Critics Left and Right Agree: NYTimes Goofed by Not Running McCain Op-ed

The Columbia Journalism Review, not previously known as a Republican stronghold, sees liberal bias in the Times's rejection of an op-ed by John McCain supporting the war, a week after the paper ran an anti-war op-ed by his Democratic opponent, Barack Obama.

CJR contributor Lester Feder wrote of Deputy Editorial Page Editor David Shipley's rejection:

McCain partisans have decried the Times's decision -- and, if you read the two columns side by side, Shipley's justification does seem rather thin....Instead of making a statement about its judgment of McCain's leadership -- a judgment that it could defend on principle -- the Times has only reinforced its reputation on the right as a biased liberal broadsheet.

It is unclear what detailed "plans" sounded new to the Times when it accepted Barack Obama's July 14th submission.

CJR didn't find the explanation from Shipley (a speechwriter for President Clinton in the mid-90s, BTW) very convincing:

But in his email to the McCain campaign, Shipley was specific about what "details" he expected from the Arizona senator:

"[T]he article would have to articulate, in concrete terms, how Senator McCain defines victory in Iraq. It would also have to lay out a clear plan for achieving victory -- with troops levels, timetables and measures for compelling the Iraqis to cooperate. And it would need to describe the senator's Afghanistan strategy, spelling out how it meshes with his Iraq plan."

As Feder correctly pointed out:

The whole point of McCain's rejected op-ed, published today in the New York Post, is that he doesn't think it is wise to offer the kind of Iraq statement that would satisfy the Times. McCain declares that "any draw-downs must be based on a realistic assessment of conditions on the ground -- not on an artificial timetable crafted for domestic political reasons. This is the crux of my disagreement with Sen. Obama."

He concluded that the Times's "tenuous arguments about newsworthiness" served "only to feed the paper's reputation as a vehicle for thinly veiled liberal bias."

The New York Post on Tuesday ran the McCain op-ed rejected by the Times, and editorialized that the "paper of record" had failed its responsibility to its readership:

...on an issue as central to the presidential race -- and as critical to America's War on Terror -- as this, you'd think "the paper of record" would let each side make its case. Ha! The irony, of course, is that millions of Americans will now see McCain's piece, anyway. And the only party damaged in the process is... the Times. Sounds about right to us.

Iraq War on Terrorism Media Bias Debate 2008 Presidential Double Standards Bias by Omission New York Times David Shipley
Clay Waters's picture