It's almost enough to make you feel sorry for the New York Times.
Their nearly three-year-long Russiagate-centric "resistance" to Donald Trump in tatters. all they have left are the two Pulitzers for the bold, fear-mongering propaganda provided to them by national security think tanks, former CIA officials and Democratic Party operatives, a body of stenography judged eminently prize- by a panel of judges comprised of their fellow Russophobes.
Bereft of their overarching Narrative, they needed to plot their next Big Theme. and this is what they've come up with: they will deign to spread the word that the president of the United State is a lifelong racist and xenophobe who appeals to lifelong racists and xenophobes, which is even worse than being either a witting or unwitting Russian stooge. This shocking realization apparently dawned on Times management only a few weeks ago. And therefore, the Times will be on it, from here till Election Day 2020 and maybe even beyond.
Still smarting from the liberal backlash against their recent banner headline announcing that "Trump Urges Unity Against Racism" and its subsequent replacement with the still wishy-washy "Assailing Hate But Not Guns," top brass at the paper convened an emergency meeting with reporters and editors to figure out what, exactly, their journalistic function should be for the duration of the Trump reign.
Slate, the online magazine, obtained a cringe-worthy recorded transcript of the meeting, in which Executive Editor Dean Baquet educated the troops about the narrative strategy for the coming years.
Here are the remarks by Baquet that had Trump gleefully shrilling "Witch Hunt by the Failing NYT!" The bolds are mine:
The day Bob Mueller walked off that witness stand, two things happened. Our readers who want Donald Trump to go away suddenly thought, “Holy shit, Bob Mueller is not going to do it.” And Donald Trump got a little emboldened politically, I think. Because, you know, for obvious reasons. And I think that the story changed. A lot of the stuff we’re talking about started to emerge like six or seven weeks ago. We’re a little tiny bit flat-footed. I mean, that’s what happens when a story looks a certain way for two years. Right?
Translation: stories about Donald Trump henceforth will be carefully framed through the lens of his personal racism in particular and the endemic racism in the United States in general. Be sure to read the whole transcript of the meeting. It's a valuable behind-the-scenes primer about how the actual Manufacture of Consent gets done. Now, if only there were a transcript of a meeting plotting how to negatively cover Bernie Sanders, either in 2016 or in the current campaign. There probably isn't one, because the careerist reporters assigned to cover Bernie, both at the Times and other corporate outlets, know without having to be told what their subtle, teensy flat-footed marching orders are.I think that we’ve got to change. I mean, the vision for coverage for the next two years is what I talked about earlier: How do we cover a guy who makes these kinds of [racist] remarks? How do we cover the world’s reaction to him? How do we do that while continuing to cover his policies? How do we cover America, that’s become so divided by Donald Trump? How do we grapple with all the stuff you all are talking about? How do we write about race in a thoughtful way, something we haven’t done in a large way in a long time? That, to me, is the vision for coverage. You all are going to have to help us shape that vision. But I think that’s what we’re going to have to do for the rest of the next two years.
The newspaper's worthy "1619 Project," Baquet actually acknowledges during the meeting, would never have seen the light of day were it not for Donald Trump. This crash course in American history relies very heavily on previous scholarship on slavery, reconstruction and Jim Crow, much of the research emphasizing the true capitalistic roots of slavery and its aftermath of institutionalized oppression of minorities and the continued power of the white patriarchy. The Times, though, is subtly and unsurprisingly emphasizing the white supremacy part over the capitalism which actually spawned it and nourishes it to this very day. Self-examination can only go so far, especially with a popular, oligarchy-threatening Democratic socialist named Bernie Sanders running for president.
The admission by Dean Baquet - that the Times examination of the roots of racism and American conservatism is inspired by the Trump presidency - is what has the Trumpists howling with their own overblown outrage.
Showing how hard it is to parody right-wing extremism in the Age of Trump, The Onion was not really exaggerating when it had Newt Gingrich lambasting the 1619 Project as "shameless abolitionist propaganda."
The real shamelessness is that Times is selectively speaking truth to power only about a century too late. That's because the newspaper did not exist in its current form until the 19th century, post-Emancipation, and thus cannot be blamed for the "peculiar institution." It is speaking truth to power for the express purpose of making Trump's Democratic presidential opponents and the Vichy Democratic collaborators in Congress look good, by comparison, in the run-up to 2020. It's history presented in the interests of party politics and virtue-signaling.
