Richard Greene

Ted Cruz has a good point about the national media’s focus on racism in Trump coverage

The new agenda focused on racism at The New York Times has provoked the indignation of our senator, Ted Cruz.

In a recent tweet, he describes the Times, often credited with leading the rest of the national media’s approach to covering all things political, as “destroying itself with Trump hatred.”

He continues, “It’s ultimately bad for freedom of the press when ‘journalists’ openly revel in being partisan propagandists.”

His specific reference is a meeting the Times executive editor conducted with the paper’s staff and reporters. “The editor says (in effect) ‘for two years, we covered ‘Russia, Russia, Russia’, facts be damned; now we’ll scream ‘racism, racism, racism’ for 18 months and the rest of the media (will) follow us.”

Let’s examine whether the senator has just cause for his conclusions.

Two recent decisions by the Times seemed to set off what has followed. First was the editors’ very quick decision to change a headline that their own reporters and Democrats across the country didn’t like.

A front-page story following the recent mass shootings first featured the headline, “Trump Urges Unity vs. Racism.”

Following the uproar, and apparently in agreement with the paper’s critics on the left who insisted it was favorable to Trump, it was changed to “Assailing Hate But Not Guns.”

Then came the announcement that the Times was launching a crusade titled “The 1619 Project.” Its stated purpose is “to reframe American history.”

It takes its name from the 400th anniversary of the first slave ship to arrive at the one and only British colony of Virginia, 150 years prior to the birth of our nation.

The conservative Media Research Center summarizes the Times project as citing the year 1619 “as the true founding of our country, placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are.”

With that background leading to the aforementioned staff meeting, Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet confirmed the paper’s intentions.

From the transcript of the 75-minute meeting: “One reason we all signed off on the 1619 Project and made it so ambitious and expansive was to teach our readers to think a little bit more like that. Race in the next year is going to be a huge part of the American story.

“And I mean, race in terms of not only African-Americans and their relationship with Donald Trump, but Latinos and immigration.”

People can draw whatever conclusion they wish about whether Cruz’s criticism of the Times was justified. However, the transformation from two years promoting non-existent collusion between the president and Russia to a daily chorus of attacking him as a racist is now well established.

Democratic presidential candidates are aggressively pinning that label on him and, for that matter, saying that anyone else who supports him is racist, too. One after another ups the ante, comparing him to history’s worst tyrants.

Texans in the group are among the nastiest. A recent San Antonio Express-News headline, “Attacks on racism and Trump resonate for Texans Beto O’Rourke and Julián Castro” captured both men’s constant theme as a strategy to somehow pull themselves up from the bottom of the pack.

It’s not working. In spite of the new mantra of racism, maybe voters would rather hear about candidates’ plans, if they were elected, to lift their lives instead of trashing Trump.

Wouldn’t it be refreshing if the national media became advocates of that approach to covering these campaigns?

Richard Greene is a former Arlington mayor, served as an appointee of President George W. Bush as regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency and lectures at UT Arlington.