When leading Republican candidates Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney demurred on attending a Republican presidential debate hosted by the video-hosting site YouTube, some web-savvy Republicans protested. That's the background for New York Times reporter Katharine Seelye's "Allies Urge Republicans to Join YouTube Debate" Thursday.
"When the leading Republican presidential candidates started to squirm last week about attending a Sept. 17 YouTube debate, in which the public would ask questions via video, there was a surprising backlash from the world of Republican and conservative bloggers."
What's so "surprising" about bloggers wanting their party's candidates to participate in an Internet debate?
Seelye later referred to the situation as "a mess." Then there was this identification of blogger-author Andrew Sullivan
When liberals aren't taunting conservatives with death wishes, they will often, under a guise of concern, talk of how hopefully this brush with fate will give the conservative a more humane, compassionate, less restrictive outlook on life (i.e., become a Democrat).
There's an undercurrent of that in New York Times Supreme Court reporter Linda Greenhouse's "Supreme Court Memo," "Uncertainty Now in a Golden Youth's Trajectory," on Chief Justice John Roberts' seizure. Greenhouse evidently hoped that Roberts' brush with fallibility will soften the whiz-kid conservative's heart.
In a sympathetic story, reporter Russ Buettner relayed the plight of local property owners fighting abuse of eminent domain -- the taking of private property for public use -- by local governments. Such "takings" were made infamous by Kelo vs. New London, the controversial 2005 Supreme Court decision which found that the city of New London, Conn., was within its rights to condemn private property and hand it to a development corporation under the control of the city government, a decision that enraged left and right alike.
Sunday's New York Times led with Scott Shane and David Johnston's "Mining of Data Prompted Fight Over U.S. Spying," on what the intelligence reporters characterized as a fierce Justice Department debate over the use of "data mining" in the war on terror.
"A 2004 dispute over the National Security Agency's secret surveillance program that led top Justice Department officials to threaten resignation involved computer searches through massive electronic databases, according to current and former officials briefed on the program.
In his Sunday Business section story for the New York Times, "Did McDonald's Give In to Temptation?" reporter Andrew Martin took a surprisingly moralistic look at the corporation's new menu.
One wonders what the paper's beef is with McDonald's, which after all provides safe, inexpensive food to the lower-to-middle-class section of society the Times claims to care about (and convenient bathroom facilities for the homeless, at least in Times Watch's neck of the woods). But apparently some things can't be forgiven. The source of the Times' angst? McDonald's is re-introducing its giant-size soda under a new name, "The Hugo."
"It wasn't too long ago that the only thing McDonald's seemed good at was making people fat.
The Duke lacrosse "rape" hoax refuses to fade away, no doubt to the chagrin of New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller.
The Times features prominently in a comprehensive article by Rachel Smolkin in an upcoming edition of the American Journalism Review. Smolkin delivers a week-to-week dissection of the credulous media coverage given to false rape charges by a stripper against three Duke lacrosse players. Smolkin talked to former Times public editor Daniel Okrent, who was critical of his paper's coverage at the time and remains so.
Does the New York Times have a favorite Democratic candidate?
Reporter Leslie Wayne, in Iowa with the John Edwards campaign, filed the Times's latest strongly positive story Tuesday on the "populist" (not liberal!) Edwards, who the Times seems determined to make into the next John F. Kennedy or Bobby Kennedy. Wayne's latest is a glowing profile of an Edwards Iowa campaign event, which Wayne saw as pure Americana. The headline: "A Candidate Tends His Field of Dreams."
"Surrounding him were about 100 voters, all seated on outdoor chairs provided by the local Congregational church, in a scene that could not have been more picturesquely American -- democracy in action at its most intimate level. Even the music of John Mellencamp -- 'Our Country' -- helped make that point.
"Charges Against a Star Linebacker Raises Questions About Justice" appears at first to be a run-of-the-mill example of politically correct crime coverage in the New York Times. Sports reporter Thayer Evans hinted at racism in a criminal investigation of a black college football player, Oklahoma State Cowboys linebacker Chris Collins, arrested on sexual assault for raping a 12 year-old. But then one remembers the Times' coverage of the Duke lacrosse case, and the politically correct becomes pathetic.
"In May 2004, Collins and another man were arrested and charged with sexually assaulting an intoxicated 12-year-old girl at a hotel in Texarkana, Tex., during an after-prom party. Two other men were charged in December 2005. Collins pleaded not guilty in March, after being indicted by a grand jury in December 2004.
