Thursday's New York Times lead story by Elisabeth Bumiller and Michael Cooper covered Palin's rapturously received speech at the Republican Convention Wednesday night, "On Center Stage, Palin Electrifies Convention." After describing how she introduced herself to the "roaring crowd" in St. Paul, the Times threw in this dubious assertion:
But the nomination was a sideshow to the evening's main event, the speech by the little-known Ms. Palin, who was seeking to wrest back the narrative of her life and redefine herself to the American public after a rocky start that has put Mr. McCain's closest aides on edge. Ms. Palin's appearance electrified a convention that has been consumed by questions of whether she was up to the job, as she launched slashing attacks on Mr. Obama's claims of experience.
Actually, only the liberal media was consumed by that question -- Palin was a wildly popular pick even before her impressive convention speech.
Editor's Note: A longer version of this article originally appeared on our affiliated site Times Watch.
Bristol Palin's pregnancy made the top of the fold of Tuesday's New York Times in a story by Elisabeth Bumiller, who helpfully summarized all the scandalettes (and at least one fake one) burbling around the Palin pick in "Disclosures on Palin Raise Questions on Vetting Process."
A series of disclosures about Gov. Sarah Palin, Senator John McCain's choice as running mate, called into question on Monday how thoroughly Mr. McCain had examined her background before putting her on the Republican presidential ticket.
On Monday morning, Ms. Palin and her husband, Todd, issued a statement saying that their 17-year-old unmarried daughter, Bristol, was five months pregnant and that she intended to marry the father.
Among other less attention-grabbing news of the day: it was learned that Ms. Palin now has a private lawyer in a legislative ethics investigation in Alaska into whether she abused her power in dismissing the state's public safety commissioner; that she was a member for two years in the 1990s of the Alaska Independence Party, which has at times sought a vote on whether the state should secede; and that Mr. Palin was arrested 22 years ago on a drunken-driving charge.
Meet the newly minted traditionalists at the New York Times, two female reporters who seem to doubt whether or not a woman can have it all -- at least if she's a Republican vice-presidential nominee.
The Labor Day edition of the Times's "Political Points" podcast, recorded at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn, was hosted by Jane Bornemeier with commentary from reporters Jackie Calmes, Sheryl Gay Stolberg and David Kirkpatrick. The conversation was predictably dominated by "baby-gate" -- the news that Sarah Palin's daughter Bristol was pregnant. Some choice excerpts in which the two female reporters question the judgment of McCain and Palin and find the issue of a teenager's pregnancy fair game:
Peripatetic New York Times columnist Tom Friedman was in China for the closing ceremony of the Beijing Olympics, and his Wednesday column "A Biblical Seven Years" praised the host country for the Games' "magnificent $43 billion infrastructure," built over the past seven years while the U.S. has been stuck fighting Al Qaeda. Friedman also praised the Communist nation's "planning, concentrated state power" and "national mobilization." Don't those words have more than a little echo of Stalinism?
After attending the spectacular closing ceremony at the Beijing Olympics and feeling the vibrations from hundreds of Chinese drummers pulsating in my own chest, I was tempted to conclude two things: “Holy mackerel, the energy coming out of this country is unrivaled.” And, two: “We are so cooked. Start teaching your kids Mandarin.”
"Obama Campaign Wages Fight Against Conservative Group's Ads" is the third story from New York Times reporter Jim Rutenberg in five days that attacks an anti-Obama ad from the American Issues Project that questions the ties between Obama and homegrown terrorist Bill Ayers, cofounder of the Weathermen, the group that tried to blow up the U.S. Capitol in 1971.
In each story, Rutenberg appears far more worked up about the legality of the ads than in the underlying facts of Obama's relationship with Bill Ayers, an unrepentant terrorist turned professor of education in Chicago. The first 10 paragraphs of Rutenberg's online filing Wednesday are devoted to the back-and-forth machinations, again questioning the group's funding while suggesting dubious links to the McCain campaign. Rutenberg noted that Obama is striking back with a counter-ad and the threat of legal action to have the ads taken down.
For good measure, Rutenberg took another bite out of the best-selling book "The Obama Nation" (his first one was in a front-page story on August 13).
In her weekly Q&A session for the New York Times Sunday Magazine, reporter Deborah Solomon conducted a strongly hostile interview with Brigitte Gabriel, Lebanese-American journalist and opponent of radical Islam, while the headline blurb referred to Gabriel as a "radical Islamophobe."
The best-selling author and radical Islamophobe talks about why moderate Muslims are irrelevant, the lessons we should have learned from Lebanon and dressing like a French woman.
Is the Times calling Gabriel radical because she has an irrational fear ("phobia" or "-phobe") of Islam in general, or is "radical Islamophobe" a too-cute way of saying Gabriel has an irrational fear of radical Islam? Either way, the incredibly suspicious, hostile tone of Solomon's questioning is clear.
The Times' liberal book critic Michiko Kakutani profiled Jon Stewart, host of Comedy Central's "The Daily Show," and managed not to notice he's a liberal (as are the vast majority of his fans).
A picture of Stewart on the set takes up the entire above-the-fold space of the Sunday Arts & Leisure section, under the headline, "Is This the Most Trusted Man in America?" The same liberal instincts that dominate Kakutani's book reviews are evident in her long, flattering profile of Stewart and the cast of the liberal "Daily Show," of which Kakutani is clearly a fan.
For years, the New York Times has praised misleading books from liberal authors attacking President Bush and the war in Iraq: Tomes by Michael Moore, Seymour Hersh, Kitty Kelley, Richard Clarke, Jane Mayer, and Ron Suskind (who has also reported for the paper) -- too many to mention. Yet when a wildly successful book appears that attacks the Times's favored candidate, Democrat nominee Barack Obama, the paper unloads a front-page pushback against the "unsubstantiated, misleading...inaccurate"book.
In the summer of 2004 the conservative gadfly Jerome R. Corsi shot to the top of the best-seller lists as co-author of "Unfit for Command," the book attacking Senator John Kerry's record on a Vietnam War Swift boat that began the larger damaging campaign against Mr. Kerry's war credentials as he sought the presidency.
New York Times terror-trial reporter William Glaberson filed a "news analysis" Sunday on the war crimes conviction of Salim Hamdan, the Guantanamo Bay detainee recently convicted of providing material support to terror by serving as driver and bodyguard to Osama bin Laden.
The verdict in the first war crimes trial at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, is in: One poorly educated Yemeni, with an impish sense of humor and two little girls, is guilty of supporting terrorism by driving Osama bin Laden. With credit for time served, the sentence is no more than five months.
New York Times Southern-based reporter Adam Nossiter relayed a disturbing story about racism and anti-Semitism in a House primary in Memphis, "Race Takes Central Role in a Memphis Primary." But which party's primary? That's the one thing missing from Nossiter's Thursday piece -- the word "Democrat."
In the culmination of a racially fraught Congressional campaign in Memphis, a black candidate is linking her liberal-leaning white primary opponent in Thursday's contest, Representative Steve Cohen, to the Ku Klux Klan in a television advertisement.
Mr. Cohen's campaign said it was an unusually direct effort to inject race into the contest.
The New York Times's front-page report Thursday marking the 500th death in Afghanistan (most but not all in combat) tracks through the same muddy ruts as the paper's previous four stories marking each 1,000 fatality mark in Iraq.
It's taken almost seven years of combat in Afghanistan to reach the plateau of 500, which occurred on July 22 of this year. Apparently the Times couldn't wait for 1,000. The paper goes on to blame the public for ignoring the Afghanistan war, even though the Times's coverage of the war has hardly been comprehensive -- except when things are going badly.
New York Times reporter Sean Hamill filed "Mexican's Death Bares a Town's Ethnic Tension," about a killing in the town of Shenandoah, Pa. Four teenagers on the town's high school football team have been charged in the death of Luis Ramirez, an illegal immigrant, after he suffered a beating July 12. The boys have been charged, among other counts, with "ethnic intimidation." Motive? Hamill had the audacity to suggest an overturned policy from the town of Hazleton, 20 miles away from Shenandoah, was somewhat responsible for the hostile atmosphere that led to the killing.
Mr. Ramirez's death has also reignited a regional debate over immigration that began two years ago when the town of Hazleton, about 20 miles from Shenandoah, enacted an ordinance that sought to discourage people from hiring or renting to illegal immigrants.
Deborah Solomon, reporter for the New York Times Magazine, conducted her weekly Q&A this Sunday with Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens, ostensibly discussing his plan to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil by harnessing wind power.
But Solomon, who admitted voting for Al Gore in the 2000 election, also posed hostile questions about Pickens's involvement in the 2004 campaign against Democrat John Kerry:
Solomon: You helped re-elect Bush in '04 when you gave $3 million to the Swift Boat campaign to discredit John Kerry's Vietnam service. Do you regret your involvement?
The back and forth of racial accusations between the Obama and McCain camps made the front of Friday's New York Times in "McCain Camp Says Obama Plays 'Race Card,'" by Michael Cooper and Michael Powell. The reporters bizarrely suggested that it was the GOP, not Obama, that has injected race into the campaign, and relayed some dubious anecdotes to suggest Obama has been a victim of racist Republican attacks.
