"Breaking News," tweeted the New York Times yesterday, "Trump backed off birther claims: 'President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period.'"
Typical of the Times' election reporting, the tweet made no mention of Trump's lies or his dishonest attempt to shift the blame onto Hillary Clinton. (By contrast, the Washington Post called it straight: "Breaking: Trump admits Obama born in U.S. but falsely blames Clinton for starting rumors.")
But today, the Grey Lady took her gloves off. The headline for the lead story on the front page provocatively declares, "Trump Gives Up Lie But Refuses to Repent."
The first paragraph begins, "It was not true in 2011." The second begins, "It was not true in 2012." The third begins, "It was not true in 2014." The fourth begins, "It was never true, any of it." The fifth paragraph delivers the coup de grace: "Yet it took Mr. Trump five years of dodging, winking and joking to surrender to reality, finally, on Friday, after a remarkable campaign of relentless deception that tried to undermine the legitimacy of the nation’s first black president."
On it goes, a searing, unvarnished indictment of Donald Trump's malicious, racist birther allegations. The article is tagged "News Analysis," but no matter. The fact that the Times' editors chose to lead with this story suggests that the venerated paper is abandoning its quixotic effort to treat Trump as a credible candidate. In place of the usual, "he said, she said" reporting, the Grey Lady is finally ready to tell it like it is.
As if to underscore the change of attitude, the birther story is immediately followed by a straight news story that begins, "Donald J. Trump once again raised the specter of violence against Hillary Clinton." While less directly accusatory than the previous article, it features scathing denunciations by Trump critics without the usual equivocations by his lackeys. The story is peppered with unequivocal rejections of Trump's lies and criticism of his behavior: "Mr. Trump falsely claimed...a false accusation against Mrs. Clinton...Mr. Trump never apologized or disavowed...Violence and allusions to it have punctuated Mr. Trump’s campaign."
The New York Times is just one one paper, of course, and probably ignored by most Trump supporters, but it is one of the most influential news organizations in the country. If the Times is finally ready to temper its legendary commitment to so-called "journalistic objectivity" with honest reporting, other media organizations may soon follow suit.
Donald Trump is the most blatantly dishonest presidential candidate nominated by any major party in American history. It's about time the New York Times began treating him as such.