Thursday’s New York Times front-page campaign story by Jeff Zeleny and Jim Rutenberg prominently featured Obama campaign advisor David Axelrod frankly discussing how the party plans to influence the GOP primary by pitting Newt Gingrich (himself a "juicy target") against Mitt Romney: “Democrats See 2-Horse Race, Adding Whip.” It’s the kind of early White House attacks the Times once disapproved of, at least when done by Republican President George W. Bush.
New York Times political reporters Jeff Zeleny (pictured) and Jim Rutenberg teamed up on Tuesday for a preview of the possible presidential head-to-head matchup Obama vs. Mitt Romney: “As the Primary Campaign Grinds On, Romney’s Team Prepares for Obama.” But they felt the need to put a metaphorical finger on the scale with a negative description of the GOP.
Mark McKinnon, a regular contributor to the liberal Daily Beast website, which owns Newsweek magazine, made a morbid gaffe as he commented on Texas Governor Rick Perry's stumble during the November 9 Republican presidential debate on CNBC. The New York Times on Wednesday quoted McKinnon labeling Perry's brain freeze as the "human equivalent of shuttle Challenger."
Times writers Jeff Zeleny and Ashley Parker cited the Democrat, who once served as an aide to former President George W. Bush, as an example of how "Republican operatives almost uniformly declared it [Perry's gaffe] as a sign of great trouble for his candidacy."
President Barack Obama continues to benefit from a fawning media of which past Presidents could only dream, yet on Sunday’s This Week two journalists fretted he’s not getting enough credit for his accomplishments, a lack of recognition they blamed on his staff’s poor public relations efforts.
Since he’s taken office, FBN’s Liz Claman asserted, “almost every sector in the S&P is up double digit percentages” and “this is also the President under whom we got Osama bin Laden. Those two things are not getting him any gravitas at the moment.” So, she despaired, “whoever’s running PR for him needs to work on that part of it.” (video below)
Yet Zeleny’s analysis was chock full of the typical liberal bias slant that puffs up President Obama, slams the Tea Party as “intractable” and ignores the partisanship of liberal Senate members, particularly Harry Reid (emphasis mine):
New York Times reporter Jeff Zeleny was with Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann in Waterloo, Iowa, at the official launching of her presidential campaign for Tuesday’s “Bachmann Opens Campaign as Expectations Grow.” But Zeleny concluded his mostly balanced story with a reference to Bachmann’s latest in a “string of gaffes” – her mistaken claim that Western movie star John Wayne had been born in Waterloo, Iowa (though his parents met there).
Yet the Times has totally ignored a far more by President Obama, who wrongly claimed in a speech he gave June 23 to the Army's 10th Mountain Division that he had awarded a Medal of Honor to a living soldier. Jared Monti had actually had been killed in Afghanistan in 2006 and had been bestowed the honor posthumously. Obama apologized to the family.
Reporter Jackie Calmes even filed an online report from Fort Drum, in upstate New York, but failed to note the flub.
New York Times reporter Jeff Zeleny followed Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney to Tampa and filed “Democrats Scowl at Romney Joke” for Friday's edition, treating as a weighty matter a harmless joke by the candidate to a group of unemployed people as one of a series of “occasionally awkward...off-the-cuff remarks.” Yet the Times has remained silent as President Obama has reeled off a series of gaffes about the high unemployment under his watch.
Mitt Romney sat at the head of the table at a coffee shop here on Thursday, listening to a group of unemployed Floridians explain the challenges of looking for work. When they finished, he weighed in with a predicament of his own.
“I should tell my story,” Mr. Romney said. “I’m also unemployed.”
Another day, another New York Times story by Katharine Seelye story on liberal Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards that completely leaves out the words "liberal" and "Democrat" -- an admiring profile of Edwards’s loyal daughter, "For Edwards’s Adult Daughter, A Recurring Role: Family Glue," which led Thursday's National section.
Seelye’s initial online story on Edwards’s indictment last Friday also left out the disgraced politician’s party affiliation, though it was added in by the time the story appeared in print Saturday.
Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., a moderate Republican and conservative tweaker who is leaving his post as President Obama’s ambassador to China, is considering a Republican presidential run, according to New York Times reporter Jeff Zeleny, whose flattering profile of Huntsman graced Wednesday’s paper: “He’s Done Working for Obama. Now He May Challenge Him in ‘12."
Three months before President Obama nominated Jon M. Huntsman Jr. as ambassador to China, Mr. Huntsman arrived here to introduce himself to three dozen influential Republicans and talk politics with them over dinner at the Palmetto Club.
Mr. Huntsman, then serving his second term as governor of Utah and prospecting for his political future, worried aloud that Republicans were growing out of touch with a generation of Americans. If the party wanted to win national elections again, he argued, Republicans needed to broaden their appeal to young voters, Hispanics and independents.
CBS's Jan Crawford spotlighted the Tea Party movement on Monday's Early Show, but also played up how it might present a "challenge" for potential Republican presidential candidates due its apparent unpopularity: "Recent polls show 47% of Americans have an unfavorable view of the movement. So candidates looking for Tea Party votes have to be careful not to alienate moderates."
Midway through her report, after noting the would-be GOP presidential candidates, such as Tim Pawlenty and Donald Trump, who showed up at some of the weekend rallies, the correspondent turned to possible downside that these politicians might face in appealing to the Tea Party, playing up a result from a recent CNN/Opinion Dynamics poll:
PBS fans love how the show Washington Week is such a peaceful regurgitation of the conventional liberal media wisdom. But there are times in the calm that you wonder what world these liberals are living in. For example, the show's host, Gwen Ifill, seems to think it's plausible that President Obama -- the man who's made trillion-dollar-plus deficits a routine -- could take the "deficit slasher" label away from a conservative. New York Times reporter Jeff Zeleny suggested that seniors might be willing to consider seriously Medicare reforms if they'll help lower the debt.
Ifill replied: "Is that why when we see the president come out this week and make speeches like this, it seems like he was snatching the mantle of deficit slasher from Paul Ryan's hands and saying 'No, no, no -- me'?"
President Obama opened the week by calling on Democrats to embrace his re-election campaign. He closed it by praising Republicans for forging a compromise to cut spending this year and avert a government shutdown.
The juxtaposition made clearer than ever the more centrist governing style Mr. Obama has adopted since his party’s big losses in November and his recapture-the-middle strategy for winning a second term.
Actually, Zeleny has considered Obama centrist, or at least a “pragmatist,” from his first year in office, well before the 2010 election. Here's Zeleny on Obama the pragmatist in December 2009: “He delivered a mix of realism and idealism....he continued a pattern evident throughout his public career of favoring pragmatism over absolutes.”
Gave reporter Jeff Zeleny about 330 words on Page A21 to recycle a Caucus Blog post softly covering the video-recorded arguable assault North Carolina Congressman Bob Etheridge committed against a questioner on a public street "last week," and which came to public light early Monday morning. The vague print edition headline (per the index): "Congressman Apologizes After Tussle."
Devoted almost 1,000 words on Page A15 to a story about a three year-old alleged shoving incident involving California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman that "no one else appears to have witnessed." Yet the headline gives the impression that the facts are not in dispute: "Settlement Was Paid in Whitman Shoving Incident."
During a Monday video interview with the New York Times’ The Caucus blog, the new White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer, joined his predecessor Anita Dunn in declaring that Fox News Channel is not a news organization: “I have the same view of Fox that Anita had, which is that Fox is not a traditional news organization.”
Responding to a question by Times reporter Jeff Zeleny about Dunn’s feud with Fox, Pfeiffer explained: “They [FNC] have a point of view. That point of view pervades the entire network both the opinion shows, like Glenn Beck and Bill O'Reilly, but also through the newscasts during the day.” He went on to add: “We don’t feel an obligation to treat them like we would treat a CNN or an ABC or an NBC or a traditional news organization. But there are times when it would make sense to communicate with them and appear on the network.”
MediaBistro.com’s TVNewser obtained a response from Fox News to Pfeiffer’s comments: “Obviously new to his position, Dan seems to be intent upon repeating the mistakes of his predecessor... and we all remember how well that turned out.”
New York Times reporter Jeff Zeleny used an old interview with Barack Obama to defend Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's "Negro" comment in his Tuesday "White House Memo," "Reid's Words On Race Carry Hints Of Obama's."
Zeleny already sounds a little tired of the story about besieged Democrat leader Reid, whose 2010 reelection efforts may have gotten even harder after being quoted in "Game Change," a new book by reporters John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, saying Obama had the advantage of "no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one."
Senator Harry Reid's comments about Barack Obama's race -- and its positive implications for his presidential run in 2008 -- have been well aired by now.
The weekend fallout has largely devolved into a familiar Democrat vs. Republican argument focusing on the political consequences for Mr. Reid, the Senate Democratic leader who is scraping through a tough re-election fight at home in Nevada.
Bloggers and their readers have "joked" about the New York Times being the official house organ of the Obama White House. Maybe it's not a joke.
Earlier this month (as seen at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), several bloggers caught the Times making significant changes to its initial coverage of Chicago's humiliating loss of its bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympics, and of President Obama's involvement in that loss. The first Times report by Peter Baker was fairly harsh, questioning the President's judgment in getting involved, while citing his slipping poll ratings.
After Times organ grinder -- er, reporter -- Jeff Zeleny got a hold of the story, most of the harshness went away, as did Baker's original story. All of a sudden, at the same URL, there was no reference to tarnished presidential prestige. A dismissive assertion that the embarrassment "would fade in a news cycle or two" appeared. There was also a mention of Obama's 25-minute meeting with Afghanistan General Stanley McChrystal that was not in the original. The reference to falling poll numbers also disappeared.
Well, the Times has just pulled a similar stunt in its coverage of President Obama's Wednesday night/Thursday morning visit to Dover Air Force Base. Once again, Jeff Zeleny is involved.
Those who read the New York Times's coverage of the unsuccessful results of Barack and Michelle Obama's attempt to seal the 2016 Summer Olympics bid for Chicago on Friday afternoon ('For Obama, an Unsuccessful Campaign") might want to read it again.
If it doesn't seem the same, it's because it isn't.
An excerpt of the item's first five paragraphs posted at FreeRepublic at 4:44 Eastern Time on October 2 shows that the article was apparently originally published under the same title with Peter Baker's byline sometime Friday afternoon.
There are even more substantive differences noticed by Weasel Zippers I will get to shortly, but the first five paragraphs alone were obviously worked over, while Jeff Zeleny's name was added to the byline.
After the jump, on the left you will see the original as excerpted at FreeRepublic; on the right are the first five paragraphs currently at the Times web site (saved here at my host for future reference; click here or on the graphic to view a larger side-by-side version in a separate window):
Big liberal protests, such as the Million Mom March (for gun control), the 2006 demonstrations in favor of illegal immigrants’ “rights,” and numerous anti-war marches all garnered heavy play and adoring coverage from the broadcast networks, cable news outlets, and big papers like the New York Times. So how did those news outlets react to Saturday’s huge protest with conservative themes? MRC’s analysts scrutinized the coverage; here’s their report card:
■ ABC, CBS and NBC: The broadcast networks did not offer any pre-rally coverage before Saturday’s protests, but offered decent coverage of the event itself. ABC’s World News on Saturday was pre-empted by college football, but Good Morning America offered full reports on both Saturday and Sunday, as did NBC’s Today. Both the NBC Nightly News and CBS Evening News led with the rally on Saturday night, although CBS’s morning news shows gave the protest almost no attention.
The tone of coverage, however, was largely antagonistic.
There was a huge protest against Obama's big-government plans at the U.S. Capitol on Saturday, but one was hard-pressed to find evidence of it on the New York Times home page Sunday morning: A small headline tucked under the Political subhead.
The print edition wasn't much more forthcoming. Although the Washington D.C. Fire Dept. estimated 60,000 to 70,000 people attended the 9/12 protest, and many estimates are higher, the Times made do with one medium-sized story buried on page A37 of the Sunday paper, "Thousands Attend Broad Protest of Government," teasing it on the front page in a below-the-fold photo from the march. A much smaller Obama rally got better placement, and so had a previous ACORN-led left-wing protest numbering...40 people.
