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takebackthewh Donating Member (182 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-25-04 11:19 AM
Original message
The NYT says yes, we're liberals!
I can't believe there's been no mention of this yet on DU.


July 25, 2004
THE PUBLIC EDITOR
Is The New York Times a Liberal Newspaper?
By DANIEL OKRENT

OF course it is.

The fattest file on my hard drive is jammed with letters from the disappointed, the dismayed and the irate who find in this newspaper a liberal bias that infects not just political coverage but a range of issues from abortion to zoology to the appointment of an admitted Democrat to be its watchdog. (That would be me.) By contrast, readers who attack The Times from the left - and there are plenty - generally confine their complaints to the paper's coverage of electoral politics and foreign policy.

I'll get to the politics-and-policy issues this fall (I want to watch the campaign coverage before I conclude anything), but for now my concern is the flammable stuff that ignites the right. These are the social issues: gay rights, gun control, abortion and environmental regulation, among others. And if you think The Times plays it down the middle on any of them, you've been reading the paper with your eyes closed.

But if you're examining the paper's coverage of these subjects from a perspective that is neither urban nor Northeastern nor culturally seen-it-all; if you are among the groups The Times treats as strange objects to be examined on a laboratory slide (devout Catholics, gun owners, Orthodox Jews, Texans); if your value system wouldn't wear well on a composite New York Times journalist, then a walk through this paper can make you feel you're traveling in a strange and forbidding world.

Start with the editorial page, so thoroughly saturated in liberal theology that when it occasionally strays from that point of view the shocked yelps from the left overwhelm even the ceaseless rumble of disapproval from the right.

Across the gutter, the Op-Ed page editors do an evenhanded job of representing a range of views in the essays from outsiders they publish - but you need an awfully heavy counterweight to balance a page that also bears the work of seven opinionated columnists, only two of whom could be classified as conservative (and, even then, of the conservative subspecies that supports legalization of gay unions and, in the case of William Safire, opposes some central provisions of the Patriot Act).

But opinion pages are opinion pages, and "balanced opinion page" is an oxymoron. So let's move elsewhere. In the Sunday magazine, the culture-wars applause-o-meter chronically points left. On the Arts & Leisure front page every week, columnist Frank Rich slices up President Bush, Mel Gibson, John Ashcroft and other paladins of the right in prose as uncompromising as Paul Krugman's or Maureen Dowd's. The culture pages often feature forms of art, dance or theater that may pass for normal (or at least tolerable) in New York but might be pretty shocking in other places.

Same goes for fashion coverage, particularly in the Sunday magazine, where I've encountered models who look like they're preparing to murder (or be murdered), and others arrayed in a mode you could call dominatrix chic. If you're like Jim Chapman, one of my correspondents who has given up on The Times, you're lost in space. Wrote Chapman, "Whatever happened to poetry that required rhyme and meter, to songs that required lyrics and tunes, to clothing ads that stressed the costume rather than the barely clothed females and slovenly dressed, slack-jawed, unshaven men?"

In the Sunday Styles section, there are gay wedding announcements, of course, but also downtown sex clubs and T-shirts bearing the slogan, "I'm afraid of Americans." The findings of racial-equity reformer Richard Lapchick have been appearing in the sports pages for decades ("Since when is diversity a sport?" one e-mail complainant grumbled). The front page of the Metro section has featured a long piece best described by its subhead, "Cross-Dressers Gladly Pay to Get in Touch with Their Feminine Side." And a creationist will find no comfort in Science Times.

Not that creationists should expect to find comfort in Science Times. Newspapers have the right to decide what's important and what's not. But their editors must also expect that some readers will think: "This does not represent me or my interests. In fact, it represents my enemy." So is it any wonder that the offended or befuddled reader might consider everything else in the paper - including, say, campaign coverage - suspicious as well?

Times publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr. doesn't think this walk through The Times is a tour of liberalism. He prefers to call the paper's viewpoint "urban." He says that the tumultuous, polyglot metropolitan environment The Times occupies means "We're less easily shocked," and that the paper reflects "a value system that recognizes the power of flexibility."

He's right; living in New York makes a lot of people think that way, and a lot of people who think that way find their way to New York (me, for one). The Times has chosen to be an unashamed product of the city whose name it bears, a condition magnified by the been-there-done-that irony afflicting too many journalists. Articles containing the word "postmodern" have appeared in The Times an average of four times a week this year - true fact! - and if that doesn't reflect a Manhattan sensibility, I'm Noam Chomsky.

But it's one thing to make the paper's pages a congenial home for editorial polemicists, conceptual artists, the fashion-forward or other like-minded souls (European papers, aligned with specific political parties, have been doing it for centuries), and quite another to tell only the side of the story your co-religionists wish to hear. I don't think it's intentional when The Times does this. But negligence doesn't have to be intentional.

The gay marriage issue provides a perfect example. Set aside the editorial page, the columnists or the lengthy article in the magazine ("Toward a More Perfect Union," by David J. Garrow, May 9) that compared the lawyers who won the Massachusetts same-sex marriage lawsuit to Thurgood Marshall and Martin Luther King. That's all fine, especially for those of us who believe that homosexual couples should have precisely the same civil rights as heterosexuals.

But for those who also believe the news pages cannot retain their credibility unless all aspects of an issue are subject to robust examination, it's disappointing to see The Times present the social and cultural aspects of same-sex marriage in a tone that approaches cheerleading. So far this year, front-page headlines have told me that "For Children of Gays, Marriage Brings Joy," (March 19, 2004); that the family of "Two Fathers, With One Happy to Stay at Home," (Jan. 12, 2004) is a new archetype; and that "Gay Couples Seek Unions in God's Eyes," (Jan. 30, 2004). I've learned where gay couples go to celebrate their marriages; I've met gay couples picking out bridal dresses; I've been introduced to couples who have been together for decades and have now sanctified their vows in Canada, couples who have successfully integrated the world of competitive ballroom dancing, couples whose lives are the platonic model of suburban stability.

Every one of these articles was perfectly legitimate. Cumulatively, though, they would make a very effective ad campaign for the gay marriage cause. You wouldn't even need the articles: run the headlines over the invariably sunny pictures of invariably happy people that ran with most of these pieces, and you'd have the makings of a life insurance commercial.

This implicit advocacy is underscored by what hasn't appeared. Apart from one excursion into the legal ramifications of custody battles ("Split Gay Couples Face Custody Hurdles," by Adam Liptak and Pam Belluck, March 24), potentially nettlesome effects of gay marriage have been virtually absent from The Times since the issue exploded last winter.

The San Francisco Chronicle runs an uninflected article about Congressional testimony from a Stanford scholar making the case that gay marriage in the Netherlands has had a deleterious effect on heterosexual marriage. The Boston Globe explores the potential impact of same-sex marriage on tax revenues, and the paucity of reliable research on child-rearing in gay families. But in The Times, I have learned next to nothing about these issues, nor about partner abuse in the gay community, about any social difficulties that might be encountered by children of gay couples or about divorce rates (or causes, or consequences) among the 7,000 couples legally joined in Vermont since civil union was established there four years ago.

On a topic that has produced one of the defining debates of our time, Times editors have failed to provide the three-dimensional perspective balanced journalism requires. This has not occurred because of management fiat, but because getting outside one's own value system takes a great deal of self-questioning. Six years ago, the ownership of this sophisticated New York institution decided to make it a truly national paper. Today, only 50 percent of The Times's readership resides in metropolitan New York, but the paper's heart, mind and habits remain embedded here. You can take the paper out of the city, but without an effort to take the city and all its attendant provocations, experiments and attitudes out of the paper, readers with a different worldview will find The Times an alien beast.

Taking the New York out of The New York Times would be a really bad idea. But a determination by the editors to be mindful of the weight of its hometown's presence would not.




With that, I'm leaving town. Next week, letters from readers; after that, this space will be occupied by my polymathic pal Jack Rosenthal, a former Times writer and editor whose name appeared on the masthead for 25 years. I'm going to spend August in a deck chair and see if I can once again read The Times like a civilian. See you after Labor Day.


The public editor is the readers' representative. His opinions and conclusions are his own. His column appears at least twice monthly in this section.

##

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Toots Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-25-04 11:26 AM
Response to Original message
1. Your title is not true
"The public editor is the readers' representative. His opinions and conclusions are his own. "
Taken from the last sentence
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The Zanti Regent Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-25-04 10:14 PM
Response to Reply #1
9. The Screw York Times is a Nazi Propaganda organ 24/7
Except for Krugman, who I am sure will be fired any day now...
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PROGRESSIVE1 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-25-04 11:27 AM
Response to Original message
2. Maybe the New WHORE Times is in bed with the Right Wing!
The NYT says that they are "Liberal" and then they run HIT PIECES by the AP and Judith "Judis" Miller.

I would really prefer our own "Moonie Times".
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Dr Fate Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-25-04 11:31 AM
Response to Original message
3. Except they reported Bush lies as fact just like Fox did...
...and now we are at war.

They even admitted that they reported fake info about Iraq.

I dont know how Liberal they are- but they sure are shitty journalists for the most part...
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Crunchy Frog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-25-04 12:33 PM
Response to Original message
4. So the NYT is liberal...
except when it comes to such minor matters as electoral politics and foreign policy.

Also, if you are a liberal, it means you like to dress like a dominatrix and enjoy poetry without "rhyme and meter", listen to songs without "lyrics and tunes", and use the word "postmodern" alot.

Very nice of them to run an article reinforcing every stereotype of liberalism that there is, and add a few new ones into the mix as well, in order to continue to perpetuate the myth of the "liberal media", and provide justification for their continued shilling for the RW.
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enki23 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-25-04 02:46 PM
Response to Original message
5. not a fucking mention of a single economic issue
Edited on Sun Jul-25-04 02:57 PM by enki23
let's see what we have here, for concrete issues:

gay marriage--pro. biased.

art--writes about the sorts of art that are currently popular in new york city. biased.

gay marriage again--pro (no news stories about how gay parents sometimes hit their kids, get divorced, and screw the housekeeper. also no mention of slippery slope leading to box tortise fucking.

pictures of women in style pages--reflect styles being pushed by major designers in new york and elsewhere. biased.

creationism as science--against. biased (in favor of science. in the science section. in agreement with the VAST majority of practicing scientists.)


to sum up: biased in favor of the fledgling argument for gay marriage. biased toward currently popular designers in the style pages. biased toward current trends in the arts. biased, in the science section, in favor of the opinions of a strong majority of scientists.
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Jackpine Radical Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-25-04 04:19 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. Hey--maybe I'm not actually a liberal.
Edited on Sun Jul-25-04 04:22 PM by Jackpine Radical
Lessee--
I want civil rights for everyone...
Universal health care...
Public ownership of public utilities...
An adequate social safety net for the poor and some measure of "social engineering" & income redistribution via taxes...
strong environmental regulation...
Strong governmental control over corporate behavior...
Universal education through college for those who qualify...
Strong social security; & disability benefits for those who need them...
An end to this stupid war...
An end to this stupid administration...

Holy Cow...almost none of this stuff is what the NYT chooses to identify as liberal.

Add the fact that I can see cows out my window as I write this, I'm a gun-owning pickup truck driver, think postmodernism & deconstructionism are for the most part decadent drivel and suck as cultural themes...

I'm not a Creationist but consider the question irrelevant to liberalism (I know more than one left-wing religious conservative)...

I guess them thar city slickers got me spotted fer jes' another hayseed.
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GliderGuider Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-26-04 01:47 PM
Response to Reply #6
10. No, actually, you're a closet Canuck...
Edited on Mon Jul-26-04 01:50 PM by GliderGuider
:) :) :)
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MikeG Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-25-04 05:26 PM
Response to Original message
7. That's why they started the Whitewater shit.
Cause they're liberals.
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Moderator DU Moderator Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-25-04 06:37 PM
Response to Original message
8. Please remember DU copyright rules when posting.
Excerpts from copyrighted materials are limited to four paragraphs in length and must include a link to the original article.

Thanks
Moderator
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SeattleRob Donating Member (893 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-26-04 02:19 PM
Response to Original message
11. Check out "The Daily Howler's" Reply
Somerby at "The Daily Howler" examoned this issue:


THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF OKRENT: How lightweight is our upscale press corps? Consider Daniel Okrents hopeless piece in Sundays New York Times. Okrentthe papers public editordeclares the Times a liberal newspaper, at least when it comes to the social issues: gay rights, gun control, abortion and environmental regulation. Okrent says hell discuss the papers political coverage at a later datealthough his claim that the Times is a liberal newspaper is delivered in his opening sentence, seemingly without qualification.

So how does the Times cover social issuesthe issues on which Okrent focuses? f you think The Times plays it down the middle on any of them, youve been reading the paper with your eyes closed, Okrent says. Liberal bias, of course, is a major topic, especially in our endless propaganda wars; for that reason, Okrents piece is surely destined to be quoted and spun forever. But Okrent shows no sign of being able to limn the question he has brought forward. In a word, the scribe is lighter-than-air. Hes simply not up to this challenge.

How silly is Okrents attempt at analysis? In his attempt to describe the Times unbalanced reporting, he even complains about the models he sees in the papers fashion coverage. (They look like theyre prepared to murder or be murdered, he says.). Soon after, he quotes a readerthe only Times reader he ever quoteswho offers a deathless complaint:

OKRENT: If you're like Jim Chapman, one of my correspondents who has given up on The Times, youre lost in space. Wrote Chapman, Whatever happened to poetry that required rhyme and meter, to songs that required lyrics and tunes, to clothing ads that stressed the costume rather than the barely clothed females and slovenly dressed, slack-jawed, unshaven men?
To state the obvious, Chapmans questions are largely inane, and Okrent doesnt try to say how they relate to the question at hand. But then, Okrent seems prepared to credit almost any red-state-sounding complaint. creationist will find no comfort in the Science Times, he even complains at one point. But should a creationist find comfort in science reporting? Okrent doesnt address this obvious question. Hes too busy rushing off to his Greatest Examplethe Times troubling coverage of same-sex marriage, which he calls a perfect example of the papers unbalanced, leftward slant.
Has the Times offered balanced coverage of same-sex marriage? We dont have the slightest idea. Nor do we know after reading Okrent, because his treatment of this topic is as absurd as the rest of this lightweight column. According to Okrent, Times reporters have engaged in implicit advocacy of same-sex marriage; indeed, potentially nettlesome effects of gay marriage have been virtually absent from The Times since the issue exploded last winter. But heres his attempt to list the issues the Times has rudely ignored:

OKRENT: The San Francisco Chronicle runs an uninflected article about Congressional testimony from a Stanford scholar making the case that gay marriage in the Netherlands has had a deleterious effect on heterosexual marriage. The Boston Globe explores the potential impact of same-sex marriage on tax revenues, and the paucity of reliable research on child-rearing in gay families. But in The Times, I have learned next to nothing about these issues, nor about partner abuse in the gay community, about any social difficulties that might be encountered by children of gay couples or about divorce rates (or causes, or consequences) among the 7,000 couples legally joined in Vermont since civil union was established there four years ago.
Well try to ignore Okrents weirdest complaintthat the Times hasnt helped him learn about partner abuse in the gay community. Consider some of the other topics he says the Times has ignored.
First, Okrent praises the San Francisco Chronicle for reporting a bit of congressional testimony about child-bearing patterns in the Netherlands. (As it turns out, this was testimony by the Hoover Institutes Stanley Kurtz, on April 22.) Okrent complains that the New York Times didnt cover this appearance. But the New York Times was hardly alone in failing to report this testimony. Indeed, the openly conservative Washington Times didnt report the testimony either. According to a Nexis search, neither did the conservative New York Post, or the conservative Boston Herald, or any other paper in the countryconservative, liberal or moderate. (The Associated Press took a pass on this too.) How strained, how tortured is Okrents analysis? The Chronicle was the only newspaper in the country reporting on this marginal testimony. But Kurtz puts this topic at the top of his list, telling readers that its absence from the New York Times shows how unbalanced the newspaper is. As an attempt at real analysis, this is foofaw, pure and simple.

But Okrent is just getting started. Second, he praises the Boston Globe for explor the potential impact of same-sex marriage on tax revenues. Question: Can this possibly be a serious element of the same-sex marriage debate? In fact, a Nexis search makes it hard to tell what reporting Okrent refers to. On April 4, the Globe did present this single sentence: The impact that gay marriage will have on the states tax revenues is also uncertain: The Department of Revenue could not provide an estimate of what it might cost to grant to gay couples certain tax benefits available to married couples. But that, again, was a single sentence, closing out a long report on a different subject. On June 23, the Globe went further, devoting three sentences to this crucial topic. Here was the papers blockbuster passage, at the end of another long piece on another unrelated topic:

RAPHAEL LEWIS: The Congressional Budget Office yesterday released an analysis of the potential budgetary effects in the event that gay marriage is legalized in all 50 states. Both Bush and Kerry oppose same-sex marriage, and it appears unlikely that gay marriages will be allowed in all states in the near future.
The study said that the estimates were highly uncertain, but concluded that same-sex marriages would increase tax revenues.

Simply put, this is total trivia. Nor is it clear how this trivia tilts; why is the Times a shill for gay marriage when it fails to tell its readers that same-sex marriage might increase tax revenues? And again, the failure to report this matter hardly singles out the Times. Again, a Nexis search indicates that the Globe was the only paper in the country reporting this highly uncertain finding. Nor can we find any sign that the AP reported this CBO finding.
How does the Times cover social issues? How has the Times covered same-sex marriage? Wed love to see a serious attempt to answer those questions. But questions like those are hard to answer, and Okrent isnt up to the task. He makes a sweeping assessment of the Times, followed by a utterly lightweight analysis. His report will make for great agitprop. Its worthless as anything else.

Link for the rest: (scroll down)

http://www.dailyhowler.com/dh072604.shtml


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sans qualia Donating Member (675 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-26-04 06:35 PM
Response to Original message
12. Gee golly, so they're not completely stupid on social issues.
Well bully for them. *yawn*
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