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A Hard Look at the President


WestVirginiaRebel

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WestVirginiaRebel

a-hard-look-at-the-president.html?_r=2NY Times:

FOUR weeks ago, I criticized The New York Times for overplaying an article on an investment made by Ann Romney’s blind trust. The article was but one installment of the intense campaign coverage scrutinizing Mitt Romney as he bids for the Republican presidential nomination.

During this period, we haven’t heard as much from The Times about President Obama’s re-election effort.

There is precedent for the disparity. The Republican primary fight is a prelude to the general election season. Eight years ago, The Times offered comparably scant campaign coverage of the incumbent, George W. Bush, even as it blanketed readers with articles about Senator John Kerry and others competing for the Democratic nomination.

Now, though, the general election season is on, and The Times needs to offer an aggressive look at the president’s record, policy promises and campaign operation to answer the question: Who is the real Barack Obama?

Many critics view The Times as constitutionally unable to address the election in an unbiased fashion. 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.

Writing for the periodical Politics & Policy, the authors were so struck by the findings that they wondered, “Did The Times, perhaps in response to the aggressive efforts by Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal to seize market share, decide to tilt more to the left than it had in the past?”

I strongly doubt that. Based on conversations with Times reporters and editors who cover the campaign and Washington, I think they see themselves as aggressive journalists who don’t play favorites. Still, a strong current of skepticism holds that the paper skews left. Unfortunately, this is exacerbated by collateral factors — for example, political views that creep into nonpolitical coverage.

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The Times admits it was biased. Who knew?

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