New York Times media reporter Brian Stelter marked the 15th anniversary of Fox News on the front of Monday’s Business section with a profile of host Sean Hannity, whose program has been a channel mainstay from the beginning: “Victory Lap for Fox and Hannity.”
Stelter wasn’t hostile, but did use something a guest said on Hannity’s show to accuse Hannity of instigating “inflammatory rhetoric.” But another Stelter story in the same section failed to criticize a left-wing figure, Tavis Smiley, who engages in truly inflammatory rhetoric from a secure public perch at PBS.
Not content with its front-page drumbeat of stories related to the “News of the World” hacking scandal, the New York Times keeps uncovering multiple angles of attack against Rupert Murdoch’s media empire News Corp.
Media reporter Brian Stelter made the front of Wednesday’s Business Day by relaying threats from the hard left – or rather “progressive activists and public interest groups” – that want to break up Murdoch’s right-leaning stable of newspapers and networks: “Scandal Stirs U.S. Debate On Big Media.”
“Page One,” a new documentary about a year in the life of the New York Times directed by Andrew Rossi, is showing at the sleek new Lincoln Center theatre on Manhattan’s Upper West Side for a mere $13. While not openly partisan or even political (there were no Obama stickers spotted on desks, no rants about the paper’s myriad conservative critics), “Page One,” which captures in semi-compellingif scatter-shot fashion a year or so in the life of the Times’s media desk, fits snugly in to the Upper West Side mentality of entitled liberalism.
It’s a running conversation running over with angst, as Times reporters tackle stories about new media while simultaneously pondering the paper’s own place in the rearranged cosmos, as the paper’s very reason for being seems under attack in the age of Facebook, Twitter, and liberal news aggregators like the Huffington Post stealing audience.
President Obama authorized the state of Hawaii to release a copy of his long-form birth certificate, resulting in massive media attention and a front-page splash by New York Times reporter Michael Shear on Thursday, “Citing ‘Silliness,’ Obama Shows Birth Certificate.”
But a Times media reporter wrongly suggested the “Birther” theories only erupted after Obama became president, among conservatives, when in fact they first circulated during the Democratic primaries, stirred up by supporters of Obama rival Hillary Clinton.
In a short video on the New York Times's website, Brian Stelter, the paper's media reporter, comments on the "interesting" trend of cable news reporters "taking sides" in the Wisconsin budget battle - with Fox News on the right and MSNBC on the left, of course - and supposedly twisting facts to fit partisan narratives.
Asked about commentators "looking for a certain narrative on the way in" - even when the facts don't support it - Stelter singled out Bill O'Reilly and Ed Schultz as indicative of the trend. But he needn't look so far from home. The Times's own partisan pugilist, Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman, has consistently twisted facts in an effort to fit the Wisconsin debate into a leftist narrative.
New York Times media reporters Jeremy Peters and Brian Stelter sounded a little defensive in Monday’s Business section story on the political blame game that immediately followed the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the killing of six others in Tucson. The confusing headline: “After Tucson, Blanket Accusations Leave Much to Interpretation.”
For every action in politics today, there’s an overwhelming and opposite reaction.
Last week, the reaction came from conservative politicians who bridled at suggestions in the media that Jared L. Loughner may have been influenced by right-wing rhetoric and talk radio when he killed six people and gravely wounded Representative Gabrielle Giffords in a rampage on Jan. 8 in Tucson. In her video address on Wednesday, Sarah Palin said that journalists and pundits should not manufacture “a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence that they purport to condemn.”
The question left unanswered: which journalists and pundits?
When conservative radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck take stands against Obama-care or amnesty for illegal immigrants, the New York Times is quick to raise concerns. But certain correct causes and personalities not only get a pass but receive heroic treatment. A prime example is comedian-activist Jon Stewart, host of “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central and main news source for many young liberal hipsters.
Stewart is celebrated once again by the Times, this time on the front of the Monday Business section by media reporters David Carr and Brian Stelter, for his latest crusade, a push to fund the health care of 9-11 responders who became ill. The online headline “In ‘Daily Show’ Role on 9/11 Bill, Echoes of Murrow.” A comparison to Murrow, the vaunted journalist slayer of Sen. Joe McCarthy, is a deep compliment in liberal media circles.
Did the bill pledging federal funds for the health care of 9/11 responders become law in the waning hours of the 111th Congress only because a comedian took it up as a personal cause?
And does that make that comedian, Jon Stewart -- despite all his protestations that what he does has nothing to do with journalism -- the modern-day equivalent of Edward R. Murrow?
