When President Clinton was acquitted in his Senate impeachment trial, the NY Times took great pains in crafting the perfect headline that properly highlighted the fact that “no majority” voted to remove him from office. This was technically correct as the second Article for Obstruction of Justice was a tie, 50-50. There was “no majority” voting to remove President Trump from office, either. In fact, the majority voted to acquit. One might think a self-proclaimed fair and unbiased news outlet would highlight this in their headline since they did so the last time this situation arose.
Nope. They didn’t. And conservative filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza called them out for it.
— Dinesh D'Souza (@DineshDSouza) February 6, 2020
The headline choice by the left-leaning editorial board of the NY Times went with this divisive headline instead: “Split Senate clears Trump on each count in finale of a bitter impeachment battle.” Let’s break that down with the same care the NY Times used to craft it. They picked the right words to convey their narrative, so let’s see what narrative they delivered this time compared to the one they delivered before.
Here’s the Clinton headline: “Clinton acquitted decisively: No majority for either case.” They used the word “acquitted” because it’s a powerful legal term that invokes feelings of innocence. They, of course, didn’t use that word in the Trump headline, opting for the non-legal and more questionable term “cleared.”
How did they characterize the two votes? President Trump had a “split Senate” while President Clinton’s vote was “decisive.” These are very different phrases with nearly opposite meanings, but here’s the problem. The combined votes for each trial were equal: 105 to acquit versus 95 to remove from office. How is one “split” and the other “decisive” if the same totals came out of the trials? The only difference: the NY Times loves Democrats and hates Republicans. More specifically, they adored Bill Clinton and revile Donald Trump, and that bias was evident in their headline.
Let’s go back to their use of the word “decisively” in the Clinton headline. This was properly crafted to not only improve perceptions of the vote totals but more importantly to invoke closure to the topic altogether. For Trump’s headline, they used the word “finale” in reference to “a bitter impeachment battle.” Of all the wordsmithing they did, this was their masterstroke. Finales are most often associated with television shows. When a show is over, the conversation lives on. This is exactly what they hoped to achieve, that the “bitter impeachment battle” would continue, at least in the minds of voters. Just as there are still opinion pieces being posted regularly about shows like Breaking Bad and The Wire, so too does the NY Times editorial board hope that the topic of impeachment itself will live on until, at the very least, November 3, 2020.
The NY Times has made a mockery of the profession of journalism many times in recent years. This is one of their most disingenuous attempts to work their agenda into their propaganda. Kudos to Dinesh D’Souza for point out their hypocrisy.