“I had taken up the public editor duties believing “there is no conspiracy” and that The Times’s output was too vast and complex to be dictated by any Wizard of Oz-like individual or cabal. I still believe that, but also see that the hive on Eighth Avenue is powerfully shaped by a culture of like minds — a phenomenon, I believe, that is more easily recognized from without than from within. When The Times covers a national presidential campaign, I have found that the lead editors and reporters are disciplined about enforcing fairness and balance, and usually succeed in doing so. Across the paper’s many departments, though, so many share a kind of political and cultural progressivism — for lack of a better term — that this worldview virtually bleeds through the fabric of The Times.As a result, developments like the Occupy movement and gay marriage seem almost to erupt in The Times, overloved and undermanaged, more like causes than news subjects.”
–— Arthur Brisbane, New York Times’ “public editor” (that is, ombudsman), in his final column in that role. Brisbane’s tenure has been characterized by his defensiveness over accusations that the Times radiated a political agenda, and the lack of a willingness to be critical of his employers that is the hallmark of an effective ombudsman.
Yes, Arthur, it’s called “pervasive liberal or left-wing bias,” and it is good of you to finally notice, and honest of you to say so, even though you can’t bring yourself to do so directly. But your insistence that such bias could manifest itself in the coverage of issues that are central to the presidential campaign without affecting the Times’ coverage of the campaign itself is laughable, touching, idiotic or sad, depending on how charitable a reader is inclined to be to a supposed professional who waits until his last gasp in a job before acknowledging the reason he should have been doing that job differently, which is to say independently, objectively, and competently.
Better late than never.
Pointer: Volokh Conspiracy
Source: New York Times
Ethics Alarms attempts to give proper attribution and credit to all sources of facts, analysis and other assistance that go into its blog posts. If you are aware of one I missed, or believe your own work was used in any way without proper attribution, please contact me, Jack Marshall, at firstname.lastname@example.org.