How Can 'Mainstream' Media Figures Land on the List of 'Top 25 Journalists on the Left'?

Liberal Tina Brown’s website The Daily Beast as another Top 25 list of journalists today – The Left’s Top 25. (Noel Sheppard noted their top conservatives last week.) Tunku Varadajaran, formerly of the Wall Street Journal editorial page, listed Jon Stewart as the most impactful journalist on the left.

What stands out are the "mainstream" media figures on the list. There’s CNN host Christiane Amanpour, and a trio of Washington Post people, past and present. But the largest force in this Left list is five from The New York Times: columnist Paul Krugman (number 2), op-ed page editor David Shipley (4), economics writer David Leonhardt (8), Times magazine writer Deborah Solomon (22) and Times magazine contributor David Rieff (24).

What will shock readers is the MSNBC deficit: only Rachel Maddow (11), and no Matthews or Olbermann.

The largely positive blurbs that accompany this photo gallery hardly seem written by a conservative. Take the Paul Krugman encomium:

The leading liberal political economist, Krugman is among the most influential columnists ever to have written for an American newspaper. Devastating in his opposition to the Bush administration, he has had to put away his nuclear weapons now that there is in the White House a president of his choice. An affinity to Obama has not, however, stopped him from being a sometimes trenchant opponent of policies of which he disapproves, particularly regarding the pace and size of stimulus spending.

In the David Shipley blurb, it’s simply stated that the New York Times is simply the best in opinion:

Enormously (if understatedly) influential as the editor of the best op-ed page in America, Shipley wields curatorial powers-and an ability to shape the national debate-that are the envy of editors at other newspapers. Although his stable of regular columnists contains a few duds, he does have at his beck and call some of the finest in the business. His page offers the best "branding" any op-ed author could wish for, and rare indeed is the writer who turns down a Shipley invitation to opine.

The David Leonhardt caption does accurately convey his helpfulness to the White House:

Washington insiders signal that he is President Obama's favorite economics writer. Why? Because Leonhardt, on a reliable basis, has explained and defended the administration's approaches to health-care reform and the stimulus. A recent column, "Judging Stimulus by Job Data Reveals Success," was reported thus by Politico: "The White House views this as the seminal piece on the Recovery Act."

Deborah Solomon’s nasty takedowns of conservatives are "adept," and yet snarky:

Solomon's front-of-the-book interview column is every Sunday Times reader's guilty pleasure. The snarkiest of inquisitors, she specializes in the takedown of her subjects (why do they agree to meet her? Is it masochism?), and is particularly adept at playing gleeful "gotcha" with conservatives.

The top-conservatives list was more likely to carry pejorative adjectives like "shrill."

The Washington Post will inspire the most vitriol, since the number-five pick is editorial page editor Fred Hiatt, which even the Daily Beast acknowledges leftists spit on as a "neocon" on military policy. Former Post managing editor Steve Coll is number 13, and Post columnist and blogger Ezra Klein (just selected to opine at Newsweek as well) is 15.

CNN’s Amanpour is "elegantly stern" in attack "insular" Americans:

In an age when meaningful coverage of foreign affairs has all but disappeared from our television, Amanpour continues to fly her flag in the cause of unpronounceable foreign stuff. Now anchor of her own daily show, she takes us on eye-opening excursions to such places as Iran, Greece, and Haiti, all the while pricking American insularity in that elegantly stern way of hers.

The Jon Stewart tribute seems canned, straight from the adoration assembly line:

Why is Jon Stewart No. 1? Because no one can match his reach, and his daily impact on the 25-40 demographic (which put its man in the White House). Because he invariably asks tougher questions than much of the "mainstream" media. Because we don't see Paul Krugman going on Fox to do battle, head-to-head, with Bill O'Reilly. Because he will make fun of Obama when Obama needs to be made fun of. And because he has, with his humor and intelligence, captured better than anyone the hypocrisy and absurdity of our media and politics.

The Daily Beast could at least have done the favor of putting Stephen Colbert on the list, abjuring the idea that somehow his Papa Bear O’Reilly routine isn’t a liberal-tickling smear of ignorant conservatives.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis