For their profile of Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri, The New York Times fished for quotes from Hawley’s high school prom date and his middle school principal, piling on insults to its 5,000-word hit piece.
The sewer dive by reporters Elaina Plott and Danny Hakim appeared on Monday’s front page under the headline “Voices From Hawley’s History Wonder, Why So Angry Now?”
The overkill over Sen. Hawley was eerily reminiscent of the paper’s jihad against Brett Kavanaugh and the paper’s obsessive examination of his old yearbook photos for signs of sexism.
After relaying Hawley’s fiery speech to CPAC, the Times also showed they can’t quit Donald Trump.
The appeal from Missouri’s junior senator reflected what has become standard fare in a Republican Party still in thrall to Donald J. Trump. As Mr. Hawley’s audience seemed to agree, his amplification of the former president’s false claims of a stolen election was not incitement for the mob of rioters who stormed the Capitol on Jan 6; it was a principled stand against the “radical left.”
Yet to some of the senator’s earliest supporters, it was precisely for its ordinariness that the speech stood out, the latest reminder of the distance between the Josh Hawley they thought they had voted for and the Josh Hawley who now appeared regularly on Fox News.
From there followed many paragraphs of what could be called “concern trolling” about how the previous scholarly Hawley had been replaced by a (gasp!) ambitious politician!
To survey Mr. Hawley’s life is indeed to see a consistency in the broad strokes of his political cosmology. Yet interviews with more than 50 people close to Mr. Hawley cast light on what, in the haze of charm and first impressions, his admirers often seemed to miss: an attachment to the steady cadence of ascension, and a growing comfort with doing what might be necessary to maintain it.
Now let’s get to the heart of the matter – what do his former school principal and prom date think?
But in recent weeks, some of Mr. Hawley’s old classmates and teachers have been aghast at his role in undermining confidence in America’s elections.
“I’ve been very disappointed to see who he has become,” said Kristen Ruehter-Thompson, a close friend growing up who was once Mr. Hawley’s prom date.
Even his middle school principal, Barbara Weibling, has weighed in. “I’m not surprised he’s a politician and that he’s shooting for the presidency,” said Ms. Weibling, a vocal supporter of Democrats. “The only thing is, I think he had a strict moral upbringing, and I was really disappointed he would suck the country into the lies that Trump told about the election. I just think that’s wrong.”
Those bizarre anecdotes raised derision on social media.
Plott and Hakim hinted that Hawley’s intelligence is a facade (because Republicans can’t be smart).
Mr. Hawley found an eager audience among Missouri’s donor class and Republican elders. He dazzled them by seeming to be everything Mr. Trump was not: tempered, thoughtful, a reservoir of adjectives like “Burkean.” When asked about their first meetings with Mr. Hawley, powerful people in Missouri recalled being enchanted not so much by his vision for office, but by the fact that he sounded smart.
The Times used Hawley’s statements to smear his entire party.
As his advisers saw it, the lessons of the Trump era — that success in today’s G.O.P. means never having to say you’re sorry — were clear. And Josh Hawley was nothing if not a star student.