On the Friday edition of his Fox News show Tucker Carlson Tonight, the host interviewed New York Times Liz Spayd and challenged her on the anti-Trump bias of the paper.
Spayd, the paper’s recently appointed ombudsman (what the NYT calls a Public Editor) took her criticism of the Times’ journalism to what many of her colleagues see as enemy territory. She didn’t agree whole-heartedly with Carlson’s anti-Times push, but with some hesitations and caveats did criticize the irresponsible tweets of some of the paper’s supposedly objective political reporters (“It’s outrageous”) and emphasized that “if you sign up to be a journalist than that’s what you ought to be.”
Carlson challenged her with the paper’s first front-page banner headline after Trump's election victory was confirmed, likening it to a description of a terminal cancer diagnosis: “Democrats, Students and Foreign Allies Face the Reality of a Trump Presidency” (also tackled by Newsbusters).
Spayd responded: “I think that that kind of a headline is exactly what concerns me, which is that I don’t consider it advocacy, but I consider it almost an unrecognized point of view that the Times has, that comes from being in New York, being in you know in a certain circle, and seeing the world a certain way, not being in touch with people who don’t live like them or don’t live in cities and who were the ones who elected Donald Trump for the presidency. They’re just out of touch with that....what I was most surprised by was how many liberal readers who I called who were angry at the New York Times.”
Spayd also defended the majority of her journalistic colleagues: “I see the vast majority of journalists who walk in that door everyday who work hard to have high journalistic standards, the kind that I agree with. But I do agree with you that especially when it comes to political coverage that the guns can get pointed too much in one direction....”
Carlson: “Now when you say that the journalists who walk in the front door of the Times building are doing their best to be fair, I would believe you, except I know for a fact that’s not true, because I read their Twitter feeds, and I want to give you some examples. Now these are not opinion columnists, these are not Gail Collins’ Twitter feeds....”
Carlson then read out four tweets from Times reporters, including this gem from reporter Liam Stack (which may have been a retweet of this Atlantic article): “The electoral college was meant to stop men like Trump from taking office.”
Spayd: “Yeah. I think it’s outrageous. I think that that should not be. They shouldn’t be tweeted and they shouldn’t -- and it does concern me that that would be...if you sign up to be a journalist than that’s what you ought to be.”
Spayd revealed whose opinion truly concerns the Times brass -- the good opinion of liberals: “....I think there’s a lot of angst and concern at Big Media organizations about whethere we’re going to get blamed by the left by, you know, the half of America that did not vote for Trump, for putting Trump in office. And so I do think that you see a lot of that sentiment out there.”
Carlson: “Yes. But is there concern, as much concern about non-left readers like me--”
Spayd: “No, I don’t think there is.”
Carlson wondered why reporters weren’t being fired for such behavior.
Spayd: “I don’t know. I don’t know that any of those people should be fired. But I do think that when people go over the line like that, and I think some of those are over the line, that that there ought to be some kind of a consequence for that....”
Spayd, who takes accusations of bias more seriously than her Public Editor predecessors, has previously outlined how the paper blew its pre-election coverage and was thus left in shock at Donald Trump's victory. On November 20 she stressed that even liberal voters “...more balanced coverage. Not an echo chamber of liberal intellectualism, but an honest reflection of reality."