A New York Times reporter who came under fire from the paper’s executive editor for his “cringe-making” and “ham-handed” reporting on a young rape victim in Texas returned to the story for Tuesday's front page: “3-Month Nightmare Emerges in Rape Inquiry.”
Keller criticized Houston Bureau Chief James McKinley’s March 9 story in his March 27 column for the Times Sunday magazine, giving it special place among various Times embarrassments “Between Ivana’s brassieres and W.M.D.’s are cringe-making one-offs like the ham-handed article that led some readers to think we were blaming the 11-year-old victim of a monstrous gang rape in Texas (the only way to make amends was to order up a whole new story)....”
McKinley’s initial story generated some reader outrage for seemingly being more concerned over the future of the young men being accused then of the rape victim herself, and with insensitive comments like this: “Residents in the neighborhood where the abandoned trailer stands – known as the Quarters - said the victim had been visiting various friends there for months. They said she dressed older than her age, wearing makeup and fashions more appropriate to a woman in her 20s. She would hang out with teenage boys at a playground, some said.” Well, one cheer for editorial transparency on the part of Keller.
The November outlook for Democratic candidates may be bleak, but New York Times reporter James McKinley Jr. shook his pom-poms for Bill White, former mayor of Houston and a Democratic candidate for governor of Texas, against "rightwing politician" Gov. Rick Perry, in Sunday's label-soaked "Texas Democrat Is Striving to Make His Name Known."
On the same day Newsweek magazine anointed Gov. Rick Perry on its cover as a conservative icon, his Democratic opponent, Bill White, was slogging through small-scale campaign stops here in a Republican stronghold, needling the governor, saying he paid more attention to his career than to bread-and-butter issues like schools.
The match-up between Mr. Perry and Mr. White this fall promises not only to test the depth of the conservative backlash against President Obama, but also to shed light on just how Republican the state has become and whether the slim signs of a Democratic resurgence in the 2008 election were chimerical.
Conventional wisdom holds that this is a bad year to run as a Democrat in a state like Texas. Since the mid-1990s, Republican candidates have started off with a 10-point advantage just for being Republican. What's more, most political scientists and strategists say the pendulum is swinging back against the Democrats after Mr. Obama's victory in 2008.
The backlash among staunch conservatives, who are angry about the bailout of banks and deficit spending to create jobs, has given rightwing politicians like Mr. Perry a wind at their backs. Indeed, Mr. Perry has actively courted disaffected voters angry with Washington, appearing with Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck and building Mr. Perry's national profile.
New York Times reporter James McKinley Jr. was in Austin to cover a controversy over school curriculum in Texas, with conservatives on the state Board of Education trying to soften the liberal tone of the state's textbooks and include more records of conservative accomplishments. His Thursday story, "Texas Conservatives Seek Deeper Stamp on Texts," was positively sodden with "conservative" labels, yet he managed to ignore a radical leftist group featured in an accompanying photo.
The article included two photos accompanied by a caption (including the one above, by Jack Plunkett of Associated Press): "Diana Gomez, center, and Garrett Mize, right, and other University of Texas students rallied against conservatives at a State Board of Education meeting Wednesday in Austin, Tex. The board's chairman, Gail Lowe, left, is one of the conservatives."
Though McKinley was sufficiently attuned to get the names of Gomez and Mize, he didn't bother to identify the group they were involved with, even thought a close look at the sign Gomez was holding makes it obvious. In the bottom right corner was the phrase "MEChA." As in the "Chicano" nationalist movement MEChA, the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán, translates as the Chicano Student Movement of Aztlan.
A Monday New York Times story from Houston by Texas-based reporter James McKinley Jr., "Taking Texas Primary Even Further to the Right," focused on Texas gubernatorial candidate Debra Medina, whose reputation took a hit when she played coy in a radio interview with Glenn Beck on a question about 9-11. Medina responded with the thought that "the American people have not seen all the evidence there." That's flirting with 9-11 Trutherism: The idea, which has taken hold on the paranoid left, that the government under President George Bush had prior knowledge of the September 11 attacks but did nothing to stop them.
While Medina later backtracked in a written statement, she deserves little sympathy for her initial outburst, whether it represents her true beliefs or if she was just making a cynical appeal to the paranoid right. But McKinley stacked the deck against Texas Republicans with his loaded labeling practices, tarring the party's candidates for governor as "far right."
Some days it is hard to be a neophyte far-right candidate in a governor's race, even in Texas, where Republicans vying for the party's nomination try to outdo one another to prove their conservative credentials.
The "charismatic" Cuban dictator Fidel Castro's shock retirement for health reasons is covered on the New York Times web site this morning by James McKinley Jr., writing from Mexico City -- "Fidel Castro Resigns as Cuba's President."
President Castro? Was there nothing stronger in the NYT thesaurus this morning?