Medical marijuana is an evergreen (pardon the pun) topic for alternative weeklies, along with the return of vinyl records. The recent loosening of federal regulations under Obama have pushed the issue into the mainstream, with one surprising side effect -- a huge boost in ad sales for alternative papers and even some mainstream dailies, as medical marijuana businesses like "Happy Buddah" and "High Mike's" attempt to entice customers, er, patients.

But the New York Times, usually hypersensitive to how corporate advertising affects coverage of industry-related issues, didn't spot any potential conflicts in this case, even as a newspaper executive lamented how a tightening of a state law on medical marijuana could adversely affect his newspaper ad sales.

Reporter Jeremy Peters' report from Colorado Springs, "New Fuel for Local Papers: Ads for Medical Marijuana," on Tuesday's front page, failed to question whether such massive advertising for a controversial product could influence a newspaper's journalism. By comparison, the Times banned tobacco cigarette ads from its pages in 1999, and tobacco companies have long been prohibited from advertising their products on television and radio.
When it hit the streets here last week, the latest issue of ReLeaf, a pullout supplement to The Colorado Springs Independent devoted to medical marijuana, landed with a satisfying thud.



Two stories in Thursday's New York Times featured the paper avoiding pinning liberal labels on two media organs: the liberal newsmagazine Newsweek and the far-left political blog Daily Kos.

Reporter Jeremy Peters insisted in Thursday's Business Day that the left-leaning magazine Newsweek was "apolitical," yet easily spotted a right tilt in two potential purchasers of the struggling weekly: "2 Suitors for Newsweek Are Said to Be Ruled Out." A photo caption made the easily refutable claim that Newsweek "strives to be apolitical."

The Washington Post is looking for a bidder who will be a good fit for the magazine, which strives to be apolitical.

Really now? As Nathan Burchfiel at NewsBusters reminds us: "Newsweek has attacked Tea Parties and conservative leaders like Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh, earned praise from gay marriage activists for its coverage, launched pro-atheism attacks on religious figures like Mother Teresa, among numerous other liberal positions."

Peters gave Newsweek's editors the benefit of the doubt on its liberal slant, which even Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz believes is an accurate view:

The ideas that Newsweek is promoting are mainly left-of-center....When Newsweek put a conservative's essay on the cover, it was by David Frum, assailing Rush Limbaugh under the headline 'Why Rush Is Wrong.' And when Newsweek took on Obama, it did so from the left, in a piece built around New York Times columnist Paul Krugman and his criticism of the president's economic policies.

Peters was able to see conservatism and libertarianism in the two rejected buyers, but not the clear liberalism at Newsweek.


It's probably safe to assume that a lot of reporters in the mainstream media lean to the left side of the ideological spectrum. And it was seen throughout the health care debate over the past year and a half - that somehow we need to raise the rhetoric beyond hyperbole like death panels, etc.

One of those reporters was The Washington Post's health care reporter Ceci Connolly, who last summer appeared on MSNBC and made such a plea. And since then, she made other gestures to show she was in line with the Obama administration on this issue. Well, lo and behold, according to a story by Jeremy Peters posted on the New York Times Media Decoder blog, Connolly canceled an appearance at a party for the book, "Landmark: The Inside Story of America's New Health Care Law and What it Means for All of Us," which according to her Web site Connolly and her book are labeled as "one of the main authors of the first definitive book on the 2010 health care law."

"[T]he Post found itself in another potentially embarrassing and ethically compromised position on Wednesday after one of its most senior reporters abruptly canceled an appearance at her own book party, which was being sponsored by a public relations firm with strong ties to the Democratic Party," Peters wrote.



The G.O.P. had two big victories yesterday in off-year elections, winning the race for governor in New Jersey and Virginia for the first time since 1997. The New York Times's coverage was dominated by three themes used to explain away the success of Republicans:
The Republicans won by appearing moderate.

The congressional race in upstate New York revealed deep divisions within the G.O.P.

These off-year elections don't mean much anyway (except when Democrats win).



Sunday's gay rights rally on Capitol Hill garnered a positive story on the first page of Monday's New York Times National section by reporter Jeremy Peters, "New Generation of Gay Rights Advocates March to Put Pressure on the President." Peters claimed that "tens of thousands" had gathered on the West Lawn of the Capitol Sunday to prod Barack Obama to move more aggressively to promote greater equality for gays.

Unlike the paper's hostile coverage of the "tea party" and "9/12" rallies by anti-spending conservatives, the Times's relatively prominent (page A12) coverage of the gay rights rally displayed no hostility toward the beliefs of the protestors and didn't label them liberal, even though a photo slideshow at nytimes.com featured images of Socialist Worker party members marching in solidarity.