Clay Waters was director of Times Watch, a former project of the Media Research Center.
Latest from Clay Waters
The front page of the Times Sunday Business section is dominated by reporter Landon Thomas Jr.’s profile of conspiracy-mongering author John Perkins (“Confessions of an Economic Hit Man).”
In “Confessing to the Converted -- How a Book Tries to Tap Into Fears of ‘Corporatocracy,” Thomas begins:
Another double standard?
Last week, the New York Times haughtily washed its hands of the controversial Mohammad cartoons, saying it had no intention of printing them because it was the paper’s policy to avoid “gratuitous assaults on religious symbols.” (Though that didn't prevent the paper from running a photo of "The Virgin Mary" painting clotted with elephant dung). Besides, the editorial sniffed, “the cartoons are so easy to describe in words.”
In David Sanger’s “Political Memo” for the New York Times on Wednesday, “Handling of Accident Creates Tension Between White House Staffs,” Sanger predictably uses the incident to symbolize what he sees as the unprecedented secrecy of Vice President Cheney.
Former NY Times executive editor Joseph Lelyveld lovingly profiles “staunch conservative” Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska in a cover story for the Sunday magazine. If Hagel, a frequent critic of Bush and the Iraq war, does run for president in 2008, he may give media favorite Sen. John McCain a run for the cherished “maverick” label.
But the Mohammad cartoons are “gratuitous assaults on religious symbols” and won’t be run by the paper.
Just yesterday, the Times wrote, in an editorial on the Danish cartoons of Mohammad, that “The New York Times and much of the rest of the nation's news media have reported on the cartoons but refrained from showing them. That seems a reasonable choice for news organizations that usually refrain from gratuitous assaults on religious symbols, especially since the cartoons are so easy to describe in words.”
One would hope and expect a liberal newspaper like the New York Times to have the meager virtue of consistency on matters of freedom of expression, particularly in defense of another newspaper. As the world now knows, the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published twelve cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad last September, considered taboo (though not always recognized as such) by Muslims.
The New York Times' Neela Banerjee today pens “Evangelical Filmmakers Criticized for Hiring Gay Actor.”
“Christian ministers were enthusiastic at the early private screenings of ‘End of the Spear,’ made by Every Tribe Entertainment, an evangelical film company. But days before the film's premiere, a controversy erupted over the casting of a gay actor that has all but eclipsed the movie and revealed fault lines among evangelicals.”
Wednesday's New York Times gives anti-war Bush-hater Cindy Sheehan a platform at Bush’s sixth State of the Union address.
Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Anne Kornblut file “Antiwar Protester Arrested Before Speech, but Her Presence Looms Large,” accompanied in print by a large photo of Sheehan being escorted out of the House chamber.
New York Times "continuous news desk" reporter David Stout posted a story at 1:23 Tuesday afternoon marking the confirmation of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court by a Senate vote of 58-42.
The teaser sentence: “The vote is a triumph for President Bush and conservatives who have longed to tilt the balance of the court to the right.”
Stout’s text emphasizes Alito’s conservatism again and again:
New York Times reporter James Dao reports Friday on a study suggesting most of New Orleans’ displaced black population may not return, and dips briefly and non-critically into Mayor Ray Nagin’s Martin Luther King day remarks about the future racial makeup of New Orleans. He even leaves off the most controversial part -- Nagin’s incendiary preference for a “chocolate New Orleans.”
Eric Lipton’s New York Times article on the congressional investigation into the White House’s initial response to Hurricane Katrina suggests that President Bush was foolhardy in thinking New Orleans had dodged the Katrina bullet on Monday, August 29, a day before the levees broke and plunged the city underwater.
The New York Times makes a point to cast the Canadian election as a non-ideological victory for the Conservatives on Wednesday. Canada-based reporter Clifford Krauss marks the country’s groundbreaking election of a Conservative government over a headline seemingly meant to reassure the Times’ timorous liberal readership: “Canada’s Shift: To the Right, Gently – Harper Defeated Liberals More Over Scandals Than Policies.”
David Boaz of the libertarian Cato Institute spotted an undeniable pattern of media unease in the network and newspaper coverage of the nomination of conservative Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, compared to how those same outlets treated Bill Clinton's 1993 nomination of liberal ACLU lawyer Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Cato's executive vice president asked rhetorically, in an article last Thursday for Reason Magazine:
The Times again looks for holes in the strong U.S. economy, this time on the front page of Sunday’s special Job Market section, in a report by Eduardo Porter, “Pockets of Concern Slow a Strong U.S. Economy.” The caption to an accompanying chart emphasizes “A Weak Jobs Recovery.”
Times readers may find the article’s tone familiar. Here’s Porter from Sunday:
The NYT's chief political reporter Adam Nagourney was ultra-sensitive to any sign of harsh Republican rhetoric during the 2004 campaign, and he’s no less raw about it a year later, using strong terms to describe Karl Rove’s speech to the Republican National Committee in a front-page story Monday. But what about Howard Dean calling Rove "unpatriotic"?
No liberal conventional wisdom here! The back page of Sunday’s special Academy Awards section lists the “ideal slate of Oscar candidates” from the top three movie critics at the Times, Manohla Dargis, A.O. Scott and Stephen Holden, each of whom have revealed liberal sympathies in their film critiques.