The New York Times's embrace of Barack Obama's candidacy, and its fervent defense of him against John McCain's "racist" and unfair attacks, made 2008 a particularly bias-packed year for the paper. During the 2008 campaign Times bias often came with a smile, instead of a snarl, with the Times and the rest of the mainstream media having fallen hard for Obama's "historic" candidacy (jilting its previous love, Hillary Clinton). The Times even praised the moderate maverick McCain for a while -- until he clinched the Republican nomination and became the only thing in the way of a groundbreaking victory for either a liberal woman (Clinton) or a liberal African-American (Obama).
Below are the favorite quotes from Times Watch's five Times-dissecting judges. You can read all of the worst quotes of Campaign 2008 at Times Watch.
"On Thursday evening in a glittering Berlin, cheered by as many as 200,000 people, Mr. Obama delivered a tone poem to American and European ideals and shared history. In contrast, just before he spoke, Mr. McCain, was sitting in Schmidt's Sausage Haus und Restaurant in Columbus, Ohio, having a bratwurst, and saying grumpily that he would prefer to speak to Germans when he is president, not before." -- Steven Erlanger in a July 26 filing from Paris while covering Barack Obama's world tour.
William McGowan, author of the forthcoming "Gray Lady Down: How the New York Times Broke Faith With America" (Encounter), had two favorites: political editor Richard Stevenson's online chat defending the media from charges of bias, and this Timothy Egan posting:
"It is only when the Irish forget about the underdog, as the keeper of the graves said, that they stray. In the 1930s, there was Father Charles Coughlin, a virulent anti-Semite who had a radio audience larger than that of Rush Limbaugh's today. He used his microphone for hate. In the 1950s, another man with a link to Ireland, Senator Joseph McCarthy, twined ignorance and fear to make a mockery of congressional inquiry. Today, there are television bullies with Irish surnames on Fox, backing more tax cuts for hedge fund managers, and doing everything they can to keep the poorest of Americans from getting health care." -- From former reporter Timothy Egan's March 12 posting on his "Outposts" blog at nytimes.com.
Paul Miller, owner and publisher of the Carmel (Ca.) Pine Cone, cast his vote for Times magazine reporter Deborah Solomon's exchange with Texas oil man T. Boone Pickens on the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth:
Times reporter Deborah Solomon: "You helped re-elect Bush in '04 when you gave $3 million to the Swift Boat campaign to discredit John Kerry's Vietnam service. Do you regret your involvement?"
T. Boone Pickens: "Why would I?"
Solomon: "Because it's such an ugly chapter in American political history."
Pickens: "Oh, I see. Well, it was true. Everything that went into those ads was the truth."
Solomon: "Really? I thought it was all invented."
Pickens: "I never did anything dishonest." -- Exchange from the August 3 Q&A page of the New York Times Magazine.
Michael Rubin, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute chose Matt Bai's bizarre explanation (in the category "Mauling McCain, Hating Palin") why former POW John McCain had not learned the correct liberal lessons from Vietnam:
"There is a feeling among some of McCain's fellow veterans that his break with them on Iraq can be traced, at least partly, to his markedly different experience in Vietnam. McCain's comrades in the Senate will not talk about this publicly. They are wary of seeming to denigrate McCain's service, marked by his legendary endurance in a Hanoi prison camp, when in fact they remain, to this day, in awe of it. And yet in private discussions with friends and colleagues, some of them have pointed out that McCain, who was shot down and captured in 1967, spent the worst and most costly years of the war sealed away, both from the rice paddies of Indochina and from the outside world. During those years, McCain did not share the disillusioning and morally jarring experiences of soldiers like Kerry, Webb and Hagel, who found themselves unable to recognize their enemy in the confusion of the jungle; he never underwent the conversion that caused Kerry, for one, to toss away some of his war decorations during a protest at the Capitol. Whatever anger McCain felt remained focused on his captors, not on his own superiors back in Washington." -- Contributing writer Matt Bai in his cover story for the May 18 New York Times Magazine.