Times Watch Quotes of Note 2008
Worst Quotes of the Year
The New York Times' embrace of Barack Obama's candidacy, and its fervent defense of him against John McCain's "racist" and unfair attacks, made 2008 a particularly bias-packed year for the paper. While previous annual "Quotes of Note" editions have been filled with anti-Republican vitriol, this year Times bias often came with a smile, with the Times and the rest of the mainstream media having fallen hard for Obama's "historic" candidacy (jilting its previous love, Hillary Clinton). The Times even praised the moderate maverick McCain for a while - until he clinched the Republican nomination and became the only thing in the way of a groundbreaking victory for either a liberal woman (Clinton) or a liberal African-American (Obama).
This year Times Watch welcomes first-time judges Paul Miller and Michael Rubin among our five Times-dissecting judges choosing quotes as their "favorite" from the Times in 2008.
Thomas Lifson, editor and publisher of American Thinker, awarded honorable mentions to the "sheer buffoonery" of columnists Frank Rich and Bob Herbert, but eventually chose reporter Steven Erlanger's "lesson in how to sneer while looking stupid" (from the "Obama the Anointed One" category), in which Erlanger contrasted Obama's "tone poem to American and European ideals and shared history" with a "grumpy" John McCain having a bratwurst sitting in a German restaurant in Columbus, Ohio.
Don Luskin, chief investment officer of the economics and investment-research firm Trend Macrolytics LLC and publisher of the blog The Conspiracy to Keep You Poor and Stupid, found it hard to pick just one bad quote, but also settled on Steven Erlanger's, which "exposes not just the unbalanced adulation for Obama and contempt for McCain, but at the same time the way the Times descended into portraying the campaign as a contest of personal images rather than issues."
William McGowan, author of the forthcoming "Gray Lady Down: How the New York Times Broke Faith With America" (Encounter), had two favorites: political editor Richard Stevenson's online chat defending the media from charges of bias, and Timothy Egan's posting (found under "Oh Those Awful Conservatives") about "television bullies with Irish surnames on Fox" who are "doing everything they can to keep the poorest of Americans from getting health care."
Paul Miller, owner and publisher of the Carmel (Ca.) Pine Cone and former editor and producer for CBS and NBC News, cast his vote for Times magazine reporter Deborah Solomon's exchange with Texasoil man T. Boone Pickens on the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, which Solomon called "an ugly chapter in American political history." Miller wrote: "This tidy little encounter illustrates perfectly whyreporters and editors at New York Times don't see how biased they are.When they look at the world, they see something that's altered from reality, because the history that provides their conceptual framework has been invented. I call it the Sulzberger Uncertainty Principle!"
Michael Rubin, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, chose contributing writer Matt Bai's bizarre explanation for why former POW John McCain had not learned the correct liberal lessons from Vietnam: "Matt Bai's theory as to why John McCain stubbornly refuses the need to surrender in Iraq takes the cake...That Bai is utterly oblivious to his own bubble is archetypical Grey Lady. That the surge proved McCain right is simply icing on the cake."
Thanks to all our judges, and enjoy the quotes. - Clay Waters, Times Watch director.
Obama the Anointed One
"In a country long divided, Mr. Obama had a singular appeal: he is biracial and Ivy League educated; a stirring speaker who shoots hoops and quotes the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr; a politician who grooves to the rapper Jay-Z and loves the lyricism of the cellist Yo-Yo Ma; a man of remarkable control and startling boldness...." - Reporter Rachel Swarns, November 5.
"Bill Clinton brought jazz, Rhodes scholars, a slice of Arkansas and all-night pizza policy sessions. When George W. Bush arrived, Texans took over the town. Blue jeans were out; coats and ties and cowboy boots were in. Now comes Barack Obama: young, hip and multicultural, with a Harvard law degree, a writer's sensibility and a smooth left-handed jump shot - not to mention two little girls who, America learned Tuesday night, will soon get a new puppy."- Reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg, November 6.
