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It’s I-told-you-so time! This admission from New York Times Public Editor Daniel Okrent confirms what may of us have known for years:
Is The New York Times a Liberal Newspaper?
Of course it is.
Start with the editorial page, so thoroughly saturated in liberal theology that when it occasionally strays from that point of view the shocked yelps from the left overwhelm even the ceaseless rumble of disapproval from the right.
Okrent goes on to describe how the culture at the Times views some people as “as strange objects to be examined on a laboratory slide,” such as “devout Catholics, gun owners, Orthodox Jews, [and] Texans.” (I would add conservatives to that list.) Okrent argues that this culture permeates the Times as a whole and is not limited to the editorial page, the one place where bias is understandable.
While it may not seem that we should be applauding Mr. Okrent for stating the obvious, one must appreciate the massive institutional resistance that likely opposed such a public admission. But it is a wise move, not because it fixes anything, but because credibility is the primary asset of any media outlet. If a paper isn’t even honest about itself, how can one believe anything else printed there?
Mr. Okrent notes how the perception of liberal bias at the Times allows readers to dismiss what they read there:
Newspapers have the right to decide what’s important and what’s not. But their editors must also expect that some readers will think: “This does not represent me or my interests. In fact, it represents my enemy.” So is it any wonder that the offended or befuddled reader might consider everything else in the paper—including, say, campaign coverage—suspicious as well?
Okrent’s article may be a one-time event, or it may be the first step toward bringing balance to the Times. If it’s the latter, then this admission represents a monumental moment at the Times. And if not, then at least it provides some ammunition against liberals who either refuse to admit or can’t see the slant at the Times. (I had one college professor who repeatedly argued that the Times was right-wing, an argument we stopped having after I showed him that the Times hadn’t endorsed a single Republican presidential candidate in over 50 years but had consistently backed liberal icons like George McGovern, Walter Mondale and Mike Dukakis, all of whom lost landslide elections.)
Good for you, Mr. Okrent. I’m sure this won’t make you terribly popular among your peers over at the Times. But the truth will rarely win you a popularity contest.