The New York Times didn’t wait for Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker to enter the presidential race before it went on the attack. The newspaper, in an op-ed disguised as a hard news story, says he’s too dumb for the job.
“Two words [admiring] voters do not use about [Scott Walker]? ‘Smart’ and ‘Sophisticated’,” the article began.
Citing anonymous “regular voters” and “leading Republicans,” the Times opined:
As Mr. Walker becomes the 15th prominent Republican to enter the 2016 race, the crucial question he must answer is whether he can cross the threshold of credibility so that someone entering a voting booth can imagine him as president, according to several leading Republicans and interviews with regular voters.
The Times attempted to portray Walker as so dumb he requires constant instruction by people who are, unlike him, really smart. “[A] series of early gaffes alarmed party leaders and donors and led Mr. Walker to begin several months of policy tutorials,” Times reporter Patrick Healy wrote.
Healy’s journalistic credibility as a political reporter is somewhat questionable. Until earlier this year, he was the Times theater reporter.
Before covering Broadway for the Times, Healy’s most significant political experience was covering the 2008 Hillary Clinton Presidential campaign.
As Politico reported in January:
“Patrick is an uncommonly gifted reporter, supple writer and journalistic innovator whose career has taken him from Dover, N.H., to Afghanistan, Iraq, two presidential campaigns and the star-crossed production of Spider-Man on Broadway,” [NY Times Washington Bureau Chief Carolyn Ryan] wrote.
“His groundbreaking coverage of theater has perceptively examined Broadway through the lens of culture and business, and he has traveled the globe capturing theater trends, personalities and emerging talents.”
“Smart and sophisticated,” may be what a New York Times theater critic wants to see in new Broadway shows, but Mr. Healy seems to be intent on transferring his theatrical review standards to regular American voters as they analyze the qualities of Republican Presidential contenders.
Missing from the article, which could easily be mistaken for a set of anti-Scott Walker talking points issued by the Democratic National Committee, is a description of Walker’s impressive list of accomplishments during his two terms as governor of Wisconsin.
Walker will highlight those accomplishments when he formally announces for president today in Madison at the same venue where he celebrated his dramatic recall election victory in 2013.
An email sent to supporters by the Walker campaign on Sunday highlighted some of those accomplishments:
We took power away from the Big Government Labor Bosses and gave it to the workers — where it belongs. We got Wisconsin’s fiscal house in order by turning a $3.6 billion budget deficit to a nearly $1 billion surplus and providing $2 billion in tax relief.
Our reforms were big, bold, and courageous. We faced detractors and vicious attacks at every turn. We won three big elections in four years in a “blue” state and that is only the beginning!
Neither Walker’s political successes nor his hard won fiscal reforms were worthy of mention in the Times article. “Mr. Walker is now emerging from his crash course with the aim of reassuring activists and contributors,” the Times wrote.
“Whether Mr. Walker can demonstrate that he has a command of the challenges facing America, and is big enough for the presidency, will be tested in the coming weeks on the campaign trail and in televised debates,” the Times continues.
But wait, there’s more.
“Concerns about the breadth and depth of Mr. Walker’s knowledge extend to both national security and domestic policy issues,” the Times asserts.
The Times also found a number of Republicans willing to trash Walker anonymously.
“A lot of us are still worried about Walker’s off-the-cuff answers, and about how Walker will handle himself when the real shooting starts in Iowa, when the television attack ads and direct-mail pieces start hitting him,” said the Republican, who leads a prominent national conservative group and is not aligned with any presidential candidate. He spoke on the condition of anonymity to candidly assess Mr. Walker, with whom he has a good relationship.
The Times did not indicate what, if any relationship this anonymous Republican might have with other Presidential contenders.
The newspaper also cleverly used the words of Walker consultant Ed Goeas to portray Walker in a negative light.
“The key issue for a lot of [voters] isn’t, ‘Is he smart enough to govern?’ But, ‘Is he tough enough to govern?’” the Times quotes Goeas as saying.
Patrick Healy’s “supple writing” and “journalistic innovation” are clearly on display in this latest New York Times attack on Republican front-runner Walker.
Here’s one journalistic innovation Healy apparently missed, however: objective truth telling.