Labaton Recycles Own Pro-PBS Reporting

Labaton Recycles Own Pro-PBS Reporting

Stephen Labaton provides more Democratic ammo against the new Corporation for Public Broadcasting chairman Kenneth Tomlinson, who is trying to bring more balance to PBS programming.

Wednesday's "Democrats Call for Firing Of Broadcast Chairman" is accompanied by a photo of cute kids (aka "young protesters") holding up signs like "Save Big Bird" and "Don't Cut Clifford," and the text is similarly loaded against Tomlinson, as Democrats are using details from Labaton's own reporting against chairman Tomlinson.

"Sixteen Democratic senators called on President Bush to remove Kenneth Y. Tomlinson as head of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting because of their concerns that he is injecting partisan politics into public radio and television.The Democrats' letter follows a series of disclosures about Mr. Tomlinson that are now under investigation by the corporation's inspector general, including his decision to hire a researcher to monitor the political leanings of guests on the public policy program 'Now,' the use of a White House official to set up an ombudsman's office to scrutinize public radio and television programs for political balance, and payments approved by Mr. Tomlinson to two Republican lobbyists last year."

He piles on: "A new problem emerged for Mr. Tomlinson on Tuesday, when evidence surfaced that he might have provided incorrect information about the hiring of a researcher last year to monitor political leanings of the guests of the 'Now' program."

In an amusing repetition, Labaton disputes for the third time in as many articles the same piece of data from an analysis showing the liberal bias of Bill Moyers' public affairs program "Now." "Mr. Mann, who was paid $14,170 for his work by the taxpayer-financed corporation, rated the guests on the show by such labels as 'anti-Bush' or 'anti-DeLay,' a reference to Representative Tom DeLay of Texas, the House majority leader. He classified Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska as a 'liberal,' even though Mr. Hagel is well-known as a mainstream conservative Republican."

If that's the strongest argument the pro-PBS forces have (and the paper has printed it three times), then "Now"'s liberal bent must not be in much dispute.

For the full Labaton, click here:

NYT Ignores Durbin's "Nazis," yet Flags "Angry" Republican Remark

Sen. Dick Durbin finally apologized, in a tearful speech on the Senate floor Tuesday afternoon, for comparing U.S. soldiers to Nazis and Communists, and the Times covers it in the middle of page 14. Unlike the Washington Post, which references the Durbin story in its front-page "Inside" box (the Post's actual story is on page 6), the Times front page doesn't give a hint of it's own Durbin story.

Sheryl Gay Stolberg's lead takes the angle of the Republicans pressuring Durbin, without characterizing what Durbin actually said: "After a steady drumbeat of criticism from Republicans, Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, apologized Tuesday for likening American mistreatment of detainees to the acts of 'Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime - Pol Pot or others - that had no concern for human beings.' Mr. Durbin, the second-ranking Democrat in the Senate, made those comments on the Senate floor last week and has been taking a pummeling from Republicans ever since.Republican reactions were mixed, and it was unclear whether the furor would abate."

Contrast that mild reaction to reporter Anne Kornblut's response Tuesday regarding a much milder comment made by a Republican congressman against Democrats: "House lawmakers approved a $408.9 billion military spending bill on Monday after a succinct, but momentarily hostile, debate over claims of religious coercion at the Air Force Academy."

As Kornblut saw it, the debate "provoked an angry response from Representative John Hostettler, Republican of Indiana. 'Like a moth to a flame, Democrats can't help themselves when it comes to denigrating and demonizing Christians,' Mr. Hostettler said, aiming his comments at Mr. Obey and at Representative Steve Israel, Democrat of New York, another critic of the academy. Democrats immediately interrupted, demanding a transcript of the comments and threatening to censure Mr. Hostettler. Business in the chamber stopped for more than 20 minutes until Mr. Hostettler withdrew his remarks."

The Times immediately flags an "angry," "hostile" attack by a Republican on Democrats made on the House floor - but when the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate compares U.S. soldiers to Nazis, it's almost ignored until the Democrat apologizes, and even then it's characterized more as a matter of Republicans stirring up controversy than an actual mistake.

For the full Kornblut, click here:

For the full Stolberg, click here:

Avoiding the L-Word

Tuesday's Science Times story by Benedict Carey speculates that at least some politics is genetic: "The new research builds on a series of studies that indicate that people's general approach to social issues - more conservative or more progressive - is influenced by genes."

Interesting speculation - but why does Carey go to such lengths to avoid saying the word liberal? Instead he pits "conservatives" against "progressives" three times within the story. Does the Times see a difference between "liberal" and "progressive"? If so, what?

Another example of aversion to the liberal label is in Wednesday's David Kirkpatrick story, "Congress Again Debates Protecting the Flag," which begins: "A constitutional amendment that would allow Congress to outlaw debasing the American flag is again before lawmakers, and lobbyists on both sides say the conservative tilt of this Senate gives the measure its best chance of Congressional approval since the Supreme Court ruled 16 years ago that flag burning was a form of protected speech."

Kirkpatrick finds two Republicans bravely standing against it and gets another chance to talk about the "conservative" Senate: "Like most Democrats, two Republican senators, Robert F. Bennett of Utah and Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, have consistently opposed the measure. 'I don't want to amend the Constitution to solve a nonproblem,' Mr. Bennett said. 'People are not burning the flag. The only time they start is when this amendment gets offered.' Assessing the chances that his side might lose in the increasingly conservative Senate, he said, 'We may,' and added, 'That is democracy.''

But the ACLU lobbyist Kirkpatrick quotes against the amendment is not labeled as liberal.

For the full Kirkpatrick, click here:

For the full story from Carey, click here: