The Times and the "C-Word" - November 4, 2003 -

Times Watch for November 4, 2003

The Times and the "C-Word"

Raymond Hernandez files "An Infuriating Success" for Saturday's Metro Section, a worthwhile look at Democratic Sen. Schumer's controversial use of the filibuster to block Bush nominees for federal judgeships. But the story's marred by a typical Times blind spot-labeling bias.

Hernandez uses the C-word ("conservative") 12 times and throws in two "right-wings" for good measure. By contrast, the liberal Sen. Schumer is identified just once as liberal, and that's just Hernandez relaying a description of Schumer from (you guessed it) a "conservative group." Hernandez writes: "One conservative group has included him in a pack of playing cards as one of the 55 most dangerous liberals in America."

For the rest of Hernandez's story on Schumer's tactics, click here.

Raymond Hernandez | Judgeships | Labeling Bias | Sen. Charles Schumer

Krugman Cuts off Nethercutt

Columnist Paul Krugman is the latest to pass along a skewed quote from Rep. George Nethercutt, Washington state Republican. Writing sarcastically in his Tuesday column "This Can't Go On," Krugman claims: "Some Americans may share the views of the Republican congressman who said that progress in Iraq was 'a better and more important story than losing a couple of soldiers every day.' (Support the troops!)"

That's part of a quote from Rep. Nethercutt that appeared in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. But Nethercutt has gone to great pains to show the quote was distorted, even taking out an ad in Seattle's two major papers to protest the paper's rendering of his remarks. Here's the full Nethercutt quote, as quoted by the P-I: "The story of what we've done in the post-war period is remarkable.It is a better and more important story than losing a couple of soldiers every day."

A transcript of his October 13 speech at the University of Washington indeed quotes Nethercutt saying reconstruction in Iraq is "a bigger and better and more important story than losing a couple of soldiers every day which, which heaven forbid is awful." (You can listen to Nethercutt's comments.)

Nethercutt claims that by clipping his final comment ("which heaven forbid is awful"), the paper was trying to make him "seem indifferent to the loss of American soldiers." Naturally, Krugman recycled the most anti-Republican version of the quote.

Casualties | Columnists | Gaffes | Iraq War | Paul Krugman | Rep. George Nethercutt

More on Bush's Terrible Tax Cuts

David Leonhardt's Sunday front-page story, "For Democrats, Economy's Surge Poses Challenge," spells out the problems a surging economy poses for Democratic presidential candidates. But then he blames Bush's tax cuts (not war costs or increased domestic spending) for the deficit, while leaving the idea of positive effects from the tax cuts as just something being claimed by Bush: "The Democratic case against the president revolves around the rising national debt and a severe hiring slump. Despite three tax cuts that Mr. Bush advertised as economic stimulus and that helped turn a $236 billion surplus in 2000 into a projected $374 billion deficit this year, the economy has lost almost three million jobs since he took office."

For the rest of Leonhardt's story on the economic recovery and Campaign 2004, click here.

George W. Bush | Campaign 2004 | Deficit | Economy | David Leonhardt | Tax Cuts

It's Not Vietnam, But It Is

Even when the Times denies any parallel between Iraq and Vietnam, it can't resist bringing it up. The headline to Sunday's story from Elizabeth Becker reads: "In the Ranks, Similarities Between Vietnam and Iraq." Becker herself suggests there's no parallel, then cites one anyway: "It is a different war in a different era, fought by a different American Army. Yet the emerging profile of the soldiers, sailors, pilots and other service members dying in Iraq bears a surprising similarity to those who lost their lives in the Vietnam War."

For the rest of Becker's comparison, click here.

Elizabeth Becker | Iraq War | Vietnam

Times Again Knee Deep In the Big Muddy

The cover story for the Times Sunday Magazine, "Blueprint for a Mess" by contributor David Rieff, lambastes the administration for poor war planning: "It is becoming painfully clear that the American plan (if it can even be dignified with the name) for dealing with postwar Iraq was flawed in its conception and ineptly carried out." Rieff concludes with the Q-word: "The real lesson of the postwar mess is that while occupying and reconstructing Iraq was bound to be difficult, the fact that it may be turning into a quagmire is not a result of fate, but rather (as quagmires usually are) a result of poor planning and wishful thinking."

For the rest of Rieff's story on how Bush is blowing it, click here.

Iraq War | Magazine | Quagmire | David Rieff