If the first step in solving a problem is admitting you have one, thenthe NY Times is almost on its way.
A Saturday piece by Arthur Brisbane, thepaper’s public editor, comes as close as you’re ever likely to see to anyoneget to admitting the Times has a bias problem when it comes to PresidentObama:
Many critics view The Times as constitutionally unable toaddress the election in an unbiased fashion. Like a lot of America, itbasked a bit in the warm glow of Mr. Obama’s election in 2008. The companypublished a book about the country’s first African-American president,of him in its Times Topics section on NYTimes.com, yet there’s nothing ofthe 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 officewas significantly more favorable than its first-year coverage of threepredecessors 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-partisanissues like TV reviews wind up taking pot shots at conservative candidatesin 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 collateraleffects of liberal-minded feature writers – these can be overcome byhard-nosed, unbiased political reporting now.
Admitting the problem is only a first step. If the Times really wantedeven-handed coverage of this election they would hire some smartconservatives to balance out the newsroom. In a surprise to no one, they’renot going to do that. Instead they’re going to once again ask theiroverwhelmingly liberal, insular, and frankly smug staff to pretend they’reneutral. It’s a recipe for failure, one the Times insists on repeating everyelection cycle.