Saturday's front-page New York Times story by education writer Michael Winerip on a school testing scandal involving Beverly Hall, former superintendent of Atlanta public schools: "35 Indicted in Test Scandal at Atlanta Schools." Hall is "charged with racketeering, theft, influencing witnesses, conspiracy and making false statements. Prosecutors recommended a $7.5 million bond for her; she could face up to 45 years in prison."
It's a sorry end to a saga that includes politically correct embarrassment for the paper and reporter Shaila Dewan, who defended Hall in two notorious stories from August 2010, trumpeting the false initial vindication of Superintendent Hall, who is black, while hinting at a racial element to criticism that Hall and the Atlanta school district had falsified minority student test scores.
New York Times media reporter Jeremy Peters on Tuesday defended Republican Gov Nikki Haley of South Carolina from a phony scandal story that made the rounds of the media via Twitter last week, in "A Lie Races On Twitter Before Truth Can Boot Up." Peters reminded readers that Haley had previously been hit with an "unfounded blog report of marital infidelity." So why did the Times eagerly make that "unfounded" report a news story in 2010?
Reporter Shaila Dewan saw a “head of steam,” enough “to cheer President Obama as he enters an election year,” in Labor Department figures released Friday morning showing the U.S. unemployment rate fell from 8.7% to 8.5%: “Economy Gains Steam as 200,000 New Jobs Added.” Does this mean Dewan will no longer ask, as she did in a 2009 story, "Weren't we working too much, anyway?"
Yet in August 2010, the Times was puzzled as to why Atlanta school superintendent Beverly Hall, who is now under suspicion, was still under fire: "Even after an independent investigation recently found that the problem was much less widespread, critics have called for her resignation and attacked the investigation’s credibility."
Jay Blotcher and Brook Garrett are as married as two men can be.
On their dining room table, they have laid out the proof: a New York City certificate of domestic partnership from April 2000, a Vermont certificate of civil union from October 2000, an actual marriage license from California in 2008 and -- perhaps the sentimental favorite, if legally the most anemic -- an affidavit of marriage from that euphoric moment in 2004 when nearby New Paltz, N.Y., became the center of the gay marriage movement.
“Euphoric” for whom? For the couples, yes, but evidently for Times reporters as well.
The New York Times on Thursday picked through the sordid saga of Shirley Sherrod, fired from her post at the U.S. Department of Agriculture after a clip of a speech to a gathering of a rural chapter of the Georgia NAACP appeared to show her hostility toward a white farmer seeking assistance.
A full version of the speech shows that was a set-up to Sherrod's tale of racial reconciliation, though there are questions of how far her racial reconciliation really goes. That same speech reveals Sherrod accusing Republicans of being racist by opposing Obama and Obama-care, and Sherrod has gone on to accuse Fox News of using her as a "pawn" for its own reactionary, racist purposes.
Fox News didn't run a report on the controversy until after Sherrod had resigned under White House pressure and after the NAACP had issued a press release condemning Sherrod. Yet in "For Fired Agriculture Official, Flurry of Apologies and Job Offer," reported by Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Shaila Dewan, and Brian Stelter, and written by Stolberg, the Times chose to blame a cabal of "right-wing Web sites" and Fox News for fostering the Sherrod scandal which led to her dismissal. As if Fox forced Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to do its right-wing bidding without ever actually running a single story on Sherrod until after her firing, when the point became moot.
The White House and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack apologized profusely and repeatedly on Wednesday to a black midlevel official for the way she had been humiliated and forced to resign her Agriculture Department job after a conservative blogger put out a misleading video clip that seemed to show her admitting antipathy toward a white farmer.
By the end of the day, the official, Shirley Sherrod, had gained instant fame and emerged as the heroine of a compelling story about race and redemption.
Clay Waters of MRC's Times Watch project noticed this week that the The New York Times was just as guilty as The Washington Post of jumping on the unsubstantiated adultery charges against female GOP gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley in South Carolina:
[Reporter Shaila] Dewan used the sex scandal of former South Carolina Republican Gov. Mark Sanford as an excuse to suggest, without substance like emails or phone messages, that the claims by blogger Will Folks fit a pattern of sexual bad behavior in the Palmetto State: “Scandal Rattles Politics In South Carolina, Again.” The text box to Wednesday's print story worked in the party identification: “A blogger says he had an affair with a G.O.P. candidate for governor.”
The treatment of a fairly obscure Republican politician stands in sharp contrast to the paper's blackout of the amply documented affair of former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards. The Times totally ignored the Edwards affair until the candidate himself confessed on ABC News, then, when its own public editor criticized the paper's lack of coverage, editors made hypocritical excuses.
Dewan certainly didn't do much hedging around the claims of blogger Will Folks, relaying the accusation with a tone of near-giddiness:
Like ABC and CNN before them, the front page of Saturday’s New York Times brought a new visibility to the black pro-life movement. The headline was "To Court Blacks, Foes of Abortion Make Racial Case." The subtitles were "High Rates Are Cited: Message Ties Procedure to Slavery, Genocide and Lynchings."
The story by reporter Shaila Dewan began by focusing on Georgia Right to Life hiring a black outreach coordinator, and how the "anti-abortion movement," long seen as "almost exclusively white and Republican," is encouraging "black abortion opponents" to become more active.
She explained that their new black employee, Catherine Davis, was "delivering the message that abortion is the primary tool in a decades-old conspiracy to kill blacks."
Saturday's New York Times front-page story by Shaila Dewan from Columbia, S.C., was a hostile profile of the state's conservative Republican Gov. Mark Sanford, who has been unpopular on the Times news pages ever since he dared challenge Barack Obama's expensive spending ideas.
Dewan mocked Sanford's "extreme" frugality (an odd thing to make fun of in these recessionary times) in "Rejecting Aid, One Governor Irks His Own." Showing her own frugality, Dewan squeezed two insults into her first line: Rich and cheap.
For a millionaire, Gov.Mark Sanfordhas a reputation for frugality that borders on the extreme.
Former employees say he has been known to require his staff to use both sides of a Post-it note. When Mr. Sanford was a congressman, he slept on a futon in his office and returned his housing allowance. And when, after he moved into the Governor's Mansion here, tax collectors declared his family's home on Sullivan's Island a secondary residence subject to a higher tax rate, he appealed and won.
Funny, you could easily imagine the Times pushing such frugal traits as endearing in a liberal Democrat trying to reduce his carbon footprint.