Top Ten Lowlights of The New York Times in 2007

Welcome to the 2007 Top Ten Lowlights of The New York Times. As usual, the year brought a cornucopia of biased behavior by the nation's paper of record, from sliming innocent Duke lacrosse players to defending illegal immigration to yet another liberal rant from a high-level Times executive (this year it was Executive Editor Bill Keller who did the honors). Times Watch has whittled down the absolute worst from another liberally slanted year from the New York Times, and here are the results, in ascending order of gruesomeness.





10. Bill Keller Unleashed in London - "War Going Very Badly in Iraq"



In late November, Times Executive Editor Bill Keller delivered the Hugo Young Memorial Lecture in London (sponsored by the liberal Guardian newspaper)and spouted liberal clich├ęs to his journalistic colleagues reminiscent of those made a year and a half agoin a college commencement speech by his boss, Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. Keller cast the Bush administration in Nixonian terms:



"Whatever you think of its policies, the current administration has been more secretive, more mistrustful of an inquisitive press, than any since the Nixon administration. It has treated freedom of information requests with contempt, asserted sweeping claims of executive privilege, even reclassified material that had been declassified. The administration has subsidized propaganda at home and abroad, refined the art of spin, discouraged dissent, and sought to limit traditional congressional oversight and court review. The war in Iraq alone is a case study of the administration's determination to dominate the flow of information - from the original cherry-picking of intelligence, to the deliberate refusal to hear senior military officers when they warned of the potential for chaos, to the continually inflated claims about the progress in building up an indigenous Iraqi army."



Keller then blamed Bush and Karl Rove for "hate-mongering" talk radio and making lefties mad.



"Besides a decided preference for operating in the dark, the Bush administration has contributed to the woes of the press in another way. It has helped create a toxic climate for the press by inflaming the polarization of our public. At least since the election of 2000, with its attendant questions of legitimacy, some of the wide, reasonable middle of the American electorate has gravitated to angry and intolerant fringes, right and left. There are many reasons for this - including the proliferation of partisan blogs, hate-mongering radio broadcasts and intemperate television shout shows - but a president plays a considerable role in setting the tone of public discourse, and the tone of public discourse in my country has been nasty. It has been nasty by design; dividing the electorate into mistrustful camps and pandering to their fears was an explicit strategy of the president's political wizard, Karl Rove."



Keller threw into doubt whether he actually reads his own newspaper with this line:



"And I would argue that in this clattering, interconnected, dangerous world, journalism that cuts through the noise has never been needed more. We have a war going very badly in Iraq, and another one in Afghanistan where our declaration of victory looks very premature."



If Keller still thinks the Iraq war is "going very badly" even after the troop surge, perhaps he should read the front page more often.



And this was good for a laugh:



"Third, we are agnostic as to where a story may lead; we do not go into a story with an agenda or a pre-conceived notion. We do not manipulate or hide facts to advance an agenda. We strive to preserve our independence from political and economic interests, including our own advertisers. We do not work in the service of a party, or an industry, or even a country. When there are competing views of a situation, we aim to reflect them as clearly and fairly as we can."



So Keller admitted that the Times doesn't work in the service of the United States? After the paper's notorious leaks of classified information on secret anti-terrorism programs, that's certainly not hard to believe.




9. The Haditha "Massacre"



After the "Haditha Massacre" came to light in July 2006, reporter Paul von Zielbauer filed over 30 stories on the alleged killings by marines of two dozen Iraqi civilians by U.S. troops in Haditha, Iraq. The case joined Abu Ghraib in the parade of horribles put forth by anti-war leftists, who compared it to the My Lai massacre in Vietnam. But von Zielbauer's October 6 story marked a turning point: "The Erosion of a Murder Case Against Marines in the Killing of 24 Civilians."



