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Why I’m Skeptical of the New York Times

Posted by GayPatriotWest at 6:54 pm - January 20, 2006.
Filed under: Blogging,Bush-hatred,Media Bias

Instead of addressing the points in my posts, one critic of this blog frequently demands that I address the latest New York Times story critical of the Bush Administration, almost always one based on leaks from left-leaning government bureaucrats with an ideological axe to grand. Sometimes they think this blog doesn’t exist for us to make our points and then for readers to use the comments section to discuss and debate, but for Republican-hating readers to bait us into discussing the issues which interest them.

To be sure, I welcome debate and discussion of many issues, not limited to those I post on. (As I have shown in various e-mail (& IM) exchanges with readers). I’m not, however, going to answer challenges from critics who reply to our posts by badmouthing the president or insulting us and then demand that we discuss an article unrelated to the post they have either refused to consider or whose points they have misrepresented in their comments.

Not only that. Given the increased bias the New York Times, I am becoming less and less likely to take seriously some of its reporting, particularly that critical of the Bush Administration. While some of its reporting remains excellent and oftentimes unrivaled by other newspapers, many of its pieces read as if they were written not by journalists but by left-wing editorialists.

These reporters showed their cards in a piece on the Barrett investigation (into wrongdoing in the Clinton Administration) in Wednesday’s paper. Just like its series of articles on the President’s national security policy, this one was also based on a leak, but not a leak from someone whose agenda is favored by the Times. In the article, the reporters felt it incumbent upon themselves to make known that (and the editor saw fit to include): “A copy of the report was obtained by The New York Times from someone sympathetic to the Barrett investigation who wanted his criticism of the Clinton administration to be known.” The Times thus implied, as Powerline’s John Hinderaker puts it “leaker was no whistle-blower and no patriot; just a partisan with an axe to grind.” John notes further:

But after the Times has printed dozens (hundreds, probably) of stories critical of the Bush administration based on leaks by Democratic bureaucrats, we’re still waiting for the paper to write: “A copy of the report was obtained by The New York Times from someone sympathetic to the Democrats’ position who wanted his criticism of the Bush administration to be known.” The day that explanation appears, Beelzebub will be sending out for mittens and a fur coat.

So, if my critics want to know why I’m skeptical of New York Times articles critical of the Bush Administration (based on leaks), it’s because its reporters don’t seem to realize that the leakers may also have an axe to grind. Until the paper starts to show the same skepticism of anti-Bush leakers as it has shown to those critical of the Clinton Administration, I will remain skeptical of the Gray Lady’s evenhandedness. And less likely to trust its reporting of the Bush Administration — and the conservative movement.

-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest):



  1. I think that same sentence appeared in the WSJ yesterday.

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — January 20, 2006 @ 7:03 pm - January 20, 2006

  2. Further, the mere fact that they were more concerned with promoting their writer’s book than they were with national security leaks or publishing national security information shows that they themselves have an axe to grind.

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — January 20, 2006 @ 7:07 pm - January 20, 2006

  3. Are you saying that the Times is BIASED? NO! GET OUT!!!

    Comment by sonicfrog — January 20, 2006 @ 8:16 pm - January 20, 2006

  4. Yeah, TGC, Taranto picked it up in Best of the Web.

    Comment by GayPatriotWest — January 20, 2006 @ 8:30 pm - January 20, 2006

  5. #4

    You mean #1?

    I’d have to go out to the truck to get my copy, but that line sounds familiar.

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — January 20, 2006 @ 10:22 pm - January 20, 2006

  6. GPW,

    I agree the NYT is definitaviely biased against this administration. I also had a thought that maybe those who have studied more history than myself will be able to answer: haven’t newswpapers always been biased, to a certain degree ?

    Wasn’t it in the past we had newspapers that leaned liberal that competed with newspapers that leaned conservative ? And as the definitions for liberal and conservative have changed, so have newspaper leanings. I think during the late 19th century, the NYT was a Republican leaning newspaper.

    I think we may notice the leaning of the media more because they are all leaning in the same direction and leaning much more than the general public.

    Comment by Wendy — January 20, 2006 @ 10:50 pm - January 20, 2006

  7. Hell will freeze over and pigs will fly before the New York Times is even-handed, fair and objective.

    Comment by Jack Allen — January 20, 2006 @ 11:58 pm - January 20, 2006

  8. It is probable that the contents of most newspapers reflect the biases of their publishers, executive editors and, to a lesser extent, the biases of their reporters, and it is a bit naive to believe otherwise.

    More than a few newspapers–particularly in Western Europe–were owned by or associated with political parties or other groups, and their readers would understand their biases and account for them. There were some “independent” newspapers, but not many. Affiliation of American newspapers with particular political parties and/or organizations is far less obvious, but if one wanted to try to figure it out, one could easily do so without a lot of trouble.

    Regarding biases through the influence of the executive editors, I will merely note the following. The NYTimes might be liberal in some ways, but during the reign of long-time executive editor Abe Rosenthal, it was definitely anti-gay. He forbade the use of the word “gay” in the NYTimes and gave short shrift to any articles on gay issues. That may be one reason for the rise of the gay alternative press in NY in the early 1980s. I’m not referring to the NYBlade–I’m referring to the NY Native weekly and the Christopher Street monthly.

    I don’t pay much attention to the NYTimes except for the science articles on their web site–which are actually pretty good. And I certainly won’t pay US$50/year for access to their columnists, most of whom I find silly. I get most of my news from the Boston Globe, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung and Der Spiegel.

    Comment by raj — January 21, 2006 @ 6:05 am - January 21, 2006

  9. Liberals are as disgusted with the Times as conservatives are. However, I remind you that in polls following Bush’s first election, newspaper people voted 2 to 1 for Bush. When you limit the stats to editors and publishers, they voted for him 3 to 1. It’s hard to argue that the Times’ bias is that liberal. They rah-rahed the Iraq invasion, thanks to Judith Miller. And they withheld reporting the wiretap story for an entire year, when it might have affected the election had they not yielded to the White House’s request.

    But I’m curious. Who ARE you trusting for your news?

    Comment by PeaceOut — January 21, 2006 @ 7:12 am - January 21, 2006

  10. PeaceOut — January 21, 2006 @ 7:12 am – January 21, 2006

    It isn’t just Judith Miller, who has shown herself to have been nothing more than a stenographer for the GWBush administration. There was also Jeff Gerth, who lied about the Whitewater scandal early in the Clinton administration. And, going back a few decades, there was Walter Duranty, the NYTimes man in Moscow in the 1930s, who lied about the Stalin’s communist regime there. Coming back, there was also Jayson Blair.

    Anybody who reads the NYTimes unskeptically needs to have his head examined. The NYTimes might want to persuade you that their fecal matter doesn’t stink, but it does.

    Comment by raj — January 21, 2006 @ 7:54 am - January 21, 2006

  11. You mean that FOX isn’t biased?

    Comment by hank — January 21, 2006 @ 9:29 am - January 21, 2006

  12. Don’t hold your breath waiting for that statement.

    Comment by rightwingprof — January 21, 2006 @ 10:22 am - January 21, 2006

  13. I don’t have as much of a problem with the bias as the pretense that there isn’t any. A great example is the attempt of former editor Howell Rains to gin up a controversy about the men only membership policy at the Augusta Country Club where the Masters Tournament is held. If I recall correctly, the NYT ran over 30 stories about Augusta National’s horrible policies, it’s bigoted members, the outraged women across the country, etc. It was orchestrated to support a massive rally by women during the Tournament that would force Augusta to change its evil ways. However the rally only drew about 30 participants and was exposed for what it was. A failed attempt to manufacture news and influence public opinion in a direction that the Editor of the NYT favored. And of course it was OK because it was for a good cause. i think that it is plain to see that the NYT engages in this sort of ‘journalism” on a regular basis.

    I have never heard the numbers that Peace Out quotes regarding newspaper people voting 2-1 for Bush. Do you have a link? Everything that I’ve seen is more on the lines that reporters are something over 80% self identified as Democrats.

    Personally, I try to read/get info about the same issues from both sides of the spectrum, which I think makes it easier to filter at least a good portion of the spin and bias. For example, I subscribe to both The Weekly Standard and New Republic, listen to both NPR and Fox, etc.

    Comment by Bobo — January 21, 2006 @ 11:29 am - January 21, 2006

  14. Um, PeaceOut in #9, like Bobo in #13, I’d link to see a link for you claim that newspaper people voted 2 to 1 for Bush. Most numbers I’ve seen have been similar to those Bobo reported.

    And I’ve just been spending a few minutes reading the LA Times where it bases headlines not favorable to the Bush Administration on unnamed officials. Or talks about fears of faltering economy on page A1 while inside we learn that only a handful of market analysts see it that way, while others are more confident the economy is going strong.

    Comment by GayPatriotWest — January 21, 2006 @ 1:26 pm - January 21, 2006

  15. GayPatriotWest — January 21, 2006 @ 1:26 pm – January 21, 2006

    Since I’m in Boston, I don’t pay a lot of attention to the LATimes. But I have chatted with some people who have worked in newspapers. It is evident that:

    (i) articles or portions of articles that appear on the first page are used as “hooks” to get people to buy the newspapers, particularly if they appear “above the fold,” and

    (ii) headlines are not generally written by the reporters who wrote the articles–they are written by specialized groups (and maybe editors) as “eyecatchers.”

    It would be a mistake to read too much into the phenomena that you are observing. It’s marketing.

    Comment by raj — January 21, 2006 @ 1:48 pm - January 21, 2006

  16. Yes, but it’s striking that all those headlines are unfavorable to the Bush Administration.

    Comment by GayPatriotWest — January 21, 2006 @ 2:17 pm - January 21, 2006

  17. GayPatriotWest — January 21, 2006 @ 2:17 pm – January 21, 2006

    Yes, but it’s striking that all those headlines are unfavorable to the Bush Administration.

    Maybe–I haven’t seen the actual headlines–but contemplate the degree to which headline along the lines of “Don’t worry-be happy” (which is what you are really asking for) is going to sell newspapers, or get people to read articles.

    Newspapers in the US exist to sell advertising, which is one reason that I don’t pay a lot of attention to them. The Boston Globe daily issue costs on the order of US$0.50 and carries lots of advertising. The Sueddeutsche Zeitung–the newspaper of record in Munich Germany, which carries little advertising–costs on the order of US$1.70 per copy. I don’t bother with a hardcopy of the NYTimes.

    Comment by raj — January 21, 2006 @ 3:08 pm - January 21, 2006

  18. hank — January 21, 2006 @ 9:29 am – January 21, 2006

    You mean that FOX isn’t biased?

    Faux News is marketed to a particular audience.

    I’ll give you an example. Remember when, in the spring of 2001, the Chinese government had forced down a US surveillance plane onto an island off shore of China? Faux News was carrying the video of the plane virtually 24/7, and their commentators where blathering on about it 24/7. At one point early one morning, one of the commentators essentially admitted that they had no idea what was going on, but they would continue with the reportage anyway. Reportage of what?

    I literally rolled on the floor, laughing my rear end off. That was the last time that I paid any attention to Faux News.

    Comment by raj — January 22, 2006 @ 7:41 am - January 22, 2006

  19. Try reading The New York Post for a laugh.

    Comment by hank — January 22, 2006 @ 10:44 am - January 22, 2006

  20. #18

    Sorta like how The DNC Times made Abu Ghraib it’s front page story for 37 days?

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — January 22, 2006 @ 9:57 pm - January 22, 2006

  21. And they withheld reporting the wiretap story for an entire year, when it might have affected the election had they not yielded to the White House’s request.

    Then they went ahead and released the story anyway until they could plug the writer’s new book with a frontpage ad. Further, there was no coincidence that it appeared during Congressional discussions on the Patriot Act.

    It’s interestsing to not that despite the libs falling all over themselves to protect the terrorist’s rights and The DNC Times spooging itself, nobody’s buying the book.

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — January 22, 2006 @ 10:01 pm - January 22, 2006

  22. ThatGayConservative — January 22, 2006 @ 10:01 pm – January 22, 2006

    Do you have any evidence that the NYTimes had a financial interest in the publication of James Risen’s book? I did a short search and was unable to find one. This strikes me as little more than an extension of the face-to-face between the Washington Post and its star editor Bob Woodward.

    Comment by raj — January 23, 2006 @ 4:23 pm - January 23, 2006

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