New York Times Public Editor Arthur Brisbane gave a dressing down to reporter Ian Urbina’s heavily criticized recent Sunday front-page article on natural gas extraction, “Insiders Sound an Alarm Amid a Natural Gas Rush,” in his Sunday column, “Clashing Views on the Future of Natural Gas.” The benign headline concealed a reasonably incisive critique, accusing Urbina of making unsubstantiated claims and failing to provide sufficient opposing views.
Urbina (pictured) has also penned questionable articles on the supposed environmental dangers of “fracking,” a process used to extract natural gas from shale. Brisbane wrote Sunday:
New York Times reporters Danny Hakim and Nicholas Confessore filed another in a series of front-page stories Friday revolving around the natural gas industry, especially the “fracking” process by which natural gas is obtained from shale and is opposed by liberal environmentalists. This time the scene is the paper’s own backyard: “Cuomo Moving To End a Freeze On Gas Drilling.”
The Cuomo administration is seeking to lift what has effectively been a moratorium in New York State on hydraulic fracturing, a controversial technique used to extract natural gas from shale, state environmental regulators said on Thursday.
The process would be allowed on private lands, opening New York to one of the fastest-growing -- critics would say reckless -- areas of the energy industry. It would be banned inside New York City’s sprawling upstate watershed, as well as inside a watershed used by Syracuse, and in underground water sources used by other cities and towns. It would also be banned on state lands, like parks and wildlife preserves.
The front page of Wednesday’s National section of the New York Times featured the suddenly ubiquitous Ian Urbina advancing the paper’s agenda against the natural gas industry, as he’s been doing all week: “Lawmakers Seek Inquiry Of Natural Gas Industry.”
Luckily for the Times, it found a few liberal Democrats to keep the story going by calling for an investigation into industry practices.
Tina Korbe at Hot Air has a good roundup of the rebuttals to Urbina’s slanted reporting. Korbe summarized Urbina’s Sunday piece:
After all the front-page caterwauling about “anonymous donors” supposedly “buying the election” by running ads favoring the GOP this election cycle, the New York Times isn’t showing itself overly concerned about actual cases of potential vote fraud involving Democrats.
In his Wednesday story “Fraudulent Voting Re-emerges as a Partisan Issue.” reporter Ian Urbina quickly dismissed concerns about vote fraud from “conservative activists,” claiming that 2006 accusations from the same quarters “turned out to be largely false.”
In 2006, conservative activists repeatedly claimed that the problem of people casting fraudulent votes was so widespread that it was corrupting the political process and possibly costing their candidates victories.
The accusations turned out to be largely false, but they led to a heated debate, with voting rights groups claiming that the accusations were crippling voter registration drives and squelching turnout.
Who knew that two brave twenty-somethings and a skilled mentor constituted America's entire right wing?
That's apparently how Ian Urbina at the New York Times sees it. In a subheadline employed in a front-page article in the paper's March 20 print edition (relevant portion shown at right) but not used in the online edition's version, the reporter told readers that the poor, put-upon Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) is on the brink of bankruptcy because it was "ATTACKED BY" the streamrolling monolith known at "THE RIGHT" (cue the scare music and the blood-curdling scream).
Actually, it was filmmaker James O'Keefe, his investigative partner Hannah Giles, and Andrew Breitbart, the pair's take-no-prisoners mentor. Three people, hardly "the right wing," basically did it all. What followed -- the de-fundings, the abandonments by former political and corporate friends, and now apparently its imminent financial demise -- was largely inevitable fallout from a brilliantly conceived series of stings followed by a savvily managed exposure campaign that ultimately forced holdout establishment media publications, including the Times itself, to play catch-up after days of embarrassing unprofessional silence.
Obviously, that's not how Urbina sees it, occasionally with barely concealed bitterness (bolds are mine throughout this post):
The G.O.P. had two big victories yesterday in off-year elections, winning the race for governor in New Jersey and Virginia for the first time since 1997. The New York Times's coverage was dominated by three themes used to explain away the success of Republicans:
The Republicans won by appearing moderate.
