As the presidential campaign heats up, partisan double standards infect even seemingly innocuous New York Times stories, like the music playlists of Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney. Friday's online "Caucus" post by music critic Jon Pareles, accusing Romney's song choice of leaving out blacks and women.
The playlist is long on mainstream country hits and security-blanket oldies like Willie Nelson’s version of “Over the Rainbow.” And it’s sparing with music released in the last decade, with a few exceptions, like Kid Rock’s 2010 “Born Free,” which has become a Romney campaign song.
There are just two songs by African-Americans, both plush ballads of fidelity: Nat King Cole’s “Stardust” and the Commodores’ “Only You.” The lone song by a woman is Carrie Underwood’s million-selling 2007 hit “All-American Girl,” in which a guy who wanted a baby boy happily changes his mind when a daughter arrives.
The headline to the print version was slanted: "On Romney Song List, Guys Win, 18 to 1," and the story conveyed the same bizarre racial and gender breakdown, though a text edit of the paragraph took the edge off the discrimination angle (print version shown below):
African-American artists perform two songs, both plush ballads of fidelity: Nat King Cole’s “Stardust” and the Commodores’ “Only You.” A woman sings only one: Carrie Underwood’s million-selling 2007 hit “All-American Girl,” in which a guy who wanted a baby boy happily changes his mind when a daughter arrives.
In contrast, Ben Sisario, another Times music critic, checked out Obama's playlist on the online music station Spotify for the Times on February 10 and only mildly raised the prospect of political calculation without casting aspersions based on a handful of songs. "Tunes For The Trail: Playlist Gives a Glimpse of the President's Taste." The MRC's Tim Graham underlines the paper's shamelessness:
But last month, David Graham at the Atlantic underlined just how shameless this Times treatment was when he broke down the official Obama playlist, which also skewed very male, 19 to six: "Only six of these songs center around a female singer, while 19 have male lead singers. Four are mixed, and one is an instrumental."
Not only that, while Obama's staff picked seven country music songs, he had zero from rappers.