrage from liberals and normal people. But this summer, they've struggled to break through. And the reason is obvious: Donald Trump has flooded the market with a new, purer brand of Crazy that has left the other candidates scrambling and basically unable to compete.

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Good Times At Stone Mountain

Despite calls for participants to refrain from using racial slurs at a rally on behalf of the Confederate flag at the Confederate memorial at Stone Mountain, Georgia (aka the Confederate Mount Rushmore), things apparently did not all go according to plan. While most of the roughly 800 participants professed to be focused on heritage not race, some got into heated arguments with a mixed-race crowd of protestors there to voice their opposition to the flag and the monument.

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Highly Instructive

So it turns out Times editor Dean Baquet refused to publish the Clinton campaign's pushback email about the egregiously botched "criminal referral" story the paper published. I'm not going to get on the outrage bandwagon over that. This is high stakes Kabuki on both sides. The Clinton campaign may actually be happy they refused to publish - a better story than having their letter published in the paper.

But ... there's still something highly instructive we can draw from this. It is a really good object lesson on how much more wildly the Times gets played by Republicans than it ever does by Democrats. Fox and the RNC wouldn't be playing them like a fiddle at this point.

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