Nicholas D. Kristof

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  • NY Times’ Kristof: “As Ailes Topples Today, I’d Bet On The G.O.P. Tumbling Tomorrow”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof linked embattled Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes’ apparent downfall to the travails of the Republican Party that just nominated Donald Trump for president.

    The Times is reporting that "Ailes and 21st Century Fox, Fox News’s parent company, are in the advanced stages of discussions that would lead to his departure as chairman” following an internal investigation into allegations that Ailes has engaged in a pattern of sexual harassment.

    Responding to the news, Kristof noted that “ today’s G.O.P. has been galvanized, prodded and molded by Fox News” under Ailes and that Trump “is the Republican nominee perhaps in part because Fox News and other prominent right-wing commentators weakened the control of Republican Party bosses.” He concludes that Ailes and the Republican Party share a common “myopia,” writing in a July 19 piece:

    The ugly sexual harassment of which Ailes is accused was common a generation ago and too often was accepted as boys-will-be-boys behavior. But times have changed, and he apparently continued in the 2010s conduct that is no longer winked at and is now often (unfortunately, not often enough) taken very seriously. Ailes was stuck in the past, and now he apparently will end his career in disgrace as a result, if the reports are correct.

    The Republican Party suffers a similar myopia. It continues to behave as if America were in the 1970s, and its nostalgia leads it to antagonize blacks, Latinos and Muslims, as well as many whites uncomfortable with what feels to them like bigotry. In the 2000 Republican convention, George W. Bush was careful to put black faces on the podium almost nonstop, so that people joked that convention coverage looked like Black Entertainment Television, because Bush knew that he needed to come across to American centrists as tolerant and open-minded. In contrast, the 2016 convention is mostly whites all the time.

    Republican leaders have talked for many years of the need to adapt to changing values and changing demography. But so far they haven’t managed to change, any more than Ailes did — and so just as Ailes’s rise was a boon for the Republican Party, so his downfall is a harbinger of trouble ahead, of a political party that blindly marches on without regard to changing times. As Ailes topples today, I’d bet on the G.O.P. tumbling tomorrow.

  • NYT's Kristof: Right-Wing Media "Echo Chamber" Helped Trump's Rise

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The New York Times's Nicholas Kristof explained how conservative media is partially responsible for the success of Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump, noting that the conservative media "echo chamber" is responsible for "breeding a myopic extremism in which reality is irrelevant."

    Trump's prominence in the right-wing media landscape has been rising since Fox News promoted his birther theory about President Obama in 2011. Since then, Trump has been a regular fixture on Fox News, with the network giving him almost $30 million in free airtime -- more than double any other candidate. Likewise, talk radio hosts including Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, Laura Ingraham, and Sean Hannity have hyped Trump's presidential bid since the summer. Limbaugh has praised Trump for his "ability to illuminate" issues, while Hannity has characterized him as "impressive and refreshing." And it's not only talk radio: conservative pundits have frequently championed Trump's offensive rhetoric.

    In his February 11 article, Kristof explained how conservative media has capitalized on the "Pandora's box .... of fear and resentment" opened by the Republican party, creating an "echo chamber" that has tugged the party to the right by "breeding a myopic extremism in which reality is irrelevant." Kristof concluded that Trump -- "an ill-informed, inexperienced, bigoted, sexist xenophobe" -- is "the consequence" of the "politics of resentment" within the Republican party:

    So how did we get to this stage where the leading Republican candidate is loathed by the Republican establishment?

    In part, I think, Republican leaders brought this on themselves. Over the decades they pried open a Pandora's box, a toxic politics of fear and resentment, sometimes brewed with a tinge of racial animus, and they could never satisfy the unrealistic expectations that they nurtured among supporters.


    Political nastiness and conspiracy theories were amplified by right-wing talk radio, television and websites -- and, yes, there are left-wing versions as well, but they are much less influential. Democrats often felt disadvantaged by the rise of Rush Limbaugh and Fox News, but in retrospect Limbaugh and Fox created a conservative echo chamber that hurt the Republican Party by tugging it to the right and sometimes breeding a myopic extremism in which reality is irrelevant.

    A poll released in September found that Republicans were more likely to think that Obama was born abroad than that Ted Cruz was. That poll found that Trump supporters believed by nearly a three-to-one ratio that Obama was born overseas.

    The Republican establishment profited from the insinuations that Obama is a Muslim, that he's anti-American, that his health care plan would lead to "death panels." Rick Perry has described Trump as a "cancer on conservatism" and said his movement is "a toxic mix of demagoguery and meanspiritedness and nonsense that will lead the Republican Party to perdition" -- indeed, but it was a mix that too many Republican leaders accepted as long as it worked for them.

    This echo chamber deluded its believers to the point that it sometimes apparently killed them. During the 2009-10 flu pandemic, right-wing broadcasters like Limbaugh and Glenn Beck denounced the call for flu shots, apparently seeing it as a nefarious Obama plot.


    So today the leading candidate for president in the party of Lincoln is an ill-informed, inexperienced, bigoted, sexist xenophobe. And he's not a conservative at heart, just a pandering opportunist.

    Donald Trump is the consequence of irresponsible politicking by Republican leaders, the culmination of decades of cultivating unrealistic expectations within the politics of resentment. It's good to see leading Republicans standing up to him today, but the situation recalls the Chinese saying, qi hu nan xia -- when you're riding a tiger, the hard part is getting off.

  • "Enough": Media Implore Political Leaders To Finally Act On Gun Safety Laws

    ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    Media outlets roundly urged Congressional leaders to pass gun safety legislation in the wake of the deadly San Bernardino mass shooting -- including stronger gun violence prevention laws on military-style weapons, background checks, and rolling back concealed-carry laws -- and chastised politicians for their complicity in the "crisis in American society" where "gun carnage ... has come to define America."

  • Myths & Facts Behind The Campaign To Attack Disability Benefits


    Media outlets including NPR and Fox News are targeting federal disability benefits programs through a campaign deceptively portraying these programs as wasteful and unsustainable. In reality, these programs have low fraud rates and help the rising number of Americans with severe disabilities survive when they are unable to work.

  • Despite lack of investigation, pundits dismissed concerns by Congress and the public over port deal


    In recent days, numerous pundits have summarily dismissed concerns about the takeover of operations at six U.S. ports by a company owned by the government of Dubai, a member state of the United Arab Emirates, despite the fact that the Bush administration opted not to conduct the 45-day investigation into the deal's national security implications provided for -- and, critics argue, required -- by federal law.