NY Times: No Political Lean at The Nation; Weekly Standard Was All Kinds of ‘Conservative’

April 10th, 2019 10:54 PM

It was a throwback to the bad old days of laughably obvious labeling bias at The New York Times, when the adjective “conservative” would pop up more than the conjunction “and” in some stories. Reporter Tiffany Hsu Stark demonstrated the other end of that stark double standard on Tuesday, with the news that “Nation Editor To Step Down But Stay On As Publisher.

Somehow, Hsu’s piece contained not a single ideological label to identify the hard-left magazine that has dallied for decades with defending totalitarians on the left. It was up to The Nation’s retiring editor herself, Katrina vanden Heuvel herself to describe the magazine as “a place of progressive ideals and ideas.” Here was Hsu:

The publication, based in New York, relies heavily on donations and on revenue generated by an events business that includes Nation Cruises, which give devoted readers a chance to hobnob with the magazine’s contributors, including the former editor and publisher Victor Navasky....

Be still my heart.

Hsu had a chance to label the Institute for Policy Studies hard-left, but failed:

Ms. vanden Heuvel also has a weekly column for The Washington Post, a board seat at the Institute for Policy Studies and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations think tank. Her mother, Jean Stein, was an heiress who ran the literary journal Grand Street; her father, William vanden Heuvel, was a diplomat and lawyer who worked with Robert F. Kennedy. Her husband, Stephen F. Cohen, a regular contributor to The Nation, is a professor of Russian studies.

While ignoring the pro-Communist takes from the magazine, Hsu let vanden Heuvel brag about the magazine’s anti-Iraq War stand:

Ms. vanden Heuvel said she was most proud of the magazine for sticking to its convictions, including in its stance against the war in Iraq. “At the time, it was a lonely position,” she said.

Yet The Weekly Standard, a right-leaning big-government conservative (eventually anti-Trump) publication far closer to the mainstream of American politics, was larded with labels in two Times articles from December 2018 on the Standard’s sudden and controversial shutdown.

Both pieces were crammed with labels identifying the magazine as “conservative” or “neoconservative,” and both were written or cowritten by media reporter Jim Rutenberg, who teamed with Jonathan Mahler recently for an atrocious hit piece on Fox News.

First up, “A Conservative Magazine May Pay a Price for Being Unfriendly to Trump.” The label also made the photo caption (“The future of the conservative publication is uncertain”) and the second line:

The Weekly Standard didn’t go along, and now its future is in danger.

Other conservative magazines, websites and news empires have thrived since President Trump took office by cheering him on or, at least, playing down his faults.

A follow-up story confirming the magazine’s shuttering was even more flowery with the labels: “The Weekly Standard,  Pugnacious to the End, Will Cease Publication”:

The Weekly Standard, a primary voice of conservative Washington that found itself out of step with the Trumpward turn in the Republican Party, is ceasing publication after 23 years, its owners announced on Friday.

Michael Grynbaum and Rutenberg also eagerly tossed in all sorts of variants and off-shoots, none intended to be flattering (click “expand”):

The attendee said it remained the overwhelming view of The Standard’s staff and leadership that Mr. Anschutz did not, in the end, want to own the leading Trump-skeptical publication in conservative media.

The acrimonious end was perhaps in keeping with a publication that was proudly heterodox from the start, eager to buck the prevailing values of conservative dogma and forge its own provocative point of view.

Started by Mr. Podhoretz and William Kristol, both scions of establishment conservative figures, The Weekly Standard offered an alternative to the National Review-led hegemony of right-wing publications. (The third founder, Fred Barnes, remains as executive editor; Rupert Murdoch initially provided financing.)

It grew into the dominant organ of neoconservatism and a leading voice in favor of intervention in Iraq, helping to define politics in the George W. Bush era. Among its star alumni were Tucker Carlson, Matt Labash and David Brooks.