The Kennedy political dynasty has certainly been blessed with blue-collar friends awaiting them at the start of their political careers. There never seems to be a shortage of horny-handed sons of toil to assure fledgling Kennedys that being rich is no impediment to being a friend of the working man.
In the course of Times reporter Robin Toner's web-only column absolving rich Democrats from feeling guilty for preaching about poverty while making millions, Toner delivered the better-documented version of the Kennedy family folk tale.
As the story goes, Ted Kennedy was campaigning for his first Senate seat in 1962 when he was confronted by a blue-collar worker who provided the future senator his absolution.
New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief Steven Erlanger has long been known for his pro-Palestinian reporting, and his Sunday magazine profile of Gaza's Khaled Abu Hilal, who went from the "mainstream" Palestinian group Fatah to the overtly anti-Israeli terrorist group Hamas, certainly fit the pattern.
Erlanger began with this cloying, sorrowful harangue:
"Palestinians never used to do these things to one another. Putting bullets in the back of the heads of men on their knees. Shooting up hospitals. Killing patients. Knee-capping doctors. Executing clerics. Throwing handcuffed prisoners to their deaths from Gaza’s highest (and most expensive) apartment buildings. There is a madness in Gaza now."
With Bush giving a press conference about the war in Iraq, Thursday wasn't exactly a slow news day. Yet the New York Times found room on Friday's front page for Winnie Hu's story about American Indian lacrosse players, "American Indians Widen Old Outlet In Youth Lacrosse." Meanwhile, readers got to watch political correctness trump the paper's corporate-line feminism.
"While the teams do not wear native clothing or have tribal sideline chants, the players say they adhere to the spirit of the game played hundreds of years ago. For instance, the Onondaga Red Hawks and the Tonawanda Braves do not allow girls to play, and male players on some other teams forbid women to touch their sticks for fear such contact could cost them the protection of the Creator during games. If a stick has been touched by a woman or girl, some native lore says it must be put away for seven days, and some Tonawanda players have been known to discard or give away such sticks."
In the New York Times' version of the gossip pages (the Sunday Styles section), reporter Susan Saulny injects a novel Democratic talking point into the potential candidacy of Republican Fred Thompson -- one involving his wife, in "Will Her Face Determine His Fortune?"
"As the election of 2008 approaches with its cast of contenders who bring unprecedented diversity to the quest for the White House, the voting public has been called on to ponder several questions: Is America ready for a woman to be president? What about a black man? A Mormon?
"Now, with the possible candidacy of Fred D. Thompson, the grandfatherly actor and former Republican senator from Tennessee, whose second wife is almost a quarter-century his junior, comes a less palatable inquiry that is spurring debate in Internet chat rooms, on cable television and on talk radio: Is America ready for a president with a trophy wife?
Are White House reporters taking cue from liberal bloggers? A bit near the end of the New York Times "White House Memo" by reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg, "An Ebbing of Coverage With '08 on the Horizon," certainly puts the idea out there.
White House correspondent Stolberg again indulged herself in portraying Bush as a fallen and failed president.
"Back when he was riding high in the polls, when his every utterance made headlines and the press planes trailing him around the country were still full, President Bush had little need to indulge reporters with ceremonial pleasantries.
New York Times reporter Michael Luo's front-page Saturday story on Hillary Clinton's religious faith, "For Clinton, Faith Intersects With Political Life,” was a pretty transparent attempt to moderate the candidate's secular reputation by emphasizing her religiosity.
Meanwhile, Luo naively cast Hillary Clinton as a passive spouse betrayed by her husband during the Monica Lewinsky scandal -- as if Bill Clinton’s White House philandering came as a total shock after all the years in Arkansas.
"Long before her beliefs would be tested in the most wrenching of ways as first lady, Hillary Rodham Clinton taught an adult Sunday school class on the importance of forgiveness. It is a lesson, she says, that she has harked back to often."
Through the long piece, Luo portrayed Hillary as a victim.
London-based New York Times reporter Alan Cowell was no fan of Tony Blair's support for George Bush and the Iraq War -- he particularly enjoyed repeating left-wing anti-war mockery of Blair as "Bush's poodle."
"Before Gordon Brown took power as Britain's new prime minister, there was much talk about whether the electorate would warm to the dour, methodical and detail-driven Scot, particularly after so many years of soaring oratory from his predecessor, Tony Blair
New York Times reporters Alan Cowell and Raymond Bonner reported on the twin terrorist attempts this weekend in London's Piccadilly area and at Glasgow Airport and came up with this puzzler:
"In July 2005, four suicide bombers killed 52 people on London's transit system, and another set of attacks failed two weeks later, bringing home to Britain fears of homegrown terrorist attacks among its disenfranchised South Asian population. Witnesses said the two men in the Glasgow attack were South Asian."
