The Mirror

NYT Upsets Clinton Camp After Reporter Calls Ex-Aide’s Mom

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Betsy Rothstein Gossip blogger
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Is Hillary Clinton running for something?

If so, what?

A couple of New York Times reporters have found themselves in the outrage grinder this week after they wrote a story that went after ex-Hillary Clinton aide Neera Tanden, who runs the liberal Center for American Progress. Clinton’s former 2016 presidential campaign spokesman Brian Fallen is calling on the nonexistent NYT ombudsman to punish the NYT, whatever that would mean exactly. In the double bylined piece by Elizabeth Williamson and Ken Vogel, the reporters quote Tanden’s 78-year-old mother, Maya Tanden, who apparently didn’t understand what talking to a reporter means.

Maya Tanden called her daughter — oh no! — “very aggressive.” But the real damning line: “She’s not going to let anyone rule over her. She has loyalty to Hillary because Hillary is the one who made her.” Mom also warned that Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) would not be “getting a pass” in 2020. (RELATED: Sanders Donated Less Than One Percent To Charity The Year he Made Over $1 Million)

Off the record? On the record? What does any of that mean? What kind of swamp monster would call up the mother of a longtime Washington insider? The Mirror reached out to Count Dracula‘s cousin, Vogel, but he did not respond. He did, however, shoot a smiley emoji to non-profit entrepreneur Rachel Tiven, who wrote him, saying, “If you ever call my mother, she’ll say no comment. And tell you to focus on the actual story.”

So here’s what went down: The NYT story covered the bad blood between Sanders and Clinton. Everyone knows Sanders is an old grouch who is pretty cranky about Clinton and the DNC desolating his chances to become the nominee in 2016. The piece pitted Sanders against Neera Tanden, a former top aide to Clinton’s 2008 campaign. Tanden is firmly entrenched in Clintonland. She previously worked for the campaigns of former President Bill Clinton’s and then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).

At 8:32 a.m. Monday, the day the story rose out of the ashes, Fallon tweeted, “The NYT story on Neera Tanden should never have brought her mom into it. And whether you agree with Neera’s views or not, her aggressiveness is one of her biggest strengths and would be lionized if she were a man.”

Lionized?! So there it is — misogyny. Since when are Neera Tanden or her mom too weak to speak for themselves? For peak outrage, some people upped her mother’s age to 80.

The NYT piece details a 2008 incident during Hillary Clinton’s first presidential race when she had an altercation with ThinkProgess Editor Faiz Shakir. ThinkProgress is the journalistic arm of the Center for American Progress. Shakir had asked Clinton about her stance on the Iraq War, which was an aborrhant question to ask Clinton since she was getting squashed for supporting it. According to someone in the room, the NYT reported, Tanden “punched” Shakir in the chest. Not true! She claims she just “pushed” him.

This all gets very Washington incestuous. Shakir now runs Sen. Bernie Sanders‘ (D-Vt.) presidential campaign. ThinkProgress, the publication controlled by Neera Tanden’s Center for American Progressran a recent video that depicts Sanders as a hypocrite for being a millionaire, for being part of the 1 percent he routinely destroys on the campaign trail. ThinkProgress insists there was no collusion with its parental figure.

By 9:59 a.m. Monday, Fallon moved into action mode: “The sandbagging of Neera Tanden’s mother seems like a good subject for the NYT ombudsman to look into. Does anyone know how to reach the NYT ombudsman?”

The Clinton mafia is up in arms.

These people aren’t shrinking violets.

Why are they acting like babies who can’t handle being, um, pushed?

The NYT ombudsman cannot be found. The pub canned its public editor, Liz Spayd, in 2017 in favor of something called a “reader center.” At the time, NYT Executive Editor Dean Baquet, deemed the position unnecessary. The Atlantic reported that Spayd was “unpopular” among journalists who thought she had become a “self-parody.” Publisher Arthur Sulzberger wrote that the position “had outgrown that one office.” He said the job had become useless. Their readers would serve as “modern watchdogs” for their work.

The previous person in that role, Margaret Sullivan, who now writes for The Washington Post, pushed back, tweeting, “The one thing [a] public editor can almost always do is hold feet to the fire, and get a real answer out of management…The role, by definition, is a burr under the saddle of the powers that be. …I did feel, while doing it for almost four years, that I served an important purpose for the readership—and for the Times itself.”

At 8:15 a.m., before Fallon even jumped on the cause — a sort of lifelong defense of the Clinton Camp — Tanden, who is not a child, spoke up and tweeted this:” I love my mom. She’s not involved in politics. And this is all very upsetting to her.”

So upsetting. Does anyone have a pacifier for Neera Tanden?