One would never have guessed that outcome based on von Zielbauer's previous pieces, which bought into the assumption thatthe marines had "massacred" 24 Iraqi civilians. Some excerpts from von Zilebauer's reporting:



January 7: "An American government report on the killing of 24 Iraqis, including several women and children, by marines in the village of Haditha in 2005 provides new details of how the shootings unfolded and supports allegations by prosecutors that a few marines illegally killed civilians, government officials said yesterday."


April 20: "After it became clear last year that several marines had killed 24 civilians in Haditha, Iraq, following an attack on their convoy of Humvees, the Marine Corps, which had initially played down the massacre, began an offensive of a different kind."



May 6: "Recently unclassified documents suggest that senior officers viewed the killings of 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha in late 2005 as a potential public relations problem that could fuel insurgent propaganda against the American military, leading investigators to question whether the officers' immediate response had been intentionally misleading."



Were all 24 Iraqis merely innocent "civilians"? Interestingly, Zielbauer dropped the word "civilians" in his last four accounts of the trial as the murder casecollapsed (although the October 6 headline retained the word). In that piece, Zielbauer sounded almost reluctant that Haditha won't go down in liberal history like the My Lai massacre:



"Last year, when accounts of the killing of 24 Iraqis in Haditha by a group of marines came to light, it seemed that the Iraq war had produced its defining atrocity, just as the conflict in Vietnam had spawned the My Lai massacre a generation ago."


Helped in no small measure by slanted coverage in the Times.




8. Doubting the Fort Dix Six Terror Plot




Metro reporter Alan Feuer is a repeat winner of the Lowlights award, having come in at #5 last year for his ludicrously respectful story on a convention of "Bush-caused-9-11" conspiracy nuts. In May of this year, Feuer went to enormous (and erroneous) pains to soft-pedal the Muslim beliefs of six terrorist suspects caught plotting an attack on the Army base Fort Dix in New Jersey.



From "Two Mosques Are Shaken by Ties to a Terror Plot " of May 14:


"It is unclear what role, if any, religion played in the attack Mr. Shnewer and the five other men are charged with planning. (The sixth suspect, Agron Abdullahu, had no apparent connection with Al-Aqsa or the South Jersey Islamic Center.) The authorities have described the suspects as Islamic extremists, but the lengthy criminal complaint summarizing the F.B.I.'s 15-month undercover investigation of the group does not mention where - or how often - they prayed. Certainly there is no evidence that they picked up radical ideas at either mosque."


In contrast to the Times' uninformative, politically correct take, the New York Post had a complete story with details on the suspects' radical Islamic beliefs.


"When the teen and another employee went into a back room and began the conversion of the tape, they saw a group of bearded men wearing 'fundamentalist attire' and shooting 'big, f-ing guns,' the teen later told co-workers.


"Throughout the 90-minute-long tape, above the booming gunfire at a Pennsylvania target range, the jihadists could be heard screaming 'God is great!'....That call to authorities set in motion a 16-month undercover investigation in which six of the men caught on tape chillingly discussing killing soldiers 'in the name of Allah.'"




7. France's "Fearsome"Nicolas Sarkozy


During the heated French election campaign between Nicolas Sarkozy and Socialist candidate Segolene Royal, it was painfully clear that Paris-based Elaine Sciolino held a grudge against the right-of-center, tough-on-crime Sarkozy (who won the presidency in May).


In the February 28 "As Voter Registration Soars, French Presidential Candidates Woo Troubled Suburbs," Sciolino wrote:


"Royal is portraying herself as the mother-protector of France, a healing force who cares about the underdog.


"By contrast, her main rival, Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, the candidate of the governing center-right Union for a Popular Movement party, has yet to shed his image as the enemy of France's underclasses.


"Shortly before the widespread unrest in the fall of 2005, Mr. Sarkozy was in the Parisian suburb Argenteuil when he called angry young suburbanites 'scum.' That remark, combined with his huge deployment of police to return the country to calm after rioting broke out and his criticism of France's immigration policy as too lenient, has contributed to his image as a man who is feared rather than loved."