Reporter Jeff Zeleny painted protesters as "angry" and "profane" and that the rally contained "no shortage of vitriol," as if there were never raised voices and obscene signage at left-wing anti-war rallies:
A sea of protesters filled the west lawn of the Capitol and spilled onto the National Mall on Saturday in the largest rally against President Obama since he took office, a culmination of a summer-long season of protests that began with opposition to a health care overhaul and grew into a broader dissatisfaction with government.
On a cloudy and cool day, the demonstrators came from all corners of the country, waving American flags and handwritten signs explaining the root of their frustrations. Their anger stretched well beyond the health care legislation moving through Congress, with shouts of support for gun rights, lower taxes and a smaller government.
In an August 14 report appearing on the front page of the paper's August 15 print edition ("Health Debate Fails to Ignite Obama’s Web"), Jeff Zeleny of the New York Times (pictured at right) gave readers a fairly accurate impression, while avoiding the word, of activism turning into apathy in Barack Obama's DNC- and White House-orchestrated Organizing for America (OFA) effort.
While Zeleny's report and detailed work came out of Iowa, his key finding is intended to be a national temperature gauge: "But if a week’s worth of events are any measure here in Iowa, it may not be so easy to reignite the machine that overwhelmed Republicans a year ago."
That's why it's odd, to say the least, that Zeleny ignored the results of the nationwide reignition attempt that occurred and largely failed this past week, namely its "Office Visits for Health Reform." In fact, there are some signs that "Office Visits" did OFA's cause more harm than good.
Here are some key paragraphs from Zeleny's report:
Usually the Times team of Adam Nagourney and Megan Thee handle the poll stories, and usually Obama comes off looking great. Perhaps the switch to Zeleny and Sussman helps explains why today's off-lead poll story is less laudatory of Obama, although that might also be a recognition that his numbers aren't quite as favorable this time around.
One thing hasn't changed: The poll's pro-Democrat "weighting" continues. There were complaints in early April, the last time CBS News and the Times teamed up for a poll, that the poll's "weighting" process produced far more self-identified Democrat than Republican respondents, which would certainly tilt the paper's findings to the left.
In that last poll, NYT/CBS managed to turn a eight-point raw Democratic advantage of respondents (35%-27%) into a sixteen-point margin (39%-23%) through its mysterious weighting process. "Weighting" itself is standard polling practice, but the April gap was wide enough to draw questions of pro-Democratic favoritism.
This time around, the gap between the official number and the raw numbers is far wider.
Baker and Zeleny never directly acknowledged Sotomayor's liberal outlook, although there is enough in her judicial record (and her own words) to indicate her ideology.
President Obama announced Tuesday that he would nominate Sonia Sotomayor, a federal appeals judge in New York, to the Supreme Court, choosing a daughter of Puerto Rican parents who was raised in a Bronx public housing project to become the nation's first Hispanic justice.
In making his first pick for the court, Mr. Obama emphasized Judge Sotomayor's "extraordinary journey" from modest beginnings to the Ivy League and now the pinnacle of the judicial system. Casting her as the embodiment of the American dream, he touched off a confirmation battle that he hopes to wage over biography more than ideology.
Judge Sotomayor's past comments about how her sex and ethnicity shaped her decisions, and the role of appeals courts in making policy, generated instant conservative complaints that she is a judicial activist. Senate Republicans vowed to scrutinize her record. But with Democrats in reach of the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster, the White House appeared eager to dare Republicans to stand against a history-making nomination at a time when both parties are courting the growing Hispanic vote.
Again, the Times hinted at but didn't directly label Sotomayor with the still-damaging label of "liberal," never using the term to describe her.
New York Times reporter Jeff Zeleny gained new fans for his goofy "enchanted" softball question at Wednesday night's press conference. On Thursday's American Morning on CNN, former White House reporter John Roberts proclaimed "Good job, Jeff!" and strangely compared Zeleny's Obama softball to Bush hardballs in 2004 pressing him to confess his greatest mistakes. Roberts cited former Time magazine writer John Dickerson -- and forgot he asked a similar hardball in the same press conference.
