Coincidence? I don’t think so.
Over at the Washington Examiner, Byron York cites corrections New York Times editors (or writer Eric Lipton himself?) made from the original online version of their story attacking House Minority Leader John Boehner for his ties to lobbyists, corrections which reveal the method behind the Old Gray Lady’s “hatchet job“:
The statement that a lobbyist “won” Boehner’s backing was changed to one in which a lobbyist “sought” Boehner’s backing. That’s a rather critical change. The Times also added Boehner’s defense that these were long-held positions.
We should also note that Lipton doesn’t name this lobbyist in his article while a named Boehner staffer.
Boehner Spokesman Michael Steel, however, was wiling to explain to the Times why his boss voted the way he did on the issues where the paper alleged lobbyist influence:
Steel says he received a fact-checking email from Times reporter Eric Lipton Friday evening asking if Boehner did in fact oppose the cap on greenhouse gases, the tax change for hedge fund executives, the debit card fee cap, and increased fees on oil and gas companies. “Yes, that is correct,” Steel responded to Lipton, adding “I can tell you why, if you care.” Steel says he received no further notes from Lipton.
This gruel, as they say, is pretty thin, with John Steele Gordon at Commentary Contentions wondering if Boehner’s ties to lobbyists are “‘especially tight’? Who knows? The Times gives no examples whatever of the dealings of other Congressional leaders with lobbyists“:
This article, which alleges no wrongdoing and gives no comparisons, is simply an attempt to further the Democrats’ plan to demonize Boehner. It is water carrying, plain and simple, proving only that the Times’s ties with the Democratic Party are especially tight.
The White House and its allies have elevated Boehner to the status of a target in the run-up to the November elections. On its face there isn’t much to Lipton’s story about Boehner. More than anything else it signifies that the Times is playing its traditional role as media adjunct of the Democratic Party. To use the Washington cliché, it’s business as usual.
During the week, the president attacked Boehner.* On the weekend, the Times follows suit, without giving that Republican a chance to explain his votes. The writer took the “word of an anonymous lobbyist” while refusing, in the words of Boehner’s spokesman, “to get the information to prove that this allegation was false.”
New media seem to have blunted the effect of the Old Gray Lady’s hatchet. Before the official publication date of the paper’s hard copy, the paper’s bias had already been challenged, with the paper quickly correcting the original text. They can’t get away with hatchet jobs like they once could.
Perhaps, they’re trying to help build the negatives of a man about whom most Americans have yet to form an opinion. But, given their rise of alternative media, quick to call them on their bias as well as their declining readership, they lack the power they once had to so bring down a politician, particularly with such gruel as thin as this.
*Bonus question: in the fall of 2006, does then-President George W. Bush ever attack then-House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi?
NB: Shortly after posting this, I took note in the flow of my prose at certain parts in the post, so tried to smooth it out, making minor corrections hither, thither and yon.