The NY Times' Shoddy And Sexist Attacks On Hillary Clinton

Following former New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson's acknowledgment that The New York Times gives an unfair “level of scrutiny” to Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton, Media Matters takes a look back at some of the Times' most ludicrous, false, and sexist attacks on Clinton.

Former NY Times Executive Editor Acknowledges Paper's Missteps On Clinton Reporting

Jill Abramson Concedes NY Times Gives Hillary Clinton Unfair “Level Of Scrutiny,” Questions Significance Of Email Revelations. Politico's Glenn Thrush reported March 21 that Jill Abramson, the former New York Times executive editor, said in an interview that she “agree[d]” with Media Matters founder David Brock that the Times gives Hillary Clinton “an unfair 'level of scrutiny.'” She said Clinton “does get more scrutiny” than other candidates, particularly than other male candidates, Thrush reported. And he said she questioned why the revelations surrounding Clinton's use of a private email were a “big deal,” pointing to the fact that “a lot of people in the government” also used personal emails during their tenure. [Media Matters, 3/21/16]

NY Times Has Published Sexist, Factually Inaccurate Attacks On Clinton Throughout The Presidential Campaign

March 2-7, 2015: NY Times Publishes Flawed Report On Clinton's Email Use, Doubles Down In Defense Of Report Despite Lack Of Evidence. In a March 2, 2015, report, The New York Times broke news of Clinton's use of a private email server and falsely claimed that she accordingly “may have violated federal requirements.” After Media Matters founder David Brock called on the Times to issue a correction, the paper doubled down in defense of the flawed story, while simultaneously excusing and downplaying Jeb Bush's use of a private email server. Five days after the initial story broke, public editor Margaret Sullivan acknowledged the paper's reporting was “not without fault” for the litany of initial inaccuracies. [Media Matters, 3/3/15, Media Matters, 3/4/15, Media Matters, 3/5/15, Media Matters, 3/6/15, Media Matters, 3/7/15]

March 11-13, 2015: NY Times Continues Email Falsehoods, Suggests Clinton Lied About Server Before Quietly Reversing Course. On March 11, 2015, the Times published a speculative article relying on anonymous sources to baselessly insinuate that Clinton was lying about never having sent classified emails during her tenure. Providing no evidence to contradict Clinton, the Times turned to “some security experts and former government officials” whom they claimed “were skeptical” and “surprised” by Clinton's defense of her email use. Two days later, the Times began to quietly reverse course on its email coverage, publishing an article that undercut nearly all of its previous reporting on Clinton's emails and softened its criticism of the former secretary of state's use of a private server. [Media Matters, 3/11/15, Media Matters, 3/13/15]

March, April 2015: NY Times Columnist Maureen Dowd Compares Clinton To The Iranian Regime and To Nixon, Using RNC Talking Points. New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd published a Times opinion column on March 14, 2015, likening the Clintons to the Iranian regime and writing that Clinton's email use was “the ill-advised gluttony of an American feminist icon wallowing in regressive Middle Eastern states' payola.” Less than a month later, Dowd again attacked Clinton by comparing her to President Richard Nixon due to her “paranoia, secrecy, scandals and disappearing act with emails” -- a talking point Dowd borrowed from the Republican National Committee (RNC). Dowd also criticized Clinton for “campaigning like a man” and being a “chilly, scripted, entitled policy wonk” in 2008. [Media Matters, 3/16/15Media Matters, 4/12/15]

April 14-15, 2015: NY Times Reports Claiming That Clinton Ignored Earlier Inquiries About Her Email Are Quickly Undermined. An April 14, 2015, New York Times report suggested that Clinton had misled and ignored congressional inquiries into her email use, reporting that Clinton “was directly asked” in a December 13, 2012, letter from House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa “whether she had used a private email account while serving as secretary of state,” but that “Mrs. Clinton did not reply to the letter.” The report was undermined after it was revealed that other federal agencies, including the Department of Labor (DOL) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), responded to the inquiry in a similar manner. [Media Matters, 4/15/15]

April 19: Dowd Advises Clinton To “Campaign Like A Woman.” In an April 19 op-ed for the Times, Dowd advised Clinton “how to campaign as a woman,” using a series of sexist tropes in line with her more than 20 years of gendered attacks on the former secretary of state. Dowd wrote that Clinton is a “granny” who “can't figure out how to campaign as a woman” after she “scrubbed out the femininity, vulnerability, and heart” during her 2008 presidential run. Claiming Clinton is now trying to shift her image after she “saw the foolishness of acting like a masculine woman,” Dowd asserted that the candidate “always overcorrects,” and is now “basking in estrogen.” [Media Matters, 4/19/15]

