Clark Hoyt filed his last column as the New York Times's Public Editor: "A Final Report From Internal Affairs," praising the cooperation of Times reporters and editors during his term and fending off accusations that the paper is a "liberal rag." Hoyt admitted the editorial page and columnists are liberal and that the paper "shares the prevailing sensibilities of the city and region where it is published," but denied the Times was "really the Fox News of the left," citing scandalous scoops that hurt prominent Northeastern Democrats like New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer.
And you thought a couple of plucky young conservative activists with a camera brought down ACORN. Nope. It's the arch-conservative New York Times that did in the noble community organizing group, or so says The Huffington Post in "Why ACORN Fell: The Times, Lies, and Videotape."
"Because of its pivotal role in bringing down ACORN," Peter Drier and John Atlas wrote in their March 24 editorial, "the Times owes the group an apology and the public a commitment to assign an experienced journalist to cover the complex world of community organizing, whose diverse practitioners mobilize poor and middle class people to win a voice in local, state, and national politics."
The New York Times, the two maintained, were complicit in ACORN's "framing."
The authors took particular issue with the following excerpt from Clark Hoyt's March 21 article: "It remains a fascinating story. To conservatives, Acorn is virtually a criminal organization that was guilty of extensive voter registration fraud in 2008. To its supporters, Acorn is a community service organization that has helped millions of disadvantaged Americans by organizing to confront powerful institutions like banks and developers."
New York Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt took on the controversy over the "ClimateGate" emails leaked from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia in Britain: "Stolen E-Mail, Stoking the Climate Debate." The text box: "Some say The Times has played down an important story."
Predictably, Hoyt did not agree. Though his Sunday Week in Review column gave critics room to make points, the paper's public editor readily signed on to the possibly corrupted conventional wisdom that the science of global warming is settled and that the emails showing sciences behaving badly, while "a story," is not a "three-alarm story."
Never mind that the United Nations relied heavily on CRU's dubious, discredited data, most infamously the famous "hockey stick" graph showing drastically rising modern-day temperatures, to back up its alarmist claims about the dangers of human-caused climate change. Hoyt also ignored evidence that the scientists destroyed their raw data and were actively working to block Freedom of Information requests.
New York Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt's latest column tackles the ACORN scandal -- or as Times readers know it: "What ACORN scandal?"
In "Tuning In Too Late," Hoyt criticized the Times for its lack of coverage of the juicy ACORN imbroglio, an omission that has prodded the paper into creating a new semi-position. It's assigned an editor to monitor opinion media and catch stories like this earlier (apparently not a single television at Times headquarters is tuned to Fox News, where they could have caught it quite easily.)
Hoyt summarized the video sting in which ACORN workers at several branches across the country were captured giving advice on child sex trafficking and tax evasion to a gaudy pimp and a hot-pants prostitute (actually conservative activists James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles). The tapes, whose gradual release were masterfully mediated by Andrew Brietbart at his new website BigGovernment.com, resulted in ACORN being cut off from federal funding and losing its ties to the Census Bureau and IRS. Yet the Times took little interest in the scandal and the consequences:
But for days, as more videos were posted and government authorities rushed to distance themselves from Acorn, The Times stood still. Its slow reflexes -- closely following its slow response to a controversy that forced the resignation of Van Jones, a White House adviser -- suggested that it has trouble dealing with stories arising from the polemical world of talk radio, cable television and partisan blogs.
Some stories, lacking facts, never catch fire. But others do, and a newspaper like The Times needs to be alert to them or wind up looking clueless or, worse, partisan itself.
This is quite misleading. The Times already monitors opinion media for story tips. It's just that they only monitor the left side of the blogosphere. Lachlan Markay provided some stark examples at NewsBusters on Sunday:
The New York Times announced today that it would appoint an editor to monitor 'opinion media'. In an attempt to respond to criticism that it has been too slow to pick up on stories first reported by conservative blogs and talk show hosts, the Times acknowledged poor coverage, but denied a political agenda.
The self-proclaimed 'paper of record' was extremely slow in picking up on two recent stories. The first, the 'trutherism' of former White House Green Jobs Czar Van Jones, was initially reported by Pajamas Media, and later by Glenn Beck on his Fox News talk show. The Times did not cover the story until after Jones had resigned.
Later, the Times neglected to report on the undercover sting operation that exposed ACORN for offering assistance in a bogus child prostitution ring. The Times reported on Congress's votes to de-fund ACORN, but neglected to mention the sting operation that inspired the votes.
Acknowledging what the blogosphere has known for weeks, the New York Times finally went on record to admit that just before last Election Day it killed a politically sensitive news story involving corruption allegations that might have made the Obama campaign look bad.
But the admission on Sunday, which came seven months after NYT staff reporter Stephanie Strom's reporting about possibly illegal coordination between the Obama campaign and ACORN last year, took the form of a snarky column from Clark Hoyt, the Old Gray Lady's "public editor." Hoyt used the word "nonsense" to describe the allegations of impropriety leveled against ACORN and the Obama campaign.
Hoyt writes in the Sunday New York Times
On March 17, a Republican lawyer, quoting a confidential source for a Times reporter, testified to Congress that the newspaper killed a story last fall because it would have been "a game-changer" in the presidential election.
Yesterday, the Public Editor of the New York Times, Clark Hoyt defended his coverage of Israel's war against Hamas. Unsurprisingly, he took the "since both sides criticize us we must be correct" approach. Surprisingly, his attempt, "Standing between Enemies," was marred by a particularly stupid mistake.
In order to show that the Times shows diligence in ferreting out fake news, Hoyt wrote:
Witty and his colleagues are frustrated because Israel has barred journalists from entering Gaza, and although The Times has two photographers in the region ready to go, it must rely on pictures taken by Palestinian photographers. "When I can't have my own person there, I have to question every picture that comes in -- to an obsessive degree," he said. Last summer, Witty unmasked as a fake a photo of an Iranian missile test that ran on many other front pages.
In his weekly column, New York Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt ludicrously argued that Barack Obama has gotten tougher coverage since January 2007 (when Obama entered the race) than John McCain:
By my count, The Times has published more tough articles on Obama, 20, than on McCain, 13, since the beginning of last year.
The Times has never filed any story targeting Obama that remotely approaches the mendacity of its February 21 hit piece alleging a McCain affair with a telecommunications lobbyist (Hoyt himself at the time said the Times was wrong to run the affair allegations). Also, Hoyt's narrow definition of bias helpfully eliminates stories with asides about McCain's temper, or constant mentions of McCain's "gaffes."
New York Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt evaluated two tough political stories in the Sunday Week in Review, one anti-McCain, the other anti-Palin. While he found the McCain piece fair, he faulted the anti-Palin piece.
In both cases, Times reporters and editors rallied to the defense of the pieces, finding McCain guilty of "demonstrable falsehoods" and Palin of"sometimes petty, peremptory" political leadership in Alaska.
When a newspaper like The Times takes a tough, critical look at a candidate in this year's presidential election, it has to give readers enough solid evidence to make up their own minds about whether it is being accurate and fair. Consider two front-page articles last weekend: I think one delivered the goods and one fell short.
Although the New York Times published a lengthy front page hit piece in February alleging without any proof that John McCain had an affair with a lobbyist eight years ago, it is now claiming that it chose not to report on the John Edwards love child scandal because it's “classically not a Times-like story.”
I guess sex scandals are only "Times-like" when they're about Republicans.
Ths is so absurd that even Times ombudsman Clark Hoyt wrote about it Saturday (emphasis added throughout, h/t Hot Air, photo courtesy ABC News):
“Mainstream media coverage of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright has drawn a round of barking from some of their own in-house watchdogs,” FNC's Brit Hume noted in his Monday night “Grapevine” segment. Hume started by highlighting how PBS ombudsman Michael Getler criticized the soft approach of Bill Moyers in his interview with Wright: “Inflammatory, and inaccurate, statements that Moyers himself laid out at the top of the program went largely unchallenged” and “there were not enough questions asked and some that were asked came across as too reserved and too soft.”
Hume next turned to New York Times public editor Clark Hoyt's disappointment in the paper for putting a review of Wright's performance in appearances ahead of checking what Wright contended against the reality, scolding his employer: “It was a performance strangely lacking in energy at a potential turning point in the election.”
Bill Keller, the executive editor of The Times, said the article about John McCain that appeared in Thursday's paper was about a man nearly felled by scandal who rebuilt himself as a fighter against corruption but is still "careless about appearances, careless about his reputation, and that's a pretty important thing to know about somebody who wants to be president of the United States."
New York Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt got angry this week. Not at the Times' shoddy, statistically worthless slam of U.S. veterans that appeared on last Sunday's front page (next week, perhaps?), but at conservative blogger Ed Whelan, for having the temerity of bringing up a possible conflict of interest involving the Times' Supreme Court reporter Linda Greenhouse.
Whelan, who is President of the Ethics and Public Policy Center and writes the "Bench Memos" blog at National Review Online, unearthed the Supreme Court reporter's controversial tie last month.
New York Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt's Sunday column, "Civil Discourse, Meet the Internet," delivered some piping hot news, circa year 2000: Web comments can often be rude and crude.
"WARNING: This column contains rude and objectionable language not normally found in the pages of this newspaper but seen surprisingly often on its Web site.
"As The New York Times transforms itself into a multimedia news and information platform -- the printed newspaper plus a robust nytimes.com offering breaking news, blogs, interactive graphics, video and more -- it is struggling with a vexing problem. How does the august Times, which has long stood for dignified authority, come to terms with the fractious, democratic culture of the Internet, where readers expect to participate but sometimes do so in coarse, bullying and misinformed ways?"
What Hoyt doesn't mention: Roughly 90-95% of Times comments are from liberals.
The Times is clearly buying into the new paradigm of reader interactivity.
Over at Times Watch, I've been pretty hard on New York Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt -- finding most of the biweekly columns from the paper's inside watchdog to suffer from either an excess of corporate loyalty or to be simply pointless (when he's not sniping at the paper from the left).
So it was particularly surprising when Hoyt actually unbuckled his company badge to tackle an issue raised by conservatives -- the inflammatory MoveOn.org ad -- in his Sunday Week in Review column. Hoyt did some actual reporting and got a belated admission of error that the paper's actual news reporters were unable to uncover: It was a mistake to grant MoveOn.org a deep discount for its infantile attack ad against Gen. David Petraeus that appeared the very day he testified before Congress.
"For nearly two weeks, The New York Times has been defending a political advertisement that critics say was an unfair shot at the American commander in Iraq.