Sciolino continued nursing her grudge after Sarkozy routed Royal. From the May 6 "France to Vote After Presidential Race's Scorching Finale"



"While Ms. Royal has pledged to protect and unite France, Mr. Sarkozy has often taken a ruthless us-against-them attitude, stressing there is no place in France for young people who do not respect the law or for immigrants who do not embrace French values.


"In Montpellier on Thursday, where he made his last campaign speech, Mr. Sarkozy railed against those who do not like him. 'People accuse me of encouraging public anger,' he said. 'But who's angry? The thugs? The drug traffickers? I can assure you - I do not seek to be the friend of thugs.'"


" In this election, authority apparently is deemed to be more important than compassion ."


Reporter Craig Smith joined in with his "Man in The News" sidebar to Sarkozy's victory, "France's Conservative Dervish." The online subhed: "Sarkozy Wins the Chance to Prove His Critics Wrong."



" Arrogant, brutal, an authoritarian demagogue, a 'perfect Iago': the president-elect of France has been called a lot of unpleasant things in recent months and now has five years to prove his critics wrong.... He has always been nakedly ambitious, pragmatic, calculating and not beyond betrayal to reach his goals. He is full of nervous energy, often rocking on his toes when not at the center of attention - a habit that sometimes makes him look taller than he is in photographs but otherwise draws attention to his small stature."



The Times adjusted badly to Sarkozy's win ("Hundreds Are Arrested in Post-Election Riots Across France"), with Smith implying further violence could be blamed on Sarkozy keeping his campaign promises.


"Violent protests against the election of Nicolas Sarkozy as president of France ended early Monday after hundreds of people were arrested, hundreds of cars gutted, and hundreds of windows smashed in several cities across France.


"Many people fear that the violence is just a taste of what is to come if Mr. Sarkozy makes good on his campaign promises to push through divisive legislation during his first 100 days in office."




6. Gee, Why Is Dick Cheney So Secretive?



Like much of the liberal press, the Times loved to portray Vice President Dick Cheney as a dark, Strangelovian figure of menace. Back on February 27, intelligence reporter David Sanger wondered why a Cheney trip to Afghanistan was so shrouded in secrecy. Sanger devoted a great deal of space to the "unusual secrecy" in "Cheney Warns Pakistan To Act Against Terrorists."


"Mr. Cheney's trip to Pakistan was shrouded in unusual secrecy. In trips to Pakistan last year, President Bush and Secretary State Condoleezza Rice announced their plans days in advance, and reporters filed articles on their visits as soon as they landed. But Mr. Cheney's traveling press pool was sworn to secrecy, and allowed to report only the barest details just before he left.


"News organizations that knew of Mr. Cheney's travels, including The New York Times, were asked to withhold any mention of the trip until he had left Pakistan. That appeared to be a reflection of growing concern about the strength of Qaeda and Taliban forces in the area, and continuing questions about the loyalties of Mr. Musharraf's own intelligence services."


...


"American officials did not explain the extraordinary secrecy surrounding Mr. Cheney's visit to Pakistan, a country the administration has cast as a stable nation moving gradually toward democracy. Mr. Cheney's aides told The Times and other news organizations that the Secret Service had imposed the requirement that there be no mention of his trip until he had left Pakistan."


Sanger got his answer that very morning, when a suicide bomber blew himself up outside the gate of the U.S. military base where Cheney was staying. The lead sentence to the story on the Times web site that morning:


"A suicide bomber blew himself up this morning outside the main gate of the United States military base at Bagram while Vice President Dick Cheney was inside the base. Mr. Cheney was not hurt in the attack."


Andy McCarthy at National Review Online looked for the silver lining:


"One sobering result of the Taliban's attempt to murder Vice President Cheney in Afghanistan is that the New York Times has tamped down - at least for a day - its standard caricature of the dark, secretive Veep."





5. Reporter Chastised for Saying "Surge" Worth A Shot



Times military correspondent Michael Gordon got in hot water with liberal Times' readers for advancing a personal opinion on the troop surge in Iraq on the January 8 edition of the PBS talk show Charlie Rose. Gordon opined that the then-proposed troop surge in Iraq was a chance worth taking.


The paper's Public Editor Barney Calame sniffed:


"Times editors have carefully made clear their disapproval of the expression of a personal opinion about Iraq on national television by the paper's chief military correspondent, Michael Gordon.


"The rumored military buildup in Iraq was a hot topic on the Jan. 8 'Charlie Rose' show, and the host asked Mr. Gordon if he believed 'victory is within our grasp.' The transcript of Mr. Gordon's response, which he stressed was 'purely personal,' includes these comments:


"'So I think, you know, as a purely personal view, I think it's worth it [sic] one last effort for sure to try to get this right, because my personal view is we've never really tried to win. We've simply been managing our way to defeat. And I think that if it's done right, I think that there is the chance to accomplish something.'"


Viewers complained, and Calame acted.


"I raised reader concerns about Mr. Gordon's voicing of personal opinions with top editors, and received a response from Philip Taubman, the Washington bureau chief. After noting that Mr. Gordon has 'long been mindful and respectful of the line between analysis and opinion in his television appearances,' Mr. Taubman went on to draw the line in this case.


"'I would agree with you that he stepped over the line on the 'Charlie Rose' show. I have discussed the appearances with Michael and I am satisfied that the comments on the Rose show were an aberration. They were a poorly worded shorthand for some analytical points about the military and political situation in Baghdad that Michael has made in the newspaper in a more nuanced and unopinionated way. He agrees his comments on the show went too far.'"


Apparently Gordon's sin was to admit he was putting forth his personal view. But what about liberal reporters who do the same with impunity?


Perhaps Gordon should have been like his colleague Neil MacFarquhar, who works the paper's Muslim-American beat and who had previously advanced hisown liberal opinion on Charlie Rose without any caveats about it being his "own personal view" (although it obviously was).


MacFarquhar appeared on Charlie Rose in July 2006 and slipped in this anti-Bush, America-critical personal commentary.


"If you talk to people my age - I'm in my mid-40s - and who grew up in poor countries like Morocco, you know, they will tell you that when they went to school in the mornings, they used to get milk, and they called it Kennedy milk because it was the Americans that sent them milk. And in 40 years, we have gone from Kennedy milk to the Bush administration rushing bombs to this part of the world. And it just erodes and erodes and erodes America's reputation."


MacFarquhar didn't get any lectures from Times editors.





4. Blaming the Victims in the Duke "Rape" Hoax



When black stripper Crystal Mangum accused three white Duke University lacrosse players of raping her, a credulous media couldn't resist the liberal angles of black-on-white, rich-on-poor, privileged athlete vs. working class mom, while throwing the honorable liberal idea of presumption of innocence out the window. Mangum's accusations were later dismissed as utterly false, and the local North Carolina prosecutor Michael Nifong was disbarred and eventually jailed for ethics violations in his handling of the case. The Times featured prominently in a damning, comprehensive dissection by Rachel Smolkin in American Journalism Review.


"'It was too delicious a story,' says Daniel Okrent, a former New York Times public editor, who is critical of the Times' coverage and that of many other news organizations. ' It conformed too well to too many preconceived notions of too many in the press: white over black, rich over poor, athletes over non-athletes, men over women, educated over non-educated. Wow. That's a package of sins that really fit the preconceptions of a lot of us.'"


Executive Editor Bill Keller defended his paper against myriad critics:


"New York Times columnist Selena Roberts railed against the 'code of silence' that same day, declaring, 'At the intersection of entitlement and enablement, there is Duke University, virtuous on the outside, debauched on the inside...a group of privileged players of fine pedigree entangled in a night that threatens to belie their social standing as human beings.'


"Keller says assessing morality 'taught and practiced in the theater of college athletics' is a fair subject for sports columnists. But without naming specific columnists - the Times' Harvey Araton also jumped in to upbraid the women's lacrosse team for writing 'innocent' on their sweatbands - Keller says, 'I did think, and I told the columnists, that there was a tendency in a couple of places to moralize before the evidence was all in, and not to give adequate weight to the presumption of innocence....As a generalization, I'm not dismissive of the people who think that what appeared in the sports columns kind of contributed to a sense that the Times declared these guys guilty. I think that's a false impression, but I can understand where people got it.'"


Times Watch criticized Roberts' and Araton's inflammatory smears of the innocent Duke players.


The most notorious Times story came on August 25, 2006 - the front-page, 5,600-word article by Duff Wilson and Jonathan Glater. Smolkin dissected it:


"Although the Times' August story depicted a troubled investigation, overwrought summary graphs inflated Nifong's case and downplayed his blunders: 'By disclosing pieces of evidence favorable to the defendants, the defense has created an image of a case heading for the rocks,' the story said. 'But an examination of the entire 1,850 pages of evidence gathered by the prosecution in the four months after the accusation yields a more ambiguous picture. It shows that while there are big weaknesses in Mr. Nifong's case, there is also a body of evidence to support his decision to take the matter to a jury.'


"Wilson and Glater relied heavily on exclusive access to 33 pages of typed notes and three pages of handwritten notes by Mark D. Gottlieb, the police sergeant supervising the investigation. Joseph B. Cheshire, an attorney for Evans, was quoted calling the belatedly filed report a 'make-up document.' Cheshire said Gottlieb told defense lawyers that he took few handwritten notes and relied on his memory and other officers' notes.


"But elsewhere in the article, the journalists described those notes without skepticism. After detailing serious discrepancies between the accuser's description of the suspects in Gottlieb's notes and those of another officer, Benjamin W. Himan, the Times story stated, 'The difference in the police accounts could not be explained.' It added that Gottlieb 'is by far the more experienced' of the two."


Former Public Editor Okrent chided Executive Editor Keller's cavalier treatment of the Times' botched reporting:


"To Daniel Okrent, simply continuing to report is not enough. 'The one thing I'm quite certain I didn't see was an apology, which is certainly not one of the acts that the American media are particularly good at,' the former Times public editor says. 'It's a matter of media organizations owning up to their responsibility, and when they do something wrong, they should acknowledge that they do something wrong.'


"Okrent envisions a mea culpa - an editor's note, a front-page article, perhaps an 'appearance on a platform in Times Square'-that would say, candidly: ' "We blew it. We're sorry. We accept responsibility for having blown it." '



According to "Until Proven Innocent," a devastating book on the rape hoax by blogger KC Johnston and law writer Stuart Taylor, Times sports reporter Joe Drape could have been an early hero. But when Drape diverted from the favored storyline of his editors, he was replaced by reporter Duff Wilson, who hewed more closely to the pro-prosecution slant preferred by the liberal editors at the Times, who viewed the affair through the politically correct prisms of race, sex, and class. Wilson proceeded to get everything comically if not tragically wrong about the case, making factual errors and burying exculpatory evidence.



Taylor and Johnston wrote:



"Drape's March 31 article especially stood out from the pack. He highlighted comments by defense lawyers challenging the accuser's credibility, vowing that the DNA would prove the lacrosse players innocent, and pointing the fishy features of Kim Roberts's 911 call....the more he pushed, the more Drape came to believe that Mangum was not credible and her rape charge was probably false....soon after Drape privately told people at Duke and, presumably, at the Times that this looked like a hoax, his byline disappeared from the Duke lacrosse story. The word among people at Duke and defense supporters, including one who later ran into Drape at a race track, was that the editors wanted a more pro-prosecution line. They also wanted to stress the race-sex-class angle without dwelling on evidence of innocence. They got what they wanted from Drape's replacement, Duff Wilson, whose reporting would become a journalistic laughingstock by summer..."