The congressional race in upstate New York revealed deep divisions within the G.O.P.
These off-year elections don't mean much anyway (except when Democrats win).
1) Republicans Won by Moderating:
Even after wins by two conservative Republicans, the Times spin was that moderation had prevailed, arguing that both New Jersey Governor-elect Chris Christie and Virginia Governor-elect Bob McDonnell won by trimming their social conservative stands.
In a Tuesday web post before returns were in, the paper's chief political reporter Adam Nagourney said that even a win by Virginia conservative McDonnell would be a victory for moderation:
Yet in paragraph four we learned there were 66 arrests in downtown Pittsburgh, and "about 19 businesses sustained broken windows or other damage." And while the Times was loathe to estimate the crowd size of the enormous September 12 anti-Obama protest in Washington, the Times forwarded estimates from "observers" at the lefty Pittsburgh protest who "put the crowd...at 3,000 to 4,000."
While the peaceful September 12 crowd was tarred in the Times as "angry" and "profane" with "no shortage of vitriol," Urbina downplayed the actual violence and vandalism committed by a far smaller band of anarchists in downtown Pittsburgh.
A headline reader could assume that the September 12 conservative protest in Washington and the anarchist protest in Pittsburgh were of the same magnitude, as both used the term "thousands" to describe the crowd size.
After years of mainstreaming and idealizing antiwar protesters and marches supporting illegal immigrants as "grandmothers with canes, parents with children in strollers," dissent against a president's policies is no longer cool at the New York Times.
The Times finds the newest batch of protesters against Obama health care to be "angry," "irritable" crowds of whites taking marching orders from conservative talk radio and web sites.
Wednesday's front-page story by Ian Urbina and Katharine Seelye on protests at Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter's town hall meeting in Lebanon, Pa., "SenatorGoes Face to Face With Dissent." The front page of the Times showed a confrontation between a stiff-faced Specter and a shouting protester.
They got up before dawn in large numbers with angry signs and American flag T-shirts, and many were seething with frustration at issues that went far beyond overhauling health care.
The New York Times suddenly isn't so fond of community organizing, now that the right has gotten into the game, attacking Obama's health-care proposals in clamorous town halls held by Democratic congressmen over the August recess.
In fact, the Times agrees with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that such meetings have become "hostile" and "extreme." "Beyond Beltway, Health Debate Turns Hostile" is the headline over a very slanted front-page story Saturday by Ian Urbina.
The bitter divisions over an overhaul of the health care system have exploded at town-hall-style meetings over the last few days as members of Congress have been shouted down, hanged in effigy and taunted by crowds. In several cities, noisy demonstrations have led to fistfights, arrests and hospitalizations.
Democrats have said the protesters are being organized by conservative lobbying groups like FreedomWorks. Republicans respond that the protests are an organic response to the Obama administration's health care restructuring proposals.
There is no dispute, however, that most of the shouting and mocking is from opponents of those plans. Many of those opponents have been encouraged to attend by conservative commentators and Web sites.
Ever notice the media love to report stories about people fighting the power, unless, of course, the power happens to be something the media favor?
A March 31 New York Times article about Cuba's Havana Biennial art festival highlighted several artists whose political statements were in line with the anti-American, communist outlook of the island's regime, while ignoring prominent Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez, who risked her freedom to protest government oppression.
During an open mic session at the festival, the award-winning Generacion Y blogger criticized Cuban policy and the lack of free expression. However, the Times did not mention her pro-free speech performance art or even cover it in a separate piece. Instead, most of the artists the paper described railed against the usual evils, such as capitalism, America and the bourgeoisie.
Afterwards, the government issued a condemnation that singled out Sanchez for “staging a provocation against the Cuban Revolution.” Fortunately, on Wednesday, Reuters reported the controversy: