A large percentage of Americans rarely make it past the headlines or first paragraphs of the articles they see. They often get their sampling of the news based solely on the cursory scan they do at the top of a story.
The NY Times knows this. That’s why they often paint the headline in a way that tells either a very small part of the story or that doesn’t fully match the details. Such is the case with this misleading headline:
To the people who don’t read the whole story and draw their conclusions strictly from the headline and first couple of paragraphs, the natural conclusion is that Democrats and Republicans are embroiled in similar and equivalent scandals in Virginia. Those of us familiar with the charges know this isn’t the case, but we’re likely a minority. Most people aren’t sure who’s in trouble, why they’re in trouble, or which party they represent.
Some outlets will go so far as to “mistakenly” mislabel politicians embroiled in controversy. Case-in-point: CNN labeling Ralph Northam as a Republican.
These little “oops” moments are often intentional. That’s not to say it was intentional in this particular case with CNN, but it’s not the first time they’ve said bad things about “Republicans” who weren’t as well as nice things about “Democrats” who weren’t.
To be clear, the Virginia situation is this: Three of the top Democrats in the state are in trouble. Two have admitted to using “blackface” in the past while the other is facing sexual assault charges from a fellow Democrat. The Republican who is facing “political crisis,” as the NY Times depicts it, was an editor for a yearbook that had racial slurs and racist images in it.
Not equivalent. Not even close.
Politics is a matter of perceptions and the way news outlets guide them. This is a clear example of a major outlet spinning the headline to condemn Republicans equally with Democrats even though Democrats should own the lion’s share of condemnation.