On April 12, the Times was the only major newspaper to lead with the news that the state's attorney general had dropped all charges against the falsely accused lacrosse players. The story by Duff Wilson and David Barstow noted: "North Carolina's attorney general declared three former Duke University lacrosse players accused of sexually assaulting a stripper innocent of all charges on Wednesday, ending a prosecution that provoked bitter debate over race, class and the tactics of the Durham County district attorney."



After over a year of horrible slanted reporting, the Times finally got it right - far too late.





3. Loving the (Illegal) Alien




In the summer of 2007, Bush tried and failed to convince Congress to pass a bill granting amnesty to illegal immigrants. On this issue, at least, the Times and most of the liberal press was totally behind the president, and characterized his opponents as simple-minded rage machines.



Reporter Jim Rutenberg in particular seemed to enjoy Bush's attack on conservative opposition to his amnesty proposals in "Bush Calls Attacks on Immigration Bill 'Empty Political Rhetoric' on May 30.


Rutenberg fell back on an old liberal conceit - that "conservatives" react to simplistic slogans, whileillegal immigrant "supporters" (who Rutenberg doesn't call "liberals")are forced to make "nuanced" arguments.


"Mr. Bush and his allies have faced an important rhetorical disadvantage, particularly from the right. Conservative opponents can use one word, amnesty, against the bill.


"Supporters, the president included, are forced into the complex weeds of policy and the nuances of legislative language. Mr. Bush tried to offset the difference by discrediting the amnesty accusation."


A June 3 lead story by Carl Hulse and Rutenberg characterized conservative opposition as vitriolic and angry: "President's Push on Immigration Tests G.O.P. Base - Conservative Anger Rises."



"President Bush's advocacy of an immigration overhaul and his attacks on critics of the plan are provoking an unusually intense backlash from conservatives who form the bulwark of his remaining support, splintering his base and laying bare divisions within a party whose unity has been the envy of Democrats.


"It has pitted some of Mr. Bush's most stalwart Congressional and grass-roots backers against him, inciting a vitriol that has at times exceeded anything seen yet between Mr. Bush and his supporters, who have generally stood with him through the toughest patches of his presidency. Those supporters now view him as pursuing amnesty for foreign lawbreakers when he should be focusing on border security.


Another idea floating around the Times newsroom: U.S. hostility to amnesty for illegal immigrants from Mexico not only hurt illegals here, but crippled Mexicans in Mexico as well. That claim was put forward by Julia Preston in an August 9 story, Fewer Mexican Immigrants Are Sending Money Back Home, Bank Says."



Preston took her pro-illegal immigration talking points from a survey performed by a pollster. To be precise, a Democratic pollster who studies Hispanic voting trends for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign - a tidbit that didn't make it into the article.


"The immigrants in the survey included American citizens and legal and illegal residents. They identified discrimination as the biggest problem they faced, with 83 percent saying that discrimination against Latin American immigrants in general was growing in the United States .


"'Mexican immigrants don't feel welcome in the U.S. anymore,' Mr. Bendixen said. 'They feel they are not wanted here, and their contributions are not appreciated.'"


Preston didn't identify Bendixen as a Democratic activist and member of the board of advisors of the New Democratic Network, or that he is part of Hillary Clinton's presidential polling team.No opponents of illegal immigration were quoted. Preston concluded:


"Remittances to Mexico have become vital to the economics of the country's poorest regions, bank officials said. The money pays for drinking-water systems, roads, care for older people and other needs in villages and working-class neighborhoods."


A similar story with a similar conclusion (that Mexican poverty is an American problem) appeared on October 26.


"For years, millions of Mexican migrants working in the United States have sent money back home to villages like this one, money that allows families to pay medical bills and school fees, build houses and buy clothes or, if they save enough, maybe start a tiny business.



"But after years of strong increases, the amount of migrant money flowing to Mexico has stagnated. From 2000 to 2006, remittances grew to nearly $24 billion a year from $6.6 billion, rising more than 20 percent some years. In 2007, the increase so far has been less than 2 percent....But in Mexico, families are feeling squeezed."





2. Deep Discount for MoveOn.org's "Petraeus-Betray Us" Ad



In September Gen. David Petraeus, who oversees U.S. forces in Iraq, delivered his testimony supporting the troop "surge" before Congress. But before he had said a word, the radical left-wing group MoveOn.org suggested in a full-page ad in the Times that he would lie to Congress and the American people about progress in Iraq.


MoveOn.org issued its infamous, infantile "General Petraeus Or General Betray Us?" ad, covering one full page in the New York Times. The text of the ad concluded: "Today, Today before Congress and before the American people, General Petraeus is likely to become General Betray Us."


The flames went higher when it was revealed MoveOn.org got a deep discount from the Times on the ad it wasn't entitled to receive - amounting to some $77,000 in savings for the deep-pocketed George Soros-backed group.


Media reporter Katharine Seelye addressed the controversy over the deep discount "Angered by an Antiwar Ad, Giuliani Seeks Equal Space September 14, in which spokeswoman Catherine Mathis said MoveOn.org got the proper rate for a "standby" ad, meaning an advertiser can request a specific day and placement but is not guaranteed them.


That seemed to settle the matter - but the Times had to reverse itself in embarrassing fashion on September 23, after Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt did some actual reporting on the ad for his Week in Review column and got a belated admission of error the paper's news reporters had been unable to uncover.



"For nearly two weeks, The New York Times has been defending a political advertisement that critics say was an unfair shot at the American commander in Iraq.


"But I think the ad violated The Times's own written standards, and the paper now says that the advertiser got a price break it was not entitled to.


....


"Did MoveOn.org get favored treatment from The Times? And was the ad outside the bounds of acceptable political discourse?


"The answer to the first question is that MoveOn.org paid what is known in the newspaper industry as a standby rate of $64,575 that it should not have received under Times policies. The group should have paid $142,083. The Times had maintained for a week that the standby rate was appropriate, but a company spokeswoman told me late Thursday afternoon that an advertising sales representative made a mistake....By the end of last week the ad appeared to have backfired on both MoveOn.org and fellow opponents of the war in Iraq - and on The Times."




1. Grossly Biased Giuliani Coverage



Former New York City mayor and Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani certainly got no "favorite son" treatment from his hometown paper. (Giuliani has often returned the favor by sniping at the paper's liberal slant.) From the start of his presidential campaign, the Times has hurled allegations of racism, probed his friendship with Fox News chief Roger Ailes, and most galling, both questioned his leadership after September 11 and accused him of politically exploiting it.


Veteran Giuliani-beat reporter Michael Powell's front-page story of July 22, "In a Volatile City, a Stern Line On Race and Politics," was the first attack. One of the critics quoted by Powell was race-baiting hatemonger (and Times favorite) Al Sharpton, putting in doubt the Times' actual commitment to racial harmony.


Powell let other black leaders suggest Rudy made racially charged appeals to bigoted whites.


"Certainly he knew such words resonated with white voters who formed the backbone of his electoral coalition. What is less certain is whether a man raised and schooled in a white world understood the force with which his harshest words rained down on black New Yorkers....Mr. Giuliani's policies, too, stirred anger. His decision to drive down the welfare rolls by cutting benefits and tightening eligibility standards and his deep cuts in social agencies infuriated many. Black voters applauded the drop in crime, but rough police tactics often inflamed tensions."


Powell briefly acknowledged the undeniable positives of Giuliani's mayoralty, then unloaded more race-baiting bullets.


"But within these victories lay the seed of a problem. Even as crime dropped by 60 percent, officers with the street crime unit stopped and frisked 16 black males for every one who was arrested, according to a report by the state attorney general. Then came three terrible episodes that raised a pointed question for black New Yorkers: Was crime reduction worth any cost?"


Powell dug into the cases of Abner Louima, Amadou Diallo, and Patrick Dorismond. Louima survived his assault, a genuine victim of possibly racist police brutality. Diallo and Dorismond both died of gunfire, victims of improper (but not racist) police procedure.


But what about police shootings under black mayor David Dinkins? David Horowitz wrote in Salon Magazine in 2000:


"In 1993, the last year that David Dinkins was mayor of New York, there were 212 intentional police shootings of civilians (many of them African-Americans). This compares to only 73 shootings by the Giuliani police force in the past year. In 1991, during Dinkins' reign, there were 41 fatalities resulting from police shootings. In 1999, under Giuliani there were only 11."



Reporter Ross Buettner got big play for his Giuliani scandal stories, most notoriously the August 1 "Campaign Puts Giuliani and Ailes in Uncharted Territory," which examined the evidently suspicious friendship between Giuliani and Fox News President Roger Ailes.



"Roger Ailes and Rudolph W. Giuliani have been pulling for each other for nearly two decades.


"Mr. Ailes served as the media consultant to Mr. Giuliani's first mayoral campaign in 1989. Mr. Giuliani, as mayor, officiated at Mr. Ailes's wedding and intervened on his behalf when Mr. Ailes's company, Fox News Channel, was blocked from securing a cable station in the city.


"This year, they were tablemates at the White House correspondents dinner, which Mr. Giuliani attended as a guest of Fox's parent company, News Corporation.


"Now these allies and friends find themselves on largely uncharted political turf. Mr. Giuliani, 63, is a leading Republican candidate for president. Mr. Ailes, 67, as head of Fox News, runs the pre-eminent media outlet for likely voters in a Republican primary."


Even liberals found Buettner's weak "expose" ridiculous.


Undaunted, Buettner returned to the Times' front pageAugust 17 with "For Giuliani, Ground Zero as Linchpin and Thorn," aiming at the heart of Giuliani's candidacy by alleging he'd exaggerated the time he spent at Ground Zero in the days after the attack on the World Trade Center.


"So, how much time did Mayor Giuliani spend at ground zero?


"A complete record of Mr. Giuliani's exposure to the site is not available for the chaotic six days after the attack, when he was a frequent visitor. But an exhaustively detailed account from his mayoral archive, revised after the events to account for last-minute changes on scheduled stops, does exist for the period of Sept. 17 to Dec. 16, 2001. It shows he was there for a total of 29 hours in those three months, often for short periods or to visit locations adjacent to the rubble. In that same period, many rescue and recovery workers put in daily 12-hour shifts."


The Times never applied similar scrutiny to another candidate running on a record of heroism during war time. That would be Sen. John Kerry, who during the 2004 campaign for president based his entire run on his brief stint in the Vietnam War, in which he received several service medals, including three Purple Hearts.



Marc Santora's "Political Memo" of September 10 "In Campaign Year, Invoking 9/11 Raises New Debates," suggested Giuliani misled voters by breaking some kind of promise not to talk about his leadership after the September 11 attacks.


"As the anniversary of the attacks nears, Mr. Giuliani has been talking in more personal detail than usual about that day. In so doing, there have been renewed questions about the fuzzy line between somber remembrance and political exploitation, this time amplified by his presidential candidacy."


Santora tried again in the October 1 "Campaign Swing Reveals Trouble Spots for Giuliani."



"An odd cellphone call from his wife, two rogue volunteers exploiting the memory of 9/11 to raise money, renewed questions about shifting stances on crucial domestic issues, upheaval within the campaign's upper ranks and more focus on an unconventional family life.



"It has been a rough time on the campaign trail for Rudolph W. Giuliani."


....


"A subsequent discussion of the cellphone call brought up concerns on a different front: that his campaign is overly focused on 9/11. This concern was reinforced last week by the news that two Giuliani campaign volunteers were asking donors for $9.11. The campaign quickly disavowed the effort."