Keller, Promoting His Paper's Book on Obama, Denies Pro-Obama Slant

On Monday, New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller appeared on NBC's "Today" show to promote a new Times book about the campaign, "Obama: The Historic Journey."


NBC anchor David Gregory actually asked Keller if the book adds to the "criticism of the news media that we're somehow cheerleaders for Barack Obama." Keller admitted it was "a fair question"but denied a pervasive pro-Obama bias, claiming, "as a rule, reporters don't fall in love with candidates. They fall in love with stories."


Here's the relevant part of the exchange from the Monday edition of "Today," as caught and transcribed by the Media Research Center's Geoffrey Dickens:


David Gregory: You know it's interesting I thought it was President Bush who was so notable in saying, the day after Election Day, that this was "a great moment for America." That's what President Bush said. He said, "It's a historic moment and something to be celebrated." Yet at the same time, I don't have to tell you, we're all subject to it, there is that criticism of the news media that we're somehow cheerleaders for Barack Obama, and then there's a book like this. Does it add to that criticism?


Bill Keller: It's, it's a fair question. You know I think, as a rule, reporters don't fall in love with candidates. They fall in love with stories though. And this one, it was pretty clear from early on it was gonna be a remarkable story. It was, the stakes were so high. The electorate was so angry and anxious and polarized. And the range of candidates, there was no heir apparent. So it was clearly gonna be a wide open race. And then this guy emerges, you know from seemingly no where. Not a lot of experience. We did think about that. You know, towards the end of the campaign McCain kept saying the press is in the tank -


Gregory: Right.


Keller: - for Obama. Although a year earlier they had been saying the press was in the tank for McCain because he was such a popular figure. But we, we thought about that in doing this book and we made a point of including some of the stuff about his controversial pastor Reverend Wright. His association with a sixties radical, Bill Ayers. And, and, and, you know, and, and the questions about his experience. So it's not a tribute book. It's a, I hope a slice of history.