Joseph Lhota is a moderate Republican running for mayor of New York City, but Michael Barbaro's front page Thursday story focuses on an incident back in 1999 when he inflamed Manhattan's artsy liberal elite: "For Mayoral Hopeful Who Lost Fight to Remove Art, No Regrets." Barbaro also reminds us that the New York Times is guilty of double standards in its treatment of art that offends religious sensibilities.
Lhota was deputy mayor under Rudy Giuliani when controversy erupted over the Brooklyn Museum's display of Chris Ofili's painting of the "Holy Virgin Mary," clumped with elephant dung.
2012 was another banner year for bias at the New York Times, from slanted coverage of campaign 2012, to bizarre displays of unfairness to conservatives. The Times also intensified its push for liberal legislation on issues dear to the heart of its readership, like fighting "climate change" and amnesty for illegal immigrants. Here are some of the worst bits of bias from the year that was. (There's a more comprehensive version of this article on Times Watch.)
Taking Sides With Mitt Romney's Snobby Liberal Neighbors
The New York Times leaned "Forward!" for Barack Obama's reelection in its campaign coverage over the weekend. The front of the paper's Saturday Election 2012 section featured a large photo from an Obama rally of a volunteer handing out flags at a fairground rally in Hilliard, Ohio on Friday. The caption noted "A crowd of 2,800 showed up to see Mr. Obama."
Meanwhile, campaign reporter Ashley Parker estimated on Twitter Friday night that 25,000 people attended a Romney rally in West Chester Township in Ohio. But those strong turnout figures for Romney, which suggested high levels of enthusiasm in a crucial state, were buried in the very back of Parker and Michael Barbaro's Sunday story from the campaign trail.
The second 2012 presidential debate hosted by Candy Crowley got the full court press from the New York Times, with live fact-checking online and a 40-minute TimesCast wrap-up, that found Times reporters wrongly defending Obama and bashing Mitt Romney on a fiery exchange on Libya. Times journalists were highly supportive of Barack Obama's performance and critical of the "peevish" Mitt Romney, who "was arguably showing disrespect for the president," as Jackie Calmes insisted.
Times journalists also falsely insisted that President Obama had called the Benghazi attacks "an act of terror" in a Rose Garden speech the day after, and that Mitt Romney had made a "serious gaffe" when he suggested Obama had not. Yet in fact, as two other Times journalists softly pointed out later in the videocast, Obama was only speaking generally when he said in his Rose Garden speech that "no acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this nation." Of the Benghazi assault, Managing Editor Richard Berke admitted that Obama "didn't say 'it was a terrorist attack.' It was more of a vague quote."
Inside Mitt Romney’s campaign headquarters over the past few days, the data pouring in was unmistakable. Aides scouring the results of focus groups and national polls found that undecided voters watching the presidential debate in Denver seemed startled when the Republican candidate portrayed all year by Democrats -- the ultraconservative, unfeeling capitalist -- did not materialize.
Mitt Romney’s traveling press secretary walked to the back of the candidate’s plane midflight on Tuesday and teasingly asked a pair of journalists in an exit row if they were “willing and able to assist in case of an emergency.”
Under the circumstances, it was hard to tell whether it was a question or a request.
A secretly recorded video of Mitt Romney speaking at a fundraiser about the "47 percent of the country who are dependent on government," put out last night by the liberal magazine Mother Jones, calls into question whether Romney is "at base, an empathetic and caring man." That's according to the New York Times, which rushed the Monday night breaking news onto Tuesday morning's front page in a story by Michael Shear and Michael Barbaro, "In Video Clip, Romney Calls 47% ‘Dependent’ and Feeling Entitled."
The New York Times is milking its latest poll, showing some good news for Obama, to maximum effect. Sunday's front-page featured a poll story from one of the paper's top Obama boosters, White House correspondent Jackie Calmes (pictured): "Challenged on Medicare, G.O.P. Loses Ground." Text box: "Polls Show Favor for Obama on Issue of Party Trust." Calmes writes from Orlando:
Surprisingly, Obama loyalist Calmes discerned political problems in the president's anti-business rhetoric. More predictably, she defended Obama's anti-entrepreneurship remark "you didn't build that," accusing the GOP of taking it out of context, even though the context does not save Obama from the charge of showing hostility to enterprise and individual initiative.
When the New York Times sends reporters to compare and contrast the Romney and Obama campaign styles, little surprise who comes off looking best. The banner headline on the front of Monday's special Campaign 2012 section set the scene: "Two Campaigns With Styles as Similar as Red and Blue."
No matter what campaign tactic Mitt Romney chooses, it's the wrong one. A July 12 New York Times headline reads: "Romney Faces Calls to Deliver Counterpunch." Jeff Zeleny and Ashley Parker began their front-page "campaign memo" relaying concerns from the GOP that he is not counterattacking Obama:
Mitt Romney and his team of advisers built a reputation during the Republican primaries as tough street fighters skilled in the tactics of political warfare. They quietly took pride in tearing apart Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and the rest of their rivals.
On Monday, New York Times reporters Michael Barbaro and Sarah Wheaton made much of a left-wing protest of Mitt Romney fundraising in the well-heeled Hamptons, "Romney Mines the Hamptons for Campaign Cash." The text box: "Protesters gather outside events in sprawling homes."
President Obama hauled in $15 million in Hollywood at a fundraiser on George Clooney's Hollywood estate on May10. Yet searches of Nexis and nytimes.com indicate the Times didn't even cover the fundraiser in its print edition, limiting event coverage to a noncritical blog post.
The front of Thursday's New York Times Home section (!) features a large story targeting Mitt Romney that makes the paper's notorious front-page investigation into Ann Romney's troubling horse habit look as significant as Watergate by comparison.
Political reporter Michael Barbaro invaded the Home section and devoted a staggering 1,800-word investigation to the fact that Romney's liberal neighbors in La Jolla, California don't approve of his presence or his politics: "The Candidate Next Door." The text box: "On a cul-de-sac in La Jolla, residents are not happy about their new neighbor's renovation plans – or his entourage."
When even a panel of liberal journalists thinks the New York Times has gone too far with its Romney-bashing, you know the paper's descending to uncomfortable subterranean depths of bias. With the lone exception of Jodi Kantor, herself a New York Times reporter, the members of today's Now with Alex Wagner panned the Times for its Home section front-pager about Romney's La Jolla, California, home, "The Candidate Next Door." The story was written by political writer Michael Barbaro in a section that usually has to do interior decorating and other apolitical domestic fare.
"Can I call bull on this?" Nation magazine contributor Ari Melber asked. "What they've done here is taken a campaign reporter who covers the campaign with a really thin, silly story, and then put it in the home section." [audio available here; video update coming shortly]
The presidential campaign has just begun in earnest, but New York Times reporter Michael Barbaro already thinks the Mitt Romney campaign is getting too nasty. Barbaro's previous reporting doesn't betray much concern for Republican electoral prospects, but he was very concerned with the tone of the Romney campaign in Thursday's story.
The conservative blogosphere has been making mirth out of an entry from Barack Obama's first autobiography, "Dreams From My Father," in which he briefly mentions eating dog as a child in Indonesia.
It also functions as a counter to another shaggy political anecdote, widely propagated throughout the liberal media, about Mitt Romney strapping his pet dog to a crate on the top of his station wagon for a long-ago family vacation. New York Times columnist Gail Collins is particularly obsessed with the non-story, mentioning it a few dozen times in her column since the story came to light in the summer of 2007.
Mitt Romney can’t win for losing. Wednesday’s New York Times “news analysis” by Michael Barbaro and Ashley Parker posed as concerned over the “heavy new baggage” the Romney campaign had acquired by successfully going negative against Newt Gingrich in his Florida primary victory Tuesday night: “A Nasty Fight Carries Risks for the Winner.” Of course it does.
The Times has put Romney's mannerisms under the microscope on several occasions. Sen. John Kerry, the Democratic candidate in 2004, was another rich Northern politician with a reputation for woodenness and lack of the common touch, but it certainly wasn’t a dominant theme of Times campaign coverage.
As expected, New York Times coverage of the law passed late Friday night allowing gay marraige in New York State was heavily favorable. Sunday’s front page New York Times story provided the tick-tock on how New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo marshaled support to pass gay marriage in the Republican-controlled New York State Senate in part by convincing “super-rich Republican donors” to support him, in Michael Barbaro’s “Behind Gay Marriage, an Unlikely Mix of Forces.” It included this odd anecdote about a Democratic state senator and holdout against history:
New York Times reporter Michael Barbaro hyped up on Tuesday the less-than-earth-shattering news that Barbara Bush, one of President George W. Bush’s twin daughters, has made a video in support of gay marriage: “Daughter Of Bush Endorses Gay Marriages.”
Barbaro managed to compare the video Bush made for a gay rights group to such “weighty issues” as the Iraq War:
The Bush dynasty is no stranger to generational conflict: father and son differed over deposing Saddam Hussein, raising taxes and the role of the United Nations.
Now it is father and daughter who find themselves at odds over a weighty issue.
Democrat Rep. Alan Grayson of Florida, the fiery leftist and Republican hater whose offensive comments about Republicans may well have cost him his seat last November, gets a fairly fond send-off in Monday's New York Times.
