April 2014
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A Crack in the Liberal Media Facade

The New York Times criticized its own coverage of the Iraq war:

“Over the last year this newspaper has shone the bright light of hindsight on decisions that led the United States into Iraq… In doing so ? reviewing hundreds of articles written during the prelude to war and into the early stages of the occupation ? we found an enormous amount of journalism that we are proud of… But we have found a number of instances of coverage that was not as rigorous as it should have been. In some cases, information that was controversial then, and seems questionable now, was insufficiently qualified or allowed to stand unchallenged.”

Examples of the unchallenged assertions can be found here.

And then, a critique of the critique (very meta of the NYTimes…):

“Early this month, though, convinced that my territory includes what doesn’t appear in the paper as well as what does, I began to look into a question arising from the past that weighs heavily on the present: Why had The Times failed to revisit its own coverage of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction? To anyone who read the paper between September 2002 and June 2003, the impression that Saddam Hussein possessed, or was acquiring, a frightening arsenal of W.M.D. seemed unmistakable. Except, of course, it appears to have been mistaken.”

If the media is so liberal and anti-Bush, especially the NYTimes, why didn’t the NYTimes consistently challenge the WMD claim? Why was it slow on the Chalabi story?

“…(While I’m on the subject: Readers were never told that Chalabi’s niece was hired in January 2003 to work in The Times’s Kuwait bureau. She remained there until May of that year.)”

Why did their coverage look so consistently supportive of the Bush war doctrine if the NYTimes is so anti-Bush and liberally biased? Because maybe the NYTimes is not the bastion of liberalism it’s made out to be. Maybe Alterman was onto something right when he wrote:

“The idea that the media might, for reasons of ownership, economics, class, or outside pressure, actually be more sympathetic to conservative causes than to liberal ones is widely considered to be simply beyond the pale.”

That the most powerful newspaper in the world, the NYTimes, can bias its coverage toward pro-Bush war doctrine constitutes a crack in the liberal media facade.

3 comments to A Crack in the Liberal Media Facade

  • I just want to be clear about this: The New York Times says that it wasn’t rigorous enough in its coverage of a few stories that may make the Bush administration look bad, so that constitutes some sort of evidence that it doesn’t have any liberal bias? That’s your story? That’s the so-called crack in the facade?

  • Joshua

    Ok, be clear: there is bias in all news. FOX NEWS is clearly biased towards conservatives. The NYTimes is clearly biased towards liberalism. But some conservative rants (and they are AD NAUSUEM) about the NY Times and their anti-Bush animus is tempered by the NYTimes’ unwavering support for the Iraq war, as the articles I linked to and by the NY Times own admission. The bastion of liberalism that some rant about was clearly pro-Bush war doctrine. If you think it’s only a few stories, then you haven’t read the NYTimes self criticism with sufficient care. If you think that the NYTimes is not disproportionately influential as compared to most newspapers (and t.v., as well), then… well, I don’t know what to say. The view that the NYTimes isn’t powerful is just constrary to all evidence.

    That few consider the conservativism of the media is a shame and, of course, something most pundits loathe to admit. Think of it this way: where are the flattering articles about socialist democracy like Sweden? Where are the flattering articles about job security like in Japan? American media is a form of liberalism that eschews the type of liberalism of the rest of the world. The NYTimes is liberally biased, but they clearly have their brand of conservative-liberalistic slant. Like all American media.

  • I’m not going to take the New York Times’ self-policing on liberal slant as anything but a self-serving attempt to seem more objective. If such “studies” had any merit at all, then there wouldn’t be calls for, say, civilian review boards for police conduct or civilian oversight of the military.

    Just because the NYT hasn’t yet called President Bush an oil-thirsty, warmongering cretin, it doesn’t mean that it’s a cheerleader for the current administration, either. If it’s not stated outright, it’s not bias? Is that the argument? The paucity of articles lauding Swedish socialism is de facto conservative slant? Last time the NYT did something like that, it was Walter Duranty saying how nice Stalin’s USSR was, and how nobody was hungry.

    You can call almost any reporting “pro-Bush war doctrine” if you hate President Bush/the war/AD NAUSEAM conservative rants enough. If the job numbers get better, and it gets reported, is that Bush cheerleading? That’s pro-Bush?

    I have no doubt that the NYT has a disproportionate amount of influence on other news outlets. That’s what bothers me.