As multiple scandals engulfed the presidency, "Watching Washington This Week," a nytimes.com video featuring New York Times congressional reporters Jeremy Peters and Ashley Parker having a pseudo-informal chat outside the White House, managed to place President Obama as the victim of a cold Republican Congress.
Tuesday's front-page New York Times story by Michael Shear and Jonathan Weisman, "Obama Dismisses Benghazi Furor But Assails I.R.S," again emphasized partisan back-and-forth at the expense of journalistic digging into the actual facts of the IRS and Benghazi controversies swirling around the Obama White House.
Weisman's byline is an assurance that the story to follow will be light on details and heavy breathing on Republican partisanship. Tuesday's entry fit the bill, especially the lead sentence, in which Weisman prioritized the partisan angle of "Republican adversaries" over the substantive angle of "new questions about the administration’s conduct."
In his Sunday New York Times column, former White House reporter Frank Bruni took a whack at "America the Clueless" and Republicans in particular, but made a couple of pretty clueless errors of his own (Eighteen percent of AP survey respondents said Obama was Jewish)?
The New York Times did some damage control for the Obama administration in its lead editorial Tuesday, defending in part, the IRS's politically motivated audits against fledgling Tea Party nonprofits during the last campaign cycle. The paper ridiculously portrayed the White House as just as outraged as conservatives in a headline: "White House Under Fire: It Condemns I.R.S. Audits of Political Groups."
And the paper's own public editor lambasted the paper's soft-soap coverage of the scandal: "Many on the right – as noted last week in my blog posts about Benghazi – do not think they can get a fair shake from The Times. This coverage won’t do anything to dispel that belief."
New York Times's environmental reporter Justin Gillis earned an unusual two-column lead story part in Saturday's paper, part of his long-running scarefest series, "Temperatures Rising." The latest entry: "Heat-Trapping Gas Passes Milestone, Raising Fears." (Though that scary headline turns out to be upon further review a bit premature.) Gillis committed his usual smear of warming skeptics: "Climate-change contrarians, who have little scientific credibility but are politically influential in Washington...."
Scandalous news that the Internal Revenue Service intimidated nonprofit opponents of the Obama administration made page 11 of Saturday's New York Times.
The IRS apology to Tea Party and other conservative organizations for politically motivated targeting of their nonprofit status was dealt with in mild fashion by reporter Jonathan Weisman, though not on the front page. "I.R.S. Apologizes to Tea Party Groups Over Audits of Applications for Tax Exemption." The same audits that were applauded last year by the Times' s editorial page. And a Monday front-page follow-up was topped with what even liberal journalists found a bizarre headline: "IRS Focus on Conservatives Gives GOP an Issue to Seize On." That's the story?
New York Times reporter Mark Landler reported on the ongoing controversy over Benghazi on Friday, as House Republicans demanded the White House release what they consider an incriminating email showing officials knew Islamic terrorists were responsible for the attack, yet blamed an anti-Islamic Youtube video instead: "Benghazi Debate Focuses on Interpretation of Early E-Mail on Attackers."
Soft labeling of Communist dictators ("enigmatic"?) has been a historical problem for the New York Times. On Wednesday, reporters Mark Landler and David Sanger described the late South Korea president Park Chung-Hee as a "strongman" as his "steely conservative" daughter Park Geun-hye, current president of the country, meets President Obama for the first time.
In contrast, North Korea's new young dictator Kim Jong-un was an "erratic, often belligerent young leader in Pyongyang," the Times leaving out ideological labels and not mentioning the totalitarian nature of his regime.
Thursday's New York Times led with the congressional hearings into the Obama administration's response to the terrorist attack on Benghazi, Libya on the anniversary of September 11 that left four Americans dead: "Envoy Testifies Libya Questions Led To Demotion," reported by the team of Scott Shane, Jeremy Peters, and Eric Schmitt. But the paper still treated it as a partisan game of gotcha in an online symposium titled "Serious Investigations, or Partisan Ploys?"
New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd offensively roped Clarence Thomas into her column on the arrest on sexual battery charges of Jeffrey Krusinski, the Air Force officer in charge of sexual assault prevention programs for the branch: "There was a fox-in-the-henhouse echo of Clarence Thomas, who Anita Hill said sexually harassed her when he was the nation’s top enforcer of laws against workplace sexual harassment."
