The Times commemorates Martin Luther King day in its usual way, making it a Bush-bashing holiday.
Back in 2004, reporter Jeffrey Gettleman lit into Bush for going to Atlanta to mark the day. Here are some excerpts from his January 15, 2004 report:
"Many of Atlanta's civil-rights leaders are outraged about Mr. Bush's planned visit to commemorate Dr. King's 75th birthday and are using the occasion for protests. Already, they have marched with bullhorns, signs and thumping drums, shouting for the president to stay away....Many demonstrators asked how Mr. Bush, who pushed for war in Iraq, could champion Dr. King, who stood for nonviolent resistance....When President Clinton came in 1996, he received a standing ovation. But this presidential visit will be different. It seems to have lifted the lid on long-simmering anger many blacks feel toward Mr. Bush. Some Bush policies, including tax cuts mainly benefiting those with higher incomes and cutting back on welfare-type programs, have alienated black voters, analysts say."
A Saturday New York Times editorial, “A Home for the Drawing Center,” celebrates the fact that a left-wing museum, originally to be located at Ground Zero, has found a new home in Manhattan, and accuses opponents of the project of opposing free speech.
“The Drawing Center, of course, was once part of other plans to rebuild Lower Manhattan. It was going to inhabit a planned cultural center at ground zero, until, in a memorable spasm of apparently unscripted patriotism, Gov. George Pataki made it impossible for the center to remain. If nothing else, the battle over culture at ground zero made it perfectly clear that Governor Pataki favors free speech, but only if it takes place in another part of town.”
“Mr. Bush spent his brief visit in a meeting with political and business leaders on the edge of the Garden District, the grand neighborhood largely untouched by the floodwaters of Hurricane Katrina, and saw little devastation. He did not go into the city's hardest-hit areas or to Jackson Square, where several hundred girls from the Academy of the Sacred Heart staged a protest demanding stronger levees. Mr. Bush's motorcade did pass some abandoned neighborhoods as it traveled on Interstate 10 into the city.”
“….vital positions at the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration have gone unfilled in recent years, inviting only further laxity on the part of companies that have been allowed to outsource their safety responsibilities to off-site contractors that are not subject to regular federal inspections. And the safety administration, which once maintained rescue experts at regional offices, now has them dispersed across the nation on the theory that they can be summoned fast enough to save lives. Warning signs have abounded in recent years. Yet The [Charleston] Gazette found that a plan begun a decade ago to upgrade the mine rescue program was quietly scuttled by the Bush administration. The pro-company bias of the administration is itself a factor deserving full investigation if the inquiries now being promised are to have any credible effect.”
As MRC colleague Brent Baker reported, former National Security Agency official Russell Tice unveiled himself on ABC News last night as one of the sources for last month’s New York Times scoop on the National Security Agency’s terrorist surveillance program.
Stephen Spruiell at National Review Online predicted something like this last week, asking: “If Tice turns out to be one of the NY Times' anonymous sources for its NSA stories, didn't the Times readers deserve to know that its information came from a potentially unbalanced ex-employee with an ax to grind?”
Spruiell is referring to the fact that Tice lost his job after the NSA revoked his security clearances, citing psychological concerns."
At the top of the lead story for Tuesday's New York Times, reporters Richard Stevenson and Neil Lewis put the onus on Bush’s Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito to show he’s not “too much of an ideologue.”
“Addressing concerns among Democrats that his past support for conservative positions makes him too much of an ideologue for a seat on the Supreme Court, Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. began his public drive for confirmation Monday by saying judges should have no agendas or preferred outcomes of their own.”
Later, they make this claim to suggest Alito may find the vote rough going:
“But the biggest difference from the Roberts hearings may have been in the political climate. Since then, Mr. Bush has been weakened by the failed nomination of Harriet E. Miers to the Supreme Court, the continued bloodshed in Iraq and the corruption inquiries that have ensnared Republican lobbyists and members of Congress.”
Saturday’s front-page teaser for its Page One business section story by Edmund Andrews and Richard Stevenson (“Bush Cites 2 Million New Jobs in 2005 and Healthy Economy”) is headlined “Jobless Rate Declines But Wages Lag Inflation.”
This continues the Times’ stubborn insistence on putting a negative spin on good economic news, a motif reflected in the paper’s broader coverage.
