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
Epitomizing the paper's social liberalism, the front of the June 7 New York Times Home section (!) featured a large story targeting Republican nominee Mitt Romney that made the paper's notorious front-page investigation into Ann Romney's horse look as significant as Watergate by comparison.
Political reporter Michael Barbaro 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 text box read: "On a cul-de-sac in La Jolla, residents are not happy about their new neighbor's renovation plans – or his entourage." (Or his politics, as the article made clear.)
A liberal gay couple trying to organize an Obama fundraiser earned not one but two photos: "THE OPPOSITION – Mr. Romney's neighbors, Randy Clark right, and his partner, Tom Maddox, object to the expansion – and to the candidate's stance on same-sex marriage." The couple got another photo and caption on the jump page with their political opposition to Romney masked as neighborhood concern: "CONCERNED: Randy Clark, right and Tom Maddox are among those who say they want to protect the tight-knit neighborhood."
From Republicans, anyway.
Editor Andrew Rosenthal on Racist John Boehner
Is Republican House Speaker John Boehner an anti-Obama racist? Times Editorial Page editor Andrew Rosenthal all but accused him of it in a January 3 blog post, "Nobody Likes to Talk About It, but It's There." The original web headline was blunter: "Republican Attacks Have Racist Undertones."
Talking about race in American politics is uncomfortable and awkward. But it has to be said: There has been a racist undertone to many of the Republican attacks leveled against President Obama for the last three years, and in this dawning presidential campaign.
You can detect this undertone in the level of disrespect for this president that would be unthinkable were he not an African-American. Some earlier examples include: Rep. Joe Wilson shouting 'you lie' at one of Mr. Obama's first appearances before Congress, and House Speaker John Boehner rejecting Mr. Obama's request to speak to a joint session of Congress – the first such denial in the history of our republic.
As for decorum during presidential appearances before Congress, Rosenthal has apparently forgotten the rumbles and hisses, hoots and hollerings of 'No! No!' thrown at President Bush by Democrats (documented in his own newspaper) at Bush's February 2005 State of the Union address when he spoke on Social Security reform.
Rosenthal seemed suspiciously uninformed, as he often is on political matters. Speaker Boehner did not in fact 'reject' Obama's request to address Congress, but instead suggested the president delay the speech for one day, to avoid it being held on the same night as a Republican presidential debate. (That's what happened.) Rosenthal's suggestion that Boehner's move was somehow racist is too pathetic to even merit response.
Campaign Fact-checking, Obama vs. Romney
James Taranto has written at Opinion Journal that the recent trend of aggressive media "fact checking" of statements made by the campaigns on the stump and during debates is "overwhelmingly biased toward the left" and "gives journalists much freer rein to express their opinions by allowing them to pretend to be rendering authoritative judgments about the facts." The paper's coverage of the Obama-Romney campaign provided the proof.
Reporter Michael Cooper led the pack of the Times's bogus fact-checking. His September 1 "Political Memo," "Fact-Checkers Howl, but Campaigns Seem Attached to Dishonest Ads," focused on the allegedly false statements emanating from Mitt Romney's ads and the Republican National Convention podium. Cooper heralded the "Pulitzer Prize-winning" left-leaning fact-check website Politifact as the gold standard of objectivity.
Cooper settled the biggest portion of the blame onto the shoulders of the GOP by claiming as false the (oversimplified but true) claim that Obama has gutted the work requirements of welfare reform: "But some independent commentators have argued that the Romney campaign appears to be more dishonest at this point in the campaign, citing the many times it has broadcast a commercial making the false claim that Mr. Obama wants to gut the work requirements of welfare."
Amnesty for Illegal Immigrants
Other than "climate change," no issue brought out the New York Times's liberal bias in 2012 more than illegal immigration. The Times pounded the protest drums for illegals, hyping every small protest (while ignoring the March for Life for the fifth straight year) and constantly punching in the cliched image of illegal immigrants cowering "in the shadows" -- the phrase crops up in many news stories, though it doesn't jive with the massive pro-amnesty street demonstrations put on by illegal immigrants (and the photos of illegals that constantly grace the paper).
Preston reported with absolute sympathy (and zero objectivity), from a "congress" of illegals in Kansas City and gushed, "To judge from the display they put on here, young immigrants will come to that fight [over immigration overhaul] with distinctive resolve and esprit de corps." Preston dropped all pretense of objectivity to identify completely and sympathetically with the alleged victims of America's harsh immigration policy.
Justin Gillis' Scary Climate Coverage
Ubiquitous on the New York Times front page in 2012, reporter Justin Gillis quickly established himself as the paper's most alarmist climate reporter (beating back stiff competition from John Broder). Environmental scientist Roger Pielke Jr. eviscerated a Christmas Day 2011 article by Gillis, "Harsh Political Reality Slows Climate Studies Despite Extreme Year," as “perhaps the worst piece of reporting I've ever seen in the Times on climate change.”
Gillis proudly told the Columbia Journalism Review that it was a "scandal" the media was failing to connect the dots between "weird weather" events and permanent climate change, and compared climate-change skeptics to people who don't believe in evolution:
If one is covering evolution these days, one can afford to ignore the anti-evolutionists most of the time because they are completely scientifically discredited and, more importantly, sort of spent as a social force. Unfortunately, we just are not at that point with climate science.
However discredited the scientific case questioning climate science may be, it is influencing half the Congress and a substantial fraction of the population. So this is almost like if you’d been in Tennessee in 1925 getting ready to cover the Scopes Monkey Trial. The anti-evolutionists were already scientifically discredited by then, but as a journalist, you could not have avoided quoting them in order to put the whole thing in its political context. I’m sad to say that in 2012, that’s still where we are with climate science.