(The Return of) Ignatz, by Sam Heldman

Friday, August 02, 2002

Not meaning to get into general cultural-political debates, but sometimes I can't help myself Stuart Buck jumps on the anti-New York Times weblog bandwagon, but misses the mark. He says (link to the specific post doesn't seem to be working) that its liberal "bias is showing up in what purport to be straight news articles", citing two articles from today. Let's take a peek:

1) The Times points out that the famous Katherine Harris, whom we remember from Bush v. Gore, hasn't complied with election laws herself. Buck is peeved at this sentence from the Times: "So today, Ms. Harris, the official who made so much of 'following the letter of the law' during Florida's botched 2000 presidential election, resigned as secretary of state in a letter to Gov. Jeb Bush dated Aug. 1, but she said her resignation was effective July 15, the day she qualified for the Congressional race." He says that this use of (he says) "scare quotes" around the phrase "following the letter of the law" is liberal bias.

Those aren't "scare quotes", though -- they're actual quotation marks, because that's how she has described her actions in the Bush v. Gore business. See, for instance, here, where she says that she "followed the letter of the law." Now maybe the Times should have therefore said "follow[ing] the letter of the law" -- or maybe (more likely) she actually said "following" on some other occasion(s). So, not scare quotes -- and not liberal bias. Instead, it's straight reporting. Pointing out the hypocricies of elected officials is one of the primary roles of a free press, in my view.

2) Buck is also peeved at the opening of an article about the arrests of corporate officials, because the article ascribes some political motivation. Again, Buck is wrong in saying that this is liberal bias in "what purport to be straight news articles." First of all, this piece was clearly labeled by the Times as "News Analysis," which is how they signal to their readers that this piece goes beyond mere reporting. Second, it isn't necessarily indicative of liberal bias to ascribe partisan motivations to Republicans; it is sometimes, instead, truth (and I do seem to recall that the Times often ascribed partisan motivations to Pres. Clinton too, didn't they????).

But Times-bashing is all the rage these days among bloggers.

posted by sam 1:07 PM 0 comments


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