Then and Now: Bolton's Trump-Bashing Book Earns Him Unlikely Allies at The Times


With only a few short days potentially separating former National Security Advisor John Bolton’s White House memoir “The Room Where It Happened” and international audiences (depending on the result of the Trump administration’s legal attempts to delay its release), the left-wing establishment media is warming up to do as it does best: massage the shoulders of a presidential adversary.

In fact, if it weren’t for the existence of early-release copies for members of the media, you can bet the all-star reporters and critics at The New York Times would be crossing those days off the calendar in red ink and child-like anticipation.

As the scheduled release date for Bolton’s long-awaited — and long-delayed — Trump administration tell-all fast approaches, the usual hacks have been downright giddy to headline related content in such a way that it sings each and every one of the iconically mustachioed man’s praises.

“John Bolton Dumps His Notes and Smites His Enemies,” read a book-related Wednesday headline from The Times, followed up Thursday by another article about the five juiciest and most revealing highlights from the former adviser’s “17 turbulent months at President Trump’s side through a multitude of crises and foreign policy challenges.”

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Of course, some of us are old enough to remember those 17 months — and the nature of The Times’ coverage of Bolton throughout.

If memory serves, it was anything but kind.

If memory does not serve, however, a simple stroll through The Times’ online archives certainly will.

From heightened tensions with Iran and the breakdown of early diplomatic relations with North Korea to shadowy talk of regime change in Venezuela, The Times placed Bolton at the rotten core of nearly every investigative glimpse into the Trump administration’s reportedly erratic foreign policy throughout much of 2018 and 2019.

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The narrative was simple, and The Times painted it in vivid color: Bolton was the war hawk whispering in a supposedly mad king’s ear, pushing the United States closer and closer to catastrophic global conflict from within the White House.

“Yes, John Bolton Really Is That Dangerous,” The Times Editorial Board wrote in its official opinion on the man’s March 2018 appointment.

“The good thing about John Bolton, President Trump’s new national security adviser, is that he says what he thinks. The bad thing is what he thinks,” the editors wrote.

“There are few people more likely than Mr. Bolton is to lead the country into war.”

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Within the administration, Bolton was a figure so polarizing that his fervor for international aggression would even manage to secure the president a handful of positive headlines from The Times — that is, when he shot down the adviser’s military interventionism with impunity.

Yet, since Bolton walked off the White House grounds following his September 2019 ouster, the media tune surrounding him has changed radically.

His sudden firing somehow led not to a series of stories praising Trump’s decision to remove the war hawk but, rather, another round of reports on rampant turnover within the administration.

As House Democrats pitched impeachment, he waited in the wings, with the pro-impeachment crowd expecting him to stroll in and testify about the president’s alleged misdeeds with regard to Ukrainian foreign aid.

Bolton never testified, but this would not stop the left-wing media from transforming him into something of an American political hero over the course of a few short months.

Like Anthony Scaramucci, Michael Cohen, Mitt Romney and the late John McCain before him, Bolton represented a promise — the promise of a shot at the real prize: Trump.

It mattered not how much disdain had previously dripped into the establishment media’s coverage of the man, he would be an asset going forward.

His tell-all book would provide the media with ammunition — another series of juicy glimpses into the supposedly hectic and criminal day-to-day operations of the Trump administration.

There was no telling what sort of scandal he might reveal, what sort of Democratic investigations his account may trigger.

For the media, that’s a promise worth its weight in gold, worth singing the praises of a former enemy and worth painting a man they once called a war criminal with bold, beautiful brushstrokes for all time.

At least, it’s worth it until Bolton has outlived his usefulness in the eyes of the left.

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Andrew J. Sciascia was the supervising editor of features at The Western Journal. Having joined up as a regular contributor of opinion in 2018, he went on to cover the Barrett confirmation and 2020 presidential election for the outlet, regularly co-hosting its video podcast, "WJ Live," as well.
Andrew J. Sciascia was the supervising editor of features at The Western Journal and regularly co-hosted the outlet's video podcast, "WJ Live."

Sciascia first joined up with The Western Journal as a regular contributor of opinion in 2018, before graduating with a degree in criminal justice and political science from the University of Massachusetts Lowell, where he served as editor-in-chief of the student newspaper and worked briefly as a political operative with the Massachusetts Republican Party.

He covered the Barrett confirmation and 2020 presidential election for The Western Journal. His work has also appeared in The Daily Caller.