"But the moment is suffused, so as almost not to require that he make it explicit, with a sense of historical moment. I, you, we can make history, he says, by turning the nation's sorrowful racial narrative into something radiant and hopeful....There is no getting around it, this man who emerged triumphant from the Iowa caucuses is something unusual in American politics. He has that close-cropped hair and the high-school-smooth face with that deep saxophone of a voice. His borrowings, rhetorical and intellectual, are dizzying. One minute he recalls the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in his pacing and aching, staccato repetitions. The next minute he is updating John F. Kennedy with his 'ask not what America can do for you' riff on idealism and hope." - Reporter Michael Powell, January 5.
"Support for Mr. Obama is much stronger in the northeastern section of the state, especially in places like Fairfax County, near Washington, whose population is younger, wealthier, better educated and more diverse." - Ian Urbina on Virginia's voter demographics, September 18.
"On Thursday evening in a glittering Berlin, cheered by as many as 200,000 people, Mr. Obama delivered a tone poem to American and European ideals and shared history. In contrast, just before he spoke, Mr. McCain, was sitting in Schmidt's Sausage Haus und Restaurant in Columbus, Ohio, having a bratwurst, and saying grumpily that he would prefer to speak to Germans when he is president, not before." - Steven Erlanger in a July 26 filing from Paris while covering Barack Obama's world tour.
"It was an extraordinary moment - the first black candidate with a good chance at becoming a presidential nominee, in a country in which racial distrust runs deep and often unspoken, embarking at a critical juncture in his campaign upon what may be the most significant public discussion of race in decades. In a speech whose frankness about race many historians said could be likened only to speeches by Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson, John F. Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln , Senator Barack Obama, speaking across the street from where the Constitution was written, traced the country's race problem back to not simply the country's 'original sin of slavery' but the protections for it embedded in the Constitution. Yet the speech was also hopeful, patriotic, quintessentially American - delivered against a blue backdrop and a phalanx of stars and stripes ." - From reporter Janey Scott's March 19 "news analysis."
Mauling McCain, Hating Palin
"You know Jane, I think that the campaign was really calculating that the standard that was used for Chelsea Clinton and the Bush girls and now the Obama girls would be applied to the Palin family, which is that the kids are left out of it. But frankly I'm not sure that it will work this time, precisely because of what Jackie said, they've made a big issue of her personal life. She herself, Gov. Palin, has a new baby, and so one question that comes up, is this is a woman that has a lot going on in her personal life, she's got a new baby herself, her daughter's about to get married and have a baby, a lot going on there. I do think it's a fair question to ask how she will juggle those responsibilities. Maybe it's a question that wouldn't be asked of a man, as Steve Schmidt said, but it is a question that I think Americans will ask." - Sheryl Gay Stolberg in a nytimes.com "Political Points" podcast discussion with host Jane Bornemeier, September 1.
"Early voting in Florida began today, with long lines at several polling places, a flood of robocalls, a rally by Senator Barack Obama in Tampa - and some new, harsh anti-Obama literature in my mailbox....The second piece of literature, paid for by the Republican Party of Florida, provides a new line of attack. It alleges that Senator Obama would be soft on crime. Few issues are as racially radioactive, especially here in Miami, so it is worth asking: Does the flier go over the line?" - From an October 20 "Caucus" blog post by Miami bureau chief Damien Cave.
"McCain surely knows this, even if his party has yet to get the message. The speech that he gave here on climate change marked a big break with President Bush and the troglodyte wing of his party. Look for similar divorce announcements in coming months, even on race. In that speech, McCain envisioned a nightmare of runaway forest fires, heat waves stifling the cities, storms swamping the coasts, unless something is done. 'The United States will lead,' he said, 'and will lead with a different approach.' In every way, the speech was a slap at know-nothings like Rush Limbaugh, who tells his 20 million listeners almost every day that global warming is a massive hoax.....Meanwhile, McCain's party tried to hold onto a Republican Congressional seat in Mississippi this week by using racial scare-mongering from the Jim Crow era." - Former reporter Timothy Egan in a May 14 blog post on his nytimes.com blog "Outposts."
"Sometimes, as Senator Barack Obama seemed to argue earlier this year, a flag pin is just a flag pin. But it can never be that simple for anyone with direct experience of the 1988 presidential campaign. That year, the Republicans used the symbols of nationhood (notably, whether schoolchildren should be required to recite the Pledge of Allegiance) to bludgeon the Democrats, challenge their patriotism and utterly redefine their nominee, Gov. Michael S. Dukakis of Massachusetts." - Robin Toner, from a May 4 front-page story headlined "'88 Campaign Offers a Lesson in Using Symbols as Bludgeons."
"There is a feeling among some of McCain's fellow veterans that his break with them on Iraq can be traced, at least partly, to his markedly different experience in Vietnam. McCain's comrades in the Senate will not talk about this publicly. They are wary of seeming to denigrate McCain's service, marked by his legendary endurance in a Hanoi prison camp, when in fact they remain, to this day, in awe of it. And yet in private discussions with friends and colleagues, some of them have pointed out that McCain, who was shot down and captured in 1967, spent the worst and most costly years of the war sealed away, both from the rice paddies of Indochina and from the outside world. During those years, McCain did not share the disillusioning and morally jarring experiences of soldiers like Kerry, Webb and Hagel, who found themselves unable to recognize their enemy in the confusion of the jungle; he never underwent the conversion that caused Kerry, for one, to toss away some of his war decorations during a protest at the Capitol. Whatever anger McCain felt remained focused on his captors, not on his own superiors back in Washington." - Contributing writer Matt Bai in his cover story for the May 18 New York Times Magazine.
"We thought and still think that the story [alleging a McCain affair with a telecom lobbyist] was important for people to know about. The reporters that we had on the story spent a lot of time and dug up a lot of information that, you know, we couldn't put it all in the story that gave us full confidence in what we had. And we felt it was important for people to know. I remember sitting there thinking, 'How can we withhold from our readers the fact that there were these incidents of McCain's aides, worried to death about his involvement with this lobbyist, and going to intervene and having communications with them. Who are we to withhold that from the public?'" - Assistant Managing Editor Richard Berke at a "Times Talks" event at the Times' midtown Manhattan headquarters, March 3.
"His campaign has pelted his rival with attacks that make some of his old advisers wince, like questioning Mr. Obama's patriotism or tying him to 'a domestic terrorist.'" - Reporter David Kirkpatrick on the McCain campaign, October 26.
"Rumors are a staple of politics, but Obama seems to face an unusual problem tamping them down. An article in The Washington Post on Monday summed up the entirely false rumors being widely circulated in small-town America this way: that 'Barack Obama, born in Africa, is a possibly gay Muslim racist who refuses to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.'" - Brian Knowlton, writing in the June 30 international edition of the Times.
"The ad gave us an uneasy feeling that the McCain campaign was starting up the same sort of racially tinged attack on Mr. Obama that Republican operatives ran against Harold Ford, a black candidate for Senate in Tennessee in 2006. That assault, too, began with videos juxtaposing Mr. Ford with young, white women." - From a July 31 post on the paper's editorial board blog criticizing John McCain's "Celebrity" ad comparing Barack Obama to Paris Hilton and Britney Spears.
"With Mr. McCain and Republicans slipping in the polls as the economic crisis spreads, they have begun to attack Mr. Obama's character in the hope of, as one McCain adviser put it, 'turning the page on the financial crisis.' But such a tactic carries its own risks because Mr. McCain is not without his own questionable associations. As a member of the Keating Five in the 1980s, he was rebuked by the Senate for 'poor judgment' after he met with regulators investigating one of his major political donors, Charles H. Keating Jr., who later went to prison after his savings and loan collapsed, at great cost to taxpayers. There is also the risk that such attacks will be seen as petty at a time of a national economic crisis." - Reporter Michael Cooper, October 11.
"But the Times article was built on a solid foundation of fact, and Richard Stevenson, the editor directing coverage of the election, said, 'We don't want to fall into the trap of false equivalency.' He said reporters had seen a pattern of 'demonstrable falsehoods, exaggerations, misconstruals or omissions' on the part of McCain that seemed notable, even for a heated presidential campaign." - Public Editor Clark Hoyt, evaluating an anti-McCain story for the September 21 Week in Review.
"Ms. Palin's speech came after Rudolph W. Giuliani of New York launched a withering attack on Mr. Obama as part of a relentless assault by Republicans arguing that Ms. Palin, the former mayor of a town of less than 7,000 people who has been governor of Alaska for 20 months, had a more impressive resume than Mr. Obama." - Elisabeth Bumiller at the Republican Convention, September 3.
"This was a decidedly different Mr. McCain from the one who said in South Carolina last year that it was important for leaders to communicate with bloggers, 'as painful as that might be.' Or the Mr. McCain who in an interview with Fortune magazine two years ago called himself a 'Neanderthal' about computers, in contrast to his wife, Cindy, whom he called a 'wizard.' 'She even does my boarding passes - people can do that now,' Mr. McCain marveled. 'When we go to the movies, she gets the tickets ahead of time. It's incredible.' Mr. McCain's sense of wonder evoked the episode in the early 1990s when George H.W. Bush became overly impressed upon seeing a price scanner at a supermarket check-out counter. It suggested to some people that the president, who had spent four years in the White House after spending eight years as vice president, was out of touch with the lives of average Americans." - From Mark Leibovich's August 3 Week in Review story. The story about George H.W. Bush and the scanner is an urban legend debunked at snopes.com.
Oh, Those Awful Conservatives
"Mr. Bush never sounds surer of himself than when the subject is Sept. 11, even when his critics argue that he has squandered the country's moral authority, violated American and international law, and led the United States into the foolhardy distraction of Iraq." - Steven Lee Myers, February 12.
"It is only when the Irish forget about the underdog, as the keeper of the graves said, that they stray. In the 1930s, there was Father Charles Coughlin, a virulent anti-Semite who had a radio audience larger than that of Rush Limbaugh's today. He used his microphone for hate. In the 1950s, another man with a link to Ireland, Senator Joseph McCarthy, twined ignorance and fear to make a mockery of congressional inquiry. Today, there are television bullies with Irish surnames on Fox, backing more tax cuts for hedge fund managers, and doing everything they can to keep the poorest of Americans from getting health care." - From former reporter Timothy Egan's March 12 posting on his "Outposts" blog at nytimes.com.
"One of the sleaziest documentaries to arrive in a very long time, 'Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed' is a conspiracy-theory rant masquerading as investigative inquiry." - The lead sentence of Jeannette Catsoulis's April 18 review of Ben Stein's documentary on evolution and academic freedom, "Expelled."
"Southern counties that voted more heavily Republican this year than in 2004 tended to be poorer, less educated and whiter, a statistical analysis by The New York Times shows....Many of those counties, rural and isolated, have been less exposed to the diversity, educational achievement and economic progress experienced by more prosperous areas." - Southern-based reporter Adam Nossiter, November 11.
"His reputation over many years is as a man of doctrinal hardness, who condemns homosexuality and abortion, who regards Catholicism as the only true faith - positions at times difficult to digest in a diverse America." - From an April 13 story on Pope Benedict XVI by Ian Fisher and Laurie Goodstein, over the headline "Hard-Liner With Soft Touch Reaches Out to U.S. Flock."
"It is a familiar pattern. Democratic candidates' wives - from Rosalynn Carter and Kitty Dukakis to Hillary Rodham Clinton and Teresa Heinz Kerry - are almost invariably characterized by opponents as too feisty and too outspoken, a little too radical for mainstream America. Betty Ford was an early exception to the Republican rule of bland, self-effacing homemakers; as the Equal Rights Amendment faded as a cause and conservatism made a comeback, Republican spouses became ever more careful to stay three steps behind their men and the times." - From TV-beat reporter Alessandra Stanley's June 8 profile of Michelle Obama's appearance on the ABC talk-show "The View."
"This kind of bold government planning died long ago, of course, a victim of both the public's disillusionment with the large-scale Modernist planning strategies of the postwar era and the antigovernment campaigns of the Reagan years. The consequences were obvious as soon as Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. And they have been reaffirmed many times since, with the collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge in Minneapolis and myriad accounts of our country's crumbling infrastructure." - Times architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff praising Communist China's state planning for the Olympics for the September 14 Week in Review.
"As it turns out, Joe the Plumber...may work in the plumbing business, but he is not a licensed plumber....His full name is Samuel J. Wurzelbacher. And he owes back taxes, too, public records show." - Reporter Larry Rohter in his October 17 investigation of Joe Wurzelbacher, who challenged Barack Obama on taxes at a campaign stop in Toledo, Ohio.
"It would take volumes to adequately cover the enhancements to the quality of American lives and the greatness of American society that have been wrought by people whose politics were unabashedly liberal. It is a track record that deserves to be celebrated, not ridiculed or scorned. Self-hatred is a terrible thing. Just ask that arch-conservative Clarence Thomas." - Columnist Bob Herbert, September 9.
"Jesse Helms, the former North Carolina senator whose courtly manner and mossy drawl barely masked a hard-edged conservatism that opposed civil rights, gay rights, foreign aid and modern art, died early Friday. He was 86." - Lead sentence to Steven Holmes' July 5 obituary for legendary conservative Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina.
"The alienation of allies; the go-it-alone strategy in Iraq; and the lack of immigration reform and a new energy policy; the rise in gas prices and health care costs have left many Americans in a dyspeptic mood." - From reporter Patrick Healy's July 27 profile of Bush in the Times Week in Review.
"If the Republican Party bills itself as the party of family values, what should we make of the fact that you rejected the name your parents gave you, their political affiliation and their religion?" - One of New York Times Magazine reporter Deborah Solomon's August 31 "Q&A" interview questions to Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.
"If you think the last seven years have been one long, dumb, dirty joke - or maybe if, sometimes, you just wish you could believe as much - then "Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay," written and directed by Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg, just might be the perfect movie for you." - From a review by chief movie critic A. O. Scott, April 25.
Left-Wing Love-Fest on 43rd Street
"There are still hundreds of prisoners held without charge at Guantánamo, and it will in all likelihood be left to the new administration to deal with them. Until it does so, the United States will maintain its reputation as a country that has flouted the basic principles of justice and set a deplorable example for the world." - Reporter Raymond Bonner in the March 18 New York Review of Books.
"There is no startling new information in the archive, because all the documents have been published previously. But the new computer tool is remarkable for its scope, and its replay of the crescendo of statements that led to the war. Muckrakers may find browsing the site reminiscent of what Richard M. Nixon used to dismissively call 'wallowing in Watergate.'" - From John Cushner Jr.'s story lauding a new anti-war database from the left-wing Center for Public Integrity, January 23.
"According to a new study by two groups based in Washington, the Economic Policy Institute and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the income gap between the have-lots and the have-nots is widening faster in Connecticut than in any other state." - Reporter Alison Leigh Cowan pushing a liberal group's study, April 9.
"'Recount' is not satire; it's a mordantly at a moment when character, political influence and luck fatefully collided....Laura Dern is mesmerizing as Ms. Harris, the legendarily dense public official who also helped organize George W. Bush's Florida election campaign. Ms. Dern's portrait comes the closest to parody - the role all but demands it - but she manages to convey some glimmers of humanity behind the thick makeup and thicker skull." - TV-beat reporter Alessandra Stanley on "Recount," the HBO movie about the 2000 Florida recount, May 23.
"Peter Askin's stirring documentary "Trumbo" gives you reasons to cheer but also to weep. It makes you lament the decline of the kind of language brandished with Shakespearean eloquence by Dalton Trumbo, the blacklisted Hollywood screenwriter, in his witty, impassioned letters excerpted in the movie....If the story of the Hollywood blacklist and the lives it destroyed has been told many times before, it still bears repeating, especially in the post-9/11 climate of fearmongering, of Guantánamo, of flag pins as gauges of patriotism." - Movie reviewer Stephen Holden on Communist screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, June 27.
Reporter Peter Goodman's Marxist Economics
"From the Great Depression, we remember the bread lines. From the oil shocks of the 1970s, we recall lines of cars snaking from gas stations. And from our current moment, we may come to remember scenes like the one at a Long Island Wal-Mart in the dawn after Thanksgiving, when 2,000 frantic shoppers trampled to death an employee who stood between them and the bargains within. It was a tragedy, yet it did not feel like an accident. All those people were there, lined up in the cold and darkness, because of sophisticated marketing forces that have produced this day now called Black Friday. They were engaging in early-morning shopping as contact sport. American business has long excelled at creating a sense of shortage amid abundance, an anxiety that one must act now or miss out. ...For decades, Americans have been effectively programmed to shop." - Economics reporter Peter Goodman, over a November 30 Week in Review story headlined "A Shopping Guernica Captures the Moment."
"The Me Decade was declared dead in the recession of the early 1980s, only to yield to the Age of Greed and later the Internet boom of the 1990s." - From Peter Goodman's February 5 front-page story.
"For more than a quarter-century, the dominant idea guiding economic policy in the United States and much of the globe has been that the market is unfailingly wise. So wise that the proper role for government is to steer clear and not mess with the gusher of wealth that will flow, trickling down to the every level of society, if only the market is left to do its magic...But now the invisible hand is being asked to account for what it has wrought. In this country, many economic complaints - from the widening gap between rich and poor to the expense of higher education - are being dusted for its fingerprints." - Peter Goodman, December 30, 2007, under the headline, "The Free Market: A False Idol After All?"
"Joblessness is growing. Millions of homes are sliding into foreclosure. The financial system continues to choke on the toxic leftovers of the mortgage crisis. The downward spiral of the economy is challenging a notion that has underpinned American economic policy for a quarter-century - the idea that prosperity springs from markets left free of government interference. The modern-day godfather of that credo was Milton Friedman..." - Peter Goodman, April 13.
"Today, the question hanging over Iraq is whether its natural endowment will be used to help create a sustainable new state, or will instead be managed in ways that reward the cronies and allies of the country whose army toppled Mr. Hussein." - Peter Goodman, June 29.
"Over the years, Mr. Greenspan helped enable an ambitious American experiment in letting market forces run free. Now, the nation is confronting the consequences." - Peter Goodman, from his October 9 front-page story on the derivatives market.
Frank Rich's Greatest Rants
"...what has pumped up the Weimar-like rage at McCain-Palin rallies, is the violent escalation in rhetoric, especially (though not exclusively) by Palin." - From Frank Rich's October 12 column.
"Such human nuances are lost on conservative warriors of the Allen-McCain-Palin ilk. They see all Americans as only white or black, as either us or them. The dirty little secret of such divisive politicians has always been that their rage toward the Others is exceeded only by their cynical conviction that Real Americans are a benighted bunch of easily manipulated bigots." - Frank Rich, October 26.
"Its racial undertones are naked enough. Earlier this year, Mr. Rove wrote that Mr. Obama was 'often lazy,' and that his 'trash talking' during a debate was 'an unattractive carry-over from his days playing pickup basketball at Harvard.' Last week Mr. Rove caricatured him as the elitist 'guy at the country club with the beautiful date.' Provocative as it is to inject Mr. Obama into a setting historically associated with white Republicans, the invocation of that 'beautiful date' is even more so. Where's his beautiful wife? Mr. Rove's suggestion that Mr. Obama might be a sexual freelancer, as an astute post at the Web site Talking Points Memo noted, could conjure up for a certain audience the image of 'a white woman on his arm.'" - Frank Rich, June 29.
Devious Double Standards
Just Plain Goofy
"For now, Mr. McCain seems a happy captive in a hijacked campaign. Before Ms. Palin joined the ticket, he typically attracted crowds in the low hundreds for what his own aides admit were at times soporific events." - Campaign reporter Elisabeth Bumiller on September 11. John McCain was a prisoner of war for five years during Vietnam.
