Wednesday's New York Times front page featured Susan Rice's failed attempt to assuage concerns of three Senate Republicans on her false statements about the Benghazi massacre in "Rice Concedes Error on Libya: G.O.P. Digs In." Inside was an unflattering photo of a peeved-looking Sen. John McCain. Posing Republican senator and Rice critic McCain as the bad guy, an on-line text box accompanying the article highlighted a reader comment from "Them or Us": "If you think these three Senators walked in with open minds and no agenda, I'd like to sell you a bridge that crosses the East River into Brooklyn. McCain's little kangaroo court is about as transparent as his anger." Meanwhile, on the back pages, two liberal Times columnists disagreed on Benghazi's significance.
In the front-page story, reporters Mark Landler and Jeremy Peters minimized the import of the policy scandal by focusing on the personal, portraying Rice, who may be nominated by President Obama to the post of UN ambassador, as offering an olive branch that "hostile Senate Republicans" rejected.
On Sunday's front page, New York Times reporter Mark Landler took the heat off United Nations ambassador Susan ("stand-in...bystander") Rice for her media tour spreading false statements about what happened in Benghazi, Libya, where four Americans were murdered by terrorists. Rice went on the Sunday shows after the terrorist attack and falsely suggested that the outburst was spontaneous, blaming an anti-Islamic YouTube video for inciting a spontaneous riot on the anniversary of 9-11.
Both the headline ("A Diplomat's Detour Into the Benghazi Spotlight") and subhead ("Fill-in Role Becomes Obstacle for Rice as State Dept. Choice") favorably emphasized Rice's evasion of responsibility from what she actually told the nation after the attack.
Barack Obama on Wednesday submitted to his first press conference since March. Some of the White House journalists didn't seem to hold the long wait against him, however. One reporter, Christi Parsons of the Chicago Tribune, turned into a gushing fan, congratulating the President on his reelection. Parsons cooed to Obama that she had "never" seen him "lose." [See video below. MP3 audio here.] Other questioners, including CNN's Jessica Yellin, exhorted the President to not "cave" when dealing with Republicans.
After calling on Parsons, Obama added, "Christi was there when I was running for state senate." With a big grin on her face, the Tribune reporter extolled, "That's right. I was!...I have never seen you lose." Yellin pushed the President from the left, demanding, "...Two years ago you said that you wouldn't extend the Bush era tax cuts, but at the end of the day, you did. So, respectfully sir, why should the American people and the Republicans believe that you won't cave again this time?"
The New York Times leaned "Forward!" for Barack Obama's reelection in its campaign coverage over the weekend. The front of the paper's Saturday Election 2012 section featured a large photo from an Obama rally of a volunteer handing out flags at a fairground rally in Hilliard, Ohio on Friday. The caption noted "A crowd of 2,800 showed up to see Mr. Obama."
Meanwhile, campaign reporter Ashley Parker estimated on Twitter Friday night that 25,000 people attended a Romney rally in West Chester Township in Ohio. But those strong turnout figures for Romney, which suggested high levels of enthusiasm in a crucial state, were buried in the very back of Parker and Michael Barbaro's Sunday story from the campaign trail.
Seventeen days before Election Day and 45 months after Barack Obama's inauguration following a presidential campaign during which he expressed his eagerness to meet enemy leaders "without preconditions" (Obama responded "yes" to a 2008 presidential debate question containing those words), the New York Times is reporting that the U.S. and Iran "have agreed in principle for the first time to one-on-one negotiations," despite the fact that the White House has "denied that a final agreement (to negotiate) had been reached," and despite a reactive AP report (saved here for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes) claiming that while "The White House says it is prepared to talk one-on-one ... there's no agreement now to meet."
Despite the supposed certainty of the Times's headline ("U.S. Officials Say Iran Has Agreed to Nuclear Talks"), the paper's Helene Cooper and Mark Landler report that "American officials said they were uncertain whether Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had signed off on the effort." If Khamenei isn't on board, it doesn't matter what anybody else, including Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, says or does. Three years ago, two AP reporters covering the government's crackdown on dissidents noted Khamenei's "virtually limitless authority," i.e., he's the country's behind-the-scenes dictator. In a piece that's supposed to be about a supposedly important international development, Cooper and Landler predictably blow through quite a bit of ink and bandwidth trying to paint this development as a problem for Obama's GOP opponent Mitt Romney (bolds are mine):
On Friday, New York Times political reporter Mark Landler pushed Bill Clinton as Barack Obama's hope to win the white working class, and dubiously defended the Obama administration's gutting of the welfare reform law pushed by Republicans and signed by Clinton in 1996: "It’s the President’s Message, With President Clinton."
Saturday's story from the Obama trail by New York Times reporter Mark Landler, "Obama Urges Voters to Look Ahead on Economy," was not as blatantly pro-president as Landler's June 29 paean hailing the president as "bailing out the auto industry, winding down two wars and dispatching Osama bin Laden." But it was still quite sympathetic to the president's plight.
The text box highlighted Obama's hunt for economic silver linings ("Extracting a few bits of good news from an anemic monthly employment report") and the lead polished his halo as an "evangelist of hope and change."
New York Times reporter Mark Landler spun for the president in Ohio in Friday's "Obama, Hitting Road in Rust Belt, Offers Tough Talk on Jobs and Trade."
Landler, whose reporting on Obama is getting more gushy as the election nears, shone his journalistic flashlight on any slivers of good economic news he could find and suggested they would benefit Obama in the Midwest.
President Obama drew “Turn Off Fox News” headlines on the Drudge Report when New York Times reporter Mark Landler noted in a pool report from a bar in Amherst, Ohio, that someone joked he was in a building with Fox on the TV.
Drudge also highlighted that top Obama aide Valerie Jarrett blamed Fox News for the impression that’s developed that Team Obama is waging a class war on the wealthy. As she relentlessly shoveled all the Obama talking points on July 1 at the leftish Aspen Ideas Festival, former Time editor Walter Isaacson nudged her about their public image:
In passionate text that reads more like a pro-Obama opinion piece than a straight news story, New York Times reporter Mark Landler delivered "A Vindication, With a Legacy Still Unwritten" for Friday's front page.
Landler was passionate about the "change we can believe in" wrought by the president through the Affordable Care Act, which Landler called his expansion of the "nation's safety net" and an effort to reduce income inequality (with a single mild paragraph on those historic tax hikes buried over halfway down).
New York Times reporters Mark Landler and John Cushman Jr. covered President Obama's plea to women's voters disguised as a commencement address at Barnard College, a woman's college in Manhattan: "In Graduation Speech to Women, Obama Leaps Into Gender Gap." What the paper failed to bring up was that according to its own polling, the female "gender gap" is currently Obama's problem, not Mitt Romney's.
There was also no mention in the Times of the irony of supposedly feminist Obama dislodging the originally booked (female) graduation speaker, the paper's own executive editor Jill Abramson.
The partisan liberal news site Talking Points Memo managed to be tougher on President Obama's Thursday speech in Maryland than reporter Mark Landler of the New York Times, at least in his initial online filing on Thursday afternoon, "Obama Defends Energy Policy, Hitting Back at Presidential Candidates." TPM reporter Benjy Sarlin did the sort of aggressive fact-checking of Obama's claims that the Times reserves for Republican candidates and politicians.
Landler wrote for the Times: