While the New York Times spent much of 2009 celebrating President Obama, the paper’s slant took a turn toward the nasty in 2010. From the surging Tea Party movement to a bipartisan backlash against his brand of big-government health “reform,“ Obama was challenged on many fronts. The Times reacted badly, seeing racial hostility behind every attack on our wise, hope-bringing, moderate president.
Times Watch broke down the year's most biased quotes into three categories: Poisoned Tea Party, Obama Adoration, and Just Plain Bizarre, and invited two distinguished outside Times critics to offer their take on some of the “best” quotes from the Times during the past year.
William McGowan is author of the new book “Gray Lady Down: What the Decline and Fall of the New York Times Means for America." For the Poisoned Tea Party category, McGowan chose this quote from Kate Zernike’s book on the Tea Party claiming “it was little wonder” that some people felt the movement was motivated by racism:
To talk about states' rights in the way some Tea Partiers did was to pretend that the twentieth century and the latter half of the nineteenth century had never happened, that the country had not rejected this doctrine over and over. It was little wonder that people heard the echo of the slave era and decided that the movement had to be motivated by racism.
McGowan argued: “Zernike's historical understanding of states' rights is limited to racial issues and racial issues only. For better or worse, the concept has also motivated many non-racial issues: taxation policy, educational policy and unfunded mandates for starters.”
His favorite in the Obama Adoration category came from reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg:
From the moment he took the oath of office, using his entire name, Barack Hussein Obama, as he swore to protect and defend the Constitution, Mr. Obama has personified the hopes of many Americans about tolerance and inclusion. He has devoted himself to reaching out to the Muslim world, vowing, as he did in Cairo last year, 'a new beginning.' But his 'new beginning' has aroused nervousness in some, especially those who disagree with his counterterrorism policies, or those more comfortable with a vision of America as a white and largely Christian nation, and not the pluralistic melting pot Mr. Obama represents."
McGowan responded: “You couldn't put a better compendium of Obama hagiography and Times boosterism than this…Stolberg seems to not see that you can honorably disagree with Obama on many of his policies, such as his chosen form of outreach to the Islamic world as well as counterterrorism, and that this does not mean discomfort with a more pluralistic, secular America.”
Thomas Lifson is a recovering academic and editor at American Thinker. For Poisoned Tea Party, he picked the paper’s revealing photo caption that lumped peaceful Tea Party protesters in with the terrorist Weathermen of the late-60s.
VARYING DEGREES OF RAGE: The Weathermen, including Bill Ayers, second from right, during the Days of Rage in 1969, and anti-health reform protesters in Washington on Sunday.
Lifson responded: “Likening the Weathermen, who built bombs and smashed windows with peaceable ObamaCare protestors reflects the left wing desire that conservatives be understood as violent, even when they are not.”
He found his “favorite” quote in Just Plain Bizarre from peripatetic columnist Thomas Friedman‘s disturbing declaration on Meet the Press (excerpted):
I've been saying for awhile Tom, there's only one thing worse than one-party autocracy, the Chinese form of government, and that's one-party democracy. You know, in China, if the leadership can get around to an enlightened decision it can order it from the top down, OK.
In Lifson’s view, Friedman “unashamedly proclaims the motto of autocrats everywhere: democracy is too messy, so let a wise ruling class make the decision, and shut up.”
Thanks to the judges, and enjoy the full collection of quotes at Times Watch.