Clay Waters was director of Times Watch, a former project of the Media Research Center.
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The New York Times celebrated the one year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street encampment in Zuccotti Park near Wall Street in a fashion that vindicates former Public Editor Arthur Brisbane's concern that the paper celebrates left-wing movements like Occupy "more like causes than news subjects."
First was Sunday's "Dear Bankers: Thanks for Wrecking Our Lives..." by Mark Greif, the founding editor of n+1 magazine and editor of “The Trouble Is the Banks: Letters to Wall Street." His article in the Times featured illustrations by Mike McQuade of letters written to the big bad banks. Greif introduced the letters:
The New York Times is milking its latest poll, showing some good news for Obama, to maximum effect. Sunday's front-page featured a poll story from one of the paper's top Obama boosters, White House correspondent Jackie Calmes (pictured): "Challenged on Medicare, G.O.P. Loses Ground." Text box: "Polls Show Favor for Obama on Issue of Party Trust." Calmes writes from Orlando:
A label-crazy New York Times report from John Eligon in Kansas City, Mo., on a kerfuffle over Obama's birth certificate featured loaded language about "far-right Republicans" pushing "stringent social policies."
"Citing a wave of angry backlash, a Kansas man on Friday withdrew a petition in which he argued that President Obama should be removed from the state’s election ballot because he did not meet citizenship requirements," he wrote.
Has Maureen Dowd's documented hatred of Paul Ryan pushed her over the edge? The New York Times columnist is accused by several pundits of employing anti-Semitic tropes in her latest Sunday Review column, the charmingly titled "Neocons Slither Back," currently the #1 e-mailed Times story as of noon Monday. Meanwhile, Times columnist Nicholas Kristof harshly criticized Mitt Romney and accused Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of "interfering in American elections."
Paul Ryan has not sautéed in foreign policy in his years on Capitol Hill. The 42-year-old congressman is no Middle East savant; till now, his idea of a border dispute has more likely involved Wisconsin and Illinois.
Ryan was moving his mouth, but the voice was the neocon puppet master Dan Senor. The hawkish Romney adviser has been secunded to manage the running mate and graft a Manichaean worldview onto the foreign affairs neophyte.
The New York Times is developing a bad habit of sending its columns to the Obama administration for approval. Daniel Harper at the Weekly Standard reported yesterday on a no-no committed by then-contributing Times columnist Peter Orszag, former director of Obama's Office of Management and Budget and an Obama-care booster in an October 20, 2010 column, "Malpractice Methodology." Halper wrote in part:
New York Times movie critic Jeanette Catsoulis demonstrated her simplistic liberal politics once again in her brief Friday review of the gay marriage documentary "The Right to Love," picking on mild concern from the subject's parents and grandparents as proving themselves "enemies of progress."
She found the movie itself "squishy" and the soundtrack "regrettably saccharine," but described left-wing MSNBC host Rachel Maddow as an "arrow of lucidity."
The New York Times has again used a misleading headline to falsely imply failure on the part of conservative Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: Thursday's story by Isabel Kershner, "Israelis Fear Fallout From Netanyahu’s Blunt Comments." But the underlying story fails to come close to making that case, quoting only a single opponent of Netanyahu -- the opposition leader in the Israeli Parliament.
The New York Times spelled out its habit of trying to wrong-foot Mitt Romney on Thursday's front page coverage of the violence in Egypt and Libya. The banner headline over Thursday's front page, "Attack On U.S. Site In Libya Kills Envoy; A Flash Point For Obama And Romney," ushered in coverage of the attacks on U.S. embassies in Libya and Egypt, with the assault in Libya resulting in four deaths, including the murder of Ambassador Christopher Stevens.
Times reporters Peter Baker and Ashley Parker made sure to follow the media template in characterizing Mitt Romney's criticism of the Obama administration as "clumsy and badly timed and Romney himself as "on the defensive" (twice!) in "A Challenger's Criticism Is Furiously Returned."
New York Times reporter Sabrina Tavernise pushed nanny-state initatives in "deeply conservative" Oklahoma City on the front of Tuesday's Science Times: "Door to Door in the Heartland, Preaching Healthy Living."
Like a missionary, Michael Bailey, a county health worker, spends his days driving his beat-up Nissan around this city’s poorest neighborhood, spreading the word in barber shops and convenience stores about the benefits of healthy diet and exercise. “Look at the kids,” he said. “Overweight, huffing and wheezing. Their lives will be miserable if this doesn’t change.”
New York Times campaign reporter Ashley Parker tried to put Mitt Romney on the back foot from the opening sentence of her article on his speech to the National Guard convention in Reno: "After Criticism of His Convention Speech, Romney Thanks Nation's Armed Forces."
Facing criticism for failing to mention American troops or the Afghan war effort in his convention speech, Mitt Romney spoke before National Guard members on Tuesday and called for robust support of the nation’s armed forces, saying that “the return of our troops cannot and must not be used as an excuse to hollow out our military through devastating defense budget cuts.”
On the 11th anniversary of 9-11, there was not a single mention of the attacks on the front page of the New York Times. In fact, there were just two local news stories related to the attacks in the entire Tuesday edition, one on delays in opening the site museum, the other on how some towns in New Jersey were scaling back annual memorial ceremonies. (The paper did put another threat to New York City on the front page: "New York Is Lagging as Seas And Risks, Rise, Critics Warn.")
The only other 9-11 coverage, as Mark Finkelstein noted on Newsbusters this morning, was "The Deafness Before the Storm," an op-ed by Kurt Eichenwald, a former Times reporter with a book out on the aftermath of the attacks ("500 Days"), blaming former President George W. Bush for ignoring warnings that Osama bin Laden was readying an attack on the United States.