By contrast, when the job numbers weren’t as impressive, the paper trumpeted the figures not merely in the business section, but in its lead story, as TimesWatch recounted back on August 9, 2004:
“David Leonhardt's lead story Saturday on the latest disappointing job figures is headlined: ‘Slow Job Growth Raises Concerns On U.S. Economy."’ The headline to the online edition is much blunter and more partisan: ‘In Blow to Bush, Only 32,000 Jobs Created in July.’”
The New York Times' California-based correspondent John Broder is usually happy to relay bad news about Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Friday’s story from Sacramento doesn’t disappoint: “Humbled Schwarzenegger Apologizes for ’04 Election, and Then Proposes a Centrist Agenda.”
Catch the headline goof? That’s how TimesWatch's hard copy reads. (Online, the year has been corrected to ‘05.) The “election” in question was the ambitious slate of special election ballot measures Schwarzenegger put on a state ballot (and which were rejected last November).
Broder prefers the new “uncharacteristically humble” governor.
“Arnold Schwarzenegger apologized to the voters of California on Thursday night and proposed a series of policies that represent a dramatic return to the political center after an ill-fated lurch to the right last year….In his annual State of the State message, Mr. Schwarzenegger said he had gone against the people's will by sponsoring a costly special election in November that was widely seen as an effort to punish public employees and Democratic lawmakers.”
NYT reporter Adam Nossiter has an eager story about a “very conservative congressman” pushing what Nossiter calls “the ultimate big government solution” for post-Katrina rebuilding in New Orleans. The headline writers and editors were also wooed by Rep. Richard Baker’s apparent apostasy (“A Big Government Fix-It Plan for New Orleans”), putting the story on Thursday’s front page.
“Representative Richard H. Baker, a Republican from suburban Baton Rouge who derides Democrats for not being sufficiently free-market, is the unlikely champion of a housing recovery plan that would make the federal government the biggest landowner in New Orleans -- for a while, at least. Mr. Baker's proposed Louisiana Recovery Corporation would spend as much as $80 billion to pay off lenders, restore public works, buy huge ruined chunks of the city, clean them up and then sell them back to developers.”
NYT business reporter/columnist Gretchen Morgenson loves corporate scandals, and she rounds up the year’s greatest hits for an illustrated, above-the-fold story, “The Big Winner, Again, Is ‘Scandalot,’” for Sunday’s Business section year-end wrap-up.
“Same stuff, different year. That’s one way to look at 2005, the fourth consecutive year in which corporate chicanery loomed large….Greed was on display throughout 2005 as throngs of executives pocketed pay that was even greater than the previous year’s. To hear them talk, they deserved the amounts because -- are you sitting down? -- they enhanced shareholder value. Never mind that many of their companies’ stocks ended the year lower than where they began it.”
The New York Times evidently sensed a need to respond to last week’s announcement of a Justice Department investigation into who leaked to Times reporters James Risen and Eric Lichtblau for their December 16 scoop on surveillance of terror suspects in the U.S.
Wednesday’s editorial, “On the Subject of Leaks”, attempts to explain how one set of leaks (Plame’s identity as a CIA employee) was very bad, possibly criminal, and certainly worthy of investigation, while another set of leaks (uncovering the Bush administration’s surveillance of terror suspects without warrants) was a noble and patriotic deed that shouldn't be questioned. It's rough going for the paper, and basic logic doesn’t fare well either.
Intelligence reporter James Risen co-wrote the Times’ December 16 front-page scoop about government spying on terror suspects in the U.S. without first obtaining search warrants. As was later revealed by Drudge (but not by the Times), the story seemed rather conveniently timed to coincide with his upcoming book, “State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration”).
Risen’s book is out now, and Katie Couric interviewed him for the Today show Tuesday morning, where he said of his many anonymous sources:
“…many of these people had grown up in the environment of knowing that in order to get to listen in on Americans you had to get a court order and they saw something was happening in which that was not being done. That there were, that the courts were being skirted, the Congress, that the laws had not been changed. And they believed that for whatever reason the Bush administration was skirting the law. Now that'll be something that we can all debate about whether or not they did skirt the law? But that was the reason the people came forward. They believed that something was going wrong."
Once again in 2005, the New York Times provided a bounty of material to choose from, whether it was a pattern of biased coverage -- Hurricane Katrina, Cindy Sheehan -- or a single bizarrely biased story, like one from Sarah Boxer on a pro-U.S. blog in Iraq.
