In a classic “damned if you do and damned if you don’t” circumstance, both The New York Times and President Donald Trump appear to have caught the ire of those on the left. While this would not be news for the president, watching the left rail at the newspaper of record is more than a bit amusing for conservatives.
Not So Jolly Good
The Times’ editor Tom Jolly has been fingered as the culprit behind creating a front-page headline for the June 2 print edition that read “As Chaos Spreads, Trump Vows to ‘End It Now.’” This sat atop a column subhead that read “President Issues Threat to Send Military In.” The articles revolved around the president’s Rose Garden remarks about the nationwide civil unrest caused by the death of George Floyd. But apparently just providing information — sans invectives — about Trump was not nasty enough for some.
How dare they print a front-page headline that is not obviously anti-POTUS 45?
New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was aghast. “You’ve got to be kidding me,” she tweeted. Neera Tanden of the Center for American Progress scolded, “Shame on The New York Times.” MSNBC commentator Ben Rhodes followed up with this rebuke: “If The New York Times thinks this accurately describes what happened today, I have no idea what country they’ve been living in — they should just let Trump write their headlines.”
As the radical left thundered its fury at the lack of calumny in The Times’ headline, some turned their attention to brutal Dictator Trump. In response to the president’s plans to put down the civil unrest, CNN’s Don Lemon chimed in with his usual vitriol: “We are teetering on a dictatorship.” Former Democratic candidate for president Julian Castro seconded Lemon’s motion with, “The president is acting like a budding dictator.”
Such criticism comes after months of Trump essentially being called a weenie by the left for giving so much power to the states regarding the COVID-19 crisis. The opening salvo in a March 31 Politico article reprimanded, “The Trump White House is doubling down on a strategy to govern the coronavirus pandemic: pushing authority and responsibility for the response onto the states.” Who doesn’t remember the endless questions put to the president at the height of the Coronavirus briefings that began with, “Why don’t you just …?” and Trump responding ad nauseam with, “It’s up to individual governors and states to decide.”
All this was well and good until the media felt the president was taking too much power. Unable to decide whether the president is coward-in-chief or the reincarnation of Fidel Castro, Vox played both sides well. On April 3, 2020, a Vox article censured the president with, “In the face of the coronavirus pandemic, our federal government, led by Donald Trump, has essentially abdicated its traditional role of spearheading a coordinated response.” Then in a written lecture to the president on the Tenth Amendment on April 15, Ian Millhiser wrote for Vox, “On Monday, President Trump delivered an astonishing press conference, in which he claimed the sort of powers ordinarily associated with an absolute monarch.” Christina Wilkie doubled-down in a CNBC article, “In reality, the authority to protect the public health of U.S. citizens by directing shutdowns and shelter-in-place orders lies squarely with the nation’s governors, and not with the president.”
Does too, does not, does too, does not — okay, folks, why don’t we learn to play nicely in the sandbox?
Well, here is why — because the media may not fully comprehend that the U.S. Constitution purposefully set up a tension with respect to the balance of power in America. We are a country, yes, but we are “united” states and, as such, must recognize the perpetual push and pull that exists within our system of government.
Perhaps all this is too nuanced — too baffling — for those on the left. Maybe it is much easier to simply call an audible on everyone and everything you don’t like. Thus, one can hammer The New York Times for writing a factual headline and President Trump for over- or under-reaching power. It could be that the radical leftists, from pundits to politicians, believe registering their disapproval will effectuate the change they want.
In the case of the Old Gray Lady, it has cowered before when critics caused editors to change their headline from “Trump Urges Unity vs. Racism” to “Assailing Hate But Not Guns.” If The Times wants to be into people-pleasing — that’s its business, but it’s doubtful Mr. Trump will play that card. Still, it is a tad humorous for Trump and The New York Times to be on the same side of the street and incur the wrath of the left at the same time and on the same day.
Read more from Leesa K. Donner.
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