Unfortunately, journalistic standards applied by the NYT and other outlets require a certain "stepping away" from the story if politics is involved, presumably because all political reporters are presumed to be ruled by uncontrollable political bias that inevitably warps their ability to practice their chosen profession.
The result is a lot of reporting on politics - labeled "news" that fails the "what is really happening" test. And reporting on politics that is speculative regarding "what is really happening" that an organization like the NYT would consider "opinion" but which is better labeled "news", but with a caveat that the reporting represents a "best guess".
A case in point appears in the current New York Magazine. Notably in some versions the title is "Another Trump Affair Coverup?" and in others, it's "Here's a Theory About That $1.6 Million Payout From a GOP Official to a Playboy Model" by Paul Campos."
|NYMag;Broidy, Bechard, and the original "Dennison"|
The author, Paul Campos, makes a compelling case that Playboy model Shera Bechard was paid off $1.6 million to cover up an affair and pregnancy with Donald Trump, not Elliott Broidy per the story "leaked" to the NYT, WSJ, and CNN. (Interesting aside: when Team Trump wants credibility, they still leak to traditional news organizations despite Trump's persistent accusations of "fake news".)
As Campos states on the Broidy allegation, "This is the story that was leaked to the Journal — and to the New York Times, and CNN, which the Journal beat to the punch by publishing it first. It has since been repeated as fact by just about every major media outlet in the country. But there are good reasons to consider whether it might not be yet another audacious lie from Trumpworld." (Note: The "audacious lie" would fit into the category of the "Silver Bullet" described in "Both Sides Don't Do It" - in this case a fabrication, whether credible or not, that can be used on its own to discredit a truthful narrative in favor of a false narrative."
Campos lays out cogent arguments every step by step - under the following headings - to a reasonable conclusion:
The New David Dennison Sounds Exactly Like the Old Donald Trump
Elliott Broidy Seems Exactly Like Someone Who Would Pay $1.6 Million to Protect a Lucrative Influence-Peddling Business
Who Is Shera Bechard More Likely to Date?
It Doesn’t Make Sense That Davidson Would Have Reached Out to Cohen
The Sum of the Settlement Is Fishy
Are We Really Supposed to Believe That Broidy Wanted Cohen to Represent Him?
Broidy’s Actions Don’t Add Up
The article is a must read, but all you really need for evidence is the sum of the settlement - $1.6 million - and the relative unknown Broidy whose actions don't add up - Broidy paying so much hush money, but then jumping at the chance to disclose "his" affair at the earliest opportunity.
But the NYT reporting April 13th was completely credulous in "RNC Official Who Agreed to Pay Playboy Model $1.6 Million Resigns". Despite knowing that Team Trump lies constantly, the NYT took the story first published in the WSJ as fact, presumably because it was an admitted embarassment, never stopping to question whether the objective was to hide a much bigger, more plausible, and potentially devastating embarassment to POTUS.
As to that admitted embarassment - the WSJ reported that Bechard terminated the pregnancy while the NYT made no such mention. Was the NYT editorial decision that the outcome of the pregnancy was irrelevant to the story? Or was the NYT thinking that making the abortion part of the story might make the reader start to wonder whether $1.6 million to Bechard and $130,000 to Stormy Daniels means that $1.3 million is the price to conceal an abortion on behalf of a sitting president who counts on the support of conservative Christians. And the NYT prefers the minimalist approach to political reporting on Republican officeholders and candidates. Until we have incontrovertible proof of politically explosive information, we can not posit plausible explanations for certain behaviors. We must shy away from damaging or incriminating stories until we have proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
So this is yet another case of the failure of mainstream journalists to update their standards to better handle the endless stream of lying from the powers that be. In this situation, the proper response would have been - 'OK, we are getting this embarassing information now leaked from people who lie all the time. That was easy. Why now? Should we believe it? Might there be a motive to lie about this? What do we think is going on here?'
The willingness of the NYT and others to report claims made by this administration as fact makes journalists a powerful tool for deception in the arsenal of duplicitous politicians.
Oh well. Maybe next time. Not.