Specter served as a liberal Republican for most of his career before switching to the Democratic Party in 2009 in an unsuccessful attempt to preserve his seat. But while Specter battled conservative icon Judge Robert Bork and helped deny Bork a seat on the Supreme Court, it's a later Supreme Court dust-up the Times and liberals refuse to forgive him for: His tough questioning of Anita Hill after she accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment during Thomas's 1991 Supreme Court hearings.
New York Times Public Editor Margaret Sullivan's Sunday column on drone strikes featured an interesting comment about (media?) bias against Republicans from David Rohde, a reporter kidnapped by the Taliban in 2008.
First, Sullivan criticized the Obama administration from the left:
The Biden-Ryan vice-presidential debate Thursday night brought out the media's "fact check" squads, including the New York Times, which had a squad of reporters evaluating the statements of Joe Biden and Paul Ryan online during the debate. Still, with perhaps 15 reporters on the job Thursday night, the paper still had to out-source a crucial Biden misstatement on Libya to the one-man fact-check machine at the Washington Post, Glenn Kessler, the next morning.
The Times boiled down a few of its findings for Friday's print edition under "Check Point" on topics including Medicare, the stimulus, and the deadly assault on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.
James Taranto has written at Opinion Journal that this new-style media "fact checking" is "overwhelmingly biased toward the left" and "gives journalists much freer rein to express their opinions by allowing them to pretend to be rendering authoritative judgments about the facts." The Times's debate product doesn't refute Taranto's argument. Reporter Michael Cooper had the top "Check Point" item and per usual found the Republican at fault:
In a surprise, New York Times' Public Editor Margaret Sullivan criticized her paper in a Thursday afternoon blog post for downplaying the congressional hearings into the deadly attacks on the U.S. consulate in Libya. The Times made the interesting decision to put the second day of hearings on page 3 Thursday, in the International section, as opposed to the National section, which begins in the middle of the paper. In contrast, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal both put the hearings on the front page, while the Los Angeles Times carried original reporting from Libya (not the hearings) on the front page.
Sullivan asked the Times's editors why they chose to ignore the story in their main section and soon got a response: "there were six better stories."
Inside Mitt Romney’s campaign headquarters over the past few days, the data pouring in was unmistakable. Aides scouring the results of focus groups and national polls found that undecided voters watching the presidential debate in Denver seemed startled when the Republican candidate portrayed all year by Democrats -- the ultraconservative, unfeeling capitalist -- did not materialize.
New York Times reporter Monica Davey was in Wisconsin on Thursday, playing up the Democratic candidate's Rep. Tammy Baldwin chances in her race for an open Senate seat against former Wisconsin governor, Republican Tommy Thompson. The headline was a puzzler: "A Republican Haven Is Finding Itself Split."
Though Gov. Scott Walker pushed through his public sector union reforms and survived a recall vote, Wisconsin hasn't been a "Republican Haven" for decades. The state has voted Democratic in the last six presidential elections, last voting for Republican Ronald Reagan in 1984 along with all but one other state. Between 1993 and 2011 Wisconsin was represented in the U.S. Senate by two Democrats, Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold (Feingold lost to Republican Ron Johnson in the November 2010 election, and Kohl is retiring, leaving the open seat Baldwin and Thompson are fighting over).
When Republicans began questioning President Obama’s birth certificate four years ago, it seemed at first like a petulant reaction to a lost election, a flush of nativist and racist anger that would diminish over time. But the preposterous charges never went away. As this election cycle shows, many in the Republican Party continue to see the president as the center of a broad and malevolent liberal conspiracy to upend the truth.
As Congress holds hearings on the fatal attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, the New York Times placed its partisan political story by Michael Schmidt and Eric Schmitt on page A10 under a neutral, purely political headline, "Before Hearings on Libya Attack, Charges of Playing Politics." The text box was mild: "An inquiry is expected to focus on potential intelligence failures."
The Washington Post at least put Benghazi on the front page, in a story by Anne Gearan under the critical but off-target headline "Deadly Benghazi Attack Could Mar Clinton Legacy" (as if Hillary Clinton's reputation is the key issue at stake, not the four Americans killed). NewsBuster Ken Shepherd critiqued Gearan's story.
Media mogul Rupert Murdoch sent a Twitter message on Sunday morning complaining about the Sunday New York Times: "Practically nothing in NYT, predicable nearly unreadable Review section - even unintelligible Maureen Dowd."
Admittedly, the lead Sunday Review article by novelist Kevin Baker was more enticing to liberals, who seem to be section editor Andrew Rosenthal's intended audience: "Republicans To Cities: Drop Dead." (The headline and graphic are meant to mimic the infamous New York Daily News headline from October 30, 1975, after President Gerald Ford denied federal assistance to the city: "Ford to City: Drop Dead.") Baker talked of "radio ranters" of the right wing, bizarrely suggested D.C. was a victim of "lax gun laws," and accused Republicans of racist "dog whistles."
