The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple: “There is a New York Times of the right. It’s called…the New York Times.”

From a Washington Post column by Erik Wemple headlined “The ‘New York Times of the right’ is…the New York Times”:

CNN’s Brian Stelter touched off a bit of social media controversy on his show “Reliable Sources” Sunday. Citing low trust in the media among Americans, Stelter called on folks to draw a distinction between reporters, or those who dig for new information, and repeaters, those who aggregate it. Into the latter category, noted Stelter, falls a certain highly rated cable news network. “Fox [News] does a lot less reporting, and a lot more repeating,” he said.

So far, so incontrovertible. Yet Stelter veered off course with this attempted brainteaser: “Why aren’t there massive American newsrooms dedicated to journalism from a conservative point of view, a reality-based conservative point of view? Why isn’t there a New York Times of the right?” asked Stelter.

To answer that question, let’s jump back to the summer, when host Tucker Carlson talked about his media diet in an appearance on “The Five,” Fox News’s late-afternoon roundtable show. “I gave up my New York Times and Washington Post subscriptions because it’s just garbage,” Carlson said. “It’s like stupid and boring, except the obits, which I still like, and Dana [Perino] sends them to me.”

Yet somehow Carlson — a multimillionaire too cheap to pay for obits —has managed to cite this “garbage” reporting as an authoritative source many times since blasting it on “The Five.” Using just the Times, here are several examples:

On Aug. 13, Carlson favorably quoted a Times story on Afghanistan from 2015: “According to a piece in the New York Times, quote, ‘Rampant sexual abuse of children has long been a problem in Afghanistan, particularly among armed Commanders who dominate much of the rural landscape and can bully the population.’”

On Aug. 21, Carlson pointed to a recent Times story headlined, “Intelligence Warned of Afghan Military Collapse, Despite Biden’s Assurances.”…

On Oct. 4, Carlson cited a December 2020 Times story in which then-reporter Donald G. McNeil Jr. questioned Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, about the changing resistance thresholds for the country to acquire herd immunity. Of the Times, Carlson said, “their job is to report the news.”

What a bunch of “garbage,” huh?

As the preceding analysis shows, there is a New York Times of the right. It’s called … the New York Times. Carlson, for instance, isn’t going to send an investigative team to probe a drone strike in some far-off land; he has no such team, so he relies on the Times….

When Fox News isn’t citing the Times’s authority, it’s seeking to reduce that authority. Carlson in August called the Times part of a “Praetorian guard” protecting a corrupt establishment; host Mark Levin said it was one of several “propaganda organizations, an appendage of the Democratic Party in the big state.” And how many times has Hannity called the paper “fake news”?

Of all the galling hypocrisies produced on a rolling basis by Fox News, its posture toward the Times — and many other mainstream news outlets — stands apart for its cynicism and destructiveness. The best that can be said for Fox News is that it does nothing to hide its two-faced, simultaneous effort to drag down and pivot off a vibrant news source. And viewers appear just fine with it.

Erik Wemple, The Washington Post’s media critic, focuses on the cable-news industry. Before joining The Post, he ran a short-lived and much publicized local online news operation, and for eight years served as editor of Washington City Paper.

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