From promoting the "socially conservative instincts" of Sen. Hillary Clinton to lamenting the lack of gas rationing in support of the Iraq War, there was no shortage of bizarre bias in the New York Times in 2005. To celebrate the year in slant, Times Watch presents a selection of the absolutely most biased quotes from Times reporters and writers.
Below are a few higlights from the Times Watch 'Quotes of Note Worst of 2005," posted yesterday to TimesWatch.org.
The Deaniac Award for Iraq War Defeatism...
"And in the shadow of the bleak and often horrific news emerging from Iraq nearly every day, historians and political experts are finding at least a wan hope in those imperfect historical analogies. Even in the absence of a sudden and dramatic shift on the battlefield toward a definitive victory, there may still be a slight opening, as narrow as the eye of a needle, for the United States to slip through and leave Iraq in the near future in a way that will not be remembered as a national embarrassment."
-- From reporter James Glanz's November 27 story for the Week in Review section.
"From bases in Iraq and across the United States to the Pentagon and the military's war colleges, officers and enlisted personnel quietly raise a question for political leaders: if America is truly on a war footing, why is so little sacrifice asked of the nation at large? There is no serious talk of a draft to share the burden of fighting across the broad citizenry, and neither Republicans nor Democrats are pressing for a tax increase to force Americans to cover the $5 billion a month in costs from Iraq, Afghanistan and new counterterrorism missions. There are not even concerted efforts like the savings-bond drives or gasoline rationing that helped to unite the country behind its fighting forces in wars past."
-- Reporter Thom Shanker, July 24.
Keeping Bush Down
"By most measures, the economy appears to be doing fine. No, scratch that, it appears to be booming. But as always with the United States economy, it is not quite that simple….It all means the economy is likely to end the year with a splash. But before you splurge on a new car, consider this: Many economists do not expect the party to continue, especially if the Federal Reserve continues taking the punchbowl away and raises interest rates. That could further slow the housing market, damp consumer spending and crimp corporate profits."
-- Economics reporter Vikas Bajaj in a November 30 front-page story.
"Nonetheless, [Bush campaign strategist Mark] McKinnon said that Mr. Bush had not gone so far as to include on his playlist 'Fortunate Son,' the angry anti-Vietnam war song about who has to go to war that [John] Fogerty sang when he was with Creedence Clearwater Revival. ('I ain't no senator's son....Some folks are born silver spoon in hand.') As the son of a two-term congressman and a United States Senate candidate, Mr. Bush won a coveted spot with the Texas Air National Guard to avoid combat in Vietnam."
-- Elisabeth Bumiller's April 11 "White House Letter" on the songs on Bush's iPod.
"The view among a number of White House officials was that the big news would come on Monday, when the president is to unveil a budget described as brutal in its cuts in domestic programs."
-- Elisabeth Bumiller and Anne Kornblut, February 3.
Murderous Communism "Not All Bad"
"My own sense is that Mao, however monstrous, also brought useful changes to China….But Mao’s legacy is not all bad. Land reform in China, like the land reform in Japan and Taiwan, helped lay the groundwork for prosperity today. The emancipation of women and end of child marriages moved China from one of the worst places in the world to be a girl to one where women have more equality than in, say, Japan or Korea. Indeed, Mao’s entire assault on the old economic and social structure made it easier for China to emerge as the world’s new economic dragon….In the same way, I think, Mao's ruthlessness was a catastrophe at the time, brilliantly captured in this extraordinary book -- and yet there's more to the story: Mao also helped lay the groundwork for the rebirth and rise of China after five centuries of slumber."
-- Foreign policy reporter turned columnist Nicholas Kristof reviewing a new Mao biography in the October 23 Book Review.
"In fact, [Sen. Hillary] Clinton has defied simple ideological labeling since joining the Senate, ending up in the political center on issues like health care, welfare, abortion, morality and values, and national defense, to name just a few."
-- Raymond Hernandez and Patrick Healy, July 13.
"It would be naïve to think that Clinton doesn't have a national campaign very much in mind as she stacks up one centrist credential after another….As first lady, it was Clinton's job to placate the party's base, even if that meant obscuring some of her more socially conservative instincts….Assuming that Clinton is serious about a 2008 campaign, it's never too early to begin redefining her image in the minds of independent and conservative voters. And the thinking among her closest advisers holds that unlike other prospective candidates with conservative leanings, like Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana or Gov. Mark Warner of Virginia, Clinton doesn't have to worry about winning over more liberal base voters."
-- Contributing writer Matt Bai, October 2.
Reality Check: The American Conservative Union gives Sen. Hillary Clinton a lifetime rating of 9 (with 100 being the most conservative), the same as liberal Sen. Tom Harkin.
All Wet on Hurricane Katrina
"We have repeatedly been reminded in recent weeks of how Congress rejected a proposal in the late 1990's to shore up the city's levees and wetlands. And the crisis only deepened later as the government continued to reduce the corps's budget. This represents more than a loss of nerve. It is an outgrowth of the campaign against 'big government' that helped propel Ronald Reagan to the presidency 25 years ago. And it was fueled by uglier motives, including a latent fear of cities, a myth of the city as a breeding ground for immorality."
-- Critic Nicholas Ouroussoff on the New Orleans flooding, October 9.
"The populism of Huey Long was financially corrupt, but when it came to the welfare of people, it was caring. The churchgoing cultural populism of George Bush has given the United States an administration that worries about the House of Saud and the welfare of oil companies while the poor drown in their attics and their sons and daughters die in foreign deserts."
-- Former Times Executive Editor Howell Raines in a column for the September 1 edition of the Los Angeles Times.
"Between Terri Schiavo and the pope, we've feasted on decomposing bodies for almost a solid month now. The carefully edited, three-year-old video loops of Ms. Schiavo may have been worthless as medical evidence but as necro-porn their ubiquity rivaled that of TV's top entertainment franchise, the all-forensics-all-the-time 'CSI.'"
-- Arts Editor/columnist Frank Rich, April 10.
"And as ultraconservatives and bottom liners circle, PBS appears to be too accommodating in response. When conservatives attacked the respected Bill Moyers, labeling him a dangerous liberal, PBS offered Tucker Carlson and Paul Gigot. Whatever slight liberal flavor might be dug out of the Moyers broadcasts, those are openly ideological conservative editorialists. Will they do investigations like Mr. Moyers?"
-- From a February 21 editorial defending PBS.
"The entire federal government -- the Congress, the executive, the courts -- is united behind a right-wing agenda for which George W. Bush believes he now has a mandate. That agenda includes the power of the state to force pregnant women to surrender control over their own lives. It includes using the taxing power to transfer wealth from working people to the rich. It includes giving corporations a free hand to eviscerate the environment and control the regulatory agencies meant to hold them accountable. And it includes secrecy on a scale you cannot imagine….And if you like God in government, get ready for the Rapture."
-- Some "slight liberal flavor" from Bill Moyers from the November 8, 2002 edition of his old PBS show, "Now."
Then Again, What Do We Know?
"Indeed, one of the favorite mantras of the current Bush White House and its conservative allies is that the media suffer from a 'liberal bias' -- a constantly repeated accusation designed to drill this notion into the public consciousness while putting the press on the defensive. Recent history flies in the face of this assertion."
-- Chief book critic Michiko Kakutani promoting an anti-Bush book by Congressional Quarterly writer Craig Crawford, November 11.