Shorter Bill Keller: The New York Times is a liberal paper because we’re all cool tolerant educated urbanites here in Manhattan.
At an event at the LBJ presidential library in Austin, Texas on October 6 (hosted by the Texas Tribune, a nonprofit news organization that provides content for the Times), Keller confessed the Times had a “socially liberal” lean, if by “socially liberal” you mean cool. As reported by Rebecca Shapiro at Huffington Post:
He recalled a famous 2004 column by Daniel Okrent, the first man to hold the title. The column had a simple answer to whether or not the Times is liberal: "of course." Okrent's more nuanced take was that the Times reflects its New York base, and thus takes a more cosmopolitan and liberal view of some divisive social and cultural issues.
Keller essentially agreed with this. He said, "we are liberal in the sense that we are open-minded, tolerant, urban. Our wedding page includes -- and did even before New York had a gay marriage law -- included gay unions. So we’re liberal in that sense. Socially liberal." He also said that the paper "treats evolution as a fact."
Keller advanced that view in similar fashion in a March 27 column for the Times Sunday Magazine.
Back in 2004, Daniel Okrent, the first ombudsman at The Times, wrote a column under the headline, “Is The New York Times a Liberal Newspaper?” The sly first sentence of his essay was: “Of course it is.” Nobody seems to remember what came after. Okrent went on to explain that The Times’s outlook, steeped in the mores of a big, rambunctious city, tends to be culturally liberal: open-minded, skeptical of dogma, secular, cosmopolitan. We publish news of gay unions on the wedding pages. We have a science section that does not feel obliged to give equal time to creationists when it writes about evolution. Okrent rightly scolded us for sometimes seeming to look down our urban noses at the churchgoing, the gun-owning and the unlettered. Respect is a prerequisite for understanding.