A Great Twitter Thread about New York Times’ and Washington Post’s pro-Trump Bias

Julie Hotard
5 min readMay 10, 2020

Here is a great Twitter thread from Lawrence Glickman that points out a number of ways that New York Times and Washington Post show a pro-Trump bias in their coverage.

He says “..what strikes me is how consistently they bend over backwards to frame stories about him, even critical ones, in a favorable light.”

For any of you who don’t already use Twitter, all you have to do is click on this tweet below and it will take you to the Twitter page that contains the rest of the statements Glickman made in his thread.

This is a very large problem that I have discussed also. If media are constantly trying to make an abnormal president appear normal, even while he voices ideas about whether maybe people should drink bleach to prevent or cure coronavirus, this is a disservice to the public. It is destructive of truth, health and democracy.

If media portray an incompetent president as competent, and go to great lengths to invent reasons why his destructive words and behaviors might somehow be constructive, this is in essence lying to the public about what kind of president we actually have. This is what competent political campaigns for incompetent politicians do — not what objective media outlets do.

When media try to pretend ridiculous statements Trump makes are just as credible as those of scientists and other experts in the field he’s talking about, media are betraying the public.

It’s also not the case that both sides in a “feud” or disagreement are equally credible. To treat obvious lies as credible is destroying truth — just as certainly as one would if one were to tell lies. What is the difference really in telling a lie versus quoting a lie by someone else, and then treating the lie as if it is just as believable as the truth is?

How Mainstream Media Destroy Truth and Democracy through Both Sides Reporting

When media normalize an abnormal president by bending over backwards, trying to make his destructive words and actions appear constructive, this makes the media outlet a vehicle for that president’s propaganda.

How Mainstream Media Strategies Enable Political Propaganda

Framing stories in Trump’s terms, rather than in terms of what actually occurred, how and why — this also makes the media outlet doing so into a vehicle for propaganda.

Glickman’s thread above contains another thread at the bottom of it. Here is the beginning of that second thread.

This second thread of statements is about “the Trumpcentric framing of issues — with reporters trying to view situations in the terms Trump views them, rather than seeing them objectively.”

His final statement in this second thread is: “The critical bottom line, then, is not the invaluable and essential reporting but a tendency toward either Trumpcentric (are Governors really being appreciative?) or agentless (are “politics being played”?) framing?”

When news media bias an account of events toward one individual’s perception of them, this is deceptive reporting, whether that individual is president or not. When news media bend over backwards to make both sides in a conflict look equally credible, that is also biased reporting. When media report a situation in a passive voice, omitting the agent who is doing the action, even when it’s obvious who that is, that is media bias too.

There are lots of factors at play here. Jay Rosen, a journalism professor at NYU, has written at length about the problems with journalism — including both sides journalism, which many reporters claim to think is the essence of objectivity. He also writes about the problems with access journalism — where reporters cater to the powerful in order to maintain access to them for future stories. I highly recommend his blog at pressthink.org.

There are many factors at play here, including the questions of what exactly is news and what effects should it have on the public if it is reported effectivley.

One seldom mentioned factor is what happens to media when they report critically on Republicans vs. Democrats. Also, what happens to social media that allow or block content favored by Republicans vs. Democrats — even if the reason for blocking is that the content is lies or harrassment or other things that break the rules of the social media web site?

It’s wildly different, depending on whether the aggrieved party is Right Wing Republican vs. Democrat. There’s a good case to be made that media are simply avoiding being punished by rageful Republicans and ignoring the usually less aggressive Democrats who rarely stand up for themselves.

Republicans have their Right Wing outrage machine that everyone bends to, including Comey, Obama, all government officials of both parties and mainstream media. Democrats don’t have one. So they often can’t defend themselves or get fair media coverage.

Another issue I referred to in my article “How Mainstream Media Destroy Truth and Democracy through Both Sides Reporting”, linked further up above on this page, is talking points. Since Right Wing columnists and TV hosts in mainstream media use repeated talking points and Democrats in media don’t, Democrats’ don’t get their messages repeated at all, much less as often as Republicans do.

“Voters remember what media repeat most — which turns out to be the Republican talking points, which become ‘conventional wisdom.’ Voters are more likely to elect people who ‘know’ this “accepted wisdom” that seems totally true because it’s been repeated so often.”

The biases I mentioned earlier in this essay are overwhelmingly the fault of reporters, TV hosts or others in media. It’s reporters and TV and radio hosts who choose whether to normalize the abnormal. They choose whether to do both sides journalism, access journalism or Trumpcentric framing. They choose whether to do agentless framing even if they know exactly who the agent is.

However, these last two issues — of Democrats not using talking points and not creating an effective outrage machine to defend themselves with — are solidly the fault of Democrats. Democrats can start doing better in these two areas, if they are willing. The essay I linked to a few paragraphs ago describes what an outrage machine is and how Democrats can create one. This essay below describes how Democrats can use talking points.

Suggested Talking Points Democrats Can Use to Train Media to Treat Democrats Fairly

The public needs to have media commit to reporting objective truth — rather than have them apparently commit to painting the president in a favorable light even when reality is otherwise.

The public also needs to have Democrats create an outrage machine to defend themselves and the public’s interests. The public also needs to have Democrats do better in messaging by use of repeated talking points. That way, Democrats’ messages can be heard clearly — rather than getting lost in the massive onslaught of disinformation that surrounds us in our current time.