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.
New York Times columnist and reporter Jim Dwyer provided comfort to left-wing anti-Bush conspirators everywhere when he gave respectability to Rosie O’Donnell’s wacky theorizing about how World Trade Center No. 7 collapsed (“miraculously, for the first time in history, steel was melted by fire”).
Even the headline misleads: “On Her Way Out the Door, Rosie O’Donnell Revives a Conspiracy Theory About 9/11.” Actually, the recently departed co-host of “The View” said it on the March 29 edition of the show -- two full months ago.
“The first day of the post-Rosie O’Donnell era on ‘The View’ television show has come and gone, and by any fair accounting, an often useful provocateur has left the building.
New York Times reporter Michael Luo’s Tuesday profile of Arizona Republican Sen. Jon Kyl, the GOP leader in shepherding through Congress a Bush-style immigration bill unpopular among Republicans, followed some familiar patterns of bias.
“Angry calls poured into Senator Jon Kyl’s office this week by the thousands, expressing outrage beyond anything he said he had witnessed in his 20-year political career. The callers were inflamed by Mr. Kyl’s role in shaping the bipartisan immigration compromise announced May 17, which lawmakers continue to debate.
New York Times reporter Kareem Fahim reported on an open house conducted by a New Jersey mosque connected to the Fort Dix Six terrorism investigation in Saturday's Metro section ("Open House At Mosque Of Suspects Proves Tense"). His slant was apparent throughout the story, as the Times once again soft-pedaled the radical Islamic origins behind the terror plot.
"The man sat in the back row of the mosque, his arms folded, unsure whether his hard opinions would change.
"'I'm concerned about the Muslims,' the man, Richard Smekal, 68, said just before an open house at the mosque, the Islamic Center of South Jersey, where four of six men accused of plotting to kill soldiers at Fort Dix had worshiped.
In a failed attempt by the New York Times to provide some balance to its shoddy pro-prosecution coverage of the Duke lacrosse "rape" hoax, Sunday's Sports section featured sports reporter Pete Thamel's profile of the reinvigorated 2007 Duke lacrosse team, which that morning was on the verge of making it to lacrosse's "Final Four" (Duke advanced, winning the day's match against instate rival North Carolina).
Yet in "This Time, Spotlight Is Kinder to Duke," Thamel managed to locate ubiquitous popular culture commenter Robert Thompson to make the defensive suggestion that while the Duke players may have been innocent of rape, they may have been guilty of…being college students:
"It is unclear what role, if any, religion played in the attack Mr. Shnewer and the five other men are charged with planning. (The sixth suspect, Agron Abdullahu, had no apparent connection with Al-Aqsa or the South Jersey Islamic Center.) The authorities have described the suspects as Islamic extremists, but the lengthy criminal complaint summarizing the F.B.I.'s 15-month undercover investigation of the group does not mention where -- or how often -- they prayed. Certainly there is no evidence that they picked up radical ideas at either mosque."
During a debate on atheism in New York City with Christopher Hitchens on Monday, the reliably inflammatory Al Sharpton said: "As for the one Mormon running for office, those that really believe in God will defeat him anyway, so don't worry about that.'"
"Sharpton Accused of Bigoted Remark" would be the equivalent of "Dog Bites Man" for a true "paper of record," but the Times rarely notices.
In atypical fashion, Luo devoted most of his space not to Romney's accusation or to calls for apologies from offended Mormons, but to Al Sharpton's (make that "civil rights activist" Sharpton, as Luo called him in a post on the Times' political blog) defense and rebuttal.
While covering media mogul Rupert Murdoch's offer to buy The Wall Street Journal from, New York Times reporter Richard Perez-Pena uncovered a news organization with a political slant: Fox News Channel.
"Two members of the Ottaway family, a minority partner in Dow Jones & Company, released scathing statements yesterday saying that a takeover by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation would ruin Dow Jones and its crown jewel, The Wall Street Journal.
"The controlling Bancroft family said last week that family members representing 52 percent of shareholder votes opposed Mr. Murdoch’s $60-a-share bid, a steep premium for a stock that had recently traded around $36. But their statement was vague, leaving it unclear whether family members objected to the price, to Mr. Murdoch or to a sale on any terms.
The New York Times is still adjusting badly to conservative candidate Nicolas Sarkozy's big win in the French presidential election over Socialist candidate Segolene Royal, judging by reporter Craig Smith's report from Paris on the thuggish violence that occurred after Sarkozy's big win ("Hundreds Are Arrested in Post-Election Riots Across France").
