News Story

The New York Times Cheers Whitmer But Clams Up On Her Florida Trip

News outlets across the nation and world ran headlines about governor — with one notable exception

Gretchen Whitmer has a been a favored politician of The New York Times.

The news publisher has run many positive stories on Michigan’s governor over the last 13 months. Five articles written by Kathleen Gray, to cite one reporter, have featured Whitmer’s name in the headline since the pandemic started.

For example, a headline from April 18, 2020, read, “Gretchen Whitmer Isn’t Backing Down.”

The article stated, “She is a first-term governor and rising star in the Democratic Party, a frequent critic of the Trump administration for its handling of the coronavirus health crisis and a prominent foil of the president’s in the heated debate over when to reopen the nation for business.”

On Aug. 10, 2020, the New York Times published a glowing story on the governor. Its title: “Michigan Democrats Hesitate on Whitmer as V.P.: ‘Selfishly, We Need Her Here.’”

The subhead added: “She is suddenly on Joe Biden’s shortlist. Can Michigan afford to lose her?”

The New York Times-Whitmer relationship has produced consistently positive coverage for the state’s chief executive. In fact, while Whitmer limits media interaction at her press conferences to a select handful of reporters, she has given unprecedented access to the New York Times.

The coverage included a highly complimentary June 25, 2020, story in The New York Times Magazine, written by Jonathan Mahler. The reporter mentioned his frequent interactions with Whitmer, noting, “I have been talking to Whitmer every couple of days.”

His lionizing prose included: “Whitmer is not naturally introspective. Recounting the almost incomprehensibly consequential decisions she was making on a daily basis, she rarely lingered on how she felt or the magnitude of the moment. She was more inclined to review events and discuss strategy, approaching it all with the same practical mind-set and vocabulary she brought to more manageable governmental challenges like fixing potholes. The effect wasn’t necessarily stirring — there was no soaring rhetoric about the need to rise to this historic challenge — but it was oddly reassuring; she was channeling panic into process.”

Now Whitmer has been caught in an embarrassing situation. For the past week, stories in print and online outlets have reported that the governor disobeyed her own recommendations to not travel during the pandemic by going to Florida to visit her father.

A governor whose pandemic guidance has been held up as a model by a leading newspaper has been caught in what looks like case of hypocrisy and ignoring her own rules.

Even foreign news outlets have noticed, with London’s Daily Mail weighing in.

Newsweek, The Associated Press, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, People magazine and dozens of other news sites have also reported on Whitmer’s travel.

There has been one notable exception: As of 11 a.m. on April 22, The New York Times has been silent.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.