Clay Waters was director of Times Watch, a former project of the Media Research Center.
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Friday's off-lead New York Times story by Mark Landler and Jeff Zeleny portrayed a triumphant Obama and his likely November opponent Mitt Romney on the defensive after Obama's announcement that he now supports gay marriage: "Obama Campaign Pushes the Issue Of Gay Marriage – Romney Avoids Subject – Biden Said to Apologize Over Comment That Hastened Action."
As the president traveled to the West Coast on Thursday, where in Seattle he said Americans should have the chance to succeed “no matter who you love,” his presumptive challenger, Mitt Romney, and Republican leaders in Congress, tried, with limited success, to steer the focus of the presidential campaign back to the nation’s sluggish economy.
Now here's a surprise. The lead local section story of the Times on Wednesday was Joseph Berger's profile of the embrace by the city's Soviet immigrants of the Republican Party, in particular Ronald Reagan's anti-communism: "Among City's Soviet Immigrants, An Affinity for Republicans."
To many Russian and Ukrainian immigrants, the cornucopia in the shops along Brighton Beach Avenue -- pyramids of oranges, heaps of Kirby cucumbers, bushels of tomatoes with their vines still attached and a variety of fish, sausages and pastries -- seems like an exuberant rebuke of the meager produce that was available to them when they lived in the Soviet Union.
New York Times reporter Adam Nagourney departed from his L.A.-beat to comment on Obama's announcement yesterday in support of gay marriage, and didn't hedge on its "historic significance." The president's statement, delivered to ABC reporter Robin Roberts, predictably led Thursday's edition, and Nagourney's "news analysis" also made the front: "A Watershed Move, Both Risky and Inevitable."
President Obama’s endorsement of gay marriage on Wednesday was by any measure a watershed. A sitting United States president took sides in what many people consider the last civil rights movement, providing the most powerful evidence to date of how rapidly views are moving on an issue that was politically toxic just five years ago.
New York Times reporter Monica Davey was in Indianapolis to cover the Tea Party toppling of the moderate, establishment Republican Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana: "G.O.P. Voters Topple Lugar After 6 Terms." Davey barely concealed her regretful tone:
Richard G. Lugar, one of the Senate’s longest-serving members, a collegial moderate who personified a gentler political era, was turned out of office on Tuesday, ending a career that had spanned the terms of half a dozen presidents.
New York Times "global health correspondent" Donald McNeil Jr. made a rare trip to Cuba and filed a report praising the Communist island's handling of the AIDS epidemic for Tuesday's "A Regime's Tight Grip on AIDS – In Cuba, rigorous testing, education, and free condoms help keep the epidemic in check." Conspiciously absent from that headline, especially for a newspaper that prides itself on defending civil liberties, were the involuntary quarantines of AIDS patients that took place in Cuba until 1993.
McNeil also downplayed concerns about the sanitarium prisons for AIDS patients ("life inside was not brutal"), a policy the Times would no doubt find dangerous and repellent if done in America. He also praised Cuba's "universal health care" and free condoms and credited "socialism" for Cuba's success.
New York Times Public Editor Arthur Brisbane got in a little food fight with Ariel Kaminer, the Ethicist columnist for the paper's Sunday Magazine, over Kaminer's much-hyped essay contest in which readers were invited to defend the unenlightened, outdated, just plain bizarre practice of...eating meat?
Populist impatience with his paper's righteous liberal fussiness seeped out of Brisbane's copy: "The case for eating meat, as presented in The Times, is a pretty narrow one. If you can crawl through the eye of the needle with your in vitro burger in hand, you may feel free to chow down in good conscience." Proving his point, the winner of the popular vote was an essay from the founder of PETA, a vegetarian.
New York Times political profile reporter Mark Leibovich's front-page Biden profile on Tuesday , "For a Blunt Biden, an Uneasy Supporting Role," was not as uncritical as his previous profiles of Democratic politicians. But he certainly found a novel angle on the garrulous veep:
In her Saturday column for the New York Times, Gail Collins, who has made a smug little cottage industry out of her obsession (a few dozen column mentions) with Mitt Romney securing the family dog in a hutch on the roof of his car on a family vacation over 20 years ago, finally, if reluctantly, referenced the fact that Obama ate dog as a boy in Indonesia. Romney's story was much worse, she insisted, in "Obama's Wonderful Town."
Collins, the paper's former editorial page editor, also fawned over revelations in an upcoming biography of Obama by David Maraniss excerpted in Vanity Fair.
Bill Keller, former executive editor of the New York Times, devoted his latest Sunday Review column on the evil that is the Rupert Murdoch-owned Fox News: "Murdoch’s Pride Is America’s Poison."
(Times Watch has documented the long anti-Fox, anti-Murdoch obsession of both Keller and Howell Raines, another former executive editor, which recently culminated in the paper's heavy front-page coverage of Murdoch's travails in Britain.)
Linda Greenhouse, former Supreme Court reporter for the Times, got soppy in defense of Arizona's illegal immigrants in "The Lower Floor" her latest biweekly column posted Wednesday evening. Apparently Supreme Court justices were remiss last week when they focused on arguing the law, as opposed to reciting Robert Frost and giving in to sympathetic anecdotes about "the simply humanity" of illegals (or, in Greenhouse's politically correct terminology, "undocumented residents").
(Greenhouse has famously argued that Supreme Court's Obama-care opponents have no case, even after Obama-care was annihilated in oral argument before the justices.)
Returning to form, the last two New York Times updates from the Greensboro, N.C. trial of two-time Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, charged with misusing campaign money to cover up an affair, contain zero mentions of Edwards's Democratic affiliation. The word doesn't even appear in either story.
On Thursday, Lizette Alvarez covered the testimony from Elizabeth Christina Reynolds, who was research director for Edwards during what the Times referred to only as his "2008 presidential campaign." As if the former Democratic senator wasn't running for president as a Democrat.
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman is doing a television tour for his book "End This Depression Now!" Charlie Rose interviewed him twice, once on CBS This Morning Monday, then that night for the full hour of Rose's PBS talk show. Krugman appeared on Bloomberg TV Tuesday debating Ron Paul, and the friendlier confines of MSNBC's Rachel Maddow show that night.
Krugman's economic recovery plan, no surprise, involves lots of government jobs, a smear of Rep. Paul Ryan's budget, and a cavalier attitude toward America's massive debt load: "Britain had debt that was well over 100% of for most of the 20th century. It's not a crisis level problem....you can live with 100% for decades on end." On Rachel Maddow he said Wall Street guys have "destroyed the world."
There's a clear Rupert Murdoch obsession within the headquarters of the New York Times. In anticipation of a report from the British government, the Times in the last week has gone into overdrive with front-page stories attacking the international media mogul and chief executive of News Corporation, which oversees conservative-leaning media organs and is a direct Times competitor in New York with the Wall Street Journal and New York Post.
The "damning report" was featured on Wednesday's front page: "Panel in Hacking Case Finds Murdoch Unfit as News Titan." It marks the fourth time in eight days that the Times has played the unfolding media and political scandal on the front page. In contrast, the Washington Post played today's news in the Style section.
The April 22 New York Times lead story by investigative reporter David Barstow, using internal company documents to ouline how the retailer Wal-Mart bribed Mexican officials to facilitate their way into the country, had reverberations in the business and political worlds, and also managed to hurt Wal-Mart's stock price, which the paper eagerly noted the next day on the front of the Business section.
The attack is still going strong. The front of Tuesday's Business section featured investigative reporter Eric Lichtblau's "Wal-Mart's Good-Citizen Efforts Face a Test" (which the Times seems to think is synonymous with "cozying up to Democrats.") He even went after Wal-Mart's dealings with the American Legislative Exchange Council in order to make an extremely tenuous linkage of Wal-Mart to the Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida.
The New York Times's confessed climate activist (and journalist) Justin Gillis made Tuesday's front page with a 2,500-word story on what he called the last line of defense for climate change skeptics: "Clouds' Effect on Climate Change Is Last Bastion for Dissenters."
Gillis, a true believer, proudly told the Columbia Journalism Review in April that it was a "scandal" the media was failing to connect the dots between "weird weather" events and permanent climate change, and compared climate-change skeptics to people who don't believe in evolution.
New York Times campaign reporter Ashley Parker looks back semi-fondly at Mitt Romney's apparently successful run for the Republican nomination in her Sunday "news analysis," "A Romney Rambler Looks Back."
The people who said that this race was boring and that it couldn’t possibly compete with the excitement and stature of 2008 may yet be right. But they, too, will be back out on the trail. After all, a predictable, even-keeled and sometimes awkward nominee is still far more interesting than a predictable, even-keeled and sometimes awkward politician in a field of nearly a dozen.
And, frankly, most of us who have been there since the beginning find the rap on Mr. Romney that he’s dull and vanilla a little unfair. Sure, it can be monotonous to listen to the same measured stump speech again and again, but Mr. Romney’s usual adherence to the script has given us a newfound appreciation for those little quirks and moments when he blips off message.
New York Times reporter Trip Gabriel is still searching out electoral problems for Republicans among Hispanics: "Crucial to Romney, Florida’s Latino Voters Are Wary of Him, Too."
If Mitt Romney is to overcome his problem with Hispanic voters, he is going to have to start by changing a lot of minds in central Florida.
A key battleground in a vital swing state, the region is home to growing numbers of non-Cuban Hispanics who have always been viewed by Republicans as open to their economic and social views but reluctant to back the party in part because of its position on illegal immigration. With Mr. Romney having taken hawkish stances on immigration during the primary season, he and his campaign are now trying to shift the debate to what they feel will be friendlier terrain -- jobs.
Under the stewardship of Andrew Rosenthal (infamous for accusing House Speaker John Boehner of racism for asking President Obama to delay a speech to Congress for a day) the New York Times's Sunday Review section is devolving into a hard-left opinion page.
Last week's Sunday Review fully fulfilled its lefty promise, aided by Times columnists Nicholas Kristof and Maureen Dowd, who chose the same topic: Brave liberal nuns versus and out of touch conservative Catholic hierarchy. Kristof's "We Are All Nuns" and Maureen Dowd's particularly overwrought "Bishops Play Church Queens as Pawns." Dowd was ably dissected by Tim Graham here at NewsBusters: "She thinks that by insisting the nuns and sisters follow the historic doctrines of the church, the church is 'losing its soul.' To insist on orthodoxy is putting the nuns through an Inquisition – with Dowd wanting the reader to imagine nuns in thumbscrews or on a rack."
The world (well, TimesWatch) was eagerly awaiting Gail Collins's return from vacation to see if the New York Times columnist would continue to obsess over Mitt Romney's dog Seamus, strapped in a crate on the top of a station wagon on a long-ago family vacation, in the aftermath of revelations that Obama ate dog as a child in Indonesia.
Not only did Collins shamelessly bring it up again, as she has a few dozen times in her column since 2007, but she led with her chin, asking the incredibly benighted question: "Did you ever notice how many of the Republican candidates seemed to have animal issues?" before the inevitable segue to Seamus, in Thursday's "The End of Newt."
The presidential campaign has just begun in earnest, but New York Times reporter Michael Barbaro already thinks the Mitt Romney campaign is getting too nasty. Barbaro's previous reporting doesn't betray much concern for Republican electoral prospects, but he was very concerned with the tone of the Romney campaign in Thursday's story.
(By contrast, the Times doesn't seem to mind Obama's concerted campaign to paint Mitt Romney as what the Times's own Helene Cooper helpfully termed "a right-wing extremist.")