Political writer Matt Bai wrote "Is There Life After Mitt?" for the upcoming issue of the New York Times Sunday Magazine. Besides cheap cracks at Michele Bachman and (again) calling conservatives anti-modern "extremists," there's a definite "Death of Conservatism" vibe to Bai's analysis. Times editor Sam Tanenhaus's 2009 book of that name was forcefully rebutted by the Tea Party movement that same year. How will Bai's analysis fare come the November elections?
On Monday's front page, New York Times reporters Peter Baker and Trip Gabriel used the upcoming vice presidential debate to criticize Obama's performance in his debate with Mitt Romney last week: "Biden Up Next, Obama's Aides Plot Comeback."
The Times didn't flinch from calling out Obama's "disaster" of a debate performance, but did find some excuses for the president, including distractions like the terrorist massacre in Libya (though that didn't stop Obama from attending a fundraiser in Las Vegas the next day). The Times also dropped in this revelation: "Mr. Obama made clear to advisers that he was not happy about debating Mr. Romney, whom he views with disdain."
But he was unusually passionate while flashing his disdain for the Romney campaign and those Americans who (horrors) think PBS is a drain on the federal government. The Times' knee-jerk reaction to such a puny cut in federal spending was revealing.
So much for sophisticated liberalism. Nicholas Kristof's Thursday New York Times column is titled "Why Let the Rich Hoard All the Toys?" Despite (or because of) an opening that's almost a parody of simple-minded liberalism, it was the 1# most e-mailed Times story as of Friday morning.
Imagine a kindergarten with 100 students, lavishly supplied with books, crayons and toys.
Yet you gasp: one avaricious little boy is jealously guarding a mountain of toys for himself. A handful of other children are quietly playing with a few toys each, while 90 of the children are looking on forlornly -- empty-handed.
In a bit of a surprise, New York Times reporters Jeremy Peters and Jim Rutenberg filed a longish article on a recently unearthed Obama video from 2007 showing the president in a fiery, racially charged mode and praising his anti-American pastor Jeremiah Wright, a video downplayed or ignored by most of the mainstream media: "Race at Issue for Obama As Right Revives '07 Talk."
Less surprising was the snotty text box: "New fodder for a favorite topic in conservative circles." And the reporters took care to trace the tape's provenance down the conservative media food chain.
The first Obama-Romney presidential debate of 2012 ran under this less-than-informative banner headline in Thursday's New York Times: "Obama and Romney, in First Debate, Spar Over Fixing the Economy." The actual headline to the story by Jeff Zeleny and Jim Rutenberg also failed to capture the sense, overwhelming even among the liberal press, that Romney had helped himself with a sharp, energetic performance at the University of Denver: "Feel of Seminar as Accusations Fly From Rivals."
The Washington Post's banner headline was more direct and captured the consensus of the night: "Romney takes fight to Obama," while the story claimed the president "found himself on the defensive repeatedly." Other headlines from around the country captured the same effect.
By contrast, you had to parse the Times to sense that Romney won the night. (One significant Timesman, former Executive Editor Bill Keller, reluctantly awarded Romney the debate on his Twitter feed, calling Romney's performance "shameless but masterful.")
Vice President Joe Biden's latest gaffe came when he asked a North Carolina crowd how Romney and Ryan can "justify raising taxes on the middle class that’s been buried the last four years?" perhaps forgetting his boss has been in charge during that exact time frame (and that the Romney campaign denies it will raise taxes on the middle class). It predictably failed to make the print edition of the New York Times.
The New York Times's Sunday Styles section offered some hard-hitting journalism about the toned-up and good-looking First Couple, complete with fabulous photos. Joyce Purnick mock-criticized Michelle Obama for looking so "toned and elegant" in "(Psst: We Feel Bad About Our Arms.)" Text box: "It's time to face the truth: we don't all look like the first lady."
I had expected to keep mum about my problem with Michelle Obama until after the election, but my frustration has gotten the better of me. I can contain it no longer.
I refer not to her politics, but to her arms-- her bare, toned, elegant arms. Enough!
The latest cover story in the New York Times Book Review is a long, pseudo-erudite bashing by Mark Lilla of a conservative book, marinaded in Lilla's selective view of the history of Progressivism in the United States. Lilla, humanities professor at Columbia University, lambastes Charles Kesler's "I Am The Change – Barack Obama and the Crisis of Liberalism." The text box portrayed conservatives as motivated solely by blind rage: "More than a few American citizens are loathing themselves blind over Barack Obama. Why?"
Lilla opened with a standard "clever" bait-and-switch that he probably thinks will shock people, but which most conservatives will figure out long before the end:
The New York Times Sunday Review, run by the ultra-liberal Andrew Rosenthal, again pressed for the Democratic side by running an op-ed that was the #2 most e-mailed Times story as of Monday afternoon, the provocatively titled "The Conservative Case for Obamacare," by J.D. Kleinke, a resident fellow at the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute.
