The New York Times' puff piece on a neo-Nazi is one more piece in the dangerous pattern of normalizing hatred and bigotry.
The New York Times came under fire this weekend for publishing a profile of Tony Hovater, a white nationalist to whom the paper un-ironically referred as “the Nazi sympathizer next door.”
The backlash to the puff piece was so sharp that the Times followed up with a response piece attempting to explain why it published an article about a Nazi eating turkey sandwiches at Panera.
But as Shareblue Senior Writer Eric Boehlert pointed out Sunday morning on MSNBC’s “AM Joy,” the profile of Hovater is not an anomaly that slipped through the editorial process.
Rather, it’s just the latest example to emerge from what is now a cottage industry of sympathetic profiles that started by normalizing Trump, then Trump voters, and now, members of hate groups.
“For the last 12 months, the D.C. press, led by The New York Times, has been obsessed with humanizing, celebrating, normalizing Trump voters,” Boehlert said. “They’ve gotten so far to the right now they’re trying to normalize Nazis.”
Boehlert continued, pointing out that the Times’ coverage of Trump voters stands in stark contrast to their coverage of Obama voters — which essentially didn’t exist.
“You know how many times in 2009 The New York Times went to Baltimore, Chicago, L.A., and interviewed Obama supporters and said, ‘How great is Obama?’ They never did it because it wasn’t news,” he said, adding:
“Why is this news? We’ve been doing this for a year. Drop it, because you end up glorifying Nazis.”
If this had happened in a vacuum, people would say, ‘Well, The New York Times took a swing and a miss, and they missed, and okay, so what?’ This is part of a very larger story. For the last 12 months, the D.C. press, led by The New York Times, has been obsessed with humanizing, celebrating, normalizing Trump voters. And they’ve gotten so far to the right now they’re trying to normalize Nazis.
So, you know, they invented this news beat out of whole cloth. I am not joking — when they have done two dozen articles at this point, all white counties in red states, talked to Trump voters. You know how many times in 2009 The New York Times went to Baltimore, went to Chicago, went to L.A., and interviewed Obama supporters and said, ‘How great is Obama?’ They never did it because it wasn’t news. So why is this news? We’ve been doing this for a year. Drop it, because you end up glorifying Nazis.
Whatever the original intent was, the Times’ article failed spectacularly to achieve it. Just because Fox News sees fit to hire Nazi sympathizers, it doesn’t mean a legitimate news organization like the Times ought to follow suit.
Even worse, the response to the criticism of the piece indicates that the paper still doesn’t understand why it missed the mark in the first place — nor why this genre of journalism is so dangerously misguided.