Accuracy in Media

Vanity Fair’s Joe Pompeo reported that the New York Times is concerned that its reporters may be perceived to be left-leaning if they appear on MSNBC programs like Rachel Maddow’s.

Pompeo outlined a scenario that he said occurred where New York Times finance editor David Enrich was required by the Times’ communication team to turn down a Maddow appearance request after he had previously agreed to join.

“It’s not just Maddow,” Pompeo wrote. “The Times has come to ‘prefer,’ as sources put it, that its reporters steer clear of any cable-news shows that the masthead perceives as too partisan, and managers have lately been advising people not to go on what they see as highly opinionated programs. It’s not clear how many shows fall under that umbrella in the eyes of Times brass, but two others that definitely do are Lawrence O’Donnell’s and Don Lemon’s, according to people familiar with management’s thinking.”

Pompeo reported that a Times spokeswoman directed him to the section of the Times’s “Ethical Journalism” handbook that covers broadcast media appearances that reads: “In deciding whether to make a radio, television or Internet appearance, a staff member should consider its probable tone and content to make sure they are consistent with Times standards. Staff members should avoid strident, theatrical forums that emphasize punditry and reckless opinion-mongering.”

“I’m told that over the past couple of months, executive editor Dean Baquet has felt that opinionated cable-news show are getting, well, even more opinionated,” Pompeo wrote. “Baquet and other managers have become increasingly concerned that if a Times reporter were to go on one of these shows, his or her appearance could be perceived as being aligned with that show’s political leanings. ‘He thinks it’s a real issue,’ one of my Times sources said. ‘Their view,’ said another, ‘is that, intentionally or not, it affiliates the Times reporter with a bias.’”

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