James Taranto, who puts together the Wall Street Journal feature Best of the Web, was in excellent form Monday on the shifting standards of a certain economist turned partisan hack columnist who writes for the New York Times. When it comes to Republican presidents, four years is plenty of time to deal with inherited economic problems, but when it comes to Obama, "you've got to be kidding" that he should have been expected to fix the economy in just four years. Also on Monday, Krugman called Paul Ryan "an obvious shyster."
Taranato wrote snarkily that "the former Enron adviser had little patience for excuses" before quoting this lengthy excerpt from a Krugman column of October 24, 2003:
New York Times White House reporter Jackie Calmes filed from Charlotte on Saturday after the Democratic National Convention had passed, "Democrats Face a Juggling Act Over Jobs."
Surprisingly, Obama loyalist Calmes discerned political problems in the president's anti-business rhetoric. More predictably, she defended Obama's anti-entrepreneurship remark "you didn't build that," accusing the GOP of taking it out of context, even though the context does not save Obama from the charge of showing hostility to enterprise and individual initiative.
Uh-oh. Has the New York Times hired a new Public Editor that will spend her term criticizing the paper from the left? Less than a week after starting, Margaret Sullivan has already hailed the political wisdom of late left-wing author Gore Vidal while praising a Times "fact-checking" piece that excoriated Republicans. She has also expressed concern on the paper's lack of coverage of liberal fair-pay icon Lilly Ledbetter, while praising a writer for the left-wing online mag Salon. Finally, she discussed a complaint about Times's over-coverage of the latest lousy jobs report, inspired by a former Obama administration economist.
Sullivan, formerly editor for the Buffalo News, last week became the paper's fifth public editor, following Daniel Okrent (who began in October 2003), Byron Calame (May 23, 2005) Clark Hoyt (May 14, 2007), and Arthur Brisbane (August 2010). The Times's public editor position – an in-house newspaper critic who evaluates reader complaints and internal ethical issues – has its roots in the catastrophe of Jayson Blair, who published fake and plagiarized stories in the Times between October 2002 and April 2003.
New York Times campaign reporter Trip Gabriel joined vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan and his brother Tobin on a plane above the Rocky Mountains – and devoted a full story to probing Ryan's claims on climbing them, in Friday's "For Ryan, Perks Of Joining Ticket Can Be Weighty."
Gabriel rode with the paper's trendy passion for partisan-slanted "fact-checking," but at an even more petty level. After last week's controversy over Ryan's marathon time, Gabriel portrayed Ryan as on the defensive over another silly atheletic-related controversy, this time over how many mountain summits he had climbed, which Gabriel linked to Ryan's debunked claim to have run a super-fast marathon.
The photo caption: "Paul D. Ryan with his brother Tobin on Wednesday over the Rockies, where they sorted out the facts behind a mountainous claim."
A week after the comprehensively nitpicking and partisan "fact-checking" of Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney during the Republican National Convention, the New York Times didn't ignore Democratic misstatements made from the podium Wednesday night under the odd headline: "A Startling Truth Amid the Hyperbole," by Michael Cooper, Scott Shane, and Annie Lowery. The original online headline was sharper: "Democrats Stretch the Truth in Talk and Text."
But the paper made an exception for the rambling speech by Bill Clinton, who the Times actually credited with truth-telling in the headline and the text. (The paper's criticism-free front-page story on Clinton's "stirring plea" nominating Obama characterized it as "poignant evening" for the president.)
Oops. While celebrating in Thursday's New York Times the spotlight shown on gay issues during this week's Democratic National Convention, reporter Adam Nagourney (who is openly gay) wrote that gay Rep. Barney Frank spoke to the convention on Wednesday night. Nope: Frank was actually bumped when the program ran long and will deliver his speech tonight instead.
Gov. Chris Christie's keynote address at the Republican convention didn't warrant a full story last week in the New York Times. Yet when San Antonio mayor Julian Castro delivered the keynote to the Democratic convention, Jeff Zeleny offered a full story in Wednesday's edition, giving the Democrats space from which to blast Republicans: "New Democratic Voice Challenges Republican Vision." Castro was also spared the fact-checking the Times afflicted upon Republicans last week in Tampa.
(Manny Fernandez had previously polished the mayor's resume in a flattering preview of Castro's keynote: "The speculation lately about Mr. Castro’s future has reached fever pitch; there is talk of his running for governor, earning a place in Mr. Obama’s cabinet and even becoming the first Hispanic president. A Fox News Latino headline this summer read: 'Julián Castro: Son of Chicana Activist, Harvard Law Grad, Future U.S. President?'")
A Sunday front-page profile of Obama's top aide Valerie Jarrett by the New York Times's Jo Becker, "The Other Power in the West Wing," was not uniformly positive, but did provide useful cover for her boss by painting Jarrett as pushing the president toward "first principles," which just happen to include (left-wing) priorities like gay marriage and government-funded birth control. But don't call Barack Obama a liberal! (The paper has long insisted he's a moderate and pragmatist.)
Becker opened by reminding readers how "President Obama was in a bind" during last fall's controversy over requiring religious employers to cover birth control, then skillfully wrote around the word "liberal," which in a balanced new story would appear right below the word "counterweight" in the sentence below:
So much for budget and Medicare reform. On Saturday, New York Times congressional correspondent Jonathan Weisman sounded pretty confident that Paul Ryan's budget plan would sink Republican prospects in Congress in November, forwarding confident-sounding Democrats set to bash Ryan's proposals, even naming individual races, in "Ryan's Budget Proposal Is Pitting G.O.P. Troops Against Top of the Ticket." The text box: "A big deal for Romney-Ryan is shunned by the rank and file."