With that, Tanden’s mom unleashed a statement via her son, Raj Tanden, and blasted it out on Twitter.

Maya Tanden is an immigrant who has never been approached by a reporter in her nearly eight decades of life on Earth.

“As a 78-year-old immigrant, I am so proud of my daughter for succeeding,” she says, “making life better for so many people and helping bring health care to millions. For the first time in my life, a reporter contacted me out of nowhere and said she wanted to talk to me for what I thought was a nice story about Neera. I didn’t understand my words would be used in the story and once I understand they would be, I called her back to clarify that. Only then did she tell me my words were ‘on the record,’ a term I’ve never heard before. I feel very misled.”

Vogel further ignited a groundswell of anger with his tweet: “THANKS, MOM! ⁦‪@neeratanden‬⁩ says she’s not out to get ⁦‪@BernieSanders‬⁩ & wants unity among Democrats. Neera’s mom, OTOH, says her daughter believes Bernie ‘got a pass’ in 2016, ‘but he’s not getting a pass this time.'”

Others jumped on the bandwagon against the NYT reporters.

Because what’s more fun these days than trashing the media?

“Forget my view of the story,” wrote conservative NewsBusters‘s VP Dan Gainor in a direct tweet to Neera Tanden. “I think it’s shitty using your mom to get at you. Sorry. I hate politics now. You and I never agree, but that’s low.”

CNN commentator and former Bill Clinton White House aide Keith Boykin was also incensed: “Regardless of what you think of Neera Tanden, the @nytimes involving her mom in this story is unacceptable journalism.”

Kirsten Powers, a USA Today columnist, CNN commentator and a former political appointee in Bill Clinton’s White House, was also in prime mob form: What the @nytimes did here is beyond shameful. It was such a blatant hit piece and they took advantage of @neeratanden’s mom. There actually *is* a way to cover intraparty disagreements w out demonizing a female leader.”

Really. Demonizing? If a man had “punched” or “pushed” a journalist — and you’re name is not Corey Lewondowski — there would be optics hell to pay.

In the middle of all this nonsense, liberal journo Matthew Yglesias, managing editor of Vox, declared, “Neera Tanden’s mom is the MVP of Internet feuds.”

Washington Examiner‘s Joe Gabriel Simonson had an interesting point: “Disappointing to hear that the Times asked Neera Tanden’s mom about her daughter, but did you guys see that article about how Stephen Miller ate dirt in second grade?” (He’s referring to The Hollywood Reporter, which, in 2018, reported that Trump policy aide Stephen Miller ate glue in the third grade. His elementary school teacher said he was a “loner” who liked to “isolate.” The teacher who spilled the beans was suspended.)

And The Atlantic‘s David Frum had some non-advice advice: “Not telling anyone how to do their job, but after her email was hacked by Russia and used by WikiLeaks in its effort to help elect Trump … maybe @neeratanden has earned a short interim pass from gotcha tactics?”

(Apples, please meet oranges. Oh, and has anyone seen Primary Colors? The Clinton Camp has never engaged in dirty politics, or at least they’ve never bothered anyone’s mother for a quote.)

Ex-President Obama aide Celicia Munoz was also super outraged. “I see what you did there, @nytimes. You interviewed her mom about what a fighter @neeratanden is, and then used those quotes against her in your article. Wow.”

Yeah, wow (eye roll).

WaPo‘s “conservative” blogger Jennifer Rubin had one hilarious word to add to all this: “Outrageous.”

Georgetown law prof Rosa Brooks was sure to cc Neera Tanden on this one: “WTF, @nytimes- Would you run an article about a *male* political leader’s relationship with a rival political campaign that relied mainly on quotes from… his mom? And would it be newsworthy for a male leader to be viewed as ‘aggressive’?”

The NYT even began eating itself: Paul Krugman, a Nobel laureate and liberal columnist at the NYT, was truly appalled with his own publication.

At 8: 26 a.m. Monday: “Gotta say, some of the coverage of the Sanders/Center for American Progress spat is extremely weird, showing signs that Clinton derangement syndrome is still alive and well even though Hillary isn’t running.”

At 8:29 a.m. “CAP may have been associated with the Clintons in the past, but it has also been a very effective policy shop, playing an important role in getting the Affordable Care Act passed. And it’s continuing to play that role.”

By 1:36 p.m he was was in utter despair.

“The smearing of CAP and @neeratanden is really something to behold, because it suggests that some people in both the media and political life have learned nothing,” he tweeted. “For the first time in a couple of years I’m starting to feel that Trump might get reelected.”

Let’s hope everyone gets over this monumental slight against the Tanden family by the end of the week.