“Journalistic Malpractice” by The New York Times?

My status as a determined optimist—albeit a worrying optimist—is being sorely tested by that deceitful gang at No Labels who call themselves “centrist/moderates.” They are, in my opinion, as much a threat to democracy as Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis, or both.

And, not for the first time, the media is not doing its job.

I wrote about this faux-democratic campaign recently: “No Labels Is Up to No Good.” A quick recap: this organization–which refuses to disclose its donors–is launching a well-funded effort to get on the ballot in all fifty states, and focusing on the states Biden won in 2020.

Regardless of your feelings about Biden, the most likely result of this campaign will be the election of Donald J. Trump.

When I first wrote about No Labels last month, they were flirting with the idea of running what will essentially be a spoiler campaign, as they have no chance—none at all—of winning the election. They claimed they hadn’t made up their minds and would decide at a convention in April, 2024.

Now they’ve upped the ante. While still stating that backing their own candidates will be a last resort “insurance policy” if the public is faced with two unpopular candidates, they’ve essentially declared they will be running a “unity” ticket of candidates for the offices of president and vice president.

And Joe Manchin, who’s worrying he may not be reelected as Senator from West Virginia, is happy to have his name floated at the top of the ticket.

Do you consider an anti-choice multimillionaire who made his fortune in the coal industry and has been trying to scuttle efforts to combat climate change a moderate? I do not.

One interesting aspect about the No Labels propaganda is that they shy away from pronouncements about some of the issues Americans care about most—such as reproductive rights and sensible gun safety laws—and democracy.

Where does The New York Times come in?

Last week, they ran an article entitled: “No Labels Eyes a Third-Party Run in 2024. Democrats Are Alarmed.” They repeatedly referred to No Labels as a “centrist” group that’s “bipartisan” and planning to run a “unity” ticket.

After reading that article, I had to do a lot of deep breathing.

When are The New York Times and other media going to realize that they have a responsibility to our democracy? It isn’t only Democrats who are alarmed. All the “Never Trumpers” and independents who have seen the havoc Trump has inflicted on this country–and has promised to exceed if elected–are alarmed too.

Or they should/would be alarmed—if they were informed about the true nature of No Labels and the apparent inevitability of their role as spoilers who will propel even a Trump awaiting trial for numerous criminal acts into the White House.

I am frustrated and angry that the Times is so dangerously adhering to reporting standards that ill befit these times—in which they’re being protected by a First Amendment that’s under assault by forces they clearly underestimate and don’t accurately portray.

When Robert Hubbell wrote in his Today’s Edition newsletter a few weeks ago about all the positives that are boosting the Democrats’ chances of doing well and returning Joe Biden to the White House, I contacted him and said how deeply concerned I am about the impact of No Labels on a potential solid Democratic win that will protect our democracy. (He had previously mentioned No Labels briefly.)

I asked Hubbell if he shared my concern about the group, hoping that this pragmatic optimist would persuade me I was overreacting. Alas, he said he does share my concerns, 100%, and he would write about No Labels again.

And, irate just as I was by the Times article with its nothing out of the ordinary happening here, folks approach, he did so. On May 22, one of the pieces in his newsletter bore the headline: “NY Times article on No Labels is misleading and irresponsible.”

He called the Times article so “wildly irresponsible” that he considers it “journalistic malpractice.”

From Hubbell:

“Commit this to memory and tell everyone you know:

          “The ‘No Labels’ organization is a GOP dark-money PAC designed to elect Donald Trump by running a doomed third-party candidate to draw votes away from Joe Biden in 2024.

“Do NOT believe any claims to the contrary. Do NOT fall for the claim that ‘No Labels’ is a ‘centrist’ political party. IT IS NOT. It is funded by the Koch brothers, Harlan Crow, and Peter Thiel (among others). See The Intercept, As Manchin Eyes Presidential Run, His Allies at No Labels Face Mounting Legal Challenges.

“The NYTimes article repeatedly referred to No Labels as ‘centrist,’ ‘bi-partisan,’ and as promoting a ‘unity’ ticket. Per the Times,

‘The centrist group is gaining steam — and raising money — in its effort to get a candidate on the 2024 ballot, with Joe Manchin at the top of their list.

‘The bipartisan political group No Labels is stepping up a well-funded effort to field a ‘unity ticket’ for the 2024 presidential race, prompting fierce resistance from even some of its closest allies who fear handing the White House back to Donald J. Trump.

‘The centrist group’s leadership was in New York this week raising part of the money — around $70 million — that it says it needs to help with nationwide ballot access efforts.’”

In supporting his charge of journalistic malpractice, Hubbell points out that it took the Times twenty paragraphs to finally tell its readers

“that some ‘detractors’ of No Labels believe it is designed to elect Trump:

“No Labels has long had its detractors, variously accused of ineffectuality, fronting for Republicans and existing mainly to raise large amounts of money from wealthy corporate donors, many of whom give primarily to Republicans.”

Wrote Hubbell:

          “Harlan Crow—Justice Clarence Thomas’s benefactor—and the Koch brothers are among the largest known contributors to No Labels. That should tell you all you need to know to conclude that No Labels is neither ‘centrist’ nor ‘bi-partisan’—no matter how many times the NYTimes repeats those misleading descriptions.”

It’s noteworthy that No Labels’ detractors include The Problem Solvers Caucus in Congress, which No Labels helped found and points to as its major organizational success. That same Times article said the Democratic members are in “open revolt.”

The Times piece also reported that one of No Labels’ founders, William Galston, had publicly resigned over this No Labels move.

In an interview, he said voters who dislike both Biden and Trump say they would overwhelmingly vote for Biden. This was the case in 2020. Galston expressed concern that the spoiler No Labels candidate could change that result.

When I read in the Times piece that No Labels’ leadership was in New York raising part of the money it says it needs, I was reminded of a key item I’d learned in researching my April post about them.

Judd Legum and Rebecca Crosby of Popular Information had reported that previous Wall Street backers of President Biden are disappointed by proposed Security and Exchange Commission rules. Lobbyists in the financial industry are “beyond frustrated” with Biden’s willingness to effect financial regulation to rein in their excesses.

Might that be why No Labels’ leadership had come to New York to raise money?

The Intercept article to which Hubbell linked discusses the legal questions about No Labels, which purports to be a non-profit 501(C)4 organization. That designation would mean it is not permitted to engage in political activity.

As I noted in my previous post, No Labels is being sued in Arizona for that reason in a lawsuit that notes its failure to disclose its donors. The Intercept also reports on a lawsuit in another state.

“In Maine, Secretary of State Shenna Bellows confronted No Labels on May 11 with allegations that it misled voters into registering for a third party without their knowledge.

“Over the past few months, municipal clerks have received reports from numerous Maine voters who did not realize they had been enrolled in the No Labels Party,” Bellows wrote in a letter to the group.

“These voters have provided similar accounts of how they came to be enrolled in the party: that they were approached by No Labels Party organizers in public places and asked to sign a ‘petition’ to support the new party.

“These voters have further stated that No Labels organizers did not disclose—and the voters did not understand—that No Labels was asking them to change their party enrollment.”

The Maine Secretary of State informed voters who felt they’d been tricked that unless they change their registration, they could vote only on the No Label Party line.

You have to read very far down in the Times article to find mention of the lawsuits.

I feel it’s worth repeating something from my previous post: my reaction to the so-called “insurance policy” No Labels has said it’s keeping in reserve in the hope of getting on all the state ballots with its “unity” ticket:

With this knowledge, the “No Labels Insurance Policy” sounds to me like “The Way That Corporate America, Sundry Anti-Regulators, and Various Quiet Right Wingers Can Beat Back Joe Biden Even If It Puts That Trump Felon Back in the White House.

You’ve probably read that Putin has now adopted Trump’s enemies list as his own, thereby making it even clearer that he’ll do everything he can to boost Trump back into the White House in the hopes of ending democracy in both Ukraine and the US.

Here’s the beginning of Heather Cox Richardson’s commentary on that.

“The list of 500 banned Americans that Russian president Vladimir Putin released on Friday makes it clear that Putin is openly aligning himself with Trump and today’s MAGA Republicans. The people on the list are not necessarily involved with U.S. policy toward Russia; they are Americans who are standing in the way of the Trump movement’s takeover of our country.”

I believe it’s fair, then, to say that the following is also true:

A Vote for No Labels Is a Vote for Donald Trump—and for Vladimir Putin.

Please help spread the word about how dangerous this faux “centrist, moderate” group is.

And what do you think? Do you consider the Times’ consistent description of No Labels as it wants to be depicted—rather than as it is—“journalistic malpractice”? Shouldn’t we expect more from a newspaper that says it carries “All the News That’s Fit to Print”?


33 thoughts on ““Journalistic Malpractice” by The New York Times?

