As noted previously on Newsbusters, the violent Muslim protests against the publication of cartoons lampooning Islam has clearly put The New York Times in an uncomfortable position. The rioters, while to the Times an embattled minority in the West, are attacking free speech. Not good. But their most vocal critics are conservatives. Indeed, the Times describes the paper that first ran the cartoons as “conservative.” Can’t side with them.
In today's “Critic’s Notebook” piece, headlined "A Startling New Lesson in the Power of Imagery" and featuring a photo of children holding a sign "Danish People Not Welcome Here," writer Michael Kimmelman unwittingly describes the paper’s dilemma halfway through his meandering 1,396-word item:
But the Mohammad cartoons are “gratuitous assaults on religious symbols” and won’t be run by the paper.
Just yesterday, the Times wrote, in an editorial on the Danish cartoons of Mohammad, that “The New York Times and much of the rest of the nation's news media have reported on the cartoons but refrained from showing them. That seems a reasonable choice for news organizations that usually refrain from gratuitous assaults on religious symbols, especially since the cartoons are so easy to describe in words.”
Apparently the Arts pages didn’t get the memo, because it runs a photo of Chris Ofili’s dung-clotted “Holy Virgin Mary” painting in Wednesday’s Arts section story by Michael Kimmelman, who also calls the Danish cartoons “callous and feeble.”
Although the Times didn’t join the Philadelphia Inquirer in actually publishing the most controversial cartoon (Mohammad with a bomb for a turban), its tentative stand for free speech is nonetheless braver than the editorial page of the NYT Co.’s subsidiary paper, The Boston Globe.
One would hope and expect a liberal newspaper like the New York Times to have the meager virtue of consistency on matters of freedom of expression, particularly in defense of another newspaper. As the world now knows, the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published twelve cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad last September, considered taboo (though not always recognized as such) by Muslims.
But Times reporter Craig Smith apparently found the cartoons themselves far more inflammatory than he did the actual rioting of Muslims burning embassies in Syria and Lebanon. Even the headline to his Sunday Week in Review story suggests the Danish newspaper's exercise of free speech was somehow irresponsible, likening it to pouring fuel on a flame: “Adding Newsprint to the Fire.”
TheNew York Times ran a story on 28 January, 2006, entitled, “Public-School Students Score Well in Math in Large-Scale Government Study.” Well, it wasn’t a “government” study. It was only paid for by a government grant. When one looks into the methodology of the study and the histories of its two researchers, the results are highly suspect.
The Times wrote:
A large-scale government-financed study has concluded that when it comes to math, students in regular public schools do as well as or significantly better than comparable students in private schools.
The study, by Christopher Lubienski and Sarah Theule Lubienski, of the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, compared fourth- and eighth-grade math scores of more than 340,000 students in 13,000 regular public, charter and private schools on the 2003 National Assessment of Educational Progress. The 2003 test was given to 10 times more students than any previous test, giving researchers a trove of new data.
The wounding in Iraq of ABC anchorman Bob Woodruff and cameraman Doug Vogt spurred New York Times Metro columnist Clyde Haberman to talk Friday (TimesSelect required) about the 61 journalists killed in Iraq.
“On the list are only two American journalists: Michael Kelly, who wrote for The Atlantic Monthly and The Washington Post, and Steven Vincent, a freelancer from New York. Mr. Kelly was in a Humvee that turned over after coming under fire in the war's early days. Mr. Vincent was kidnapped last summer, probably by Islamic extremists, then beaten and shot, his body dumped in the street.”
Haberman uses the death toll to mock bloggers for not doing similar dangerous work:
“Christian ministers were enthusiastic at the early private screenings of ‘End of the Spear,’ made by Every Tribe Entertainment, an evangelical film company. But days before the film's premiere, a controversy erupted over the casting of a gay actor that has all but eclipsed the movie and revealed fault lines among evangelicals.”
Banerjee talks to Rev. Jason Janz, who posted comments on sharperiron.org about actor Allen’s gay activism.
Give the Times a little credit for covering, in a mostly straightforward manner, an obscure topic of interest to social conservatives. But in the middle of the story, apropos of nothing, comes this sidelight, apparently meant only to cast the Christian side of the debate as extremist:
Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr., who has been widely praised for his intellect and integrity but both admired and assailed for his conservative judicial philosophy, was confirmed today as the 110th justice in the history of the Supreme Court.
A few paragraphs down we read:
The vote is also a triumph for the conservative movement, whose adherents have longed to tilt the balance of the court to the right.
The Times continues to use the “conservative” label throughout the story. Examples:
Legal scholars have described (Alito’s) jurisprudence as … solidly conservative. …
“To spotlight his priorities, President Bush invited ordinary people -- a teacher, a physicist, an Afghan politician, the family of a fallen soldier -- to the State of the Union address on Tuesday. But a Democratic congresswoman turned the tables on Mr. Bush by inviting a guest of her own: Cindy Sheehan, the antiwar protester who has dogged Mr. Bush from his Texas ranch to the White House. Ms. Sheehan's presence loomed large in the House chamber, though she was not there. Capitol Police arrested her before the speech began, ejecting her from the gallery after they discovered her wearing an antiwar T-shirt. A police spokeswoman said Ms. Sheehan was charged with unlawful conduct, a misdemeanor.”
The teaser sentence: “The vote is a triumph for President Bush and conservatives who have longed to tilt the balance of the court to the right.”
Stout’s text emphasizes Alito’s conservatism again and again:
“Samuel A. Alito Jr., who has been widely praised for his intellect and integrity but both admired and assailed for his conservative judicial philosophy, was sworn in today as the 110th justice in the history of the Supreme Court. The ceremony, at the Supreme Court, came shortly after Justice Alito was confirmed by a sharply divided Senate, which voted 58 to 42, largely along party lines.”
In the past few months, conceivably the greatest attention given by the antique media to any subject has been to quash the confirmation of Samuel L. Alito to the Supreme Court. According to a LexisNexis search, CBS News has done 156 stories on this nominee's background along with objections to his confirmation. ABC News has done 174. NBC News has done 133. CNN has done a staggering 679.
As for the print media, the Washington Post has done 257, while the New York Times has done an extraordinary 339.
Yet, despite all the efforts by the antique media to block it, Mr. Alito was just confirmed in the Senate by the vote of 58 to 42. It appears that the losing streak of the antique media continues unabated.
Ted Koppel produced his first column as a New York Times contributing columnist on Sunday, and Slate's "Press Box" media critic Jack Shafer didn't mince words. His headline calls it an "embarrassing debut." He makes it sound like Koppel is the editorial-page equivalent of a one-week wonder on "Skating With Celebrities." He begins by noting...
the invitation [to be a Times columnist] came from an "editor friend of mine," so the fault belongs to whomever assigned, accepted, and edited or rewrote Koppel's self-indulgent, self-congratulatory, late-to-the-party, and punishingly obvious 1,500-word piece about the state of television news. (It's bad.) It's not even Koppel's fault if he thinks he's any good at this columnist thing, when he isn't. If we were to belittle every person who stretched his talents until they pop, we'd have little time for anything else.
The book might at first seem an odd choice for Mr. Bush, whose taste in biography, like that of other American presidents, runs to previous occupants of the Oval Office. But it is not so surprising given that "Mao: The Unknown Story" has been embraced by the right as a searing indictment of Communism.
As you can see from this October post that addressed Times columnist Nicholas Kristof's review of the book, it hasn't exactly been "embraced" by bitter-enders on the left. Despite the book's painstakingly thorough chronicle of Mao's horrible death toll, Kristof still holds that Mao was "not all bad" for China (most of this quote is also at this "TimesWatch Worst of 2005" NewsBusters post):
But Mao’s legacy is not all bad. Land reform in China, like the land reform in Japan and Taiwan, helped lay the groundwork for prosperity today. The emancipation of women and end of child marriages moved China from one of the worst places in the world to be a girl to one where women have more equality than in, say, Japan or Korea. Indeed, Mao’s entire assault on the old economic and social structure made it easier for China to emerge as the world’s new economic dragon.
Just like that, 60-70 million deaths become collateral damage in the (fictional) advancement of women's equality (see: "one-child policy") and supposed economic rebirth (which didn't begin until years after Mao's death, and never would have happened while he remained alive, even if he had lived to be 100).