Reporter Michael Barbaro, previously known for his hostile coverage of Wal-Mart, called Grayson the “pugnaciously partisan, verbal-bomb-tossing, liberal folk hero of the 111th Congress,” and the headline and text box are complimentary. “Enter: Swinging. Exit: Much the Same Way.” The text box: “In or out of Congress, Alan Grayson is a man of strong views.”
Barbaro only briefly dealt with Grayson’s history of foul partisan fusillades, skipping Grayson’s campaign ad calling Republican opponent Daniel Webster “Taliban Dan” (which may have cost Grayson the election).
After relaying a few newly minted Graysonisms like calling incoming speaker of the House John Boehner a “tool of special interest,” Barbaro summarized the bombastic former lawmaker with a stream of ambivalent adjectives:
Representative Alan Grayson, a Democrat from Florida’s Eighth Congressional District, is leaving office on Wednesday much as he entered it two years ago -- as the pugnaciously partisan, verbal-bomb-tossing, liberal folk hero of the 111th Congress.
Not that it's a big surprise, but it seems that the answer to "How do we spin Christmas shopping season?" at the New York Times depends on which party occupies the Oval Office in Washington.
Monday, The Times's Stephanie Clifford, with the help of two other reporters, blew the holiday sales horn. Here are the first few paragraphs of her report, entitled "Retail Sales Rebound, Beating Forecasts," with a browser window title of "Holiday Sales Return to Prerecession Level":
Americans are splurging as though it’s 2007 again.
Well fancy that: The New York Times has learned what Times Watch has been pointing out for weeks: Not even New Yorkers want a large mosque built two blocks from the site of the 9-11 terrorist attacks.
New York City residents were previously praised by Times reporters like Sheryl Gay Stolberg as better informed and thus more tolerant of the idea of a mosque at Ground Zero than ignorant outsiders.
But a New York Times poll conducted last week showed that New Yorkers don't like the idea of building a mosque near the site of the 9-11 terrorist attacks anymore than the rest of the country. In fact, New York City residents (that includes Manhattan and the outer boroughs) oppose it by a 50%-35% margin. Yes, the nationwide opposition to the construction, twice declaimed as a "nativist impulse" by the paper's main political writer Matt Bai, has infected even the tolerant, sophisticated liberals of Manhattan.
Building its story around the poll, reporters Michael Barbaro and Marjorie Connelly reported on last Friday's front page: "New Yorkers Divided Over Islamic Center, Poll Finds." (Actually New Yorkers are more than merely divided but are mostly opposed to the mosque being built near Ground Zero.)
Two-thirds of New York City residents want a planned Muslim community center and mosque to be relocated to a less controversial site farther away from ground zero in Lower Manhattan, including many who describe themselves as supporters of the project, according to a New York Times poll.
The front page of Monday's New York Times featured a story on how Rick Lazio, the Republican candidate for governor of New York, is gaining voter appeal from his strong opposition to the building of a mosque two blocks from the site of the World Trade Center terrorist attacks: "Lazio Finds an Issue in Furor Over Islamic Center."
Reporter Michael Barbaro, while conceding the popular appeal of Lazio's opposition, managed by tone to suggest Lazio was somehow engaged in inappropriate politicking, confirmed by the story's text box: "Commercials that appeal to some may risk the alienation of moderates."
Mr. Lazio's relentless opposition to the project -- he again attacked the imam behind it during an appearance Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press" -- is, above all, aimed at Republican primary voters, analysts say. But it risks alienating moderates who could prove crucial in a general election. And it certainly is infuriating many Muslim leaders, who say he is preying on the worst fears of voters; and provoking a backlash from some influential voices in the community of Sept. 11 emergency workers, who say he is exploiting the tragedy.
Nevertheless, Mr. Lazio is pushing ahead with the strategy, even breaking what has been, until now, something of an unwritten rule of politics in New York: never to use images of Sept. 11 in campaign advertisements.
The Times drug up an incident from 10 years ago to make Lazio into some kind of anti-Muslim campaigner:
But reporters Michael Barbaro and Javier Hernandez actually led with NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg's weepy speech about religious tolerance, falsely asserting that that denying permission to build a 13-story Islamic center topped by a mosque would somehow be "denying the very constitutional rights" that New York City police and firefighters died protecting.
And the Times again insinuated that opposition to the mosque is coming mostly from outsiders, while New Yorkers have gotten on with their lives and don't oppose it -- a half-truth at best, as shown by results of a poll of New Yorkers.
Times reporters were very impressed with the speech. Both Jodi Kantor and Brian Stelter linked to speech coverage on their Twitter feeds, Kantor calling it a "must-read" and Stelter calling it "worth reading."
Here's the Times's lead:
As New York City removed the final hurdle for a controversial mosque near ground zero, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg forcefully defended the project on Tuesday as a symbol of America's religious tolerance and sought to reframe a fiery national debate over the project.