To continue the fun, a McCain spokesman on Friday compared the Times's editors to your "average Daily Kos diarist sitting at home in his mother's basement" playing Dungeons & Dragons.
"McCain Goes Negative, Worrying Some in G.O.P.," the New York Times fretted Wednesday in a headline over a story by reporter Michael Cooper. Times readers learned that while it's perfectly acceptable for the Times to call conservative Sen. Tom Coburn "Dr. No" in a front-page headline, it's bad for John McCain to call Barack Obama the same thing.
Cooper opened his story:
In recent days Senator John McCain has charged that Senator Barack Obama "would rather lose a war in order to win a political campaign," tarred him as "Dr. No" on energy policy and run advertisements calling him responsible for high gas prices.
(The headline to Monday's front-page story about Sen. Tom Coburn: "Democrats Try to Break Grip Of the Senate's Flinty Dr. No.")
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is doing a media tour, touting her new book, "Know Your Power: A Message to America's Daughters." On Monday night she sat down for a Q&A with New York Times reporter Elisabeth Bumiller inside the awkwardly named TheTimesCenter, an auditorium connected to the paper's headquarters in Midtown Manhattan. Book flacks aggressively marketed Pelosi's autobiography at the entrance, politely pressuring ticket holders even before their tickets were scanned (Pelosi was doing a book signing after the Q&A). In other words, the Democratic Speaker of the House was selling and signing books at NYT Co.
The conversation itself consisted of a lot more of Pelosi's A's than NYT Q's, as the Speaker filibustered through a series of mostly sympathetic questions from Bumiller (the first half especially more closely resembled a friendly Sunday morning TV book interview than any exercise in news-gathering).
The onstage chemistry between the two, alone on stage in the 378-seat auditorium, was polite but not effusive. The audience, in the heart of liberal Manhattan, was definitely on her side: Pelosi managed to wring applause lines from Democratic boilerplate like defending public schools (yeah!), women earning only 70 cents to the dollar of men (boo!), and Bush leaving office soon (yeah yeah yeah!).
Bumiller's initial questions were tailored to Pelosi's bean-counting feminism:
Bumiller: I should say, you say in your book, that 22% of elected officials in the world are women, while in the United States it's only 17%. So what's been holding us back in this, this most advanced country in the world?
New York Times reporter Patrick Healy's lead story in the Week in Review, "An Exclusive Club Gets Included," posed the question: Why, after a long spell of senators trying and failing to win high office, are two senators now in line for the presidency? Healy's short answer: It's all Bush's fault, for his "go-it-alone strategy in Iraq" and his "with-us-or-against-us presidency."
The Times is quite fond of the "go-it-alone" myth, having cited it several times. For the record, the United States actually led a 30-nation coalition in Iraq (35 countries joined the fight in Afghanistan).
Healy harked back to the wisdom of Sen. John Kerry:
John McCain or Barack Obama would be only the third president in history to go directly from the Senate to the White House. And, perhaps not coincidentally, both men face an electorate that seems more open to Senate-style compromise and negotiation, defying conventional wisdom in modern politics.
Maybe what John Kerry -- one in a long line of failed senators-cum-nominees -- called the "stubbornness" and "rigidity" of the Bush administration has changed all that. The alienation of allies; the go-it-alone strategy in Iraq; and the lack of immigration reform and a new energy policy; the rise in gas prices and health care costs have left many Americans in a dyspeptic mood. And with all the problems in the world, polls show there is a desire for a candidate with more foreign policy experience than a typical governor has.
The Columbia Journalism Review, not previously known as a Republican stronghold, sees liberal bias in the Times's rejection of an op-ed by John McCain supporting the war, a week after the paper ran an anti-war op-ed by his Democratic opponent, Barack Obama.
CJR contributor Lester Feder wrote of Deputy Editorial Page Editor David Shipley's rejection:
McCain partisans have decried the Times's decision -- and, if you read the two columns side by side, Shipley's justification does seem rather thin....Instead of making a statement about its judgment of McCain's leadership -- a judgment that it could defend on principle -- the Times has only reinforced its reputation on the right as a biased liberal broadsheet.
It is unclear what detailed "plans" sounded new to the Times when it accepted Barack Obama's July 14th submission.
New York Times reporter Larry Rohter once again rode to Barack Obama's defense in Tuesday's "Ad Campaign" watch, a review of John McCain's latest TV ad accusing Obama of letting gas prices rise. In "McCain Links Obama and High Gas Prices," Rohter eviscerated McCain's ad for daring to blame Obama for rising gas prices.
From the script of the ad, quoted by Rohter:
Gas prices. $4, $5, no end in sight. Because some in Washington are still saying no to drilling in America. No to independence from foreign oil. Who can you thank for rising prices at the pump? (chant) Obama, Obama.
A clearly displeased Rohter rushed to Obama's aid:
ACCURACY Mr. Obama is not against all drilling for oil and gas, only drilling offshore, a crucial word in the debate on energy policy but one never mentioned here....even before the recent spike, oil prices had been rising for a decade, the result of a variety of political and economic factors in places as far afield as China, India, Venezuela and Nigeria. So it is difficult to understand how Mr. Obama, a first-term senator, can be held responsible for that phenomenon.
Retiring New York Times Supreme Court reporter Linda Greenhouse has answered some more questions from readers at nytimes.com. After an earlier revelation that she considers the former ACLU lawyer Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg a centrist comes details of her deep affection for late ultra-liberal Justice William Brennan, whose decisions favored explicit racial quotas, no limits on abortion, mandatory school busing, opposition to the death penalty, and the strict separation of church and state:
Obviously, not every opinion Justice Brennan put his name to will stand the test of time. But many will. A personal note -- I took some time off from the court beat in the mid-1980's to have a baby and cover Congress for a couple of years. When I came back in 1988, Justice Brennan was 82 and the end of his tenure was in sight. He was one of the first people I ran into, in a court corridor. "I'm glad you're back," he said to me. I replied, "I'm glad you're still here."
The New York Times sent veteran Supreme Court reporter Linda Greenhouse into retirement in grand style on Sunday, turning over to her the front page of the Week in Review for "2,691 Decisions," a title marking the number of court cases she had covered during her tenure.
Unmentioned were her off-the-clock denunciations of conservatives, such as her infamous speech at Harvard in June 2006 when she tore into the Bush administration. What was included: Her clear belief that the world is a better place with Anthony Kennedy on the Court and Robert Bork not.
First, some of what Greenhouse told Harvard students in 2006:
...our government had turned its energy and attention away from upholding the rule of law and toward creating law-free zones at Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, Haditha, and other places around the world. And let's not forget the sustained assault on women's reproductive freedom and the hijacking of public policy by religious fundamentalism."
Here they go again: Today the New York Times ran yet another flaky story questioning the presidential eligibility of John McCain, born in 1936 in the Panama Canal Zone, where his Navy father was stationed.
Back on February 28, Congressional reporter Carl Hulse wrote a big story on the "controversy," even though Hulse himself admitted little was likely to come of it. The Senate later approved a resolution declaring McCain eligible for the presidency.
Law reporter Adam Liptak's story today, which led the paper's National Section, ran under the hopeful headline, "A Hint of New Life to a McCain Birth Issue," and detailed findings from a Democratic college professor allegedly showing McCain unable to satisfty the constitutional requirement of being a "natural-born citizen."
Rounding another turn in the race to November 4, The New York Times's "Election Guide -- Potential Running Mates," compiled by Adam Nagourney and Jeff Zeleny and posted to nytimes.com Monday, handicapped various potential vice presidents for Barack Obama and John McCain.
The Times first counted up twenty-one potential nominees, 11 Democrats and 10 Republicans (Democratic Sen. Jim Webb was removed after he took himself out of consideration).
From the Times, we learned South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham "has occasionally rankled some conservatives by not being conservative enough," that former Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge might not help with "McCain's already uneasy relations with conservatives," and that South Dakota Sen. John Thune "has strong credentials with social conservatives." In all, there were seven "conservative" labels applied to either politicians or their supporters.
The general election campaign began in earnest when Barack Obama wrapped up the Democratic nomination the night of June 3. Since then, the New York Times has continued to flatter the Obama campaign with superior coverage, as shown in a story count conducted by Times Watch.
Consistently, Barack Obama and his wife Michelle were portrayed as racial trailblazers whose religious beliefs and patriotism (and his lack of a flag pin) came under vicious and unfair attacks by conservatives. Meanwhile, John McCain was portrayed as a stiff, out-of-touch, gaffe-prone speaker struggling to appease the right wing of his party.
Between June 5 and July 5 (skipping June 4 to eliminate the pro-Obama skew from news reports of him clinching the Democratic nomination), the Times ran 90 stories on Barack Obama, compared to 57 on McCain (there was some overlap, as several stories devoted significant space to both candidates). Times Watch logged those stories one of three ways, as either positive, negative or neutral toward the respective candidate. The findings were striking: If Hillary Clinton thought she got an unfair shake from the press against Barack Obama (she did), then John McCain certainly has a legitimate bias beef against the Times.
Tuesday's New York Times report by Jeff Zeleny, "Campaign Flashpoints: Patriotism and Service" covered the back and forth between the McCain and Obama camps over a controversial comment by retired general and Obama adviser Wesley Clark about McCain's lack of qualifications to be president.
In response to a question by Bob Schieffer on the CBS Sunday talk show "Face the Nation," Clark said of John McCain, "I don't think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president."
But Zeleny also put heavy emphasis on fact-checking what he considers unfair attacks on Barack Obama.
Mr. Obama arrived here in Independence, the home of President Harry S. Truman, to open a weeklong patriotism tour. He sought to explain and defend his American ideals to ward off skepticism and silence persistent rumors about his loyalties to the nation.
The Times clearly adores this theme, and is constantly checking for signs that the reign of right-wing news is over and that CNN and MSNBC, whose liberal leanings are never admitted to in the paper, have overtaken Fox among this or that particular viewer segment. The only problem is, those cable rivals never quite seem to stay ahead of Fox News.
When prime-time cable news ratings for the second quarter of 2008 are officially released next week, they will show that Fox News reclaimed the top spot among viewers in their mid-20s through mid-50s, those of greatest interest to news advertisers, according to estimates from Nielsen Media Research.
During the first three months of the year, by contrast, CNN drew so many viewers on big Democratic primary nights and for several presidential debates that it vaulted over Fox News for the first time in six years.
Rutenberg went to Culver City, Calif. to profile leftist filmmaker Robert Greenwald and his cottage industry of anti-McCain films. While Rutenberg chided two conservative filmmakers for making dubious claims in their anti-Obama videos, Rutenberg found nothing misleading or objectionable in Greenwald's films, or anywhere else on the left end of the Internet.
Check this contrast:
The change has added to the frenetic pace of the campaign this year. "It's politics at the speed of Internet," said Dan Carol, a strategist for Mr. Obama who was one of the young bulls on Bill Clinton's vaunted rapid response team in 1992. "There's just a lot of people who at a very low cost can do this stuff and don't need a memo from HQ."
That would seem to apply to people like Robert Anderson, a professor at Elon University in North Carolina whose modest YouTube site that features videos flattering to Mr. Obama and unflattering to Mr. McCain, or Paul Villarreal, who from his apartment in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, has produced a harsh series of spots that attack Mr. Obama and make some claims that have been widely debunked.
The New York Times editorial board reacted badly to Thursday's 5-4 Supreme Court ruling endorsing a personal right to own a gun, in today's lead editorial, "Lock and Load."
Thirty-thousand Americans are killed by guns every year -- on the job, walking to school, at the shopping mall. The Supreme Court on Thursday all but ensured that even more Americans will die senselessly with its wrongheaded and dangerous ruling striking down key parts of the District of Columbia's gun-control law.
The Times didn't bother noting that slightly more than half of those 30,000 deaths are suicides -- most of which would presumably have happened eventually whether or not there was a gun around. Nor did the paper break down how many of those homicides were in self-defense.
Sunday's New York Times featured a Vietnam flashback, not to 1969, but 2004, as reporter Kate Zernike once again reported for duty in defense of John Kerry, in the former presidential candidate's Ahab-like quest for revenge against the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, whose questioning of his Vietnam War citations wounded him in the 2004 campaign.
The background: Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens issued a challenge last November -- $1 million to anyone who could disprove a single charge the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth made against Sen. John Kerry. A group of Kerry's Vietnam crewmates have sent a package to Pickens (and apparently to certain media outlets as well), including a 12-page letter and a 42-page attachment of Kerry's Navy records.
The New York Times's hypersensitivity towards perceived attacks on Obama was on display in Friday's "Ad Campaign" review by Julie Bosman. Under the heading "Scorecard," Bosman described the Obama's first ad of the general election campaign as an effective counterattack against anti-Obama "smear e-mail and Internet innuendo."
This advertisement tries to define Mr. Obama and his life story in the face of smear e-mail and Internet innuendo about his heritage, questions about his patriotism and accusations about his liberal record. It emphasizes his devotion to work, both personally and in his record, highlighting legislation that shows his compassion for working-class Americans and veterans -- and his toughness with welfare recipients. With its flag pin and statements on patriotism -- the commercial is called "Country I Love" -- it seeks to put to rest any doubts about his devotion to the United States. The advertisement addresses the problems Mr. Obama needs to address and tacks him back to the center.