Accuracy in Media

On Sunday, Arthur Brisbane, the public editor for The New York Times, admitted that the newspaper has a pro-Obama bias and encouraged the paper to be more even-handed during this years’ presidential election.

Brisbane began by noting that four weeks ago he criticized the Times for overplaying an article on Ann Romney’s blind trust, but chalked that up to the fact that her husband was locked in a tight primary fight and that this type of scrutiny wasn’t unusual when one party has a contested primary campaign.

But then Brisbane takes on the Times’ favoritism towards Obama:

Now, though, the general election season is on, and The Times needs to offer an aggressive look at the president’s record, policy promises and campaign operation to answer the question: Who is the real Barack 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, yet there’s nothing of the kind about George W. Bush or his father.

He then cites a study by media scholars Stephen J. Farnsworth and S. Robert Lichter, which determined that the Times’ coverage of Obama’s first year in office was significantly more favorable than for the same period for Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

The coverage of Reagan and Bush is easy to understand. But considering how much the media loved Clinton when he first ran for office, it shows the extent to which the Times is in the tank for Obama.

Brisbane even mentioned that one reader complained about a Sunday magazine article on the PBS series “Downton Abbey” where the writer took a veiled swipe at Mitt Romney’s supposed exploitation of the tax code as an example of political views creeping into nonpolitical coverage.

As a result the reader canceled her weekday subscription to the paper, something the paper can’t afford to see replicated, based on their latest earnings report.

Brisbane concluded by saying the readers deserve to know, “Who is the real Barack Obama?” and that the Times must prove it can address that question in an unbiased and hard-nosed fashion.

I’ll give Brisbane credit for being honest enough to admit that the Times leans way too much in favor of Obama, but he is kidding himself if he thinks that the powers-that-be at the paper will heed his advice and aim for unbiased coverage of the President.

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