Shredding the NY Times

There are many who think that, under Pinch’s guidance, the NY Times has gone from a somewhat biased, but still reputable paper, to a daily anti-Bush diatribe that has occasional nuggets of actual news interspersed amongst the partisan pieces. I still check out the movie reviews, but I generally support those who believe it makes a good bird cage liner. So it was with real pleasure that I read Andrew McCarthy’s fact-filled but nevertheless almost intemperate attack on the Times. In every paragraph, he both makes his case about the Times’ lead role in birdcages, while simultaneously exhibiting a gleeful venom that makes for fun reading:

A few months back, National Review Online published an article in which I argued that the New York Times’s woeful reporting on Judge Michael B. Mukasey — then a nominee, now serving as U.S. attorney general — was proof positive, as if more were necessary, that the Grey Lady had become an unreliable shill. Its news coverage, I contended, had “devolve[d] into Left-wing polemic, to the point where there is no longer a qualitative difference between the Times and The Nation. Save one: The Nation, self-described ‘flagship of the left,’ has no pretensions about being anything other than The Nation; the Times still pretends to be the Newspaper of Record.”

I didn’t expect anyone to take my word for it. Instead, I went painstakingly through reporter Philip Shenon’s “news” story to demonstrate how dreadfully incomplete, misleading and agenda-driven it was. You can judge for yourself whether I was successful, but if my e-mail is any indication, I was.

I most appreciated the reaction of some journalist friends. I was angry about what the Times had done, but I wasn’t the least bit surprised. By contrast, my journalist friends seemed genuinely stunned at the degree of shoddiness. It was not the New York Times they had once known and admired. Repeatedly came the refrain: I should send my article to the newspaper’s “Public Editor” — its ombudsman, or, as the Times preciously posits, the “readers’ representative.”

Though understandable, I still found the suggestion curious. After all, by my lights, the Times is not objective; it has become a partisan hack. If I’d written in, I’d have implicitly conceded something I didn’t believe to be true: that the newspaper is an honest broker from whom it is reasonable to expect straightforward introspection. I didn’t think the reporter and his editors had made a mistake, or even a series of them. I believe, instead, that the newspaper is invested in its anti-Bush, anti-anti-terrorism narrative and spins or elides facts as necessary to make stories fit. I wouldn’t have felt vindicated if the Public Editor said I was right (which, naturally, would never, ever happen), nor was I likely to be persuaded were he to say I was wrong. In truth, the probability was that he’d ignore me in any event. What, I asked myself, would be the point? So, life being too short, I dropped it.

I do feel vindicated now, though, thanks to my friend Ed Whelan, the brilliant legal analyst who heads the Ethics and Public Policy Center and edifies us daily at NRO’s law blog, “Bench Memos.” Ed’s head is harder than mine — it needs to be since there’s so much more in it. So he decided to crash it into the brick wall that I avoided.

Read here the rest of this joyous romp trouncing the Times.


4 Responses

  1. Once a formerly reputable company sinks into disrepute, it’s very difficult to get the customers back. There’s a sense of betrayal that sticks.

    It won’t be the first time a great organization has died due to bad management, nor the last. Goodbye Pinch, I hope you’re glad you’ve taken the Grey Lady down with you.

  2. 2008.01.24 Politics and National Defense Roundup

    This post will grow as the day goes on. Don’t forget to check back later. Folks, the more I read up on Romney, the less impressed I am with him too. I’ll vote for whoever the Republicans run against Clinton or Obama, but for now I’ve reinstated the …

  3. Your post includes this tidbit:

    “… to a daily anti-Bush diatribe that has occasional nuggets of actual news interspersed amongst the partisan pieces.”

    With multiple National polls, of reasonably reliable repute, ranking the American approval rating for the current President at an all-time low, logic seems to dictate that a likewise “National” newspaper would have plenty of negative news related to those events which prompted those same poll results.

    So, to accuse the New York Times newspaper, a large corporate entity, of having some hidden (or not-so-hidden) partisan agenda doesn’t seem plausible. BUT, if it were an accurate characterization, wouldn’t any good Conservative who believes in concepts like a so-called “free market”, competition, freedom to choose, etc, just result in your getting your news from alternative sources then? Perhaps you might enjoy The Washington Times. Or, are you an advocate for a single point of view? One perspective, only?

    What positive news would you suggest that the NYT report with regard to GW Bush? Or, did I miss that part of your original post?

  4. DA, I love the free market of ideas. I’m in complete agreement with McCarthy’s opening paragraph: “The Nation, self-described ‘flagship of the left,’ has no pretensions about being anything other than The Nation; the Times still pretends to be the ‘Newspaper of Record.'” What irks me about the Times (and AP and the other media outlets) is their pretense of impartiality. They’re not, and that would be fine if they would omit that their not. It’s the deception and self-deception that makes them fair game for attacks about their unending partisanship. While I may disagree with the Nation or Mother Jones or Ms, I’ll never accuse them of hiding behind a secret agenda. They are what they are.

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