Over the weekend, the New York Times covered the fallout from Bush's failed amnesty-for-illegal immigration bill, finding that the GOP has doomed itself among Hispanics by its harsh talk radio rhetoric, while devoting space to the disappointment of illegal immigrants and Mexicans who want to be, and interviewing two of the few conservative activists that actually supported the bill, apparently without interviewing the myriad conservative activists aligned against it.
"But the bill's demise may have greatly damaged the party's ability to meet its enduring goal of attracting a large percentage of the growing number of Hispanic voters -- thousands of whom are ostensibly in line with the party on a host of other issues, said many Republican lawmakers, consultants and Hispanic voters."
Joseph Berger's New York Times column on education today doubled as a film review. "Film Portrays Stifling of Speech, but One College's Struggle Reflects a Nuanced Reality" criticized an anti-PC documentary, "Indoctrinate U," by bringing in an incident that occurred at Vassar college that was not even featured in the movie. Berger actually defended Vassar punishing a conservative campus publication by defunding it and shutting it down for a year.
"A new documentary is making the rounds that argues, with vivid examples, that the nation's colleges are squelching freedom of expression and are no longer free marketplaces of ideas.
"The film carries the striking title 'Indoctrinate U,' and was made by Evan Coyne Maloney, who describes himself as a libertarian and is looking for a national distributor.
Western-based New York Times correspondent Kirk Johnson wondered why Colorado residents are getting so worked up over illegal immigration, given they don't even know any illegals, in Sunday's "Anxiety in the Land of the Anti-Immigration Crusader." Even the photo caption was slanted: "The skyline of Highlands Ranch, a booming suburb of Denver that is largely white."
(Back in February 2005, Johnson defended University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill, who called the victims of 9-11 "little Eichmanns," from those trying to suppress his free speech: "Many students interviewed on campus in recent days said they feared that the lines being drawn around Professor Churchill were also creating boundaries about what could be freely and safely talked about in the United States.")
The big New York Times expose hyped on Drudge over the weekend on Rupert Murdoch, media mogul (and worst from the Times' perspective, the creator of Fox News) appeared on Monday's front-page in the off-lead position. The Times put four bylines on the beat for its attempted hit piece: Jo Becker was the lead writer, with help from media reporter Richard Siklos, Jane Perlez and Raymond Bonner, for "An Empire Builder, Still Playing Tough."
What's they find? Not much new, but at least presented with that special, hostile Times' spin.
"His vast media holdings give him a gamut of tools -- not just campaign contributions, but also jobs for former government officials and media exposure that promotes allies while attacking adversaries, sometimes viciously -- all of which he has used to further his financial interests and establish his legitimacy in the United States, interviews and government records show.
New York Times movie critic A.O. Scott again defended (in a markedly defensive manner) dubious left-wing documentarian Michael Moore in his glowing review on Friday of "Sicko," Moore's new documentary on the U.S. health care system. Scott thinks it's Moore's "least controversial and most broadly appealing" movie, and "the funniest."
That's pretty strong praise from Scott. After the fatally flawed "Fahrenheit 9-11," Scott called Moore "a credit to the republic."
"His regular-guy, happy-warrior personality plays a large part in the movies and in their publicity campaigns, and he has no use for neutrality, balance or objectivity. More than that, his polemical, left-populist manner seems calculated to drive guardians of conventional wisdom bananas. That is because conventional wisdom seems to hold, against much available evidence, that liberalism is an elite ideology, and that the authentic vox populi always comes from the right. Mr. Moore, therefore, must be an oxymoron or a hypocrite of some kind."
Things go wrong right from the start of the New York Times' obituary for Vilma Espin, "Cuba's unofficial first lady" -- and Cuban Communist Party leader by reporter Anthony DePalma (pictured at right).
"Vilma Espin, an idealistic socialite who fought alongside Fidel and Raul Castro in the mountains of Cuba and later, as Raul Castro’s wife, became a prominent advocate of women’s rightsand a powerful member of the Cuban Communist Party, died Monday in Havana." Aren't those mutually exclusive terms? How in the world can a Communist leader be a credible advocate for anyone's rights?
Since joining the New York Times' Baghdad bureau (after having covering Iraq for the L.A. Times), reporter Alissa Rubin has consistently provided coverage even more pessimistic than even the early "civil war" declarer, reporter Edward Wong. In April, Rubin lamented how "Iraqis feel about the violence and disruption of daily life that have brought so much misery to the country since the American invasion in 2003."
