New York Times Admits Soft Coverage of Weiner

New York Times Admits Soft Coverage of Weiner

In what is tantamount to an admission of the abandonment of journalistic impartiality, the New York Times Public Editor, Margaret Sullivan submitted an analysis of the paper’s coverage of the resurrection of Mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner’s career. 

In a navel-gazing column designed to explore the various ways the Times has reported on Weiner’s re-entry to the political scene in New York, Sullivan compares the April Times Magazine cover story to a People Magazine puff piece on Hollywood celebrities: (emphasis added)

This kind of hard-nosed skepticism has sometimes been in short supply in recent weeks when it comes to the former congressman, who resigned in June 2011 after an online sex scandal, and in his run for New York City’s top office. It all began with a cover story in The New York Times Magazine on April 14. The cover image, combined with the headline’s first-name intimacy, gave it something of a Brangelina vibe: “Huma and Anthony: The Private Life of a Former Power Couple.”

As is typical of Sullivan’s writing, she painstakingly points to less fawning coverage from the Times over the past few weeks and concludes that the paper of record is now being more critical of the disgraced congressman, but even the fact that the New York Times felt compelled to publish a column explaining and excusing their coverage suggests that they recognize that they allowed themselves to be the vehicle for the attempted political rehabilitation and were even a willing participant. 

Nowhere in any of the articles covering Weiner have there been any critical attention paid to the real scandal behind the June 2011 “Weinergate” episode. The Times hasn’t explored the fact that Weiner accused a journalist and publisher, Andrew Breitbart, of hacking his account and lying about it. He knew the truth, and he was willing to let a journalist take the heat on his behalf. And the Times seems just fine with that.