So, no, I don't feel sorry for the New York Times and its embattled leadership. Despite the smattering of canceled subscriptions due to its shockingly bland, Trump-friendly headline in the wake of the recent gun massacres, its profits have skyrocketed by a whopping 66 percent since Trump's election. This is the same paper that went broke after the 2008 financial collapse and had to take out an emergency loan from oligarch (and big Clinton telecom deregulation beneficiary) Carlos Slim, just to stay in business.
Of course, criticizing the Times at this fraught moment in end-stage capitalistic history makes me, by binary-dictated default, a closet Trump supporter, if not still a persistent Russian stooge, in the eyes of many of my liberal friends. Yes, of course, America has its roots in racism and slavery and land-grabbing and genocide. But were it not for Trump, wouldn't the Times (under a Clinton Restoration) have gone right on ignoring history and propping up capitalism-fed white supremacy? It was Hillary, after all, who during a debate with Trump, sternly announced: "I want to send the message that America is already great. And we are great because we are good."
Perhaps in subtle collusion with his employer's new Narrative for the coming year or two, columnist Paul Krugman now blames Germany (wink, nod) for the global Neoliberal Project's damaging fixation on austerity, without so much as a wink or nod to the Mighty Moderate Obama Technocracy's influence in perpetuating both domestic and European austerity regimens in service to the global rich. At least Krugman offers a minimal smidgen of even-handedness, correctly pointing out that Trump is blaming Europe for the totally wrong reason, that they are injuring America while supposedly enriching themselves at everyone else's expense, especially Trump's base of Real Americans.
But when Krugman says, correctly, that American deficit hawks as they existed during the Obama administration were also nothing but a bunch of hypocrites, he carefully absolves Barack Obama from having anything at all to do with it. The last regime is never even mentioned in his column, either by name or by party:
Some background: Around 2010, politicians and pundits on both sides of the Atlantic caught a bad case of austerity fever. Somehow they lost interest in fighting unemployment, even though it remained catastrophically high, and demanded spending cuts instead. And these spending cuts, unprecedented in a weak economy, slowed the recovery and delayed the return to full employment.While debt alarmism ruled both here and in Europe, however, it eventually became clear that there was a crucial difference in underlying motivation. Our deficit hawks were, in fact, hypocrites, who suddenly lost all interest in debt as soon as a Republican was in the White House. The Germans, on the other hand, really meant it.Oops. They took the last Leader of the Free World at his literal word. Their bad. An examination of even the recent past can get so damned selective sometimes. Memories are short, and memory holes are deep. Krugman did not hesitate to criticize Obama's austerity policies and tepid stimulus package once upon a time, particularly during his first term. But now that centrist Democrats are running on the nostalgic fumes of Obama's myth-based rosy legacy, facts and truth be damned.
One of these truths is that the austerity measures imposed under his administration disproportionately affected Blacks and Latinos. The extension of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy in 2010 dealt a particularly harsh blow to already-oppressed people.
My early-submitted response to Krugman was once again delayed for many hours and buried in an avalanche of reader comments, due to some mystery algorithm that, we are assured, has absolutely nothing to do with human censorship:
Phony populist that he is, Trump has seized upon the global misery caused by austerity, and has made it into a lethal weapon in his self-serving arsenal. Far be it for Trump to even pretend to "feel your pain" - because in order to control his fan-base and keep it riled up and resentful, he has skillfully taken their hardships and made them his very own.
What could possibly be worse than losing your home, your health, your job, your savings? Why, for the elites and the immigrants and the media to deny the Triumph of the Will of The (real) People, in trying to deny him his re-election! They're ruining "our" economy out of pure spite! (Never mind that his own policies, such as they are, are based mainly upon spitefulness.)
Of course, his anti-elitist rhetoric masks his fealty and service to the very same "enemy" elites and corporate media conglomerate that he purports to despise.
He bypasses the media by tweets, and then the media dutifully reports on all his tweets the minute they appear. It's all Trump, all the time.
Unfair Advantage: Trump.
Meanwhile, the EU technocrats and their banker pals have managed to crush the once truly populist Left ruling party in Greece so thoroughly that Syriza has now formed coalitions with newly rising Trump-like parties.
Trump is what happens when "centrist" rulers block emancipatory democratic politics, putting profits for the entitled few above prosperity and justice for the many.
He is the quintessential scavenger.