One of the hotter articles on the Washington Post website on Sunday raised serious questions about a Post legend: Bob Woodward. A new book from journalist Barbara Feinman Todd chronicles her career in aiding three Post "icons" as well as Hillary Rodham Clinton. She says Woodward ruined her book deal with Hillary by breaking a promise to her.
Clark Hoyt filed his last column as the New York Times's Public Editor: "A Final Report From Internal Affairs," praising the cooperation of Times reporters and editors during his term and fending off accusations that the paper is a "liberal rag." Hoyt admitted the editorial page and columnists are liberal and that the paper "shares the prevailing sensibilities of the city and region where it is published," but denied the Times was "really the Fox News of the left," citing scandalous scoops that hurt prominent Northeastern Democrats like New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer.
Hoyt was the paper's third public editor in an experiment that had its roots in the Jayson Blair catastrophe.
In retrospect, the paper's first ombudsman, Daniel Okrent, was probably the toughest critic of the paper's reporting. Okrent famously asked the rhetorical question in a July 2004 column: "Is the Times a liberal newspaper? Of course it is."
And you thought a couple of plucky young conservative activists with a camera brought down ACORN. Nope. It's the arch-conservative New York Times that did in the noble community organizing group, or so says The Huffington Post in "Why ACORN Fell: The Times, Lies, and Videotape."
"Because of its pivotal role in bringing down ACORN," Peter Drier and John Atlas wrote in their March 24 editorial, "the Times owes the group an apology and the public a commitment to assign an experienced journalist to cover the complex world of community organizing, whose diverse practitioners mobilize poor and middle class people to win a voice in local, state, and national politics."
The New York Times, the two maintained, were complicit in ACORN's "framing."
The authors took particular issue with the following excerpt from Clark Hoyt's March 21 article: "It remains a fascinating story. To conservatives, Acorn is virtually a criminal organization that was guilty of extensive voter registration fraud in 2008. To its supporters, Acorn is a community service organization that has helped millions of disadvantaged Americans by organizing to confront powerful institutions like banks and developers."
New York Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt took on the controversy over the "ClimateGate" emails leaked from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia in Britain: "Stolen E-Mail, Stoking the Climate Debate." The text box: "Some say The Times has played down an important story."
Predictably, Hoyt did not agree. Though his Sunday Week in Review column gave critics room to make points, the paper's public editor readily signed on to the possibly corrupted conventional wisdom that the science of global warming is settled and that the emails showing sciences behaving badly, while "a story," is not a "three-alarm story."
Never mind that the United Nations relied heavily on CRU's dubious, discredited data, most infamously the famous "hockey stick" graph showing drastically rising modern-day temperatures, to back up its alarmist claims about the dangers of human-caused climate change. Hoyt also ignored evidence that the scientists destroyed their raw data and were actively working to block Freedom of Information requests.
New York Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt's latest column tackles the ACORN scandal -- or as Times readers know it: "What ACORN scandal?"
In "Tuning In Too Late," Hoyt criticized the Times for its lack of coverage of the juicy ACORN imbroglio, an omission that has prodded the paper into creating a new semi-position. It's assigned an editor to monitor opinion media and catch stories like this earlier (apparently not a single television at Times headquarters is tuned to Fox News, where they could have caught it quite easily.)
Hoyt summarized the video sting in which ACORN workers at several branches across the country were captured giving advice on child sex trafficking and tax evasion to a gaudy pimp and a hot-pants prostitute (actually conservative activists James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles). The tapes, whose gradual release were masterfully mediated by Andrew Brietbart at his new website BigGovernment.com, resulted in ACORN being cut off from federal funding and losing its ties to the Census Bureau and IRS. Yet the Times took little interest in the scandal and the consequences:
But for days, as more videos were posted and government authorities rushed to distance themselves from Acorn, The Times stood still. Its slow reflexes -- closely following its slow response to a controversy that forced the resignation of Van Jones, a White House adviser -- suggested that it has trouble dealing with stories arising from the polemical world of talk radio, cable television and partisan blogs.
Some stories, lacking facts, never catch fire. But others do, and a newspaper like The Times needs to be alert to them or wind up looking clueless or, worse, partisan itself.
