The New York Times published an ugly attack piece in the guise of investigative journalism on Thursday targeting Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
The headline, “Nikki Haley’s View of New York Is Priceless. Her Curtains? $52,701,” was paired with a picture of Haley, giving the impression she had wastefully spent taxpayer dollars at a time when the State Department is trying to cut costs.
A spokesman for Haley emphasized, however, that plans to buy the mechanized curtains were made in 2016, during the Obama administration. Haley had no say in the purchase, he said. The New York Times initially buried this fact in the story.
Haley wasn’t the ambassador at the time of the purchase and had no say in the matter. The pricey drapes found their way into the ambassador’s residence during the Obama administration, not the current administration. However, the original headline, picture, tweet, and Facebook post went out of their way to obscure that fact.
After it was called out, The New York Times ended up changing the headline, scrapping the photo of Haley, heavily editing the article, and issuing a massive correction at the top of the story. But the damage had already been done. Numerous other outlets ran with the story, all propping up the narrative that Haley was a modern-day Marie Antoinette, buying golden drapes while other diplomats wore rags. Had it not been for mass conservative outrage on Twitter (the author’s tweet of the story got few retweets but thousands of angry replies), the story would have remained unchanged.
Haley isn’t a stranger to attacks on her character. According to an interview with Politico, opponents wrongly accused her of adultery when she ran for governor of South Carolina. Earlier this year, while Michael Wolff was pedaling his soundly debunked book, “Fire and Fury,” about the Trump White House, he made false claims that Haley was sleeping with the president. In their attempt to discredit the administration, many news outlets gave air time to this disgusting smear.
During her tenure as a politician, Haley has repeatedly shown herself to have sterling character. Why the need to show otherwise? In short, Haley is an effective conservative leader who contradicts the Democratic Party’s messaging on race and sex.
As governor of South Carolina, she welcomed business into the state, leaving with more than 400,000 more jobs in the state than when she had started. Her poise and compassion in the wake of the racially-motivated Emanuel AME Church shooting brought down the Confederate flag from the South Carolina statehouse. With political wins in education and smooth leadership through a hurricane, her record stands out.
Now as ambassador, Haley has shown herself to be the toughest in recent history. When members of the U.N. stated that America’s embassy placement in Jerusalem had caused Palestinian violence, she firmly contradicted them and walked out of the room on the Palestinian representative. She left the U.N.’s Human Rights Council, a sham that boasts member countries such as Venezuela and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Most importantly, she has asserted American sovereignty, stating that no foreign nation will tell the United States how to govern.
Haley is not only effective, she is well-liked. Almost the entirety of the Republican Party came to her defense after the misleading New York Times story, a feat in today’s fragmented GOP. Her support isn’t limited to the Republican Party. A Quinnipac University poll in April showed that 63 percent of Americans approve of the job she’s doing, with 55 percent of Democrats approving as well. To give some context, the same percentage of Democrats support Haley as support House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
Her identity as a woman, a non-Caucasian, and a daughter of immigrants distinguishes her as well. All three of those categories of voters supposedly belong to the Democratic bloc. Haley shows that it’s possible to be all of these things and right-of-center.
Her long and accomplished resume makes her the subject of future presidential chatter. After her appearance at Turning Point USA’s national headquarters, where she told students “to do more than own the libs,” conservative student activist and Parkland survivor Kyle Kashuv tweeted he “can’t wait” to see her as president.
I believe I will eventually see a @nikkihaley presidency and I can't wait.
— Kyle Kashuv (@KyleKashuv) August 13, 2018
He’s not alone. That’s why the smears that have come out against her character will likely be the first of many.
Democrats, who are sorting out their choice of presidential nominee, are aware of Haley’s effectiveness and potential. They have strong incentive to discredit her before she can get on the ballot. There seems to be a strong correlation between the number of hit pieces on conservative politicians and how good they are at their job.
The intensity becomes stronger when the conservative politician checks demographic boxes she’s not supposed to check. The two biggest personal attacks on Haley as part of the Trump administration were very gendered. A successful conservative woman? She must have slept her way to the top and can’t control her spending habits now that she’s there. Sexist remarks are okay as long as they’re employed against the right women. And by right women, they mean women on the right.
The takedown of the recent New York Times smear piece and Wolff’s outlandish claim are heartening, but these kinds of attacks are only going to increase with Haley’s political successes. Democrats see her as a dangerous adversary, one that even their own people admire. Haley knows how to stand against lies and smear campaigns as ambassador to the U.N. Hopefully, she’ll carry this skill with her into the next political firestorm.
This article has been corrected with respect to Kashuv’s political leanings.