The only similarity in these questions is they knocked the president "off his talking points." That, and they both betray a liberal bias. Here's the exchange between Roberts and his morning co-anchor Kiran Chetry:
At President Obama’s 100-day press conference on Wednesday night, White House correspondent Jeff Zeleny became a mini-celebrity – or a national laughingstock – for asking President Obama how he was surprised/troubled/enchanted/humbled over the first 100 days. The Times itself seemed embarrassed by the question. The press conference was relegated to page A-19, with the headline "Obama Voices Concern on Pakistan and Defends Interrogation Memo Release." Nine paragraphs in, Zeleny and Helene Cooper acknowledged the "light moments," but don’t acknowledge they were a gift from Zeleny and the Times:
There were a few light moments, particularly when Mr. Obama was asked what has surprised, troubled, enchanted and humbled him in the past 100 days. "Wait, let me get this all down," he said, taking out a pen.
Why the passive "mistakes were made" phrasing? Then Zeleny and Cooper provided all the president's answers to the multi-part softball, including: "He called himself enchanted by American servicemen and women, and their sacrifices they make, although he allowed that ‘enchanted’ might not be the exact characterization."
The morning after the media's "enchanted" evening with President Obama's 100-day press conference, Media Research Center Director of Research Rich Noyes appeared on the April 30 "America's Newsroom" to do a post-mortem of the media's fawning over the nation's 44th president. [audio excerpt here]
The segment began with a discussion of New York Times reporter Jeff Zeleny's fawning question about what enchanted Obama the most in his first 100 days.:
MEGYN KELLY, Fox News anchor: So, you know, it's prime real estate when you get to ask one of these questions as a reporter at these White House press conferences. He doesn't call on all the reporters. Every question counts, and the White House press corps sort of relies on one another to get to the heart of the matter so that all the most important things are asked. Does this qualify? How enchanted he was in his first 100 days?!
RICH NOYES, Media Research Center: I'm not sure if it really does. You're right. I cannot imagine the press asking George W. Bush what enchanted him the most about his time in the White House. I believe their mantra kept asking him to define all his mistakes and apologize for them, was sort of the routine question they'd bring up to him.
With a liberal Democrat coming to power, the New York Times has evidently gotten over the false fear of "big cuts" in Medicare it displayed when Republicans tried to trim the program back in 1995.
Thursday's lead story by Jeff Zeleny and John Harwood, "Obama Promises Bid To Overhaul Retiree Spending," characterized the president-elect's stated willingness to tackle huge entitlement programs Social Security and Medicare in mostly positive terms. The reporters described Obama's vague proposal as an "overhauling," an "approach to rein in Social Security and Medicare," and an "effort to cut back the rates of growth of the two programs."
President-elect Barack Obama said Wednesday that overhauling Social Security and Medicare would be "a central part" of his administration's efforts to contain federal spending, signaling for the first time that he would wade into the thorny politics of entitlement programs.
Rounding another turn in the race to November 4, The New York Times's "Election Guide -- Potential Running Mates," compiled by Adam Nagourney and Jeff Zeleny and posted to nytimes.com Monday, handicapped various potential vice presidents for Barack Obama and John McCain.
The Times first counted up twenty-one potential nominees, 11 Democrats and 10 Republicans (Democratic Sen. Jim Webb was removed after he took himself out of consideration).
From the Times, we learned South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham "has occasionally rankled some conservatives by not being conservative enough," that former Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge might not help with "McCain's already uneasy relations with conservatives," and that South Dakota Sen. John Thune "has strong credentials with social conservatives." In all, there were seven "conservative" labels applied to either politicians or their supporters.
Tuesday's New York Times report by Jeff Zeleny, "Campaign Flashpoints: Patriotism and Service" covered the back and forth between the McCain and Obama camps over a controversial comment by retired general and Obama adviser Wesley Clark about McCain's lack of qualifications to be president.
In response to a question by Bob Schieffer on the CBS Sunday talk show "Face the Nation," Clark said of John McCain, "I don't think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president."
But Zeleny also put heavy emphasis on fact-checking what he considers unfair attacks on Barack Obama.
Mr. Obama arrived here in Independence, the home of President Harry S. Truman, to open a weeklong patriotism tour. He sought to explain and defend his American ideals to ward off skepticism and silence persistent rumors about his loyalties to the nation.