Times Managing Editor Jill Abramson took questions online from readers this week. After posting a barrage of questions about the paper's Gaza coverage, Abramson probably relished this last question, because it allowed her to paint the Times as a bastion of fairness, and for once, have a point.
Under the heading "Too Kind to Rush Limbaugh?" a leftist from Minneapolis pondered why the Times wasn't monitoring various conservatives media figures more closely:
Several months ago there was a long article in the Magazine section about Rush Limbaugh; I thought it was way too kind to him.
I find it interesting that there is very little on-going criticism of Rush, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, Ann Coulter and people like this. I cannot figure out why people who have such a following seem to be isolated from criticism except from such Web sites as Media Matters....Rush is left off the hook because he is "an entertainer." Since when don't entertainers have the tell the truth?
Abramson responded, in full huff (I've cleaned up her spelling):
There seems a suggestion behind your question that the job of The Times is to target for attack certain figures because of their ideology and prominence. The role of a great news organization isn't to make itself a combatant in the ongoing political food fights that unfold each night on cable and elsewhere. Our Rush Limbaugh magazine cover story was a rich, nuanced portrait of someone whose show has made him a large force over time at the intersection of news, politics, business and entertainment. You may have found it too kind because you would have preferred to read a partisan hatchet job. You won't find those in The New York Times.
No "partisan hatchet jobs" in the Times?
While the Limbaugh piece from July 2008 was surprisingly fair, Abramson has evidently forgotten, among others, Jodi Kantor's hatchet jobon Cindy McCain, the paper's infamous article suggesting John McCain had an affair with a lobbyist, and Larry Rohter's story about Joe the Plumber, who had the audacity to question Obama at a campaign stop in Toledo and was the victim of aRohter hit piece for his trouble.