Instead of blaming the rioters, Smith implied that furthur violence could be blamed on Sarkozy keeping his campaign promises.
"Violent protests against the election of Nicolas Sarkozy as president of France ended early Monday after hundreds of people were arrested, hundreds of cars gutted, and hundreds of windows smashed in several cities across France.
Paris-based New York Times reporter Elaine Sciolino continued to nurse her long-standing grudge against Nicolas Sarkozy, the tough-on-crime presidential candidate of France, in two stories, one before and one after Sarkozy routed Socialist candidate Segolene Royal to win the presidency.
"He has gambled -- apparently successfully -- during the campaign that by turning hard right he would win over supporters of Jean-Marie Le Pen, the head of the extreme right National Front who made it into the second round of the 2002 election but made it into only fourth place this time.
New York Times reporters can'tstand it when President Bush actually has the nerve to speak in front of supportive crowds, and neither did the headline writer to reporter Jim Rutenberg's Thursday story, "Outing Finds Bush in the Thick of Softball Season." The text box reads: "In a challenging time, the president turns to a friendly audience."
That "friendly audience" would be the Associated General Contractors of America. Rutenberg, as if in disbelief, quoted chapter and verse the often-religious, positive bent of some of the audience questions to Bush.
The New York Times' quest for social justice knows no out-of-bounds, judging by the front-page placement Wednesday of "Study of N.B.A. Sees Racial Bias in Calling Fouls" by sportswriter Alan Schwarz. Years after failing to secure Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor the right to golf at Augusta National Golf Club, the Times has now turned to the plight of multimillionaire NBA players who get bad foul calls.
"An academic study of the National Basketball Association, whose playoffs continue tonight, suggests that a racial bias found in other parts of American society has existed on the basketball court as well.
"A coming paper by a University of Pennsylvania professor and a Cornell University graduate student says that, during the 13 seasons from 1991 through 2004, white referees called fouls at a greater rate against black players than against white players.
Blogger, law professor and case expert KC Johnson has noted the Times has never corrected falsehoods in the timeline in Wilson's August 25 story. Wilson's Saturday piece hews closer to the truth, but without acknowledging his original errors.
Rubin's piece reads more like one of the Times' liberally slanted "news analysis" pieces then straight reporting, and sounds a lot like the Times' hand-wringing coverage of another protective "wall," the one separating Israelis from Palestinians who threaten suicide bombings. And Rubin brought some Steven Erlanger-style moral outrage to her story -- the horror of waiting in line.
"The unexpected outcry about the proposed construction of a wall around a Sunni Arab neighborhood has revealed the depths of Iraqi frustration with the petty humiliations created by the new security plan intended to protect them.
New York Times political reporter Adam Nagourney is typically hyper-sensitive to any hint of a Republican "attack" on a Democrat (not so much the other way around). So it was refreshing to read him actually having a little fun needling Democrat presidential candidate John Edwards on Friday as "The Breck Girl" for his preening over his hair and looks when he thinks he's off-camera (most notoriously in a widely seen YouTube video set to "I Feel Pretty")
Nagourney on Friday wrote about the mini-flap over Edwards' two $400 haircuts and brought up the YouTube video while suggesting a perception of hypocrisy.
"John Edwards, the North Carolina Democrat, announced on Thursday that he was reimbursing his campaign $800 to cover what his aides said was the cost of two haircuts -- yes, you read that correctly -- by a Beverly Hills barber, though, perhaps, the word stylist is more applicable….Mr. Edwards has presented himself in the Democratic field as an advocate of working-class Americans, lamenting the nation’s growing economic disparity."
When three white Duke lacrosse players falsely accused of raping a black stripper were finally declared innocent by the attorney general of North Carolina earlier this month, New York Times critics focused on the paper's lousy coverage of the case, including Times Watch (citing research by law writer Stuart Taylor Jr.) and most prominently Fox News anchor Brit Hume on his April 12 "Special Report."
Even as the case fell apart and other liberal media outlets backed away, the Times issued a notorious 5,000-word portrait of the case on August 25, 2006, in which reporter Duff Wilson concluded that there was enough evidence against the players for local prosecutor Michael Nifong the case to trial.
As usual, company man Calame lets the Times off easier than it deserves, but his mild, overly faithful criticism does tease out a few nuggets of insight.
Paul Schneider, a contributor to the Times' Friday Travel section, visits the quaint Southern town of Flippin, Ark., the center of the first of many Clinton administration scandals, in "Remember Whitewater? The Place Is Still There."
Though his story is mostly concerned with hiking, fishing and caving (and occasional cracks about the South), Schneider opened with liberal conventional wisdom:
"It's hard now to remember those shiny days before 9/11 when Congress seemed to believe that the greatest threat to the republic lay in an obscure land deal in northwestern Arkansas called Whitewater. Given all that has passed under the bridge, there’s something quaint and nostalgic about so much froth and fury over something that in the end went nowhere, like a slightly gonzo Norman Rockwell cover showing democracy in action.
In the aftermath of the Duke lacrosse rape hoax, New York Times columnist Peter Applebome spoke out against the "socially conscious left" that was ready to convict the innocent Duke lacrosse players without evidence. Was fellow Times columnist Selena Roberts listening?
"The rape case that cost three Duke University lacrosse players a year of their lives and much more of their youth finally ended on Wednesday, when North Carolina Attorney General Roy A. Cooper said what many people have long known: all three were totally innocent of the charges against them.
Thursday's New York Times was the only major newspaper to lead with the big news out of North Carolina -- the state's attorney general is dropping all charges against the three former Duke University lacrosse players falsely accused of the sexual assault of a stripper at an off-campus house.
The story by Duff Wilson and David Barstow, "Duke Prosecutor Throws Out Case Against Players," noted:
"North Carolina’s attorney general declared three former Duke University lacrosse players accused of sexually assaulting a stripper innocent of all charges on Wednesday, ending a prosecution that provoked bitter debate over race, class and the tactics of the Durham County district attorney."
After sliming the Duke lacrosse players falsely accused of raping a stripper, Times sports columnist Selena Roberts returned to school on Wednesday with "A First Class Response to a Second-Class Putdown," about the Don Imus-Rutgers University women's basketball team controversy, in which the talk radio host denigrated the team by referring to them as "nappy-headed ho's." Roberts gushed about the Rutgers' players speaking truth to power:
"Of grace and dignity, without a single boob joke for ratings or a raunchy sidekick for on-air laughs, the women wearing Rutgers scarlet managed to capsize society’s power differential yesterday….But possessing the power differential means bullying someone your own size. With the ear of a national audience, Imus denigrated women who have revealed the courage to play a sport in its pure, fundamental form even though it is often branded inferior to the dunk style of men. The gals absorb enough put-downs as it is."
This marks huge hypocrisy on the part of Roberts, given that in the Duke lacrosse case, she eagerly sided with two separate bases of "power "-- an out-of-control local prosecutor, Michael Nifong, who now faces an ethics complaint from the North Carolina state bar*, as well as a politically correct college faculty and administration eager to side with what they considered an oppressed minority victim.
New York Times reporter Manny Fernandez attended one of the Rev. Al Sharpton's weekly "action rallies" at his Harlem headquarters ("Meetings Are Part Revival, Part Rally, but All Sharpton") for Sunday's edition -- convenient timing, given that disgraced radio host Don Imus would be appearing on Sharpton's radio show the next day to apologize for his "nappy-headed ho's" comment denigrating the Rutgers University womens' basketball team.
Fernandez, for whatever reason, apparently didn't interview the great man himself. Still, Sharpton was on safe territory, given that the paper has rarely if ever challenged him on his past hateful statements and inflammatory acts, which include spreading the incendiary Tawana Brawley hoax. In 1987, Sharpton insisted that the black teenager was raped by a group of white men, including prosecutor Steve Pagones. The Brawley case fell apart, and Pagones eventually won a huge settlement against Sharpton for defamation.
New York Times reporters Helene Cooper and Carl Hulse's Saturday "Washington Memo" -- "As One Syria Trip Draws Fire, Others Draw Silence" -- defended House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's controversial trip to Syria with familiar Democratic talking points.
"With a final stop in Lisbon on Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi headed home to a Washington that is still ringing with complaints from senior Bush officials that her stop in Damascus to visit with Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, bolstered the image of Syria at a time when United States policy is to isolate it.
It was a Vietnam flashback in Thursday's news pages, as New York Times reporter Jim Rutenberg deployed 2004-era Times language to attack the veracity of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, the Vietnam veterans group that successfully challenged John Kerry's Vietnam war record. The story concerned Sam Fox, Bush's nominee for ambassador to Belgium, who was forced to withdraw from consideration after Sen. John Kerry made a stink that Fox donated $50,000 to the Swifties. Bush took advantage of the Congressional recess to install Fox as ambassador without waiting for Senate approval.