Journalism is in tragic shape at the New York Times. Reporter Judith Miller was complicit in passing on the lies of Ahmad Chalabi and leading the nation to war. When President Bush presides over a primetime press conference in which, even by William Kristol, is regarded as disastrous, the Times stands alone in lauding the President for standing firm and saves any negative comments for the editorial page. Elizabeth Bumiller tries her best to make the President look good daily. Kit Seelye puts out the daily misleading Republican spin points about Kerry.

In examining the paper the past few weeks, I’ve counted the number of anti-Kerry stories and anti-Bush ones. (Straight reporting of widely-covered factual news doesn’t count for either camp.) Each day, there are dozens of anti-Kerry bits, usually prominently featured on the front page. And each day there are few, if any, anti-Bush bits. One day the only one was a three-paragraph Reuters story tucked at the end of an article on A11 that consisted only of a quote of someone else. The bias is clear.

So what does Daniel Okrent, the New York Times’s public editor, do? Nothing, apparently.

In one column he talked about why the paper isn’t his absurdly literal notion of a “paper of record”, apparently so that he could dismiss large portions of his email. Another quibbled about treatment of Juror No. 4. And in the New Yorker we learn that Okrent put a meeting together to discuss the use of the word “genocide” when talking about Armenians in 1915. But last year’s WMD lies? That’s “dissapear[ing] into an endless tunnel” says Okrent.

Instead of the “paper of record”, maybe it’s time to call the Times what it’s acting like: the paper of Republican shills, who go so far as to hire a timid public editor as cover.

posted May 04, 2004 03:16 PM (Politics) (12 comments) #


Presidential Candidate Bob Williams, part 2: Television Commentary
Presidential Candidate Bob Williams, part 3: Newspaper Headlines
Presidential Candidate Bob Williams, part 4: Political Debate
Presidential Candidate Bob Williams, part 5: The Verdict of History
Physics’s Puzzle
Where’s Okrent? The End of the Times
Misreading Jefferson is Sinful and Tyrannical
All News is Bad News
Big Bad Bundle Blog
I Hate Books


Honestly, you really should read this comic.

posted by Aaron Swartz at May 4, 2004 03:21 PM #

It gets worse. In this morning’s (5/4) Times, a special section on wireless networking was published. The section as a whole was pretty bad, but it included a quote from someone almost like the author of this blog. I wonder who this Aaron Swarz guy is and what did he do with the real Aaron Swartz?

Not being in the business of selling routers, not being in any business at all, Aaron Swarz, 17, has a different opinion. Mr. Swarz is a proponent of wireless hot spots who runs, a Web site that lists good spots for piggybacking — inspired, it says, “by the practice of hobos during the Great Depression to use chalk marks to indicate which homes were friendly.”

“If you’re just using it for normal surfing, I think it’s O.K.,” he said from his family’s home in Chicago. “We have two open wireless access points. I think it’s a great thing. Not only does it help bridge the digital divide, but you can get an Internet connection everywhere. It brings a sort of democracy back to the Internet.”

posted by Zach Lipton at May 4, 2004 03:42 PM #

Heh, that is of course me. The publication fates smile! I obviously picked the right day to criticize the Times.

posted by Aaron Swartz at May 4, 2004 03:48 PM #

one alternative hypothesis, via the Propaganda Model, is that the New York Times is not a paper of Republican Shills, but rather a paper in service to those in power.. see

posted by jc at May 4, 2004 05:13 PM #

How were the Republicans in power in 2000, jc?

posted by Aaron Swartz at May 4, 2004 05:38 PM #

With respect to “the party governing”, they weren’t.. one Times article from 2000, (what a hideous link.. but I’m not sure how to simplify it), seems to portray Clinton in a light more favorable than one would expect, assuming for Republican Shillism..

