By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Republicans are undermining institutions. But the Times asks: Whatabout the Dems?

Marianne Williamson. Photo (cc) 2019 by Gage Skidmore.

The whataboutism burns brightly in an otherwise fine New York Times story on how Republican candidates for president are undermining confidence in institutions such as the courts, the military and schools. About two-thirds of the way into the article, Jennifer Medina writes:

Casting doubt on the integrity of government is hardly limited to Republican candidates. Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a long-shot candidate for the Democratic nomination, has made questioning public health officials on long-established science a focus of his campaign. In her quixotic bid for the nomination, Marianne Williamson has declared that she is “running to challenge the system.”

And President Biden, whose resistance to institutional change has often frustrated the left wing of his party, has mused about his skepticism of the Supreme Court — “this is not a normal court,” he said after the court’s ruling striking down affirmative action in college admissions.

Well, now. Are we to believe that fringe Democratic figures like Kennedy (essentially a Steve Bannon-promoted Trumper plant) and Williamson are the equivalent of major Republicans like Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis or even Nikki Haley?

As for Biden’s comment that the Supreme Court isn’t “normal,” consider: one of the justices, Neil Gorsuch, occupies the stolen seat that Mitch McConnell refused to let President Obama fill following the death of Antonin Scalia; another, Amy Coney Barrett, was rushed through in the closing days of Trump’s presidency; and all three of Trump’s appointments were made by a president who had lost the popular vote and were confirmed by Republican senators who represented far fewer people than the Democratic senators.

A fourth right-wing justice, Clarence Thomas, is shockingly corrupt.

The Times is hardly alone in reaching reflexively for that “to be sure” section, even when the facts cut entirely one way. But given that it’s our leading news organization, it really ought to concentrate on telling the truth rather than pandering to both sides.

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  1. Lex Alexander

    The Times’s whataboutism is the main reason I don’t subscribe.

  2. Paul Rickter

    At times I wonder whether the Times thinks they can put New York Times Pitchbot ( out of business by simply out-parodying him.

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