April, May 2015: NY Times Enters Problematic Deal With Discredited Republican Author For Access To Anti-Clinton Research, Bungles Reporting On The Book's Allegations. Politico reported on April 20 that the Times, along with The Washington Post and Fox News, had entered into an “exclusive agreement[] with a conservative author [Peter Schweizer] for early access to his opposition research on Hillary Clinton.” The Times sought access to the discredited author's research on purported “connections between Clinton Foundation donations and speaking fees and Hillary Clinton's actions as secretary of state.” Three days later, the Times suggested that donations to the Clinton Foundation may have influenced Hillary Clinton's State Department, an allegation that was immediately debunked by Even after a growing number of media organizations -- including Politico, BuzzFeed, ABC News,, and Time -- detailed factual shortcomings in the book, the Times failed to fact-check any of Schweizer's false claims, or even to report on the key revelations other media outlets uncovered. [Politico, 4/20/15, Media Matters, 4/24/15, Media Matters, 4/27/15, Media Matters, 5/1/15]

July 2015: NY Times Botches Clinton Email Story Suggesting Open “Criminal Investigation,” Forced To Issue Multiple Corrections For Baseless Claims. On July 23, The New York Times cited anonymous “senior government officials” to claim Clinton herself was the target of a Department of Justice (DOJ) “criminal investigation” for her use of a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state. After a DOJ official contradicted the report, saying the investigation was not of a criminal nature, the Times changed the original report, walking it back to instead claim there was merely a referral from two inspectors general for a potential “criminal investigation into whether sensitive government information was mishandled in connection with the personal email account.” The Times reporter who wrote the botched article then bungled his defense of his reporting on MSNBC's Hardball, before the paper finally removed the claim that there was any “criminal” investigation into the matter. Finally, four days after the original story was published, public editor Margaret Sullivan published a column examining the problems with the Times' error-riddled story, strongly criticizing the paper for running a “sensational” story before it was ready and for not being transparent with readers about revising it. [Media Matters, 7/24/15, Media Matters, 7/24/15, Media Matters,7/24/15, Media Matters, 7/24/15, Media Matters, 7/24/15, Media Matters, 7/25/15, Media Matters, 7/27/15Media Matters, 7/27/15]

July 31, 2015: After NY Times Refuses To Publish Clinton Campaign's Rebuttal To Flawed Reporting, Public Editor Promises To Hold The Paper Accountable. Despite facing a firestorm for its bungled reporting on the debunked “criminal” investigation into Clinton, the Times' executive editor Dean Baquet “refused to publish” a letter from the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign expressing “grave concern” over the paper's reporting, according to Politico. The Clinton campaign “sent a nearly 2,000-word letter to the executive editor of The New York Times” seeking to explain and clarify the litany of false allegations the paper had published the previous week. The campaign forwarded the letter to reporters after “Baquet refused to publish it in the Times,Politico wrote. The next day, Margaret Sullivan agreed with concerns that the paper was subjecting Clinton to tougher scrutiny than other 2016 contenders, promising to evaluate the Times' future coverage of Clinton for its fairness. [Media Matters, 7/31/15, Media Matters, 8/2/15]

August 1, 2015: Dowd Compares Clinton Email “Scandal” To Tom Brady's Deflategate Scandal. On August 1, Maureen Dowd spent nearly half of her column spearing Clinton with dubious pseudo-scandals and comparisons to quarterback Tom Brady, who at the time had been recently suspended from four NFL games for his role in the use of deflated footballs in January's AFC championship game. “It turns out Tom Brady and Hillary Clinton have more in common than you would think,” Dowd claimed, calling the two a “pair of team captains craving a championship doing something surreptitious that they never needed to do to win.” [Media Matters, 8/2/15]

January, February 2016: Maureen Dowd Lobs More Sexists Attacks Against Clinton, Saying She “Killed Feminism” And “Should Have Run As A Man This Time.” Maureen Dowd continued her decades-long crusade attacking Clinton in January 2016, comparing her to Leonardo DiCaprio's character from the movie The Revenant, which is about a revenge-minded trapper making his way through the wilderness. Dowd continued the column by accusing Clinton of being a hypocritical feminist scheming for power. A few days later, Dowd suggested that Clinton “should have run as a man this time” and likened her to a dog. Three weeks later, Dowd claimed that while “sexism does swirl around” Clinton, her “campaign cries sexism too often.” And finally, on February 13, Dowd claimed that Clinton “killed feminism.” Dowd also attacked Clinton for assuming “there was an implicit understanding with the sisters of the world that now was the time to come back home and vote for a woman.” [Media Matters, 1/13/16, Media Matters, 1/17/16, Media Matters, 2/6/16Media Matters, 2/14/16]

February 25, 2016: NY Times Demands Clinton Release Wall Street Transcripts, Holding Her To A Different Disclosure Standard Than Other Candidates. Comparing Clinton to a “mischievous child,” the New York Times editorial board on February 25 endorsed the idea that the Clinton be held to a new disclosure standard and compelled to release transcripts for the paid speeches she gave to banks as a private citizen. The board failed to request that dozens of other political figures, including Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, and others, release similar transcripts. Responding to a speech inquiry from the press, Clinton recently said she'd release the transcripts “if everybody does it, and that includes the Republicans.” The Times deemed that to be a “terrible answer” and suggested all other candidates don't have to disclose their speech transcripts, only Clinton. [Media Matters, 2/26/16]