Accuracy in Media

In an August 31 story, the New York Times noted that President Bush’s father told Paula Zahn of CNN that he wanted unsupervised negative advertisements to stop.  “Get rid of all of these 527’s or 547’s or whatever they are,” George H. W. Bush said.  “Get them out of there, including the ones that have been brutalizing our son for months.”  But in that same interview, the first President Bush had also unloaded on the New York Times.  The paper didn’t mention that.

Bush denounced the Times, saying it is “consistently liberal” and “consistently opposes the president on almost everything covering editorial.  Most of their editorial comment on the op-ed page is extraordinarily liberal. And the thing that troubles me is, in my opinion, their news columns are getting to show a certain bias.”  Bush said that the Times and other papers were openly sneaking liberal opinions into the paper by running them under features such as “reporter’s notebook” or “Washington Whispers” or something like that.  He said that “relieves the reporter of objectivity, objective reporting.”

Peter Johnson of USA Today quoted Times editor Bill Keller as saying that the paper’s “notebooks” are “intended to give reporters a chance to elaborate on bits of color that might not otherwise fit in a straight news story.”  But he denied that these “notebooks” are “a vehicle for people to slip their personal opinions into the newspaper.”  He denied the existence of a liberal bias at the Times.

Conservative economics writer Bruce Bartlett believes that the Times is “little more than a conduit for Democratic Party press releases.”  He cites an August 28 article by Timothy Egan, titled, “Economic Squeeze Plaguing Middle-Class Families.”  He says the Times “played fast and loose with the numbers in order to turn good news into bad news.”  The good news was that there were fewer officially designated “middle class” people because more people were moving into higher income brackets and making higher incomes.  But the Times emphasized the shrinkage in the number of middle class people.

Bartlett explained, “The most egregious error in the article is the clear implication that the percentage of those defined as the ‘middle class’ has fallen because many of those who used to be considered middle class have become poor.  This is totally untrue.  In fact, the ranks of the poor have fallen along with those of the middle class.”  He added that, “?it is doubtful that John Kerry’s campaign staff would have written it much differently if it had been handed the assignment.”

It is significant that the far-left protesters who showed up in New York to protest the Republican convention did not demonstrate outside the offices of the Times.  Instead, they protested against Fox News.  One of the groups involved in the protests called itself “Reclaim the Media.”  It is based on the belief that media corporations need to be monitored and checked through “vigorous regulation” by federal agencies.  It also attacks “private control” of the media.  Yet it has no problem with the New York Times, which serves as a mouthpiece for the national Democratic Party.  It wants to protect free speech for the Times but wants Fox News to “shut up.”

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