What I'm getting from all this is that "Mao: The Unknown Story" is being "embraced by the right" because it is the unvarnished if uncomfortable truth, while far leftists, in the face of facts that can only be disputed at the margins, if at all, aren't happy with the book, because believing it would force them to let go of their 1960s romantic notions of Mao. Fortunately for those steeped in reality, you can be an open-minded person on either side of the political spectrum and accept the profoundly important work the authors, Jung Chang and Jon Halliday, have done to shine the light of truth on one of history's most evil people.
Liberal media bias isn't limited to news reporters. At least when it comes to the Boston Globe, it clearly extends to the sports department.
Boston Globe sports reporter Dan Shaughnessey just completed an interview with the edgy Jim Rome, host of the eponymous 'Jim Rome is Burning' on ESPN. The topic was Detroit's worthiness as a Super Bowl site. Shaughnessey vigorously defended Motown in these terms: "Detroit is a real city. You can get the New York Times here."
In closing, Shaughnessey took a gratuitous swipe at recent Super Bowl host city Jacksonsville, calling it a "yahoo town" that should never have been granted hosting privileges.
On Friday, the New York Times released results from its recent, comprehensive poll done along with CBS News. The Times devoted an entire article to this poll, and put it smack dab on the front page. Yet, the article curiously left out a few details that the Times editors must have thought were unimportant. For instance, 52 percent of those polled approve of the way the president is prosecuting the war on terrorism. This is the highest approval the president has received in this regard from a CBS News/New York Times poll since before Hurricane Katrina hit. This is quite surprising given all of the attention given to NSA eavesdropping over the past six weeks, and last week’s release of the Osama bin Laden tape.
Another finding of this poll that the Times omitted from its Friday article was that 50 percent of respondents said U.S.
It's just your average Sunday in the New York Times, still lost in trying to evaluate the Reagan legacy, in this case, the new Richard Reeves book. An old MRC colleague e-mailed to note that in the Times Book Review, Adrian Wooldridge of the Economist, a man who's written a book about the conservative movement in America, still manages to accuse Ronald Reagan of being a wild-eyed lunatic:
Reagan's imagination was fired by ideology but tempered by pragmatism. He was a product of the conservative revival of the 1950's and 60's, a revival that was driven by a combination of free-market enthusiasm and antitax fervor, superpatriotism and anti-Communism, religious revivalism and, to be frank, wild-eyed lunacy, and he possessed a rare gift for rendering conservative ideas into emotion-laden rhetoric. Even as a senior citizen in the White House, Reagan was a sucker for far-out conservative ideas: from the "space lasers" that were being championed in Human Events (which his aides tried to prevent him from reading) to Arthur Laffer's supply-side economics.
If there was any doubt that the New York Times thoroughly despised President Bush, the last shreds were erased this morning. In an editorial entitled “Spies, Lies, and Wiretaps,” the Times presented a case against the Bush administration with similar gusto as it might attack an organized crime family and it’s Mafia Don. Assuming it had already received an indictment, the Times then prosecuted its case, and acted as both judge and jury to seal a conviction.
The piece began with a subtle reference to Woodward and Bernstein’s famous Watergate expose while sexistly ignoring the female members of the administration:
“A bit over a week ago, President Bush and his men promised to provide the legal, constitutional and moral justifications for the sort of warrantless spying on Americans that has been illegal for nearly 30 years. Instead, we got the familiar mix of political spin, clumsy historical misinformation, contemptuous dismissals of civil liberties concerns, cynical attempts to paint dissents as anti-American and pro-terrorist, and a couple of big, dangerous lies.”
After these opening remarks, the prosecution built its case. It began by discrediting what it perceived was lie number one:
New York Times reporter James Dao reports Friday on a study suggesting most of New Orleans’ displaced black population may not return, and dips briefly and non-critically into Mayor Ray Nagin’s Martin Luther King day remarks about the future racial makeup of New Orleans. He even leaves off the most controversial part -- Nagin’s incendiary preference for a “chocolate New Orleans.”
