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NYT Vows ‘To Take A Hard Look’ At Obama

From the public editor of the New York Times:

A Hard Look at the President

April 21, 2012

FOUR weeks ago, I criticized The New York Times for overplaying an article on an investment made by Ann Romney’s blind trust. The article was but one installment of the intense campaign coverage scrutinizing Mitt Romney as he bids for the Republican presidential nomination.

During this period, we haven’t heard as much from The Times about President Obama’s re-election effort.

There is precedent for the disparity. The Republican primary fight is a prelude to the general election season. Eight years ago, The Times offered comparably scant campaign coverage of the incumbent, George W. Bush, even as it blanketed readers with articles about Senator John Kerry and others competing for the Democratic nomination.

No, there were no negative articles about George Bush in 2004. And it was relentless in their exposes on John Kerry. Especially their coverage of the Swift Boat Veterans. (This is what is known as heavy sarcasm.)

Now, though, the general election season is on, and The Times needs to offer an aggressive look at the president’s record, policy promises and campaign operation to answer the question: Who is the real Barack Obama?

So why didn’t do they take an aggressive look at Mr. Obama in 2004? He was not the incumbent then. (We know why.)

Many critics view The Times as constitutionally unable to address the election in an unbiased fashion.

Does anyone see them as otherwise?

Like a lot of America, it basked a bit in the warm glow of Mr. Obama’s election in 2008. The company published a book about the country’s first African-American president, “Obama: The Historic Journey.” The Times also published a lengthy portrait of him in its Times Topics section on NYTimes.com, yet there’s nothing of the kind about George W. Bush or his father.

According to a study by the media scholars Stephen J. Farnsworth and S. Robert Lichter, The Times’ coverage of the president’s first year in office was significantly more favorable than its first-year coverage of three predecessors who also brought a new party to power in the White House: George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan

Thank you media scholars. Otherwise, we would have never noticed.

Based on conversations with Times reporters and editors who cover the campaign and Washington, I think they see themselves as aggressive journalists who don’t play favorites. Still, a strong current of skepticism holds that the paper skews left. Unfortunately, this is exacerbated by collateral factors — for example, political views that creep into nonpolitical coverage…

This is Times gibberish for "yes, we are as biased as hell."

The warm afterglow of Mr. Obama’s election, the collateral effects of liberal-minded feature writers — these can be overcome by hard-nosed, unbiased political reporting now.

Now? The Times is four years late and a $5 trillion dollars short.

Mr. Farnsworth, the media scholar, who is a professor at the University of Mary Washington, suggested to me that “more vigilance” is what The Times needed to keep out bias. He advocated a “wider range of sources and greater openness to perspectives that may not be the way the reporter thought of the story at the outset.”

Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, is a co-author of “The Obama Victory: How Media, Money, and Message Shaped the 2008 Election.” I asked her what she thought The Times should do to wring out bias in its 2012 coverage. Among other things, she said, “Don’t play a sex scandal out when you don’t have any evidence,” a reference to The Times’ controversial 2008 article on John McCain’s relationship with a lobbyist.

Hilarious. They actually need to be told to not make up stories to help their chosen candidate?

Going forward, she said, The Times should examine Mr. Obama’s record and campaign promises; monitor campaign messaging for deception; emphasize substantive policy matters over petty rhetorical combat; scrutinize the newly powerful “super-PAC” groups, and take care not to let polls overdetermine the coverage. These are the right priorities.

So they will be studiously ignored.

To date, The Times has delivered some clear-eyed coverage of the administration’s mixed record on the housing crisis, banks, the economy, Afghanistan and other issues.

"Mixed record"? That is not being clear-eyed.’

Now is the time to shift to a campaign coverage paradigm that compares promises with execution, sheds light on campaign operations and assesses the president’s promises for a second term.

I asked Richard Stevenson, the political editor overseeing campaign coverage, about these matters, and he offered a detailed e-mail response, noting that “we take very seriously our responsibility to report without favoritism.”

Then he should be fired, since he is not doing his job.

Mr. Stevenson promised that the Obama campaign’s use of his powers of incumbency, along with his “political style, character and learning curve,” will all be targets of Times coverage

I applaud The Times’ stated commitment to doing these kinds of stories. Readers deserve to know: Who is the real Barack Obama? And The Times needs to show that it can address the question in a hard-nosed, unbiased way.

What a laugh. Unless you realize that so many people still take The Times seriously. Especially, the rest of our so-called journalists.

But when you remember that, it is nothing short of a travesty.

This article was posted by Steve on Tuesday, April 24th, 2012. Comments are currently closed.

3 Responses to “NYT Vows ‘To Take A Hard Look’ At Obama”

  1. tranquil.night says:

    Rush: “That is the funniest joke of the weekend.”

    This reminds me of those people who can look you straight in the face & tell you with an eerie disconnect that they’re pathological liars but you can trust them anyway.

  2. JohnMG says:

    …..” I asked her what she thought The Times should do to wring out bias in its 2012 coverage…..”

    I think the Jim Jones solution would be appropriate. Round up all the current staff and management and have a Kool-Aid party.

    I’m in favor of a total purge.

  3. Astravogel says:

    A graph of the circulation totals by year for the NYT might be interesting.
    Is anyone still reading this fish wrapper? Ditto Newsweek, Time, and
    so on.

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