"You don't have to be a huge animal lover to question why Governor Palin chose to be interviewed - while issuing a traditional seasonal pardon of a turkey - while turkeys were being executed in the background." - A November 21 posting on the Editorial Board's blog at nytimes.com referencing a pre-Thanksgiving "turkey pardon" photo-op that Gov. Palin participated in back in Alaska.
"On his own turf Mr. McCain is a little like the Sci Fi channel cult hit "Battlestar Galactica." Just as some hard-core followers of the original 1978 science fiction series about a fleet of starships fighting a robot insurrection could never accept today's reworked version, many voters who supported Mr. McCain as an anti-establishment maverick in the 2000 Republican primary cannot accept him in his new incarnation as a conservative Republican courting the evangelical right. And like the Sci Fi series, Mr. McCain, with occasional puckishness, can tap in to voters' darkest fears of terrorist aggression and apocalyptic doom. " - TV-beat reporter Alessandra Stanley, June 8.
"Someday there will be a museum dedicated to all the dirty elements dragged out of the earth to keep us warm and spin our generators. See there, son, a grizzled Gen Xer will say over a barrel of oil, that ancient gunk nearly enslaved us to 12th-century theocrats in the Mideast. And check out those black nuggets - coal, a fossilized time bomb hauled out of the deepest holes in the earth and then belched back into the air as a planet-smothering byproduct. Nearly killed us, the whole lot of it. " - Former Times reporter Timothy Egan, reviewing "Coal River," a muckraking book by Michael Shnayerson, January 20.
"East Germany Had Its Charms, Crushed by Capitalism." - Headline over an October 29 review of a book bemoaning the introduction of capitalism to the former Warsaw Pact country.
"For all its eviscerations of the administration, "The Daily Show" is animated not by partisanship but by a deep mistrust of all ideology." - Book critic Michiko Kakutani's August 17 profile of "The Daily Show," the clearly liberal Comedy Central program hosted by Jon Stewart.
"All of this raises the question of what will happen to the deficit. Obama's aides optimistically insist he will reduce it, thanks to his tax increases on the affluent and his plan to wind down the Iraq war. Relative to McCain, whose promised spending cuts are extremely vague, Obama does indeed look like a fiscal conservative." - From the August 24 New York Times Magazine cover story "Obamanomics" by staff writer David Leonhardt.
"You guys have seen the ad a number of times, I am sure, and you have it here in-house.First thing you see are a couple of images of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, right?And we see an image of Barack Obama right after that, comes quickly right at the beginning of the ad, you remember that, right?Do you remember any other startling images right there at the beginning? [Two-second pause] Alright. There is an image right there in that very beginning of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and there is an image of the Washington Monument. Look at the beginning of that ad again. And you tell me why those two phallic symbols are placed there [snaps fingers] - pow! - right at the very beginning of that ad." - Columnist Bob Herbert discussing the Obama-Britney-Paris ad on the August 4 edition of MSNBC's talk show "Morning Joe." The images in the ad were not of the Leaning Tower or Washington Monument but the Victory Column in Tiergarten Park in Berlin, where Obamagave his speech.
"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." - Political Editor Richard Stevenson in an online chat, June 23.
"By my count, The Times has published more tough articles on Obama, 20, than on McCain, 13, since the beginning of last year." - Public Editor Clark Hoyt defending his paper's political coverage against charges of anti-McCain bias, October 5.
"Being human, journalists do have personal biases, and a long line of studies has shown that they tend to be more socially and politically liberal than the population at large. There is no reason to believe Times journalists are any different. But Tien-Tsung Lee, an associate professor of journalism at the University of Kansas, wrote in 2005 after reviewing the literature that "a link between reporters' political beliefs and news coverage has never been convincingly established." - Public Editor Clark Hoyt in his October 19 column for the Week in Review.
Finally Admitting the Obvious
"But on the social issues - gun control, abortion, gay marriage, religion - I'm not sure we're that even-handed....Journalists move easily in the world of business Republicans, less easily in the world of Evangelical Republicans. So that makes it easier to slip into caricaturing social conservatives at times, and we should try harder to avoid it." - Columnist Nicholas Kristof, November 4.