"Never Retire," Says Departing Columnist William Safire Monday marks the retirement of Times' columnist William Safire, who's offered on the paper's liberal op-ed page since 1973. The Times sends him off in a classy manner with a quartet of farewell opeds, ranging from "How to Read a Column" (one tip: Start halfway down) to how he got along with various first ladies of the United States. Safire will become chairman of the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives, which encourages brain science, and Safire's words today radiate optimism about both his future and ours', thanks to science: "Medical and genetic science... continue reading
SATURDAY Bush Avoided "Heart of the City's Devastation" Saturday's front-page story from White House reporter Elisabeth Bumiller marking President Bush's first trip to New Orleans lays into the president as being remote and slow to act or empathize: "President Bush, facing searing criticism over the federal government's response to Hurricane Katrina, toured New Orleans and the Gulf Coast yesterday in his first on-the-ground look at the desperation that has gripped the region for the last five days." "Mr. Bush's arrival coincided with long-awaited deliveries of aid to the flood zone. But the president did not interact much with storm victims,... continue reading
"Irritating" Labeling Habits at the Times Thursday's front-page story by Pam Belluck features a couple who had a child from an embryo left over from a fertility clinic. But it gets off on the left foot with the headline "From Stem Cell Opponents, an Embryo Crusade." MRC's TimGraham argues that phrase is misleading: "Pro-lifers aren't even stem cell research opponents.They are embryo-destruction opponents, not 'stem cell opponents.' This isn't just a lingo dispute. This is an accuracy dispute." Belluck sets the scene of the married couple from Bellevue, Wash.: "Randy and Julie McClure had three children who were long out... continue reading
Okrent's Last Stand Times Public Editor Daniel Okrent penned his last column Sunday, a catchall titled "13 Things I meant to Write About but Never Did." Puzzlingly, Okrent criticizes the paper's "ideologically fueled detractors on the right" for quoting him accurately when he called the Times a liberal newspaper : "Last July, when I slapped the headline "Is The New York Times a Liberal Newspaper?" atop my column and opened the piece with the catchy one-liner 'Of course it is,' I wasn't doing anyone - the paper, its serious critics, myself - any favors. I'd reduced a complex issue to... continue reading
No Liberals In The Filibuster Debate It's a labeling frenzy over the filibuster fight in Wednesday's paper. First up is the front-page story from Robin Toner and Richard Stevenson, "Justice Choice Could Rekindle Filibuster Fight," on what the Senate's compromise over filibusters may mean in case of a Supreme Court vacancy in the near future. It had a stark labeling disparity, with 11 "conservatives" versus just one liberal, including this rather redundant example: "Conservatives were furious over Democratic efforts to keep a handful of conservative nominees to appellate courts from an up-or-down vote on the floor." Meanwhile, chief political reporter... continue reading
Relaying Reckless Leftist Charges Against Pro-U.S. Bloggers in Iraq Reporter Sarah Boxer has achieved instant notoriety in blogging circles for her irresponsibly speculative piece on a pro-U.S. blog run by Iraqi brothers. Boxer's Tuesday Arts section story, "Pro-American Iraqi Blog Provokes Intrigue and Vitriol," begins in a breathless style that probably helped the story garner the top slot of the Arts front page: "When I telephoned a man named Ali Fadhil in Baghdad last week, I wondered who might answer. A C.I.A. operative? An American posing as an Iraqi? Someone paid by the Defense Department to support the war? Or... continue reading
For Al Qaeda, Must-Read NYT? Al Qaeda will probably find Tuesday's off-lead story by reporters Scott Shane, Stephen Grey and Margot Williams, "C.I.A. Expanding Terror Battle Under Guise of Charter Flights," of particular interest, as the Times blows the cover off a secret fleet of charter plane companies who own and fly planes linked to the C.I.A that take terrorist suspects to and from hot spots like Baghdad and Cairo. The Times writes: "The airplanes of Aero Contractors Ltd. take off from Johnston County Airport here, then disappear over the scrub pines and fields of tobacco and sweet potatoes. Nothing... continue reading
"Already Strained" by Iraq, National Guard Joins Post-Katrina Relief There's a bit of Iraq War commentary in the headline and lead of John Broder's story on the devastation from Hurricane Katrina, "Guard Units' New Mission: From Combat to Flood Duty." Broder reports: "State National Guard units, already strained by long overseas deployments, joined federal, state and private organizations yesterday in a broad effort to provide relief in areas thrashed and flooded by Hurricane Katrina." Later he again emphasizes the burden: "More than 5,000 National Guard troops were called up over the weekend to assist in relief operations, despite the burden... continue reading
Supreme Labeling Imbalance Sundays lead story involves the new Supreme Court vacancy left by the surprise retirement of Justice Sandra Day OConnor. Conservative Groups Rally Against Gonzales as Justice, by Adam Nagourney, Todd Purdum and David Kirkpatrick spins into a labeling frenzy, with 23 instances of the term conservative (not including two in headlines) in the 1,900-word story. One particularly pungent example: And Paul M. Weyrich, a veteran conservative organizer and chairman of the Free Congress Foundation, said he had told administration officials that nominating Mr. Gonzales, whose views on abortion are considered suspect by religious conservatives, would fracture the... continue reading
"Perception" Cheney "Is Running the Country" White House reporter Elisabeth Bumiller's interview with long-time Bush pal (and wealthy Democrat) Roland Betts makes the front page Friday. Given that the White House declined to comment for the article, its news value is a little suspect, but Bumiller tries her best to wring some impressions of Bush from Betts: "Clearly, Mr. Betts is not the person to go to for an unvarnished view of the president, and he invariably describes a more thoughtful and curious chief executive than Mr. Bush's public image suggests." Bumiller returns to the Times' hobbyhorse of Dick Cheney... continue reading