Media Bias At Work: A Smoking Gun From The New York Times

Brava to blogger/ law professor Ann Althouse for catching this one.

Smoking gunYesterday, the New York Times, reporting the news, published this item:

“The inspector general… divulged that he informed the Treasury’s general counsel he was auditing the I.R.S.’s screening of politically active groups seeking tax exemptions on June 4, 2012. He told Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal Wolin “shortly after,” he said. That meant Obama administration officials were aware of the matter during the presidential campaign year.”

This is not good, you know. This means that the fact that the I.R.S. was suspected of targeting conservative groups was known in time for the knowledge to give voters second doubts about the President’s trustworthiness and veracity, not to mention judgment in signing a bill that gives that same agency massive power in distributing health care. Given the choices among revealing it as a “transparent” administration should, claiming it was the fault of a YouTube video, or suppressing the facts, the Administration chose the latter. Thus the New York Times’ website’s headline, “Treasury Knew of I.R.S. Inquiry in 2012, Official Says,” was appropriate. No spin there, just the “news that’s fit to print.” Let readers decide whether they are satisfied allowing their leaders to parcel out information so as to make sure voters are only as well-informed as its convenient for them to be. Headlines are especially important, because many readers skim the news, and the headlines are all they read.

Ah, but as Althouse notes, the facts led some conservative media outlets as well some rare unbiased ones to leap to the reasonable, but Watergate-evoking conclusion. “They Knew!” shouted the liberal-bashing Drudge Report, which should be to the New York Times what one of those little birds that will pick the teeth of a hippopotamus is to its host. Thus the great New York Times, the esteemed Grey Lady, the flagship of American journalism and the coin of that realm, changed its headline to the revelation about when the Administration was officially on notice that the I.R.S. was playing politics, to this:

“Republicans Expand I.R.S. Inquiry, With Eye on White House.”

Explain that one away, those of you who continue to spread the myth that leftward bias in the media is nothing but a conservative excuse. For that isn’t a news headline but spin, and it might as well have been authored by David Axelrod. Who knows, maybe it was. With this headline, the Times is saying:

  • Our first priority is to protect Democrats, not inform our public
  • We don’t care about the dangers to democracy inherent as the taxing power being used to suppress dissent.
  • We do care about undermining even legitimate and necessary criticism of the President and party that this paper allies itself with on a daily basis.
  • What matters is the political implications of these scandals, not the fact that the scandals took place. After all, the good guys are under attack.
  • Since the news is how the scandal will be used by Republicans, we want our readers to know that this is only political warfare, and thing more significant.

Spin isn’t news, slant isn’t facts, and this kind of manipulation belongs on the op-ed pages, not in news headlines. You know who writes headlines like this? Fox. MSNBC. Breitbart. Breitbart should be to the Times like remoras are to Great White sharks. This is not just blatant political and journalistic bias, but cheesey political and journalistic bias and the Times should be ashamed of itself. If the standard-setter has no standards, what is a profession to do?

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Source: Ann Althouse

7 thoughts on “Media Bias At Work: A Smoking Gun From The New York Times

  1. It’s not for nothing that some of us on the conservative side call it (and have been calling it for a while) the New York Slimes.

    Our first priority is to protect Democrats, not inform our public

    – DUH! That’s been obvious since the Clinton years when they carried his water every day he faced impeachment.

    We don’t care about the dangers to democracy inherent as the taxing power being used to suppress dissent.

    – see above. The NYT doesn’t give a damn about any danger to democracy as they view themselves as smarter than the rest of us and the smarter should rule without question.

    We do care about undermining even legitimate and necessary criticism of the President and party that this paper allies itself with on a daily basis.

    – Once this paper allies itself with a side it never gives up. The publisher once said he would like to see the American get shot in an encounter between an American and Vietnamese soldier, and pronounced that the stupidest question he’d ever been asked.

    What matters is the political implications of these scandals, not the fact that the scandals took place. After all, the good guys are under attack.

    – you said it all.

    Since the news is how the scandal will be used by Republicans, we want our readers to know that this is only political warfare, and thing more significant.

    – because only the Republicans practice political warfare, neh?

    Anyone who puts any stock in anything this transparently America-hating, Obama-ass-kissing, tyranny-enabling (when it’s their guy’s tyranny) rag is ethically self-blinding at best, an idiot at worst.

  2. That headline should convey to any reader exactly what you’ve mentioned, Jack. But it won’t for many. People who habitually read these newspapers are so used to these expressions that, in defiance of all logic, they automatically draw the conclusion that the headline is pushing and read the text (if they even bother) in that light. What’s chilling is the knowledge that, if these so-called readers even bothered to give these words a few seconds of thought, they’d have to see that they are being manipulated. But discerning readership is not what the “Gray Lady” and her clones are all about.

  3. It’s worse than partisanship. It’s outright manipulation.
    It’s the kind of casually cynical dishonesty that has caused us to become a nation that can look at it and sigh and say “Oh, we’ll. What can you do?”

    And when that happens it’s only a matter of time before everyone starts scrambling to make sure they get something out of the collapse. I’ll get very ugly.

    It already is very ugly.

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