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
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