The Upper Cut: Taylor's 'Damning Account' Didn't Damn Trump, It Damned the Liberal Media


Every morning, I read The New York Times. Call me a glutton for punishment if you will, but The Times is still the paper of record for the left in this country, and is therefore a more powerful voice in American politics than I’d like to think it is. So it’s good for news publishers like The Western Journal to know what The Gray Lady is thinking.

Today, they appear to be thinking that they’ve finally got President Donald Trump backed into a corner.

In a piece entitled “An Envoy’s Damning Account of Trump’s Ukraine Pressure and Its Consequences,” chief White House correspondent Peter Baker describes closed-door testimony from William B. Taylor Jr., the ranking American diplomat in Ukraine, as not only “damning,” but also “explosive,” “vivid,” authoritative (Baker devotes the longest paragraph of the piece to Taylor’s résumé) and involving “matters of life and death, as well as geopolitics on a grand scale.”

Oh, my. Let me grab my umbrella; I don’t want to be hit by a falling piece of sky.

The Times categorized the piece as “news analysis,” which is what The Times labels a story that they want to sound factually credible despite the opinion and conjecture they weave into it. (At The Western Journal, we call that “commentary,” because that’s what it actually is.)

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There’s another important descriptor of Taylor’s testimony that The Times all but ignores: hearsay.

Buried in paragraph nine, Baker finally mentions what is arguably the most important aspect of Taylor’s appearance before the closed-door hearing, at least as it relates to actual, credible grounds for impeachment:

“[I]n the publicly released portion of his testimony, Mr. Taylor neither described any direct conversation with Mr. Trump himself nor made any reference to documents or recordings that would explicitly implicate the president.”

Yeah, go ahead and read that again. I had trouble believing they even mentioned it, myself.

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Mr. Taylor, by admission of The New York Times itself, has no personal first-hand knowledge of any statements the president may or may not have said. It’s hard to understand how such third-party testimony could reasonably be considered “damning.” As The Western Journal Editor-at-Large Josh Manning said to me earlier today, “It’s just the whistleblower all over again.”


Of course, you can guess what’s in the eight paragraphs preceding The Times’ insight into the weakness of Taylor’s words on the Hill: the description of Taylor as the honorable protagonist (and, for the record, I have no reason to believe that Taylor acted any less than honorably and stated what he believed to be the truth in his testimony), the high “life and death” stakes involved in the Trump administration’s holding up of aid to Ukraine earlier this year, and, of course, orange man bad.

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham issued a statement following Taylor’s testimony: “There was no quid pro quo. Today was just more triple hearsay and selective leaks from the Democrats’ politically motivated, closed-door, secretive hearings.”

Is this really the best the Democrats have? Third-party testimony about what other people said? If those people actually said those things, let’s hear it from them.

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That’s not happening. We know that, despite the secrecy of these inquiries, because Rep. Adam Schiff, chair of House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and perhaps the most notorious leaker in Congress, hasn’t issued a single statement of first-hand evidence that any of his hearing has obtained — another observation Manning made earlier this week.

If the truth really were out there, Schiff would have leaked it to his allies in the establishment media long ago.

So far, the secret Democrat hearings have come up with hearsay — all stuff that’s been, as Dick Morris likes to say, heard through the grapevine. None of it has anything to do with anything that Donald Trump has said himself.

Taylor’s “damning account” didn’t damn Trump, but it did a pretty good job of damning the Democrats’ impeachment process and the efforts of their allies in the liberal media to provide cover for it.

Look, I said at the beginning of this piece that I read The New York Times because it’s the paper of record for the American left and it’s good to know what they’re thinking. That’s true.

But that’s not the only reason. I also like to look for evidence of what they want you to be thinking.

If Trump has committed a crime, he should suffer the consequences — I think most Americans, even the most rabid pro-Trumpers out there, believe that no president is above the law. The point is, The Times wants you to think that’s what’s happening. It’s not.

As a former psychological operations specialist for the U.S. Army, with years of training and experience in the analysis of propaganda techniques and uses, I recognize The Times as one of the best players in that game.

I also find it interesting — even entertaining, sometimes — to look for the ways in which its writers and editors, subtly or not, work to persuade the public while claiming objectivity. So I look every day for evidence of propaganda, as opposed to journalism, in the front page stories of The Times.

I’m rarely disappointed.

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George Upper is the former Editor-in-Chief of The Western Journal and was a weekly co-host of "WJ Live," powered by The Western Journal. He is currently a contributing editor in the areas of faith, politics and culture. A former U.S. Army special operator, teacher and consultant, he is a lifetime member of the NRA and an active volunteer leader in his church. Born in Foxborough, Massachusetts, he has lived most of his life in central North Carolina.
George Upper, is the former editor-in-chief of The Western Journal and is now a contributing editor in the areas of faith, politics and culture. He currently serves as the connections pastor at Awestruck Church in Greensboro, North Carolina. He is a former U.S. Army special operator, teacher, manager and consultant. Born in Massachusetts, he graduated from Foxborough High School before joining the Army and spending most of the next three years at Fort Bragg. He holds bachelor's and master's degrees in English as well as a Master's in Business Administration, all from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He and his wife life only a short drive from his three children, their spouses and his grandchildren. He is a lifetime member of the NRA and in his spare time he shoots, reads a lot of Lawrence Block and John D. MacDonald, and watches Bruce Campbell movies. He is a fan of individual freedom, Tommy Bahama, fine-point G-2 pens and the Oxford comma.
Foxborough, Massachusetts
Beta Gamma Sigma
B.A., English, UNCG; M.A., English, UNCG; MBA, UNCG
North Carolina
Languages Spoken
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Business, Leadership and Management, Military, Politics