Today's New York Times lead story by Rubin, on the deadly explosion that destroyed part of the Khalani Mosque in Baghdad, included two occasions where Rubin let Iraqis suggest the U.S. was helping the terrorists.
Mark Leibovich's front-page profile in Saturday's New York Times of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney painted the former Massachusetts governor as all style and little substance -- "Polished and Upbeat, Romney Struggles to Connect on Stump."
"Mitt Romney loves the word 'great.' As in, 'Have a great day,' 'Things are going great,' 'I’m feeling great.' Mr. Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, also looks great, sounds great and smells great, like shaving cream. Everyone who asks him something gets a 'Thanks, great question.'"
"In a halting cadence, Mr. Faux (pronounced 'Fox') explained that his 26-year-old son, an Army National Guardsman, was about to leave for Iraq.
"'What is your plan to fix this problem?' Mr. Faux asked, his voice breaking slightly.
The Times' new Public Editor, Clark Hoyt, started work early and showed a bit more initiative than his predecessor Barney Calame in mildly criticizing the Times' decision to underplay the terror threat at Kennedy International Airport, though he agreed with Times editors that the plot wasn't a credible threat.
Friday's New York Times predictably led with the dramatic stalling in the Senate of the immigration bill endorsed by President Bush (a story by Carl Hulse and Robert Pear that offers the pleasant surprise of the term "liberal Democrats" to characterize some opponents of the bill). As a counterweight, the Metro section fronted a sob-story by Jennifer Medina, "Arrests of 31 In U.S. Sweep Bring Fear In New Haven."
Some of those in federal custody are suspected of being illegal immigrants, and Medina described in sympathetic terms the liberal attitude toward illegal immigrants by New Haven, Conn. officials who "wanted to bring them out of the shadows."
"Within hours, any sense of sanctuary that the city and advocates for immigrants advocates [sic] had developed over the years was turned upside down, replaced with fear."
John Tierney was once an iconoclast libertarian columnist for the New York Times who now writes for the Tuesday Science section every two weeks. But yesterday, Tierney stepped back into politics and made a powerful political point by taking on the sainted Rachel Carson, the author of the infamous proto-environmental book "Silent Spring," a book that has become required reading in school for the last generation, and was indirectly responsible for the banning of the pesticide DDT in poor countries, with deadly consequences.
"For Rachel Carson admirers, it has not been a silent spring. They’ve been celebrating the centennial of her birthday with paeans to her saintliness. A new generation is reading her book in school -- and mostly learning the wrong lesson from it."
As Drudge noted last night, a book review in today's New York Times by author-professor Robert Dallek trashed "Her Way," the new autobiography of Hillary Clinton by two of the paper's long-time reporters, investigative reporter Don Van Natta Jr., and Jeff Gerth, who worked at the Times for over 25 years.
Dallek's is a common name in the Rolodex of Times political reporters looking for a critic of Republican presidents past and present, and as shown by his negative review of "Her Way," he can also be relied on to defend Democrats. That's something Times' book editors surely suspected when they approached Dallek with the assignment in the first place, suggesting that in this case ideological loyalty to the liberal Hillary trumped the paper's corporate loyalty to its long-time reporters.
Bizarrely enough, the terror plot in New York City to blow up airport terminals and fuel lines at Kennedy International Airport didn't make the front page -- or even the national news section -- of Sunday's New York Times. Instead, it received a front-page "tease" and topped the Times' Metro section of regional news. By contrast, the Washington Post put the story on the front page, and the Los Angeles Times made it Sunday's lead item.
The story by Cara Buckley and William Rashbaum went to some length to downplay the seriousness of the threat:
"Mark J. Mershon, the assistant director in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation field office in New York, said all four men had 'fundamentalist Islamic beliefs of a violent nature,' although they appeared to be acting on their own and had no known connection to Al Qaeda.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the liberal Supreme Court justice, took the unusual step of reading from the bench her dissent against the Court's recent 5-4 ruling in a case against pay disparity in the workplace. The New York Times' Supreme Court reporter Linda Greenhouse celebrated Ginsburg's activism in her Thursday "Supreme Court Memo," "Oral Dissents Give Ginsburg a New Voice on Court."
"Whatever else may be said about the Supreme Court's current term, which ends in about a month, it will be remembered as the time when Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg found her voice, and used it.
"Both in the abortion case the court decided last month and the discrimination ruling it issued on Tuesday, Justice Ginsburg read forceful dissents from the bench. In each case, she spoke not only for herself but also for three other dissenting colleagues, Justices John Paul Stevens, David H. Souter and Stephen G. Breyer.