This is quite misleading. The Times already monitors opinion media for story tips. It's just that they only monitor the left side of the blogosphere. Lachlan Markay provided some stark examples at NewsBusters on Sunday:
The New York Times announced today that it would appoint an editor to monitor 'opinion media'. In an attempt to respond to criticism that it has been too slow to pick up on stories first reported by conservative blogs and talk show hosts, the Times acknowledged poor coverage, but denied a political agenda.
The self-proclaimed 'paper of record' was extremely slow in picking up on two recent stories. The first, the 'trutherism' of former White House Green Jobs Czar Van Jones, was initially reported by Pajamas Media, and later by Glenn Beck on his Fox News talk show. The Times did not cover the story until after Jones had resigned.
Later, the Times neglected to report on the undercover sting operation that exposed ACORN for offering assistance in a bogus child prostitution ring. The Times reported on Congress's votes to de-fund ACORN, but neglected to mention the sting operation that inspired the votes.
Acknowledging what the blogosphere has known for weeks, the New York Times finally went on record to admit that just before last Election Day it killed a politically sensitive news story involving corruption allegations that might have made the Obama campaign look bad.
Yesterday, the Public Editor of the New York Times, Clark Hoyt defended his coverage of Israel's war against Hamas. Unsurprisingly, he took the "since both sides criticize us we must be correct" approach. Surprisingly, his attempt, "Standing between Enemies," was marred by a particularly stupid mistake.
In order to show that the Times shows diligence in ferreting out fake news, Hoyt wrote:
Witty and his colleagues are frustrated because Israel has barred journalists from entering Gaza, and although The Times has two photographers in the region ready to go, it must rely on pictures taken by Palestinian photographers. "When I can't have my own person there, I have to question every picture that comes in -- to an obsessive degree," he said. Last summer, Witty unmasked as a fake a photo of an Iranian missile test that ran on many other front pages.
In his weekly column, New York Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt ludicrously argued that Barack Obama has gotten tougher coverage since January 2007 (when Obama entered the race) than John McCain:
By my count, The Times has published more tough articles on Obama, 20, than on McCain, 13, since the beginning of last year.
The Times has never filed any story targeting Obama that remotely approaches the mendacity of its February 21 hit piece alleging a McCain affair with a telecommunications lobbyist (Hoyt himself at the time said the Times was wrong to run the affair allegations). Also, Hoyt's narrow definition of bias helpfully eliminates stories with asides about McCain's temper, or constant mentions of McCain's "gaffes."
New York Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt evaluated two tough political stories in the Sunday Week in Review, one anti-McCain, the other anti-Palin. While he found the McCain piece fair, he faulted the anti-Palin piece.
In both cases, Times reporters and editors rallied to the defense of the pieces, finding McCain guilty of "demonstrable falsehoods" and Palin of "sometimes petty, peremptory" political leadership in Alaska.
When a newspaper like The Times takes a tough, critical look at a candidate in this year's presidential election, it has to give readers enough solid evidence to make up their own minds about whether it is being accurate and fair. Consider two front-page articles last weekend: I think one delivered the goods and one fell short.
Astounding hypocrisy alert!
Although the New York Times published a lengthy front page hit piece in February alleging without any proof that John McCain had an affair with a lobbyist eight years ago, it is now claiming that it chose not to report on the John Edwards love child scandal because it's “classically not a Times-like story.”
I guess sex scandals are only "Times-like" when they're about Republicans.
“Mainstream media coverage of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright has drawn a round of barking from some of their own in-house watchdogs,” FNC's Brit Hume noted in his Monday night “Grapevine” segment. Hume started by highlighting how PBS ombudsman Michael Getler criticized the soft approach of Bill Moyers in his interview with Wright: “Inflammatory, and inaccurate, statements that Moyers himself laid out at the top of the program went largely unchallenged” and “there were not enough questions asked and some that were asked came across as too reserved and too soft.”
Hume next turned to New York Times public editor Clark Hoyt's disappointment in the paper for putting a review of Wright's performance in appearances ahead of checking what Wright contended against the reality, scolding his employer: “It was a performance strangely lacking in energy at a potential turning point in the election.”