Village Voice Reporter Again Lionized By New York Times; Voice Again Not Labeled as Lefty

The lead story of the Sunday Metro section was a very long profile by Richard Perez-Pena of Wayne Barrett, former reporter for the alternative left-wing NYC weekly The Village Voice -- “The (Ex) Voice of The Village."

Barrett was previously lionized (along with fellow reporter Tom Robbins) by the Times's Jeremy Peters on January 5 after the two veteran reporters were let go by the left-wing counter-cultural weekly (Sample article title: "I'm Pro-Choice and I F***"). Neither story describes the Voice as a left-wing or liberal publication.

Perez-Pena opened:

Wayne Barrett wants to say nice things about people. He wants to, but he finds it so hard.

“We haven’t had bad mayors,” ventured Mr. Barrett, the muck-raking investigative reporter who has made a career of hounding New York City’s chief executives. “They’ve all done some really good things,” he added, “though you probably wouldn’t know it to read my copy.”

The Times (once again!) quoted a former Voice editor lionizing Barrett as the journalistic Joe DiMaggio:

“It’s like trading DiMaggio,” said Donald H. Forst, who was editor of the paper from 1996 to 2006. “It really won’t be the same without him.”

No lefty label for The Nation:

He is at work on an article for The Nation (no, of course he will not say about what) and has a deal with an affiliated group, the Nation Institute, which commissions reporting and finds places to publish it. He is reporting another article for Tina Brown, newly named editor of Newsweek (something about celebrities, but, he promised, “the story has inherent value”), perhaps the start of a relationship.

Perez-Pena documented how Barrett helped Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer in his challenge to Republican Sen. Al D’Amato, and how he uncovered other dirt pleasing to Manhattan liberals.

When Senator Alfonse M. D’Amato was assailing his 1998 challenger, Charles E. Schumer, for missing hundreds of votes in Congress while on the campaign trail, it was Mr. Barrett who dug up the documents showing that Mr. D’Amato had done essentially the same thing 18 years earlier.

“An enterprising reporter helped save us,” Mr. Schumer, who went on to win that race, wrote later.

Mr. Barrett uncovered the criminal record of Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani’s father, who had committed armed robbery and went to prison during the Depression. As the former mayor was running for president in 2007, Mr. Barrett was the first to report that Mr. Giuliani owned four Yankees World Series rings, which had never been made available to the public, and that he had paid far less for them than they would have fetched on the open market.

But don’t let that make you think he’s just another liberal media reporter, argues Perez-Pena, assuring us that

Wayne Barrett is not what you think, certainly nothing like an effete snob, as seen in the conservative caricature of the liberal news media.

A veteran of 1960s activism and the alternative press, he has seen several sexual and chemical revolutions unfold, but Mr. Barrett and several friends testified that he had never so much as tried marijuana, and he barely touches alcohol. He calls himself “a country boy from Lynchburg, Va.,” where he grew up the second of six children under the thumb of a strict father who was a nuclear engineer.

After noting his intimidating personality, Perez-Pena finally sidled up to Barrett’s left-wing political views deep into the story:

When [he and his wife met, Mr. Barrett was a Goldwater Republican at St. Joseph’s University, a Jesuit school in Philadelphia. But by the time he graduated from Columbia’s journalism school, his politics, like many of his peers, had veered hard to the left.

Clay Waters
Clay Waters was director of Times Watch, a former project of the Media Research Center . Read more: http://archive.newsbusters.org/bios/clay-waters.html#ixzz3CdgxLFgQ