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NY Times Public Editor frankly addresses newspaper’s richly earned “liberal” reputation

by | Jul 26, 2016

By Dave Andrusko

NYTimesbldgIn a much under-appreciated speech, pro-life President George W. Bush once spoke of the “soft bigotry of low expectations.” Now, to be clear, the New York Times is hardly a child lost in the educational wilderness who pays dearly because others unwittingly cast him there, thinking that’s the “best” he can do.

But is it possible that we have such low expectations of the most powerful newspaper in the world, we have our own kind of “soft bigotry”? Put another way, even if the Times (especially on the editorial page) has richly earned a reputation as absurdly biased against pro-lifers, is there no hope? Can there be any reason to expect otherwise, maybe a baby step or two?

I offer as one small candle in the darkness a column this week by Liz Spayd, the Times’s “Public Editor,” an absurdly fancy title for the newspaper’s ombudsman, titled, “Why Readers See The Times as Liberal.”

You absolutely will want to read the column from Word One to Word Last.

Spayd’s only been on the job a few weeks but she’s reading the correspondence from readers who say they are neither conservatives nor Republicans hammering the “newspaper of record” for only reporting (at best) one side and doing so more so every day.

When she checked out the newsroom, alas, too many just rolled their eyes offering the all-purpose get-of-jail card:

All sides hate us, they said. We’re tough on everyone. That’s nothing new here.

Which is absurd on its face but indicative of the bubble that “urban progressives” (a.k.a so many Times’s personnel) inhabit.

Spayd has some very helpful suggestions how the newspaper could address the widespread perception it commingles straight news and advocacy. For example, end the hyper-annoying “drumbeat of Hillary Clinton campaign ads on the website.”

Spayd wryly observes

Even for me, who fully knows an ad from a news story, seeing Clinton’s smiling face when I’ve come to read the news can be rather jarring.

Liz Spayd, New New York Times "Public Editor"

Liz Spayd, New New York Times “Public Editor”

They could also add a few more non-urban progressives to the staff, confine editorials to the editorial page, and (me speaking here) compare how other media outlets cover the same story.

Will the time ever come when publications such as the Times and the Washington Post become sufficiently self-aware that instead of the obligatory hit jobs on Republican or conservative and/or pro-life candidates, they blanche at the very suggestion?

That’s a bit much. But there is room for limited hope, based on Spady’s Public Editor column. She is there for a while, the “tiresome bore at a party” asking probing questions, for starters.

Moreover, there is a real economic incentive not to write off half (actually a lot more, probably) of the population.

And you could hope that a few of the Upper Management types would read her conclusion and have a come-to-fairness moment:

Imagine what would be missed by journalists who felt no pressing need to see the world through others’ eyes. Imagine the stories they might miss, like the groundswell of isolation that propelled a candidate like Donald Trump to his party’s nomination. Imagine a country where the greatest, most powerful newsroom in the free world was viewed not as a voice that speaks to all but as one that has taken sides.

Or has that already happened?

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Categories: Media Bias