Call it “Operation Binders Full of Women (and Men).” On Sunday, The New York Times sounded the alarm that “Trump allies” had mounted a campaign to “target journalists over coverage deemed hostile to [the] White House.”
Early in the piece, we read:
It is the latest step in a long-running effort by Mr. Trump and his allies to undercut the influence of legitimate news reporting. Four people familiar with the operation described how it works, asserting that it has compiled dossiers of potentially embarrassing social media posts and other public statements by hundreds of people who work at some of the country’s most prominent news organizations.
Undercut the influence of legitimate news reporting? Interesting that the Times never used that language in connection with Barack Obama’s “Truth Team.” As LU’s Howard Portnoy reminded readers in 2016:
The first iteration of his attempt to build a network of informants came in 2011, when he launched his AttackWatch website. The goal was to get “concerned citizens” to report misinformation about his Affordable Care Act to firstname.lastname@example.org. I don’t know whether anyone wrote in to report Obama’s own bald-faced lie that if you liked your doctor (or current health plan), you could keep your doctor (or current health plan), but I doubt he would have taken punitive action against himself.
So what is really going on now? A group of Trump supporters (the Times concedes it is a “loose network,” despite its repeated insinuations that the president is a prime mover) has undertaken the goal of exposing liberal journalists who are closet activists by unearthing prejudicial sentiments they have expressed in social media posts. Just last week, a Times senior staff editor, Tom Wright-Piersanti, was outed for anti-Semitic messages he had posted, which have since been scrubbed. In one, posted Jan. 1, 2010, he admitted his own anti-Semitism, writing:
I was going to say “Crappy Jew Year,” but one of my resolutions is to be less anti-Semitic. So… HAPPY Jew Year. You Jews.
The Left’s opprobrium in reaction to the new effort smacks heavily of hypocrisy. As Townhalls’s Katie Pavlich writes:
Members of the press have indignantly paraded around for years as “objective” seekers of truth with no political agenda. That’s a lie. One look at their Twitter and other social media feeds prove many of them are firmly planted on the left and regularly use their media platforms to advocate for leftist causes. They’ve actively worked to destroy conservative opponents. They’ve painted conservatives as racist, xenophobic and anti-Semitic cancers that must be eliminated. Further, these people have been going after conservatives and their families for years: tea party members, the Covington Catholic schoolboys, Brett Kavanaugh, Trump supporters, etc.
Although as noted earlier the Times writers attempt to brand the president as a central figure in this effort, they acknowledge:
The White House press office said that neither the president nor anyone in the White House was involved in or aware of the operation, and that neither the White House nor the Republican National Committee was involved in funding it.
The Trump campaign said it was unaware of, and not involved in, the effort, but suggested that it served a worthy purpose. “We know nothing about this, but it’s clear that the media has a lot of work to do to clean up its own house,” said Tim Murtaugh, the campaign’s communications director.
But they revert to form in the very next paragraph, writing:
The campaign is consistent with Mr. Trump’s long-running effort to delegitimize critical reporting and brand the news media as an “enemy of the people.” The president has relentlessly sought to diminish the credibility of news organizations and cast them as politically motivated opponents.
It would be hard to find a piece of “hard journalism” that speaks more to the need for such an effort.