“The study, financed by a grant from the National Science Foundation, was released Thursday, 10 days after the mayor of New Orleans, C. Ray Nagin, who is black, told an audience that ‘this city will be a majority African-American city; it's the way God wants it to be.’”
Two-thirds of the way into Oprah's apologizing-for-James-Frey show yesterday, New York Times columnist Frank Rich came on to bash Bush. Invited on to revisit his latest Times column, Rich said Frey and Bush, like Nick Lachey's and Jessica Simpson's MTV-televised marriage (followed by divorce), were both part of an age of undermining reality:
"I mean we live in this word now where this is just sort of the tip of the iceberg, this memoir, where anyone can sort of put out something that sort of looks true, smells a little bit like truth but, in fact, is in some way fictionalized. You look at anything from Enron fooling people and creating this aura of a great business making huge profits when it was an empty shell, or people in the government telling us that mushroom clouds are going to come our way if we don't invade Iraq for months when it was on faulty and possibly suspect intelligence."
On 12 January, 2006, the New York Times ran an article entitled “Thrust into the Limelight, and for Some A Symbol of Washington’s Bite.” It was a mini-biography of Mrs. Martha-Ann Alito, and it purported to explain the reasons for Mrs. Alito’s tears during her husband Samuel’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. It blamed them on a follow-up question by Senator Lindsay Graham, rather than on the verbal savaging of Judge Alito by the Democrats on the Committee, led by Senator Ted Kennedy.
The Times should have gotten the story right, because one of the three reporters on the story was in their New Jersey Bureau, and based in Caldwell. But they didn’t. Here are the operative paragraphs from that article on the cause of her tears:
Eric Lipton’s New York Times article on the congressional investigation into the White House’s initial response to Hurricane Katrina suggests that President Bush was foolhardy in thinking New Orleans had dodged the Katrina bullet on Monday, August 29, a day before the levees broke and plunged the city underwater.
“That night, after the storm passed, a report sent to the White House warned of a quarter-mile breach ‘in the levee near the 17th Street Canal’ and that ‘an estimated 2/3 to 75 percent of the city is underwater.’ Yet Mr. Bush and the homeland security secretary, Michael Chertoff, in interviews after the storm hit, said they never expected the levees to be breached. They said that after the storm had passed Monday, they were convinced that the city had survived without catastrophic damage.
Over at NRO, Jay Nordlinger is on his annual jaunt to observe the global hoi polloi at Davos, Switzerland, but he has a telling tidbit of New York Times bias if you keep with it. Apparently, it's surprising that the President is reading books again, even those distasteful tomes about the dark days of mass murder in the communist bloc:
You may have seen, in the New York Times, that President Bush has been reading that big new book about Mao: Mao: The Unknown Story, by the husband-and-wife team of Jung Chang and Jon Halliday. (Actually, I should have written "wife-and-husband team" — sorry about that.) Did you catch what the Times's writer, Elisabeth Bumiller, had to say about this? (Her story is here.) Very interesting.
There’s an old rule in marketing – stick to what sells. Lately, it appears that America’s media are doing exactly that.
Since the significant rebound in the president’s poll numbers from their October lows, along with an apparent lack of outrage by the public concerning the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal and revelations of domestic eavesdropping by the National Security Agency, the media seem to be downplaying reports on current events, and, instead, focusing attention on last year’s big story that was largely responsible for the decline in Bush’s favorability ratings.
In the past three days, the media have given more air time and print space to issues surrounding Hurricane Katrina, an event that occurred at the end of August 2005, than a one and a half-hour question and answer session in Kansas that the president held on Monday, and a one-hour address that the second most powerful intelligence figure in our nation gave concerning terrorist surveillance the same day.
The New York Times makes a point to cast the Canadian election as a non-ideological victory for the Conservatives on Wednesday. Canada-based reporter Clifford Krauss marks the country’s groundbreaking election of a Conservative government over a headline seemingly meant to reassure the Times’ timorous liberal readership: “Canada’s Shift: To the Right, Gently – Harper Defeated Liberals More Over Scandals Than Policies.”
Last May, the Canada-based Krauss assumed the liberal view that international treaties and gay marriage laws were signs of political virtue and tolerance: "Canadian cities are among the most ethnically diverse and safest in the world. Canadian tolerance took real form during the past two years with the extension of marriage rights to gays and lesbians in most of the country."