New York Times reporter Brian Stelter wrote a front-page story for Saturday's Times on the suspension of Keith Olbermann, but the worst sentence overstated how rare the "anti-war" voices were in the "rush to war" in Iraq:
Mr. Olbermann’s program, “Countdown,” is the most popular hour on MSNBC, with about 1.1 million viewers a night. Years ago, Mr. Olbermann gave voice to dissenting views about the Iraq war and about Bush administration policies when few others on television would, and more recently he helped advance the Obama administration’s push for a health care overhaul.
The New York Times was clearly enchanted by Comedy Central host Jon Stewart’s “Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear” held on the National Mall on Saturday afternoon. Brian Stelter and Sabrina Tavernise reported the story on Sunday, “At Washington Rally by Two Satirists, Thousands -- Billions? -- Respond.”
While Stelter and Tavernise nailed the political tone as "overwhelmingly liberal," the rally's agenda didn't stop them and other Times reporters from enjoying the rally both in print and through live blogging while hyping the numbers for the gathering held as a response to one held two months ago in D.C., "Restoring Honor," sponsored by Fox News host Glenn Beck.
Part circus, part satire, part parade, the crowds that flooded the National Mall Saturday for Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert’s Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear made it a political event like no other.
It was a Democratic rally without a Democratic politician, featuring instead two political satirists, Mr. Stewart and Mr. Colbert, who used the stage to rib journalists and fear-mongering politicians, and to argue with each other over the songs “Peace Train” and “Crazy Train.”
Though at no point during the show did either man plug a candidate, a strong current of political engagement coursed through the crowd, which stretched several long blocks west of the Capitol, an overwhelming response to a call by Mr. Stewart on his “Daily Show.” The turnout clogged traffic and filled subway trains and buses to overflow.
"But it is an open question whether conservative media outlets risk damage to their credibility when obscure or misleading stories are blown out of proportion and when what amounts to political opposition research is presented as news." -- Media reporter Brian Stelter on the Andrew Breitbart-Shirley Sherrod tape controversy, July 26.
"But what is emerging is more of a permanent crusade, where information is not only power, but a means to a specific end. As content providers increasingly hack their own route to an audience, it's becoming clear that many are less interested in covering the game than tilting the field." -- Media columnist David Carr on the Andrew Breitbart-Shirley Sherrod tape controversy, July 26.
"Senator Inhofe should be a harmless diversion, the kind of laughable fool that any state can kick back to the capital, where hard-earned ignorance is supported by a well-paid staff." -- From former reporter Timothy Egan's July 21 post at nytimes.com.
Media reporter Brian Stelter made the front of Monday's Business page with his Fox News-bashing take on the controversy, "When Race is the Issue, Misleading Coverage Sets Off an Uproar."
In the last couple of days, Andrew Breitbart, a conservative Web site operator, has been called a liar, a provocateur, a propagandist -- and even a race-baiter. But he says he knows who the true race-baiters are: some Democratic activists.
Andrew Breitbart highlighted the edited video clip of Shirley Sherrod on one of his Web sites. "It's warfare out there," he says.Stelter later evinced a convenient concern for journalist credibility for "when obscure or misleading stories are blown out of proportion and when what amounts to political opposition research is presented as news." Stelter must have missed the Times's hit pieces on John McCain alleging an affair and suggesting his birthplace made him unqualified to serve as president, or the paper's sabotage of two successful Bush-era terror-fighting programs it disapproved of.
It was one of Mr. Breitbart's Web sites, BigGovernment, that highlighted the heavily edited video clip of Shirley Sherrod, a black official at the Department of Agriculture, apparently saying that she had been biased against a white farmer she was supposed to help. Ms. Sherrod's full speech actually demonstrated the opposite, but do not expect Mr. Breitbart to be embarrassed.
A full version of the speech shows that was a set-up to Sherrod's tale of racial reconciliation, though there are questions of how far her racial reconciliation really goes. That same speech reveals Sherrod accusing Republicans of being racist by opposing Obama and Obama-care, and Sherrod has gone on to accuse Fox News of using her as a "pawn" for its own reactionary, racist purposes.
Fox News didn't run a report on the controversy until after Sherrod had resigned under White House pressure and after the NAACP had issued a press release condemning Sherrod. Yet in "For Fired Agriculture Official, Flurry of Apologies and Job Offer," reported by Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Shaila Dewan, and Brian Stelter, and written by Stolberg, the Times chose to blame a cabal of "right-wing Web sites" and Fox News for fostering the Sherrod scandal which led to her dismissal. As if Fox forced Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to do its right-wing bidding without ever actually running a single story on Sherrod until after her firing, when the point became moot.
The White House and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack apologized profusely and repeatedly on Wednesday to a black midlevel official for the way she had been humiliated and forced to resign her Agriculture Department job after a conservative blogger put out a misleading video clip that seemed to show her admitting antipathy toward a white farmer.
By the end of the day, the official, Shirley Sherrod, had gained instant fame and emerged as the heroine of a compelling story about race and redemption.