  1. I find it hard to believe that the person who planned and incited an insurrection, called the Capital City a swamp, the White House a dump, and American soldiers suckers, could be nominated let alone elected again. I might be wrong, and I am alarmed by any efforts to tip the election toward an unacceptable candidate. Johnathan Weisman calls No Labels a centrist group and also bipartisan, which is how No Labels presents itself; this seems fair to me. The New York Times covered the subject of No Labels well, without taking sides; I find nothing that I would call “journalistic malpractice.” Perhaps there will be an opinion piece in The New York Times soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, William, I fervently hope you’re not wrong–and that my worries are overblown. I won’t go into the concerning scenarios here, which are based on a slew of factors. Despite them, I’ll continue writing my postcards and donating as much as I can. In truth, I regard this post as another effort to prevent the horrific result I see if they succeed in being spoilers.

      Here’s how the truly centrist “Third Way” Democrats put it: “No Labels draws a profoundly false equivalence between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. Their founder claimed that ‘both presidents ended up caving largely to their supporters on the various extremes.’ No Labels once bestowed on Trump their ‘Problem Solvers Seal of Approval.’ This ‘both sides’ point of view means they have framed their ticket as an antidote to a rematch. But this is a smokescreen. Joe Biden has governed as a mainstream moderate, passing more bipartisan legislation than anyone dreamed possible, while Trump’s extremism, which led to an attempted coup, is too extensive to be enumerated here.”

      I don’t think “moderate/centrists” would play with our democracy at such a critical time. I think their actions deserve to be called “radical,” and the Times has an obligation to dig deeper.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Characterizing people or groups as Marxist, socialist, fascist, extremist, centrist, radical, reactionary, and the like, whether justified or not, accomplishes nothing. Such taunts are relatively meaningless, what’s centrist from one perspective is extremist from another. In 2013, when former representative Tom Reed (R-NY) joined “No Labels,” he promised to work responsibly with others without finger-pointing or name-calling. He didn’t keep that promise, at least not in his public utterances, but I liked the idea of a stay on name-calling.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. William, as you know, I agree with you most of the time, and my sensibilities are in accord with yours concerning “name-calling.” But that’s not our present reality, and I believe one of the problems Democrats have is that they allow people who demonstrate anti-small “d” democratic attitudes and goals to frame the debate. This is serious. No Labels is pretending to be something they aren’t—apart from pretending they aren’t a politic party, which they clearly are—so they don’t have to reveal their dark money donors. And as the Maine Secretary of State said, they are deceiving people. They are also trying to undermine their former Problem Solvers Caucus allies who dare to criticize their spoiler campaign.


        How would you characterize them and this campaign, which is targeted to defeat Biden? I’d really like to know.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Having just complained about labeling, I certainly can’t do that. I do think No Labels’ purported program is attractive to many. I don’t believe that justice is found half-way between extremes of left and right. I accept that No Labels is supported by dark money; I am no fan of dark money in politics. As the Politico article reported, No Labels does attempt to bombard members of Congress with form letters, a practice I resent. I read and support “The New York Times” and will watch for an appropriate opinion article on No Labels (there have been some in the past). George Lakoff (Don’t think like an elephant.) offers advice on “framing the debate.”

        No Labels is slick, and I got duped. But no other current or newly elected member of Congress should fall for its shtick. No Labels is a centrist, corporate organization working against Democrats with dark, anonymous money to advance power for special interests.–Congressman Mark Pocan represents Wisconsin’s 2nd District and a former chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I always expect the worst of the NYT, and am rarely disappointed — when I bother to pay attention to it at all, which is not often. Like CNN with its Trump “town hall”, it exemplifies the timid, corrupt, outdated mainstream media you posted about earlier this month.

    The MSM at least used to understand the principle of “follow the money”. The fact that the major known donors to No Labels are obscenely wealthy and corrupt oligarchs who have every reason to fiercely oppose financial regulation and any curbing of their use of money to buy influence — that should have been front and center. I can recognize Manchin as a centrist in some ways, and the expressed policies of No Labels might be as well, but that’s beside the point since there’s no chance of them winning the election and actually implementing any policies. The group is a utensil of the people who are funding it, to serve their goals, so that should have been the focus.

    I suppose this qualifies as journalistic malpractice, with the qualifier that such malpractice is commonplace these day, pretty much the norm among much of the national-level MSM.

    I really doubt that the NYT is anything like as influential as those who grew up in pre-internet days believe it is. With the vast diversity of news sources now available, our country has no single “newspaper of record”, nor does it need one.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Alas, Infidel, I grew up with The New York Times, and old habits die hard. I always hope for something better. Your point about following the money is right on target (or “on the money,” as the saying goes); that’s why I felt the Popular Information piece I linked to was so valuable.

      I don’t think it’s beside the point that No Labels purports to be something they’re not because of the enormous damage they can do by appealing to people who–for example–are rather fond of breathing clean air and would not knowingly vote for someone backed by dark money interests that want to do away with the administrative state entirely.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. The way I see it is, what if the MSM had decided to tell the story starting from the beginning rather than from the end?

        That is, rather that start with the existence of No Labels and then asking about its funding sources, they would have started with the fact that there are these über-rich guys who are used to exerting a lot of influence on politics via their money, and who really don’t want Biden to get re-elected, for several self-interested reasons. These oligarchs know the odds favor Biden’s re-election — most presidents who seek a second term do get re-elected, and the Republicans don’t have the kind of truly great candidate who could beat the trend (Trump is toxic to a majority of voters, DeSantis is unlikable and looking more extremist by the day, and none of the others are standing out above background-noise level so far). So they look at recent history and ask themselves what tactic did work to keep a favored Democrat out of the presidency. They immediately remember Nader in 2000 and Stein in 2016, and decide their best option is to contrive something similar for 2024. And so they throw their support to No Labels, to build it up into something that can fool enough people to split the Democratic vote and thwart Biden in critical states.

        Now that would have been real journalism, telling the real story, the right way round. But you’ll never see the NYT do that. Not nowadays.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. I think the owners of the MSM understand “follow the money” perfectly. What I don’t understand is how they expect to sell something to slaves?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. They’re living under the shadow of a SCOTUS containing justices who can’t wait to weaken the press, and a wannabe president who regards the press as his enemy, etc. I would like them to be bolder, but I don’t know what conversations are happening in those board rooms.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. The MSM does follow the money. Ad money. Add a “third Party” and you add a measureable amount to the bottom line of ad revenues in the next 3 or four quarters.
        That is the furthest forward thinking that the fiscal mavens of the MSM can see.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Hi Annie.
    Just fitting my on my Grim Realpolitik hate on…..OK, here we go.
    Third parties in the USA system are usually around one guy and something of a vanity project. A place where egos go to die. What they do in the meantime is split the vote which will have consequences for the future. (Just assume for instance that Ralph Nadar had not run in 2000- President Gore?).
    Whether this is a well-meaning statement or some ‘stitch-up’ in the reality of the situation means nothing. The facts are that those wedded to the Trump / DeSantis images will vote form the nominee. It is the moderate and undecided who will splinter the opposition vote. The only hope being that DeSantis gets the nomination and in consequence Trump’s ego goes nova tearing apart the republican vote.
    In this era the harsh option is, if you don’t want Trump /DeSantis you vote Democrat. If you are undecided you had better vote Democrat because if you do not, one day, somehow, maybe by small increments ‘They’ will come into your Life. ‘They’ who talk about Socialism will impose their own style of ‘socialist’ constraints on you. If you still live in the delusion that voting doesn’t matter because both sides are the same, then you are defacto voting for Trump / DeSantis, and no defence you put up with save your political soul from that.
    What the Democrats are lacking at present is the will and imagination to fight back on the political front in the same manner our forebears fought in WWII, to hold up the Opposition and alternative of trump / DeSantis for what it is, a threat to the freedom of the individual which some sections of America have grown used to. ‘They’ will come for the White Liberal / Non-aligned, unless you all take a stance now.
    I can trust my good friends to do the patriotic thing when it comes to 2024. It is now your duty to put the doubt of the ‘All Will Work Out OK’ notion into the heads of the non-aligned, apathetic, and dreamers. Nothing ‘Works Out’ unless you put the effort it.
    Best wishes

    Liked by 2 people

    1. This is such an astute observation, Roger! Hats off to your realpolitik hat. My previous post about No Labels referenced the 2000 Bush-Gore election and Joe Lieberman, Gore’s VP pick who switched from Democrat to independent and is now a key player for No Labels. If anyone knows the havoc a spoiler campaign can create, he surely does. Thus, I regard his efforts as malevolent. And I think that’s meaningful because it should show people tempted to follow his lead what a bad faith actor he is. Less than six hundred votes in Florida prevented his being part of the winning ticket.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thank you Annie.
        These are times when opting out is not a choice, it is an abrogation of responsibility (Something the genuine folk on both sides of the divide would agree on). And dalliances with a Third Party in a Presidential Election are only worthwhile when there’s barely a sheet of paper between two Party Machine candidates of the old school.
        I wish you all well for 2024; disturb and worry those who are apathetic or think voting is a place for high jinks.
        This is a very serious era for the USA.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Matthew. I’m much more comfortable delivering optimistic messages, but perhaps this group won’t be as effective as I fear. The Lincoln Project, a group of “Never Trumpers” who run very effective ads, has come up with the hashtag #VoteNoLabelsElectTrump. Forewarned is forearmed!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We’ve learned our fight for democracy must be constant, Matthew. That’s a hard lesson—and it requires a level of attention and commitment that I hope is increasing fast enough.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. At least the NOW is perfect. It never gets better than is. I’m shocked you are not excited about a Joe Manchin presidency. (All joking aside, just uttering president Joe Manchin instills despair) 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Reblogged this on Filosofa's Word and commented:
    It would be a mistake to ignore the group No Labels, that our friend Annie has written about before. The group claims to be one thing, but in truth their motives are far less altruistic and far more dangerous than what they imply. We the People rely on a free press to keep us informed of facts … I’m not talking about Fox, NewsMax or the like, but about the established media such as The Washington Post and New York Times. Understandably, the “mainstream media” has shifted, since the popularity of the internet has veered people away from print media, and the media corporations do have to find a way to profit, however they still have a responsibility to the people. As The Washington Post’s motto reads: “Democracy Dies in Darkness.” Annie has once again written an excellent post on both the topic of No Labels and of the media’s responsibility (and sometimes failure) to We the People. Thank you for sharing your insights, Annie!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much, Jill. We must hope that—like the Maine voters who didn’t realize what they were signing on to—the more people who are informed about what No Labels is up to, especially who’s funding them and why—the less damage they can do. And it’s sad, though not surprising, to see the MSM failing us on an issue so important to our democracy.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. We need the media to provide facts, as best they can, so that we can make informed decisions. Granted, sometimes they will get things wrong and have to recant, but to simply ignore some of the dark things happening behind the scenes is unconscionable. There’s a profit side to it all, but surely the press realizes that if they allow, as the WaPo motto reads, “Democracy to Die in Darkness”, then there will be no more “free press”. I don’t think that the people of this nation, in general, realize just how close we are to losing our democratic foundation. Sigh.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Optimistically, the no labels crowd could be doing this with the sincere belief that you can squeeze all of the blood from a stone without breaking it. Such a belief in the resiliency of the system is refreshing. I’m feeling much better now. The Titanic is unsinkable!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. There was a time when you could pay for college working a “day” job. I got good work as a vampire, taking blood in St. E’s emergency room during Fridays and Saturdays gun and knife club from people spilling it all over the floor. This while learning marsupial embryology and the synthesis of LSD in organic chem while awaiting my notice from the “power” that it was time to go die in Vietnam. Sometimes it is dark. A hearty laugh will often bounce back a forth between the unseen wall and run down the tunnel leading to the light. Tears do not help us see.
        The best of optimism is the tears of relief that flow from success. Lions and hyenas travel jointly. Defeat the lion and the hyenas melt away. It is important to know where the Knights are but never lose sight of the Queen. You are not in a private fight and I do not like to lose.


  7. Enlightening, as always. There is always a backdoor, it seems, a situation which is not what it seems, a way for insidious elements to operate. The idea of democracy dying in darkness captures it. We can’t have that. I am forwarding this. Thanks for the work.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Denise. Glad you’re forwarding. I’m still hoping the growing bad press No Labels is receiving will make them second-guess their spoiler campaign.


  8. I received the following comment from run75441, who was unable to comment directly (probably the gremlins again) but felt strongly about the topic and wanted me to include his thoughts. I appreciate his following up and am glad to include his response.


    I believe it to be fair to be concerned about a “No Labels” party run at the presidency. Look back at the 2012 election as compared to the 2016 election and what put trump in office. It took just three states to do so, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. It is not that trump ran away with a couple of percent of the overall vote in each state. It was less than 1% of the state vote to swing each state to trump.

    What happened was discouraged voters of each candidate voted in what they call the “other bracket” which consists of other parties and candidates such as Fido, Mickey Mouse, etc. What was an ~1% or slightly more of each state’s vote moved upward to 4 and 6% of the vote. It was not a landslide vote for trump in each “purple” state. It was a landslide in the “others” column.

    I do have these numbers and maybe it is time to trot them out again. Less than 500,000 voters put trump in office.

    It can happen again if we are not careful.


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