Straight to the point: Oprah has a lot of explaining to do. After reading the article, you're almost forced to conclude one of two things:
She runs an operation that's so intimidating that people within her company who knew better felt they couldn't speak out.
Or, she knew about Frey's Lies and has been an active participant in a monumental literary hoax.
Are there any other choices?
Specifically, addiction counselors at the rehab center where Frey was treated, including a frequent guest on Oprah's show, are outraged at Frey's descriptions of what happened there; are concerned that Frey's Lies may keep others from getting needed treatment; and claim that Oprah's people, if not Oprah herself, knew well in advance that the parts of Frey's book relating to his rehab were largely false (free registration required; link within story added by me; bolds are mine):
The Times again looks for holes in the strong U.S. economy, this time on the front page of Sunday’s special Job Market section, in a report by Eduardo Porter, “Pockets of Concern Slow a Strong U.S. Economy.” The caption to an accompanying chart emphasizes “A Weak Jobs Recovery.”
Times readers may find the article’s tone familiar. Here’s Porter from Sunday:
“If you believe most statistics, the national economy is doing quite well. Corporate profits are soaring. Consumer spending and business investment have been growing at a healthy clip. In the third quarter of last year, output expanded at an annual pace of about 4.1 percent. And private-sector economists are expecting growth above 3.5 percent this year. Yet, amid the vim and vigor, there is a weak spot that does not quite mesh with these readings. More than four years since the economy emerged from recession in November of 2001, businesses are still not hiring much. Employment grew by a mere 3.5 million jobs, or 2.7 percent, in 49 months' worth of this economic expansion. Last year, the job market grew by 1.5 percent.”
This year’s Martin Luther King Day celebration was a wild and woolly collection of left-wing blather.
In Washington, showing remarkable feats of amnesia that he was ever vice president in a corrupt administration, Al Gore gave a speech claiming President Bush was a law-breaking president and his illegal actions a threat to the survival of our democracy, an extraordinary accusation for even this man to make, given the same policies were executed by the Clinton-Gore administration.
In New Orleans, Mayor Ray Nagin announced that God wanted New Orleans to be a “chocolate” city again. When challenged that this might make him sound like a little racist, he dug a deeper hole by claiming whites were the milk in his milk-chocolate shake.
Even in this stew of silliness, Hillary Rodham Clinton still managed to draw headlines for herself by marching into a Baptist church with Al Sharpton in Harlem and giving a fiery speech. First, Hillary sounded the same Clinton-amnesia notes as Gore, charging that President Bush’s team was historically filled with corrupt cronies, that his presidency "will go down in history as one of the worst.” But with Sharpton proudly looking on, she threw the race card on the table with a big, noisy thwack. “When you look at the way the House of Representatives has been run, it has been run like a plantation, and you know what I'm talking about.” Bush is not only incompetent. Dennis Hastert is a slave master. Laura Bush was right. It was “ridiculous.”
These pictures may be worth more than a thousand words. On Monday, White House officials acknowledged that, yes, photographs did exist of President Bush in a classic grip-and-grin with Jack Abramoff, the disgraced Republican lobbyist at the center of a bribery and corruption scandal in the capital. But that did not mean, they said, that Mr. Bush had a personal relationship with him.
Wow. Are you reading an issue of The Nation? No - it is none other than an objective, balanced and fair-minded NYT reporter suggesting that a half-dozen pictures of President Bush with Jack Abramoff at various events and fundraisers over the past five years is somehow proof of nefarious wrongdoing.
The NYT's chief political reporter Adam Nagourney was ultra-sensitive to any sign of harsh Republican rhetoric during the 2004 campaign, and he’s no less raw about it a year later, using strong terms to describe Karl Rove’s speech to the Republican National Committee in a front-page story Monday. But what about Howard Dean calling Rove "unpatriotic"?
“With a campaign of high-profile national security events set for the next three days, following Karl Rove's blistering speech to Republicans on Friday, the White House has effectively declared that it views its controversial secret surveillance program not as a political liability but as an asset, a way to attack Democrats and re-establish President Bush's standing after a difficult year.”