Times Political Editor Richard Stevenson is taking questions from readers on-line this week. Included in the first batch is his response to queries about favoritism in the Times' political coverage during the Democratic primary. He responded by (of course) denying any such thing (although Times Watch found a clear pro-Obama slant in the Times' primary coverage).
There are all kinds of internal and external checks on bias and personal preference. Editors like me have the primary responsibility to identify bias, and we take that job seriously. And while I would not dispute the longstanding assertions that there are more political liberals in newsrooms than conservatives, our political staff, as best I can tell, represents all kinds of backgrounds and beliefs, and because we all work so closely and in such a fishbowl, we all tend to keep one another on the straight and narrow.
In response to another question, Stevenson confessed that he wished the Times had done more on McCain advisor Charlie Black's comment that another terrorist attack would benefit McCain in November.
Well, we did cover what he said, on the Web site on Monday and in the print newspaper on Tuesday. The print version was not a long story, but it completely summarized what Mr. Black said and the Obama campaign's response. No coverup here, I'm afraid.
Still, in retrospect, we probably should have done more about it in the newspaper, given all the questions it raised about the way the McCain campaign views national security as a political issue. For those who are interested, there is more on the topic in the Wednesday paper.