Your media bias laugh of the day: New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan claimed "you wouldn't know who" most Times reporters voted for, on Friday's edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe. Mediaite's Noah Rothman reported the exchange between host Joe Scarborough and Sullivan.
Scarborough: "Because I see guys like Jeff Zeleny, Mark Leibovich. These guys, I couldn't tell you how they vote in elections. It seems the further we move away from the '60s and the '70s and what came out of that, the more we find guys like Zeleny and Leibovich that don’t seem to have an agenda."
Sullivan agreed: "I think most of the people who write for the Times, you wouldn’t know who they voted for."
For the record, Sullivan's predecessors as public editor occasionally owned up to the paper's liberal slant. Her immediate predecessor Arthur Brisbane in his final column in September 2012 observed that the "hive on Eighth Avenue is powerfully shaped by a culture of like minds....Across the paper’s many departments, though, so many share a kind of political and cultural progressivism --for lack of a better term -- that this worldview virtually bleeds through the fabric of The Times. As a result, developments like the Occupy movement and gay marriage seem almost to erupt in The Times, overloved and undermanaged, more like causes than news subjects."
And the paper's first public editor Daniel Okrent titled a July 2004 column, "Is the New York Times a liberal newspaper?" He answered that rhetorical question in his first line: "Of course it is."
As for Scarborough's examples: In fairness, Zeleny is actually one of the more balanced reporters at the paper, though Times Watch has leveled plenty of criticism at Zeleny's reporting over the years, like his puffball to Obama at the April 2009 press conference marking his first 100 days in office: "During these first 100 days, what has surprised you the most about this office, enchanted you the most about serving in this office, humbled you the most and troubled you the most?" Zeleny also dubiously called the liberal Obama a 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."
As for Mark Leibovich, he has shown no desire to treat Republicans fairly in his "colorful" political profiles. "Paul Ryan Can't Lose," his 5,000-word cover story for the October 12, 2012 Times magazine, conformed to his history of cynical, unsympathetic profiles of Republicans, filled with hostile lines like "Skeptics say Ryan owes his superwonk standing as much to comparisons with his colleagues than to any great knowledge or depth." Leibovich confirmed that with a nasty crack from that well-known man of moderation, Barney Frank.
He bashed Republican Rep. Darrell Issa on July 7, 2010 as a "nuisance" and a "pest" for daring to give the Obama administration grief: "Every Congress seems to produce a designated pest, adept at drawing attention to nuisance issues (and his nuisance self) while making trouble for the other party when it controls the White House."
Yet Leibovich laid off the jabs in a March 2009 front-page profile of an easy target -- Democratic Vice President Joe Biden. His subject's history of colorful gaffes should have made him a prime target for a fillet. But Leibovich has a habit of only bringing out his carving knife against conservative Republicans. He didn't call Biden "a bit of a screwball," as he did conservative Kentucky Republican Sen. Jim Bunning. Leibovich actually buttered up Biden as an active player in the Obama administration. The front-page photo caption read: "The influence Vice President Biden wielded in the debate on Afghan war policy is a signal of his stature in the administration."
Former Republican Vice President Dick Cheney didn't fare quite as well. An October 2006 profile mocked him as an old dullard, full of details on "odd episodes" showing just how crazy Cheney allegedly was, mocking him for repeating campaign stories, and condescended to Cheney's fans.