Benghazi hearings open in the House on Wednesday, and the New York Times printed a preview on page 16 of Wednesday's edition that downplayed any possible revelations about the Obama administration's reaction to the terrorist attack, which killed ambassador Chris Stevens and three others. Testimony is expected by three State Department officials, led by U.S. diplomat Gregory Hicks, deputy mission chief in Tripoli, who said his pleas for military assistance were overruled.
Feeling reader pressure after the Washington Post led its Tuesday's edition by setting up the House hearings, Public Editor Margaret Sullivan addressed the issue on her blog Tuesday afternoon, posing a coverage question to Washington bureau chief (and former neoliberal economics reporter) David Leonhardt, who didn't anticipate hearing much new on Wednesday:
On your bike! New York Times's roaming critic Neil Genzlinger reviewed Constitution USA with Peter Sagal, airing Tuesday night on PBS. Judging by the headline, "The Philosophical Rumble Of That Living Document," Genzlinger's editor didn't know what to do with his puzzling, cranky review of the documentary (starring Sagal, liberal host of the NPR game show Wait Wait ... Don’t Tell Me!).
Margaret Sullivan, the New York Times public editor, noted a shameful anniversary for the paper -- the 10th anniversary of the Jayson Blair scandal -- but not without calling her paper as "world-class" as the scandal itself.
But to the paper's liberal readership, the more shameful mistake involved reporter Judy Miller's overly credulous reporting on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction during the run-up to the Iraq War.
After a long delay, the New York Times has finally located some sympathetic victims of the federal budget sequester and placed them on Monday's front page. Jonathan Weisman reported "Stories of Struggle and Creativity As Sequestration Cuts Hit Home."
Earlier, reporter Nelson Schwartz celebrated a little burst of job growth but warned it could end thanks to federal "austerity" (i.e. sequestration) in Saturday's lead story.
Timothy Egan, former liberal reporter for the New York Times, hit his usual topic (those wacky Republicans) in his Thursday online column, the wittily titled "House of Un-Representatives."
After mocking Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert for repeating a claim that caribou like to nuzzle up to an oil pipeline targeted by environmentalists, Egan noted that Gohmert "has said so many crazy things that this assertion passed with little comment."
The New York Times's Julia Preston watched parades on May Day for evidence that the fight for amnesty for illegal immigrants was at last gathering public support in "Showing Grass-Roots Support for Immigration Overhaul." Preston hit the jackpot when a protester quoted her back the same line she and the Times have been using for years about illegal immigrants: "I think it is time that we come out of the shadows...."
Preston did her part by helping spin away the small size of rallies held by amnesty supporters; supposedly the turnout was lower because they wanted "more local supporters:"
The New York Times's Pam Belluck wrote twice about the emerging controversy over the Food and Drug Administration's decision immediately allowing girls under 15 to receive Plan B One-Step, the morning-after pill for emergency birth control, without a prescription or parental consent. Citing safety concerns, the Obama administration had previously overruled the FDA, which had removed all age restrictions on access to the pill. Obama's Justice Department announced yesterday that it will appeal the FDA's latest "compromise" decision.
Taking on Obama from the left, Belluck twice pitted "conservative and anti-abortion groups against advocates for women’s health and reproductive rights," first in Wednesday's "Drug Agency Lowers Age For Next-Day Birth Control."
The New York Times's Trip Gabriel reported Tuesday that each side has rested its case in the trial of abortionist Kermit Gosnell, on trial for four charges of infanticide at his Philadelphia clinic. The first paragraph is revealing:
“They are known as Baby Boy A, Baby C, Baby D and Baby E, all of whom prosecutors call murdered children and the defense calls aborted fetuses -- the very difference in language encapsulating why anti-abortion advocates are so passionate about drawing attention to the trial of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, which wrapped up here on Monday with summations by both sides.”
The New York Times has long excused the continuing unpopularity of Obamacare by arguing that people just don't understand it or that it's been unfairly caricatured by political opponents. The latest entry was John Harwood's "Political Memo" Tuesday, "The Next Big Challenge for Obama's Health Care Law: Carrying It Out." The text box fretted: "Misinformation and complex imperatives could cause trouble."
New York Times economics reporter Annie Lowrey's story on the front of Monday's Business section has a headline that just begs for the old joke ("World Ends: Women and Minorities Hardest Hit") on the Times's traditional knee-jerk liberalism: "Recession Worsened Wealth Gap For Races."
Millions of Americans suffered a loss of wealth during the recession and the sluggish recovery that followed. But the last half-decade has proved far worse for black and Hispanic families than for white families, starkly widening the already large gulf in wealth between non-Hispanic white Americans and most minority groups, according to a new study from the Urban Institute.