A Times Watch Special Report: Hillary Clinton, At Home with The New York Times

April 19th, 2006 9:45 AM

When Sen. John Kerry lost to George W. Bush in the presidential election of 2004, the press turned its attention to 2008 and Sen. Hillary Clinton as a potential Democratic savior.

As Mrs. Clinton’s home state broadsheet, the Times has a front-row seat for the run-up to Election 2008. Yet a Times Watch study has discovered that ever since the Hillary-for-president talk heated up in earnest, the newspaper has used its seat more as a cheering section for Clinton than as a dispassionate perch for objective observation.

A reader wishing for a full, balanced picture of Sen. Hillary Clinton won’t get it from the New York Times, which has followed a pattern of mainstreaming Clinton’s liberal policies while throwing roadblocks in front of her potential Republican Senate opponents and playing down Clinton’s controversial remarks.

Among the ways the Times helped the Clinton campaign between Election Day 2004 through March 2006:

Centering Mrs. Clinton -- Far from accurately terming Clinton a liberal (doing so less than 1% of the time), the Times insisted the very idea was a “caricature.” Meanwhile, two Republican senators were labeled “conservative” in 7% of stories that mentioned them -- a labeling disparity of roughly 15 to one.

Sliming Critics as Hillary-Haters -- The Times was always eager to find rabid “Clinton-haters” assaulting poor Mrs. Clinton.

Clearing Hillary’s Re-election Highway -- Feminism only went so far at the Times, as the paper helped clear the field for Clinton’s 2006 reelection to the U.S. Senate by laying into potential Republican opponents Jeanine Pirro and K. T. McFarland.

Hillary’s Hum-Drum Controversial Remarks -- Even Clinton’s most notorious remarks were either ignored or quickly brushed aside by the Times, including her notorious Martin Luther King Day accusation that Republicans were running Congress like a “plantation.”

Read the full report at the sleek new TimesWatch website, which now features updates throughout the day.