"Mr. Boehner's ties to lobbyists seem especially deep," New York Times reporter Eric Lipton wrote of the House Republican Leader yesterday. Well, they're not, and therein lies the problem: Lipton apparently premised his article not on facts and data, but on what he thought seemed reasonable.
Had Lipton stooped to investigate some of the serious claims he was making, he might have discovered that Nancy Pelosi has raised almost twice as much money from lobbyists this cycle as has Boehner. He might also have revealed that Sens. Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer, and Blanche Lincoln all raised more money from lobbyists this cycle as Boehner has since 1999.
Washington Examiner columnist Tim Carney, who did the legwork on these numbers, also noted that Boehner's name does not appear on the Center for Responsive Politics's list of the top 20 recipients of lobbyist cash. Eighteen House Democrats have received more such money than Boehner has this cycle.
"Sure, Boehner is too close too lobbyists," Carney writes, "but the money trail says he isn't closer than Nancy Pelosi."
So why didn't this (quite obvious) fact make it into Lipton's Sunday article? It doesn't fit the narrative. As I wrote yesterday, the Times has spent the past two years playing up GOP connections to lobbyists, while all but ignoring prominent Democrats's blatant connections to powerful industry groups and their paid representatives.
The Times's omissions are all the more shady given the timing of Lipton's piece - it came mere days after the Democratic attack machine set its sights on Boehner. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs heavily promoted the piece on the White House press office's Twitter feed. This week, the DNC is slated to run a series of television ads targeting Boehner's lobbyist ties.
Hypocrisy in the political realm is nothing shocking. Politicians are not "objective," and they don't claim to be. But the New York Times seems to be throwing its weight, and its self-proclaimed mantle of non-partisanship behind a political attack ground in total hypocrisy.
Perhaps the Gray Lady should adopt a strict policy of reporting what is, not what "seems" to be. Isn't that the purpose of the news media?