'So-called Gay Mafia' Adding Bias to the New York Times

The Times Business section Wednesday carried a press release of a story headlined "A Resort for Gays Rises in Manhattan: Similar Nightlife Complexes Are Springing Up in Several Cities." Reporter Beth Greenfield talked to no one in this story except the gay entrepreneurs behind the forthcoming "Out NYC Urban Resort." The text box was "Looking for 'a concentrated feeling of community.'" There's nothing in the story, for example, about the developers' active support for Washington-based gay-left advocacy groups, as well as donations to liberal city pols and congressmen and the William J. Clinton Foundation. 

Sympathy for the gay "community" is apparently growing by leaps and bounds, according to Reacttoyournews.org, the official blog of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association. Michael Triplett wrote:

We’ve talked about changes at the NYT before on this blog, but it’s important to remember that the last 20 years have seen a pretty amazing change at how the paper covers LGBT issues and treats its LGBT journalists.  There is still room for growth, especially in regards to promotion of lesbians and its treatment of transgender employees and issues, but the paper has come a remarkable distance in the time that NLGJA has been advocating for LGBT journalists and fair and accurate coverage of LGBT issues.

After revisiting history, including some questionable comparisons of the AIDS epidemic with the Holocaust, Triplett concluded:

Because of the work of NLGJA and pioneering LGBT journalists, things have changed dramatically at the paper. We are indebted to the journalists and activists who pushed for change at the paper.
In a piece for Mediaite, Triplett was more explicit:

Twenty years after [reporter Jeffrey] Schmalz feared telling anyone he was gay because it would harm his career, a gay man–Richard Berke–is now the national editor and a so-called gay mafia – which includes Ben Brantley, Frank Bruni, Stuart Elliot, Adam Nagourney, and Eric Wilson – hold key positions at the paper. Alas, the paper has no openly gay or lesbian voices on it editorial pages.

Now, of course, gays are everywhere in the paper’s coverage and in the newsroom.

Triplett also mentioned the top Times officials attending an event sympathizing with overturning the California Prop 8 vote to defend traditional marriage, which caused former Timesman Charles Kaiser to gush that the Times was now "one of the most gay-friendly institutions in the world." Mysteriously, after all this touting of the staunchly pro-gay sympathies, Triplett thinks the question of liberal bias remains a puzzle that conservatives can't seriously expose:

Concluding “[w]hat a difference a new generation can make,” [former Timesman Charles] Kaiser said “Andy Rosenthal’s editorial page has published more brilliant editorials in defense of equal rights for gay people than any other editorial page in the world.”

So does the NYT have a bias now in how it covers same-sex marriage and gays generally?  That’s probably something for the next public editor to explore. There’s no doubt that few papers cover the LGBT community  as extensively as the New York Times, but it is far from perfect. Some critics argue that gay people are much more likely to show up on the culture and arts pages than the news pages, and locals complain that the paper does a poor job of handling news that involves the local LGBT community. In addition,  lesbians still remain largely invisible in coverage (and in the newsroom). And, of course, conservative critics of the paper will always contend there is a strong pro-gay bias, not [sic] matter the facts on the ground.

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