Friday, November 26, 2004

New York Times: Caveat Emptor

Like most intellectuals in this country I am a reader of the NY Times. Over the years, though, I have become alert to instances of bias, manipulation, and sheer sloppiness.

All three are in evidence in today's edition, which has an editorial called "The Real Environmental Mandate." This editorial properly challenges an assertion by Michael Leavitt, who heads the Environmental Protection Agency. Leavitt claims that on Election Day the voters had delivered a clear mandate for President Bush's environmental policies. According to the Times, what the voters "really said" was just the opposite.

To justify this claim, several pro-environmental votes are cited. Yet there is not a word about the spectacular victory of anti-enviromentos in Oregon, one of our bluest states. There the citizens voted 60-40 for a major overhaul in that state's land-use policies. The law requires the state to pay compensation for land with restricted use, or allow the restrictions to be modified. This news story, which contradicts the sweeping claims of the editorial, appeared on p a g e o n e of today's Times.

While the bias at the Times is usually liberal, sometimes it is not, as in the inadequate critiques of the Administration's policies leading up to the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Nontheless, many in the heartland have learned to distrust it, together with much of the legacy media. This distrust, based on the well-established fact that reporters are Democrats nine-to-one, is fueling the demand for more conservative commentators. In addition, many are coming to accept the notion, originally advanced by political radicals, that there is no such thing as objectivity. Eventually, this may lead to the perception that there is no such thing as true news--just the spin given by a particular tendency. In my youth, I witnessed this split in Italy, where there was one set of facts for Christian Democrats, another for Socialists, and a third for Communists. I fear that we have advanced far down this road.


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