On Saturday (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted how the New York Times had made a critical change to a story about New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's possible knowledge of lane closures in the area of the George Washington Bridge. The initial story was that a Port Authority official "has evidence" in the matter. A short time later, that claim was watered down to a far more speculative "evidence exists."
The erroneous "has evidence" version of the story quickly went viral on Friday afternoon, and is what many news readers likely still believe — especially because there is still no indication at Zernike's story that any change from the original was made. Times Public Editor Margaret Sullivan has a problem with that — as she should. There also appears to be an undercurrent of frustration at the Times that what comes off as a "gotcha" strategy didn't stick to Christie (HT James Taranto at the Wall Street Journal's Best of the Web; bolds are mine throughout this post):
Kudos to New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan for asking why the Times couldn’t provide much coverage of Wednesday’s March for Life. Hundreds, if not thousands of New Yorkers were there, so “Was this local participation, or the event itself, worthy of a news story in the paper of record? Apparently not.”
“The Times, in print, published only a stand-alone photograph of the event on Page A17 with a two-line caption on Thursday.” Sullivan reproduced complaints from pro-life readers:
On Thursday, The New York Times clearly insisted on its own Person of the Year: it lauded "whistle-blower" Edward Snowden’s allegedly heroic mass-leaking against an allegedly criminal federal government, and demanded that Snowden not only receive clemency, but that “President Obama should tell his aides to begin finding a way to end Mr. Snowden’s vilification and give him an incentive to return home.”
Is it realistic for the Times to think the government should stop everyone from vilifying Snowden? Or are they only saying all good liberals should refrain from criticizing him? Times Public Editor Margaret Sullivan asked editorial-page boss Andrew Rosenthal if this would sway Obama:
Catching up on a topic that eluded us over the weekend, it is worth noting that on Friday, New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan decided to tackle the question of whether the newspaper is favoring the Obama Administration’s effort to build support for a war against Syria.
After talking to several top Times editors who inevitably aver that they are treating the anti-Syria PR effort with due skepticism, Sullivan reaches her own rather inconvenient (for her employer) conclusion that the Times is not being sufficiently skeptical:
NewsBusters readers certainly don't have to be told that the New York Times has a liberal bias, but when the paper's public editor admits it on national television, one has to take notice.
With that in mind, grab some peanuts, popcorn, or Cracker Jacks and take a gander at Margaret Sullivan on CNN's Reliable Sources Sunday marvelously telling us what we already know (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Benghazi hearings open in the House on Wednesday, and the New York Times printed a preview on page 16 of Wednesday's edition that downplayed any possible revelations about the Obama administration's reaction to the terrorist attack, which killed ambassador Chris Stevens and three others. Testimony is expected by three State Department officials, led by U.S. diplomat Gregory Hicks, deputy mission chief in Tripoli, who said his pleas for military assistance were overruled.
Feeling reader pressure after the Washington Post led its Tuesday's edition by setting up the House hearings, Public Editor Margaret Sullivan addressed the issue on her blog Tuesday afternoon, posing a coverage question to Washington bureau chief (and former neoliberal economics reporter) David Leonhardt, who didn't anticipate hearing much new on Wednesday:
Margaret Sullivan, the New York Times public editor, noted a shameful anniversary for the paper -- the 10th anniversary of the Jayson Blair scandal -- but not without calling her paper as "world-class" as the scandal itself.
But to the paper's liberal readership, the more shameful mistake involved reporter Judy Miller's overly credulous reporting on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction during the run-up to the Iraq War.
The New York Times's politically correct evolution on immigration issues continues apace. Public editor Margaret Sullivan blogged Tuesday afternoon on the paper reconsidering the use of term "illegal immigrant," in the wake of the Associated Press's announcement that it would cease using it.
The Associated Press made a bold move on Tuesday in dropping the term “illegal immigrant” from its influential stylebook.
New York Times Public Editor Margaret Sullivan has weighed in on the paper's latest attack on the New York Police Department's stop-and-frisk tactics, under fire from liberal activists like Al Sharpton, in her March 29 blog post, "An Officer’s Secretly Recorded Words About ‘Stop and Frisk’ Cause a Firestorm," addressed a misleading and controversial (but typically slanted) March 22 story by reporter Joseph Goldstein based on a secret recording between a Bronx police officer and his commanding officer:
For years, the debate over the New York Police Department’s use of stop-and-frisk tactics has centered on whether officers engage in racial profiling. Now, a recording suggests that, in at least one precinct, a person’s skin color can be a deciding factor in who is stopped.
In one of the most fascinating media-related pieces I’ve read in a while, Dan Froomkin interviews Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein, two longtime Washington observers who wrote a book together and soon after, they say, found themselves near pariahs in a city that didn’t want to hear what they had to say.
Filling in for Alex Wagner on Monday afternoon, Ari Melber of the left-wing Nation magazine did some thing on MSNBC's Now that Wagner and many of their colleagues have been reluctant to do themselves -- expose the deception and dishonesty of Obama on the subject of drone attacks. While there was a brief mention or two in the weeks and months that preceded the election, the coverage was never sufficient -- considering the circumstances.
It's a telling sign however, that such a report would air three weeks after the incumbent's decisive re-election victory, by a guest host at that. Armed with indisputable video evidence, Melber noted the disparity between the candidate and the president [video below the page break]:
New York Times star poll analyst Nate Silver continues giving hope to Democrats, and he's getting more confident in an Obama victory as the election draws closer, pegging Obama's odds of victory at around 75%. After a heated debate on MSNBC's Morning Joe, the normally mild-mannered Silver offered via Twitter on Thursday to bet host Joe Scarborough $2,000 that Obama would win, which drew some criticism from the paper's outspoken new Public Editor, Margaret Sullivan. Meanwhile, columnist Paul krugman termed conservative criticism of Silver's methodology "scary."
Silver, a former poster at the left-wing Daily Kos, who usually mans the Five-Thirty-Eight blog at nytimes.com, again made the paper on Thursday with "When State Polls Differ From National Polls," which asserted that Barack Obama will probably win both the Electoral College and popular vote:
New York Times Public Editor Margaret Sullivan challenged her paper on its incoming chief executive Mark Thompson, who was director general of the BBC when it "killed an investigative segment on its Newsnight program about a celebrity TV personality, Jimmy Savile, accused of sexually abusing hundreds of young girls."
New York Times Public Editor Margaret Sullivan on Sunday defended the paper against conservative criticism that it has favored Obama in its sparse Libya coverage "Connecting the Dots in Libya," and elicited this from Managing Editor Susan Chira (pictured): "We're aware that people see us as tilting liberal." But Chira also said she and her colleagues "can't be guided by that." Sullivan wrote: