April 26, 2012 · 0 Comments
By Eric Boehlert:
Riding a favorite conservative hobbyhorse onto the opinion pages, New York Times public editor Arthur Brisbane recently urged the paper to cover President Obama more aggressively and highlighted complaints that the daily suffers from a liberal bias.
Citing concerns from mostly nameless “critics” about the paper’s allegedly liberal tilt, Brisbane provided examples to support the claim that theTimes has been guilty of overly friendly Obama coverage.
But Brisbane’s examples, like the larger liberal bias charge, don’t hold up to scrutiny:
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 NYTimes.com, yet there’s nothing of the kind about George W. Bush or his father.
According to a study by the media scholars Stephen J. Farnsworth and S. Robert Lichter, The Times’s coverage of the president’s first year in office was significantly more favorable than its first-year coverage of three predecessors who also brought a new party to power in the White House: George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan.
None of the three points are persuasive. Let’s examine each.
First off, Brisbane notes the Times published a book about Obama’s rise to the presidency and suggests that supports the allegation that the paper “skews left.” But the Times often publishes books chronicling historic moments in U.S. history. For instance, in 2003 the Timespublished ”A Time of Our Choosing: America’s War in Iraq.”
According to promotional material for the book, the tome offered “the authoritative and dramatic account of the war in Iraq” and drew on “the unparalleled resources and reportage of The New York Times.” Based on the criteria Brisbane uses with regards to the Obama book, should the Iraq War publication be seen as a proof of pro-war bias at the Times?