If Mitt Romney’s pivots on President’s Obama’s health care reform act have accelerated to a blur -- from repealing on Day 1, to preserving this or that piece, to punting the decision to the states -- it is for an odd reason buried beneath two and a half years of Republican political condemnations: the architecture of the Affordable Care Act is based on conservative, not liberal, ideas about individual responsibility and the power of market forces.
As shown on Times Watch this morning, New York Times media reporter David Carr may pooh-pooh the idea of liberal bias. But he's a stronger supporter of the First Amendment than some of his Times colleagues, like movie critic A.O. Scott, who ludicrously defended a left-wing journalist's vandalism of the subway poster as "free expression" and even "democracy."
In "The Sweet Spot," a weekly videocast featuring Carr and movie critic A.O. Scott discussed controversial advertisements put up in the New York City subway system by anti-Islamist activist Pamela Geller that read: "In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad."
On Thursday the New York Times's Romney-beat campaign reporter Ashley Parker returned to Romney's tired "47 percent" controversy in "Romney Ad Reaches Out to Working Class." Not content with recycling old anti-Romney issues, Parker also recycled her criticism of Romney – so far she has described Romney as "defensive" in at least 12 news stories, including this one, according to a Nexis search.
New York Times movie critic A.O. Scott didn't much like "Won't Back Down," about two mothers fighting uncaring teachers and immovable bureaucracy (including the teachers' union) in an inner city school. Scott, a liberal, ironically warned that pious expressions of concern for 'the children' are usually evidence of a political agenda in overdrive" (as if liberals never bleat about "the children"!) The Times much preferred a left-wing propaganda piece on Occupy Wall Street.
Scott, who in 2004 praised left-wing filmmaker Michael Moore as "a credit to the republic" in his review of "Fahrenheit 9-11," wrote on Friday:
Occasional (biased) New York Times reporter Ginia Bellafante lamented at the lack of traction gained by recent cultural portrayals of the greed of the "moneyed class," in her Sunday "Big City" column "Rich as the Devil, But No Gordon Gekko." The text box: "Recent pop culture efforts to render the moneyed class in all its moral vacuity have gained little traction." Yes, that same morally vacuous moneyed class that the Times avidly caters to. Bellafante wrote of the new TV show 666 Park Avenue:
Independent political groups have long been the guerrilla warriors of presidential elections, tossing explosive advertisements into the middle of a campaign like hand grenades, with little regard for the strategy of the candidate they support.
The New York Times is certainly not treating Barack Obama's statement on 60 Minutes that the death of four Americans in Libya, including Libyan ambassador Christopher Stevens, as one of a few "bumps in the road," as a callous and politically damaging gaffe. Reporter Ashley Parker reluctantly covered Romney delivering "talking points" to the media on the matter, in "Republican Team Attacks Obama on Foreign Policy," but her story opened by highlighting Romney's "tough" time, including yet another mention of Romney's "47 percent" comment at a private fundraiser.
In an interview that aired Sunday, Obama was asked by CBS's Steve Kroft whether "the recent events in the Middle East given you any pause about your support for the governments that have come to power following the Arab Spring?"
Obama responded in part: "But I was pretty certain and continue to be pretty certain that there are going to be bumps in the road because, you know, in a lot of these places, the one organizing principle has been Islam."
New York Times technology correspondent Somini Sengupta wrote a depressing article for the Sunday Review suggesting free speech could be limited by corporations (at the behest of government) in the interest of not offending the sensibilities of violent radical Muslims -- "Free Speech in the Age of YouTube."
Sengupta also seemed to sign on to the false notion that the anti-American violence in Egypt and Libya was tied to the shoddy old anti-Muhammad clip posted on YouTube, when in fact the violence on the anniversary of 9-11 had been long planned and the clip a pretext at best. (Meanwhile, Times editorial board member Lincoln Caplan was also disturbingly ambivalent on "absolutist" free speech on the domestic front.)
Again the Times focused on the political damage fostered by Mitt Romney's (accurate) statement at a fundraiser that 47 percent of Americans do not pay income taxes. Meanwhile, the Times buried two controversial Obama comments. One is an old audio tape of Obama saying "I actually believe in redistribution," a remark reporter Richard Oppel Jr. actually defended in Thursday's edition.
New York Times reporter turned editorial writer David Firestone showed extreme sensitivity to the tender feelings of Democrats in his Wednesday afternoon post, "The ‘Redistribution’ of Wealth." In an editorial Sunday he dubiously claimed "Don't Tell Anyone, But the Stimulus Worked."
Guided by pollsters like Frank Luntz, the Republican party upgraded all rich people into “job creators,” and tarnished the estate tax by calling it the “death tax.” Its candidates prefer “energy exploration” to oil drilling, and insist on the “religious freedom” of church groups to deny freedom of reproductive choice to their employees. Carefully choosing words to disguise or express contempt is so vital to the party’s strategy that Republicans won’t even properly use the name of the Democratic Party, cutting off the final “ic.”