The New York Times launched its first branding campaign in decades highlighting the importance of “truth.” The campaign appears in print and ran a 30-second spot during last Sunday’s Academy Awards.
The conservative National Rifle Association (NRA) responded with its own take on the “truth” with an ad titled “The Truth Doesn’t Matter to TheNew York Times.”
The New York Times ad alluded to the Trump presidency and its supporters, flashing phrases next to "The truth is..." The NYT's point was to note how complicated "truth" can be.
The NRA ad has a different purpose. It uses much of the same structure, simple typewritten lines on a white background, but explicitly attacks a particular political ideology.
“The truth is that the truth didn't matter to TheNew York Times then as much as now—because as long as liberals were ‘progressing,’ the truth was depressing,” responds the NRA spot.
“America has stopped looking to The New York Times for the truth now more than ever. The times are burning … and the media elites have been caught holding the match.”
This construction, while bait to its base, can appear confusing. Is "progressing" a slam on progressives, the new word for liberals? Or the idea that having a Democratic president was a "depressing" reality? And are the times burning?
During Obama's presidency, per CNN Money, the stock market hit an all-time high, millions more had health care, the economy added jobs for 75 straight months, a historic record. There were 11.5 million jobs created under President Obama, but only 1.3 million under President Bush.
A further contention in the NRA ad is that The New York Times didn’t care about “truth” during the Obama administration.
“The New York Times placed an ad during the Oscars to tell us that truth is more important now. But why now … Wasn’t it important when people were marching … When jobs were declining … When diplomacy was straining … When policies were failing … When towns were collapsing … When red lines were vanishing…When Obama was lying ... When journalists were dying … When Christians were dying … When citizens were dying?”
It is easy to take issue, as noted, with many of these statements. President Obama presided over the longest stretch of positive job growth in history, a fact the NRA ad appears to consider fake news.
The same can be said about the strong decrease in crime across the country over the past eight years. The FBI complies crime stats; does the NRA take issue with the FBI?
This ad, which is styled as a new episode on NRATV, is clearly meant for an audience that already has a low opinion of The New York Times. The NRA’s response serves to reinforce a deep seated distrust of the coastal elites, which includes legacy media, like The New York Times and The Washington Post.
The NRATV ad does hit on some truthful points.
In many ways, parts of America have “stopped looking to The New York Times for the truth.” What is not constructive, however, is instead of honestly addressing and responding to media claims and established facts, NRATV and other conservative stalwarts impose a blanket claim of untruth, without a second thought.
What would be helpful: If all political factions came together for constructive discussions, agreed on facts, and hammered out policies that serve the nation well. The art of politics is the art of compromise.