NY Times: First Step Is Admitting You Have a Problem

If the first step in solving a problem is admitting you have one, then the NY Times is almost on its way. 

A Saturday piece by Arthur Brisbane, the paper's public editor, comes as close as you're ever likely to see to anyone get to admitting the Times has a bias problem when it comes to President Obama:

Many critics view The Times as constitutionally unable to address the election in an unbiased fashion. Like a lot of America, it basked a bit in the warm glow of Mr. Obama's election in 2008. The company published a book about the country's first African-American president, "Obama: The Historic Journey." The Times also published a lengthy portrait of him in its Times Topics section on NYTimes.com, yet there's nothing of the kind about George W. Bush or his father.

According to a study by the media scholars Stephen J. Farnsworth and S. Robert Lichter, The Times's coverage of the president's first year in office was significantly more favorable than its first-year coverage of three predecessors who also brought a new party to power in the White House: George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan.

Brisbane then spends a few paragraphs explaining how even non-partisan issues like TV reviews wind up taking pot shots at conservative candidates in the Times' pages. But all of this can be redeemed, he assures readers, with some hard-nosed reporting:

The warm afterglow of Mr. Obama's election, the collateral effects of liberal-minded feature writers - these can be overcome by hard-nosed, unbiased political reporting now.

Admitting the problem is only a first step. If the Times really wanted even-handed coverage of this election they would hire some smart conservatives to balance out the newsroom. In a surprise to no one, they're not going to do that. Instead they're going to once again ask their overwhelmingly liberal, insular, and frankly smug staff to pretend they're neutral. It's a recipe for failure, one the Times insists on repeating every election cycle.


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