Accuracy in Media

New York Times Magazine writer Jonathan Mahler profile of the Heritage Foundation accused it of “furthering its right-wing agenda” by “a dog-whistle appeal.”

Mainstream media accusations of “dog-whistle appeal” against conservatives typically imply racial animus is being used by conservatives through covert methods. Mahler’s sinister implication, that Heritage used “a dog-whistle appeal” to obtain its success, is illustrative of why so many conservatives have low levels of trust in the mainstream media to accurately portray them and their values.

“The Trump team may not have been prepared to staff the government, but the Heritage Foundation was,” Mahler wrote.

“In the summer of 2014, a year before Trump even declared his candidacy, the right-wing think tank had started assembling a 3,000-name searchable database of trusted movement conservatives from around the country who were eager to serve in a post-Obama government. The initiative was called the Project to Restore America, a dog-whistle appeal to the so-called silent majority that foreshadowed Trump’s own campaign slogan.”

Mahler also implied that Heritage’s new president received her role because she is a black woman; Mahler repeated false accusations that conservatives only fight for the interests of white men.

“James, who is 69, is an almost total anomaly in the political world: a black female Republican who supports Donald Trump,” Mahler wrote. “In her first address to the Heritage staff, she spoke about her difficult childhood in Richmond, Va., with an absentee father and a mother on welfare. The hiring of a black woman as its president seemed like a coup for an institution that has been widely accused of representing only the interests of white men.”

Through his framing of the Heritage Foundation’s policy agreements with the Trump administration, Mahler took the typical liberal lens rather than a more neutral or balanced lens to describe how conservative policies protect the long-term future of a country’s trajectory rather than short-term interests.

“In recent months, James has applauded Trump’s tax cuts and deregulatory agenda; his crackdown on illegal immigration; his choice of the hard-liner John Bolton as national security adviser; his effort to rescind funding for a variety of federal programs, including the Children’s Health Insurance Program; and an executive order that will curtail the amount of time that federal union representatives can spend helping colleagues file claims for workplace grievances, including sexual harassment,” Mahler wrote.

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