Missouri Sen. John Hawley must be making the mainstream media nervous.
The Republican who ousted a two-term incumbent in the Show-Me state in 2018 and was one of the most outspoken critics of the 2020 presidential election’s results had his most recent turn in the limelight at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Florida last weekend.
But it’s a deep dive from The New York Times that shows just how much potential Hawley’s future really has, and how much the mainstream media is still afraid of Donald Trump.
The lengthy portrait of Hawley published by the Gray Lady on Sunday is presented as a look at how Hawley, a former Missouri state attorney general, got so prominent so quickly on the national stage. Its headline is taken from a line in Hawley’s pugnacious speech at CPAC on Feb. 26:
“Josh Hawley Is ‘Not Going Anywhere.’ How Did He Get Here?”
Not surprisingly, considering The Times’ leftist bent, it’s not a glowing picture.
In fact, Times reporters Elaina Plott and Danny Hakim managed to interview such influential figures in Hawley’s past as his prom date and a middle school principal — neither one of whom are particularly happy with the man he is today.
“I’ve been very disappointed to see who he has become,” former Hawley prom date Kristen Ruehter-Thompson told The Times. (American men everywhere are probably wondering if their prom dates feel the same.)
Ruehter-Thompson, who is described as a “close friend growing up” also told The Times that Rush Limbaugh was a big part of Hawley’s upbringing.
Barbara Weibling, the principal of Hawley’s middle school, apparently has no great fondness for where her former student stands now.
“I’m not surprised he’s a politician and that he’s shooting for the presidency,” Weibling told The Times. “The only thing is, I think he had a strict moral upbringing, and I was really disappointed he would suck the country into the lies that Trump told about the election. I just think that’s wrong.”
To be fair, The Times does describe Weibling as “a vocal supporter of Democrats,” so give it credit for context.
And it wasn’t just the principal, according to The Times. A music teacher at the school remembers sparring with Hawley about politics, too.
The article is littered with sources who have little good to say about the senator: The man who was his adviser at Stanford thinks Hawley always looks angry on television now. A woman who was a rival at Yale Law recalls Hawley as lazy.
But it was Hawley’s prom date and middle school principal who drew the most attention for obvious reasons — and it wasn’t flattering attention for The Times.
The New York Times sought out Josh Hawley’s prom date and middle school principal for a piece on “his growing comfort with doing what it takes to hold on to power.” pic.twitter.com/ccG5XahXye
— Mary Margaret Olohan (@MaryMargOlohan) March 8, 2021
I’m surprised NYT omitted to interview Josh Hawley’s kindergarten teachers. Maybe they are saving it for their next article.
— Olia Klein (@oliaklein) March 8, 2021
I heard he ate glue in 1985. How is he still a senator.
— UltronRenal (@DButkins) March 8, 2021
I breathlessly await the opinions of the kids from his daycare
— Mark Schulze (@Redleg1_101) March 8, 2021
Journalism today. God help us all
— Aaron Steele (@arsteele22) March 8, 2021
What all this really means, of course, is that The Times — and by extension, the mainstream media — sees Hawley as a legitimate contender in Republican politics.
The Times is an old hand at hatchet journalism when it comes to conservatives.
Back in 2008, before Sen. John McCain became a liberal hero for his clashes with Donald Trump and was running against Barack Obama for the presidency, the “newspaper of record” published an article about McCain that implied he was having an affair with a Washington lobbyist so strongly that The Times was forced to attach an editor’s note denying it had implied McCain had an affair.
In 2018, during now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings, of course, The Times debased itself and the entire field of journalism with its shoddy, smearing attacks on Kavanaugh that set the extremely low standard that was followed by the rest of the mainstream media. (A lot of Americans might remember more about what Kavanaugh was falsely accused of doing during his high school years than what they actually did in their own.)
It was The Times’ rival in journalistic debasement, The Washington Post, that dug up the story of 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney forcibly giving a haircut to a fellow student in high school in 1965, so it’s not like Times is alone in the field. (That was before Romney became a hero to liberals for his clashes with Donald Trump. There might be a pattern to these things.)
There’s more here than just a Hawley hatchet job, though. The long, time-intensive profile of Hawley constituted more than a backstabbing acknowledgment of the junior senator’s attraction to conservative voters.
The Times was also acknowledging something the mainstream media doesn’t really want to admit openly: The 74 million American voters who went for Trump in 2020 are a political force to be reckoned with, and all the nauseating coverage of President Joe Biden’s White House the mainstream media can generate isn’t going to change that.
“I’m here today, I’m not going anywhere and I’m not backing down,” Hawley told his CPAC audience in Orlando, Florida, as The Times reported.
The same is true of Trump supporters, no matter how much Democrats and their propaganda wing in the mainstream media want to wish it away.
And The New York Times knows it.
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