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.
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.
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.
The Democrats blinked in the sequester tussle -- by wide margins Congress passed, and the president promised to sign, legislation that would end the furloughs for Federal Aviation Administration employees, which had caused flight delays that Republicans claimed were politically motivated by the Obama administration.
Friday's New York Times Arts section featured a liberal lecture on America's "culture of endless consumption" and "income inequality" disguised as an opera review from music critic Zachary Woolfe.
Never mind that Woolfe's newspaper panders to a rich liberal readership with stories like this from June 3, 2012: "Family Travel at the $300,000 Price Point." The lead: "Imagine you are heading to your ski house in Aspen with a couple of friends and a weekend’s worth of luggage. The forecast calls for snow. Do you grab the keys to your practical family vehicle or climb into your Ferrari?" Jennifer Kingson tackled the pressing populist issue of luxury dog houses on June 28.
And Stephanie Clifford on October 17 penned "Just the Thing for Those Who Have It All," which opened with an invitation to spend: "So you've earned it. Now, how to spend it? We have a few ideas." Among them: A $50,000 camera, a $37,500 crocodile handbag, and a gold-plated lamb skull at the bargain price of $5,500.
The New York Times's David Herszenhorn on Friday wrote up a bizarre new conference held by the parents of the Boston Marathon bombers in the Russian Republic of Dagestan, where they have lived for the past year: "Parents Deny Son's Guilt And Accuse U.S. of Plot."
It's puzzling why Herszenhorn chose such a credulous tone to the conspiratorial rants of the bombers' mother Zubeidat Tsarnaeva (The Washington Post made do with a brief mention at the very end of a related story on Friday).
New York Times legal reporter Charlie Savage displayed a novel angle on terrorist recidivism in his story on recent outbreaks of violence among the terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay: "Despair Drives U.S. Detainees To Stage Revolt." (Is your heart breaking yet?) Savage wrote on Thursday's front page:
But the relative calm on display to visiting reporters last week was deceiving. Days earlier, guards had raided Camp Six and locked down protesting prisoners who had blocked security cameras, forbidding them to congregate in a communal area. A hunger strike is now in its third month, with 93 prisoners considered to be participating -- more than half the inmates and twice the number before the raid.
New York Times reporter Jonathan Weisman documented the failure of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor to remake the GOP's "uncompromising conservatism to something kinder and gentler" in "House Majority Leader’s Quest to Soften G.O.P.’s Image Hits a Wall Within," in a slanted story that's being passed off as straight news. Weisman emotionally warned: "But these days, those who linger in the middle of the road end up flattened."
"A kinder, gentler nation" is of course the phrase George H.W. Bush used in his speech accepting the Republican nomination for president in 1988, apparently to distance himself from the more conservative Ronald Reagan.
Politico media reporter Dylan Byers stirred up media indignation with an unflattering article Tuesday on Jill Abramson, the New York Times executive editor, "Turbulence at the Times", based largely on anonymous Times sources who snipe that Abramson is detached, brusque, and a "very, very unpopular" presence in the newsroom.
One Monday morning in April, Jill Abramson called Dean Baquet into her office to complain. The executive editor of The New York Times was upset about the paper’s recent news coverage -- she felt it wasn’t “buzzy” enough, a source there said -- and placed blame on Baquet, her managing editor. A debate ensued, which gave way to an argument.
Besides the paper's usual off-putting tone suggesting the terrorist brothers were just normal kids (..."Holden Caulfield-like adolescent alienation....Sometimes, Dzhokhar sounds downright sentimental"), Kakutani, whose liberal views are clear from her book reviews, managed to discuss Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's Twitter postings without mentioning his pro-Obama and 9-11 Truther tweets.
The trial in Philadelphia of abortionist Kermit Gosnell, on trial for infanticide, continues to be mostly ignored by the mainstream press. After public outcry. there was a bump in coverage, and the New York Times finally sent a reporter to cover the trial. But Trip Gabriel only filed a single story from Philadelphia, and that focused not on the trial but on the "online furor" that forced the media to pay attention.
Wednesday's New York Times story by Cairo correspondent David Kirkpatrick about a car-bombing in Libya buried an important new development in the Benghazi scandal. A report from House Republicans accused then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of rejecting a call for additional security for U.S. diplomats in Libya before the Benghazi terror attack that killed four Americans last year on the anniversary of September 11.