Here are some samples fromTimesWatch's top 3 examples of the worst from the liberally slanted year of coverage.
#3 Relaying Reckless Leftist Charges Against Pro-U.S. Bloggers in Iraq
Reporter Sarah Boxer achieved instant notoriety in blogging circles for an irresponsibly speculative piece January 18 on a pro-U.S. blog run by Iraqi brothers. Boxer began in a breathless style that probably helped her story garner the top slot of the Arts front page: "When I telephoned a man named Ali Fadhil in Baghdad last week, I wondered who might answer. A C.I.A. operative? An American posing as an Iraqi? Someone paid by the Defense Department to support the war? Or simply an Iraqi with some mixed feelings about the American presence in Iraq? Until he picked up the phone, he was just a ghost on the Internet. The mystery began last month when I went online to see what Iraqis think about the war and the Jan. 30 national election. I stumbled into an ideological snake pit." But her story was rooted entirely in the speculative postings from a far-left group blog called Martini Republic.
New York Times congressional reporter Carl Hulse's Friday "news analysis" is devoted to Congress departing for its Christmas break amid the usual hectic end-of-session machinations ("A Messy Congressional Finale"). And it's all Republicans' fault.
"In the end, Republicans largely have themselves to blame for the muddled and haphazard finale of the Congressional session....At nearly every crucial turn in recent weeks, it was a group of Republicans, painfully aware of President Bush's decline in popularity, who broke from the White House and the party leadership in the House and Senate and forced concessions in major legislation or stalled it until the bitter end."
The Times has two lame follow-up stories to its supposedly explosive scoop that the Bush administration is eavesdropping, without prior court approval, on people in the U.S. communicating with people abroad with al-Qaeda ties.
First, reporters James Risen and Eric Lichtblau have a damp squib ("Spying Program Snared U.S. Calls -- Some Exchanges Are Said to Be Purely Domestic") in pursuit of their overhyped story from Friday on domestic terrorist surveillance by the Bush administration.
"A surveillance program approved by President Bush to conduct eavesdropping without warrants has captured what are purely domestic communications in some cases, despite a requirement by the White House that one end of the intercepted conversations take place on foreign soil, officials say. The officials say the National Security Agency's interception of a small number of communications between people within the United States was apparently accidental, and was caused by technical glitches at the National Security Agency in determining whether a communication was in fact 'international.'"
From promoting the "socially conservative instincts" of Sen. Hillary Clinton to lamenting the lack of gas rationing in support of the Iraq War, there was no shortage of bizarre bias in the New York Times in 2005. To celebrate the year in slant, Times Watch presents a selection of the absolutely most biased quotes from Times reporters and writers.
Ex-CBS producer Mary Mapes still has her liberal blinders on, judging by the letter that appeared in the New York Times Book Review yesterday. Responding to an unfavorable review of her book by Newsweek's Jonathan Alter, Mapes nevertheless credits Alter for being right about the anti-CBS jihad from "the right."
"A thousand times, yes! The bogus questions about typeface used to 'discredit' CBS's Bush/Guard story were a fraud, as Jonathan Alter wrote in reviewing my book, 'Truth and Duty' (Nov. 20). He's also right that the so-called independent panel was a legalistic/ corporate inquisition against the news division I love. I guarantee you that, given the chance, Dick Thornburgh, his firm's lawyers and Lou Boccardi would find even Alter's work sadly lacking. Despite the millions that CBS paid, the panel got a lot wrong and still won't answer for it, just as the president has never explained his aborted military service. CBS panicked over the blog attack and strained to appease the right, whose tactics against us were the same as with Wilson, Plame, Clarke and other administration 'critics.'
Travel caused me to miss Friday's big lead scoop in the New York Times on domestic spying by the National Security Agency ("Bush Lets U.S. Spy on Callers Without Courts"), but the rest of the blogosphere took the story on from multiple angles, questioning the pieces timing, agenda, even its newsworthiness.
The Times article no doubt had the effect the paper intended, throwing the White House on the defensive and causing the renewal of the Patriot Act to be thwarted, a long-time goal of the Times editorial page.
But is this sort of terrorist surveillance truly a new and troubling thing? The government's Echelon spy program was reported on during the Clinton administration, in a 2000 report on CBS's "60 Minutes." In words that ring familiar, host Steve Kroft intoned:
Continuing a mini-trend at the New York Times of downplaying Holocaust denial among Middle East leaders, Thursday morning brings this headline to a Page 5 story regarding the latest anti-Semitic rantings of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: "Iran's President Clarifies His Stand on Holocaust: It's a European Myth" The Iranian leader called the Holocaust a "myth" used by Europeans to create a Jewish state.
In contrast, the Washington Post gives the outburst much stronger play, with a story from one of its own foreign service reporters, not just using AP copy as the Times does. The Post also places the story on the front page, accompanied by a solid headline: "Iran's President Calls Holocaust 'Myth' in Latest Assault on Jews."
The New York Times finally checks out the Democrat-Jack Abramoff connection -- briefly, anyway.
Philip Shenon's "Democrat Returning Donations From Abramoff's Tribal Clients" reports that Democratic Sen. Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, ranking Democrat on the Senate committee investigating controversial lobbyist Jack Abramoff, is "returning $67,000 in political contributions from Mr. Abramoff's former partners and Indian tribe clients."
But although there is an obviously juicy hypocrisy angle to this story (Dorgan has been an outspoken critic of Abramoff), Shenon's story is relegated to a short piece at the bottom of page 24 in Wednesday's edition.
"The ranking Democrat on the Senate committee investigating the Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff announced on Tuesday that he was returning $67,000 in political contributions from Mr. Abramoff's former partners and Indian tribe clients. The lawmaker, Senator Byron L. Dorgan of North Dakota, has been accused of hypocrisy by Republicans for having not acknowledged the contributions from Mr. Abramoff's clients while at the same time sharply criticizing him in hearings of the Senate panel, the Indian Affairs Committee."
Colunmnist Charles Krauthammer's Weekly Standard essay on the moral defensibility of torture in fighting terror has raised eyebrows, and the New York Times tries to gin up more controversy in a feature on Krauthammer for the Sunday Week in Review.
The story by Anne Kornblut, "He Says Yes to Legalized Torture," includes the text box: "In a controversial article, Charles Krauthammer says that at times, coercion is morally necessary." A sidebar excerpts passages of Krauthammer's article in "the conservative Weekly Standard" interspersed with rebuttals by blogger/author Andrew Sullivan, whom the paper identifies as "also a conservative, who replied in the most recent issue of The New Republic, where he is a senior editor."
For some reason, New York Times science reporter Andrew Revkin, in Montreal to cover a climate change conference, instead gives prominent coverage to an ongoing rave of young leftwing environmental activists.
Friday's "Youths Make Spirited Case at Climate Meeting" gives a shout-out to the lefties:
"But a stream of participants hiked through the frigid night to a corner building on the far side of Chinatown that pulsed with light and thudding music. Inside, a local nonprofit group called Apathy Is Boring was giving a party. There was no apathy in attendance -- just 300 people, most in their 20's, who had come from as far away as Australia and Los Angeles to pester the 'fossils' -- the legions of gray-suited negotiators who, these young people said, were hijacking their future."
The New York Times just can't forgive Mel Gibson for making "Passion of the Christ." Editor-columnist Frank Rich assailed it, most amusingly when he predicted it would be "a flop in America" and rather appallingly when he called it "a joy ride for sadomasochists" and accused Gibson of anti-Semitism.
Wednesday's paper dredges up the anti-Semitic charge in a front-page business-section story by David Halbfinger promoted on the "Inside Box" on the front page with this heavy language:
"Mel Gibson, whose 'Passion of the Christ' was assailed by some critics as an anti-Semitic passion play -- and whose father has been on record as a Holocaust denier -- has a new project under way: a nonfiction mini-series for television about the Holocaust."
David Cloud reports on Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's talk at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in "Rumsfeld Says the Media Focus Too Much on Negatives in Iraq," but devotes most of his small Tuesday story to anti-administration side issues and rebutting unrelated statements by Rumsfeld.
"Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Monday that news media organizations were focusing too much on casualties and mistakes by the military in Iraq and were failing to provide a full picture of the progress toward stabilizing the country. 'We've arrived at a strange time in this country where the worst about America and our military seems to so quickly be taken as truth by the press, and reported and spread around the world, often with little context and little scrutiny, let alone correction or accountability after the fact,' he said in a speech at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies."
Saturday's New York Times story from Sheryl Gay Stolberg, "Democrats Sense Chance In Ohio for '06 Elections -- Weakened Republicans Still Hold Edge," is the latest in what amounts to an "occasional series" of Times' stories encouraging Democrats in Ohio.
Congressional reporter Stolberg is even more excited about Democratic prospects in Ohio than James Dao (of Marine letter infamy) was during Paul Hackett's unsuccessful run for an open House seat. And before the 2004 election, Dao noted: "The disarray is so great, Democrats contend, that it could hurt President Bush's ability to win Ohio, a pivotal state for the Republicans."
The New York Times claims "An American-backed program appears to defy the basic tenets of freedom of the press" as it continues to play catch-up to the Los Angeles Times, which had the dubious honor of breaking the story of the Pentagon-led PR-journalism campaign in support of the U.S. effort in Iraq.
On Friday, NYT reportrs Eric Schmitt and David Cloud file "Senate Summons Pentagon To Explain Effort to Plant Reports in Iraqi News Media." The text box: "An American-backed program appears to defy the basic tenets of freedom of the press."
Yesterday afternoon the Washington Post filed to its website a quick take on Bush's speech to the Naval Academy on Iraq, including the president's emotional quotation from a letter found on the laptop of Marine Cpl. Jeffrey Starr, six months to the day after his death in a firefight in Ramadi.
"Reading from a letter written by a U.S. soldier on his lap-top computer before his death, an emotional Bush said America owes those who have died in Iraq to 'take up their mantle, carry on the fight and complete their mission.'"
By contrast, the Times online story from Christine Hauser made no mention of Starr's letter. Perhaps one reason why: As Michelle Malkin first learned, The New York Times quoted Starr's letter in a story last month, but managed to miss the point, leaving off the very part Starr's family and President Bush found significant.
Perhaps the media's most cherished holiday tradition is the middle-class poverty story, which alleges that hunger and homelessness are now stalking the previously impervious middle class, stories often based on dubious numbers from the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Now, clear a place: Heating bills are joining hunger and homelessness at the liberal groaning board.
The Times discovers middle-class needy in Stony Brook, N.Y., in Sunday's Metro section story by Paul Vitello ("Middle Class Gets in Line for Help With Rising Heating Bills").
"The main government assistance office in Suffolk County sits just off a busy road in an office park surrounded by a neighborhood of deep lawns and two-car garages. Everyone for miles around uses that road every day. But until recently, hardly anyone from the neighborhood -- people whose status in the middle class was thought secured unquestionably by homeownership -- ever turned into the office park to seek help inside the county's nondescript building. This year, they have come in from the fear of the cold. They are retirees, young couples, the temporarily unemployed, the two-income families stretched to the limit of second mortgages and credit cards, a slice of the suburban demographic that social workers call 'mortgage rich and pocket poor.'"
A Monday New York Times editorial, "Public Broadcasting's Enemy Within," goes way over the top in its rhetorical assault on Kenneth Tomlinson, the former Corporation for Public Broadcasting chairman who had the audacity to attempt to bring some political balance to PBS, which has long used tax money to fund liberal programming:
"As chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Kenneth Tomlinson proved to be a disastrous zealot. Internal investigators found he repeatedly broke federal law and ethics rules in overreaching his authority and packing the payroll with Republican ideologues."
In the New York Times Sunday book review, Newsweek Senior Editor Jonathan Alter checks out "Truth and Duty," the apologia from Mary Mapes, the disgraced former CBS News producer of "Memogate" infamy, in which she blames right-wing bloggers and everyone but herself for how her "expose" of Bush's National Guard duty blew up in the face of her network.
The liberal Alter is highly critical of Mapes and CBS, but makes a rather paranoid and over-the-top claim about "Buckhead," the Atlanta attorney who originally questioned the fake documents used by CBS's "60 Minutes II" to attack President Bush's Texas Air National Guard service record.
"Buckhead"'s posting on the right-wing FreeRepublic website began the blogosphere's speedy evisceration of the forged memos, but Alter has this novel spin: "The blogger's anonymous assertion, within hours of the broadcast, that the proportional spacing and type font of the Killian memos did not exist in those days was only one of many falsehoods spread by political hit men."