After worshiping Trump voters, New York Times flips the script on Biden voters
Absurd double standard
If you’ve been enjoying PRESS RUN since its launch in February, or have just recently become a reader, please consider subscribing for $6 a month. Thanks!
Joe Biden hasn't even been president-elect for one week and already the New York Times is claiming on its front page that the Democrat might have a problem among his most loyal supporters. It's a stunning turn-around from how the Times has cheered and promoted Trump voters, detailing their adoration for the GOP leader.
For four years, the Times flooded its newspaper and website with endless updates on Trump voters and how much his white, working class supporters inside Midwest diners love him and will never question him. That coverage has been relentless, and has become a running joke on Twitter among critics who laugh every time the daily posts another carbon copy Trump voter story.
But here we are, less than one week after Biden's declared victory, and what's the angle to the Times' first front-page Biden Voter story? It's most definitely not about how much his supporters love and admire him and will stand by him. It's about how his supporters are leery of him and aren't sure Biden will deliver on his promises.
Right on schedule, the daily has ripped up its Trump voter playbook and is suggesting Biden's backing is soft, even among his most ardent supporters— Black voters. It's an absurd about-face for the Times.
"Black Voters Helped Deliver Biden a Presidential Victory. Now What?" read the Wednesday headline, delivering a dose of cold water for the Democrat. Insisting his supporters were "skeptical" of Biden, "not excited," and questioned his "sincerity," the Times framed the story of Biden Black voters in a deeply unusual manner.
Do they want to hold the new administration accountable and urge Biden to keep his promises? Of course. But the idea that the voting block that saved Biden's candidacy in the Democratic primary, and whose huge turnout last week secured his victory over Trump, is "skeptical" and "not excited" is ridiculous. But that’s the Times’ narrative, just days after Biden secured his win: The Democrat faces major challenges even among his most active supporters.
This would have been like the Times doing a piece on white, Southern Evangelical voters and portraying them as being deeply unsure about Trump right after his election. Instead, unlike the Times' Wednesday piece about black voters, the newspaper's Trump voter coverage obsessed over their loyalty, with the Times constantly checking in on their temperature. And that started from day one.
Trump’s many stumbles during the transition? His supporters didn't care. His foibles during his first week in office? His supporters didn't care. The news that his victory was possibly aided by Russian hacking? His supporters didn't care. American cities erupt in anti-Trump protests? His supporters didn't care. Trump critics denounce his travel ban as unlawful? His supporters didn't care.
In early 2017, the Times also published a long profile on women who voted for Trump (explaining their support “in their own words”), a piece on Trump fans who traveled to the inauguration, and an adoring profile of a Trump fan who lied about Hillary Clinton during the campaign and profited from his fake news business.
The soft, sympathetic profiles seemed to be a way for the supposedly liberal Times to signal to conservatives that it’s willing to present their best side. In its chronic coverage of Trump devotees, the paper made little mention of the dark cultural forces that were propelling the president’s biggest fans. Instead, Trump voters were depicted as hardworking Americans in search of a new voice in Washington, D.C. (Safe to say the Times badly missed the rise of QAnon within the GOP.) There's rarely even a hint of the unbridled racism and white nationalism that's driving Trump loyalists. Instead, the Times’ message for years remained undeniable: White working-class voters, and specifically men, were the voters who mattered most. (Actual Times headline: "These Guys Really Like Trump.")
On the eve of the 2020 election, the Times sent a reporter to a red county in a red Midwestern state to interview (mostly) middle aged white men who explained how much they love and admire Trump. ("I like what he stands for. He’s against abortion. He’s against evil.") It was yet another loving look at white working class Trump voters, depicting them as honest, forgotten voices from the Heartland. That has been the newspaper's hallmark for four years, and it shows no signs of abating, even in the wake of Trump's lopsided loss.
Recall that after Barack Obama was elected in 2009, the Times didn’t show any interest in glorifying his supporters in print. During Trump’s first 100 days, the Times published more than 130 articles in its news and opinion sections that mentioned Trump supporters or Trump voters, according to Nexis. By contrast, during Obama’s first 100 days in office, the daily published just seven articles in the news and opinion sections that mentioned Obama supporters or Obama voters.
The Times wasn't alone. During that time the Washington Post published more than 140 articles in its news and opinion sections referencing “Trump supporters” or Trump voters. But in 2009, it published only 16 articles referencing Obama supporters or voters during the same time period.
"Why are Trump voters more special than the rest of Americans?" John Amato at Crooks and Liars recently asked. "They aren't, but they are Republicans and get exalted by the media time and time again."
It's time to start exalting Biden voters, too.
📺 GOOD STUFF:
Here's something off the political path, and it’s a great, behind the scenes read.
By season four, The Simpsons had entered what many now consider to be its golden age (although, at the time there were already suggestions that it was losing its way). “Marge vs. the Monorail” (S4, E12), with its grand scale, silly asides and abundance of absurdist humor, represented a stark departure from the show’s established formula. While initial reactions were mixed, it’s now widely regarded as one of The Simpsons’ best-ever episodes.
🎭 FUN STUFF — BECAUSE WE ALL NEED A BREAK
Brittany Howard, “You’ll Never Walk Alone”
The 75 year-old song (!) still sounds relevant, and thanks to Howard’s other worldly talents, still stirring. First debuted in Carousel in 1945, the Rogers and Hammerstein Act II tearjerker has lived many lives over the years, including as an unlikely soccer stadium anthem overseas.
Howard’s version was released on Election Day, and her bluesy, rock rendition offers a powerful tonic for the times.
When you walk through a storm
Hold your head up high
And don't be afraid of the dark
At the end of a storm
There's a golden sky
And the sweet silver song of a lark