However, “those in power” is not the same thing as “the political party forming the current administration”, at least not within the context of the Propaganda Model. Rather, in this model, power comes from corporations. The papers profit by selling audiences to their advertisers, rather than by selling papers to the audiences. Thus, if the administration in office ticks business off, under this model, media would not hesitate to turn in to wild attack dogs against them.

posted by jc at May 4, 2004 06:28 PM #

Has the Times come full circle? I don’t think so.

posted by Michael Pate at May 5, 2004 07:58 AM #

I don’t like the style of Okrent’s column. He writes like “The Ethicist”, interlacing witty-isms throughout. I think his column should ditch the humor attempts and stick to the subject matter, as dry as it may be.

posted by pb at May 5, 2004 10:51 AM #

These Scaife funded TimesWatch and Media Research Center sites are interesting because they’re a better argument for a right-wing bias than a left-wing one. I mean, when I looked yesterday, Media Research’s top story was that some reporter somewhere suggested that somebody might think Dick Cheney makes some decisions sometimes. What a scandal! (Especially when, of course, the truth is that Dick Cheney makes nearly all the big decisions.) Oh, it still is their top story.

And what’s Times Watch complaining about? Oh, that when the Times posted an embarrassing long article about how terrible Kerry’s campaign was at reaching out to minorities, they didn’t mention that the affirmative action groups were liberals! I mean, you can’t make this stuff up. Tomorrow: When the New York Times writes that Kerry is a serial killer, they fail to mention that murder is a felony!

posted by Aaron Swartz at May 5, 2004 11:29 AM #

Aaron, please enable comments on the Google Blog you run ( ).

Thanks, bro.

posted by name at May 5, 2004 01:08 PM #

It has been suggested that Judith Miller’s articles be subjected to a ‘truth matrix’ such as that being used to discredit the Arab news services. Unfortunately , her ‘reporting’ seems to often be nothing but outright lying, whereas the news services seem to be guilty of no more than exaggeration and an anti-American bias. You passed over one cute little trick she and her buddies on the hill have come up with. Namely, someone in the administration Dick Chaney, perhaps? ) will leak an item to Judith. Proof of WMD has been found in Iraq. She then reports that an unnamed source in the White House has given her this information. One or more of the goon squad then goes on TV and reports that the New York Times has proof of Weapons of Mass Destruction. But you know what they say; Every country has the government it deserves. In general, I find the Republican party to be far less hypocritical than the Democratic Party. They are pretty up front about being a party of, by and for the ruling elite. The weird thing is that 97 percent of them don’t benefit from the party’s policies , and won’t until their family income is in the high six figures with a couple of million in the bank and even those people don’t really benefit from having to live in gated communities where they must filter the water and air. On the other hand, I’m afraid that the Democrats path to victory under Clinton, which amounted to courting the middle class (by acting like republicans) and dumping their support for policies that benefit all Americans. And even though, this can go terribly wrong as did LBJ’s ‘great society’ I still believe its the better way to go. Remember folks, the government is the only protection we have from corporate tyranny. And it is the only way to achieve such things as freedom, justice and equality. It only becomes your enemy when you let it be sold to the highest bidder. And,finally, I agree with jc “… that the New York Times is not a paper of Republican Shills, but rather a paper in service to those in power.” I’m sure that you have noticed that John Kerry is not only a member in good standing with Skull and Bones , but also, that his family connections make the Bush’s look like they are third generation nouveau riche. That’s why the Times is in a tall building. So they can tell which way the wind is blowing.

posted by krazykat at May 6, 2004 01:33 AM #

A bit extreme I think. I’m pretty liberal-left in my views & I get plenty of great stuff from the Times to cover in my blog—both nasty stuff about Bush & positive stuff either about Kerry or issues he cares about.

I have read a lot of criticism of Bumiller’s Bush pieces so you’re prob. dead on there.

My particular pet peeve these days is David Brooks. His piece on what a great person Ariel Sharon & Ehud Olmert are was revolting, besides being a tremendously shoddy piece of journalism justifying Israel’s security fence.

posted by Richard Silverstein at May 28, 2004 05:34 PM #

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