February 23rd, 2008

You know the Times has egg on its face…

…when the San Francisco Chronicle gives it a tongue-lashing for publishing gossip. Ouch.

The Chronicle adds:

Regrettably, the Times left itself and our profession open to such allegations of bias by publishing soft-focus evidence of what would be an outrageous breach of public trust.

Think so?

Not only that, but the incident has also been excellent for John McCain’s fundraising efforts. The editors of the Times probably couldn’t have come up with a bigger assist to McCain if they’d been trying.

[ADDENDUM: The Seattle Post-Intelligencer piles on.

And don't forget the Times' impending merger with the National Enquirer.]

19 Responses to “You know the Times has egg on its face…”

  1. McCarroll Says:

    Actually, the NYT follow the Kerry Principle with the story. They didn’t publish it before they published it. Not much to fall back on in that.

  2. The Scratching Post Says:

    The New York Times Under Assault by McCain’s Thugs…

    It’s getting to be so that a publishing juggernaut can hardly print calumny based on unattributed hearsay about a war hero any more….

  3. Dan Friedman Says:

    Don’t fool yourself, this is only the beginnning. The Times knows McCain v. Obama is going to be like Tide v. Brand X. From their standpoint a Republican in the White House after the opportunity Bush left the lins to take it over next year, is absolutely the end of the world. If McCain every spat on the sidewalk, we’re going to here about on Page One!

  4. bedrock guy Says:

    Pretty simple test for most Americans. If the NY Times is for something, it must be opposed. The values of the NY Times and its supporters represent a very clear line in the sand. NY Times for it – Vote against it. They have no objectivity, which they proved over and over again in this generation. Their influence is drawing to an end, and the reaction to this story is indicative of that endstate. r/ Bedrock Guy

  5. Terrye Says:

    Bias???? What bias?

  6. Richard of Oregon Says:

    I like this story! In the last few weeks, we’ve had two stories of strong public reaction to cheap shots taken at an opponent, one left, one right. My respect for the American voters is renewed and refreshed. Politically, the stakes are very high and it is very tempting to “slam and slur” as usual, but Americans from across the spectrum and insisting that they fight clean. Bully for us!

  7. corwin Says:

    I do think the Times is damaging its Brand Name.It may make it a little less secure to do these hit pieces in the future.But the may be too sclerotic to change

  8. hoodie in teh south Says:

    Is Dan Rather working at the Times now?

  9. david foster Says:

    Is the NYT an actual business, which makes decisions based on its fiduciary responsibility to its shareholders, or is it really a political orgaization, which makes decisions in order to influence political outcomes according to the opinion of management and the controlling shareholders?

  10. Steven Den Beste Says:

    David, the NYT is publicly traded, but its stock rules are strange. Effectively, the Sulzberger family owns the majority of voting shares, even though it’s a minority ownership share. So the only way Pinch is going to get canned is if his own family does it.

    It was interesting that Bill Keller’s response to the uproar was essentially the same as Rather’s response in 2004: “Why are you spending all your time scrutinizing our evidence when you should be accepting what we say at face value and getting angry at the Republican we’re trying to smear? Don’t you know who we are? You can’t doubt us!”

  11. Robert Says:

    My first reaction to the story was, “Huh, maybe McCain isn’t that old after all.” Seriously, if this had happened to Bush, I’d suspect the story was a Karl Rove plant.

  12. abe shorey Says:

    Re the stock, it has had a nice pop in the last 4 weeks as news came that 2 activist hedge funds were agitating for change. Of course this same route was tried by a Morgan Stanley Fund, they bought @ 34 sold at 18. The new crew look to be long in the low teens, currently nicely in the money. Let’s see where they sell, as SDB points out the voting is family controlled.

  13. Occam's Beard Says:

    Regrettably, the Times left itself and our profession open to such allegations of bias

    Translation: the NYT broke cover, and may blow ours too. Bad tradecraft.

    Is it true the NYT’s board of directors has renamed itself the Central Committee?

  14. david foster Says:

    Steven…I know about the two-class stock in the NYT, and agree it’s unlikely Sulzberger will get cannd. However, I’m pretty sure that an executive’s fiduciary responsibility is to all shareholders, and wouldn’t be surprised if someone raises the issue in a shareholder lawsuit. It would be a very interesting case. Obviously, a newspaper or other media company should have wide discretion in its editorial posture, but I’d think there must be *some* line at which the focus of the enterprise on on inculcating a particular political view becomes so strong that the business judgment rule is no longer protective.

  15. Dave S. Says:

    Is this the same NYT that recently ran a story about Lyndon Johnson and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which informed us that Johnson was fighting Southern Republican Congressmen for passage?

    Their bias is so ingrained and organic that they don’t even notice it. How many editors and fact-checkers saw that and didn’t notice it?

  16. Corky Boyd Says:

    Actually, Pinch’s days are probably numbered. There has been an undercurrent for the past three years that Pinch had a limited amount of time to prove himself. This because of the Jason Blair fiasco , horrible finacial results and the general opinion of his ineptness.

    The next in line is Michael Golden (a family member), who was sent to Europe to gain publisher experience at the Times owned International Herald Tribune. He recently gave up that position at the end of 2007 to spend full time in New York.

    Just my guess, but I think the Times board will announce Golden’s promotion at or slightly before the April shareholders’ meeting. The change will probably take place after the Presidential elections to give Pinch the opportunity to lead the paper during that critical period (read: to try to swing the election).

    Pinch no doubt made the decision to run the story. As in any story of this import, the Publisher makes the call. Keller put the word out he opposed running the story because it was so poorly sourced, but relented. He wisely didn’t point fingers at his boss, but he let be known where he stood. There are a lot of editors looking for work today and he didn’t want to add his name to the list.

    The whole paper is in a state of rot, and it starts at the top.

  17. Greg Toombs Says:

    Dave S “How many editors and fact-checkers saw that and didn’t notice it?”

    Due to it’s institutionally inherent ideological inbreeding (four!) the NY Times has replaced those positions with a gallery of navel-gazing lint-pickers.

    Of course, I’m just basing that on what I read in the last 8 years of the Times.

  18. B-Daddy Says:

    I am also amazed at the reaction of NYT editor Bill Keller on the reaction to the story. Basically, he is saying that those nitwitted readers of his missed the real story. Seems like a bad business practice to insult your customers.

  19. Mitch Says:

    Funny, I don’t remember the Times printing anything about this well-attested incident of improper relations with a lobbyist. Eyewitnesses are on record, too, unlike the anonymous and vague sources the Times cites.

    Forget about Pinch getting canned. The family still controls the paper, and by all appearances they consider the share price to be a noble sacrifice for the greater good.

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