Mar
15
2010

Why Isn't Brookings Labeled 'Liberal'? Maybe Because It Isn't

New York Times public editor Clark Hoyt has not had a chance yet to respond to questions about his commentary on the ACORN hoax (FAIR Action Alert, 3/11/10), instead devoting his Sunday column (3/14/10) to a discussion of political labeling. It included this question: Why is the American Enterprise Institute almost always called "conservative" in the Times, while the Brookings Institution seldom gets a label, although it has been described as a Democratic government in exile during Republican regimes? First off, the right-wing AEI (Extra!, 3-4/99) is not "almost always called 'conservative' in the Times"; a Nexis search of the […]

Feb
23
2010

You Can't Be a Neutral Observer of Your Child's War

New York Times public editor Clark Hoyt (2/21/10) returns to the issue of Times Jerusalem bureau chief Ethan Bronner having a child fighting on one side of the conflict he's covering (FAIR Activism Update, 2/12/10): Some Times journalists have taken issue with my position in this case, believing it suggests that no Jewish reporter could fairly cover the Israeli/Palestinian conflict (or, for that matter, a corollary: that a Muslim of Arab descent could not cover Iraq). Until Thomas L. Friedman was sent to Jerusalem in 1984, the Times would not assign a Jew to that post, a sorry history that […]

Oct
07
2009

Working the Refs: The Right, the Media and ACORN

If you want a lesson in how right-wing pressure on corporate media works, look no further than the ACORN story. Right-wing talkshow hosts have targeted the community organizing group for years, primarily on charges of vote fraud. Then two conservative activists produced some embarrassing videos of ACORN workers at some local offices giving tax advice advice to a couple passing themselves off as a pimp and a prostitute. From there, the story turned to right-wing gloating–and complaints about the media being too slow (and of course too liberal) to pick up on the right's anti-ACORN crusade. And some in the […]

May
30
2009

NYT Public Editor 'Circles the Wagons' Against Public

Posting to the Columbia Journalism Review's Behind the News blog, Megan Garber (5/26/09) catches New York Times public editor Clark Hoyt espousing "a peculiar brand of institutional defensiveness" in his May 23 column: One that plays itself out via divisiveness–and via, in particular, a false dichotomy that aggrandizes Times reporters and dismisses those who are not. In particular, those nagging, nattering bloggers. (Outsiders! Pouncers! Rougher-uppers!) And he does so right in his lede: There are those "within" the Times, "trying to protect the paper's integrity"â┚¬Ã‚¦and then there are those "outside" it, "ready to pounce on transgressions by Times journalists." Garber […]

May
27
2009

Action Alert: The NYT and the 'Return' to Terrorism

FAIR's latest Action Alert asks media activists to ask New York Times public editor Clark Hoyt about a recent Elisabeth Bumiller article that reported on former Guantanamo prisoners "returning" to terrorism–even though it was not clear there was evidence that any of the released prisoners had ever been involved in "terrorism" of any sort. Please leave copies of your messages to Hoyt in the comment thread here.

May
09
2009

NYT Names 'Harsh Tactics' as 'Torture' — by Chinese

Salon blogger Glenn Greenwald gets the site's lead story today (5/8/09, ad-viewing required) with an excerpt from the New York Times obituary for U.S. fighter pilot Harold E. Fischer Jr., who, as the Times headline puts it, was "Tortured in a Chinese Prison." Greenwald deems such naming of Fischer's ordeal–"kept in a dark, damp cell with no bed and no opening except a slot in the door…handcuffed. Hour after hour, a high-frequency whistle pierced the air"–to be "a major editorial breach" for the paper that so agilely dances around the T-word when reporting on U.S. actions: So that's torture now?… […]

Apr
29
2009

'Modifying Adjectives' Replace Torture Facts at NYT

Brad Jacobson has an incisive take (Media Bloodhound, 4/29/09) on the consequences of mealy-mouthed torture language at the New York Times, where public editor Clark Hoyt provides he said/she said examples to show how the public has reacted. But in doing so, in this context, he turns the very idea of news reporting–that it should be based on fact rather than opinion–on its head and, in effect, concedes that Times editors, on news stories as serious as torture, are allowing public sentiment to color their reports. Robert Ofsevit of Oakland, Calif., asked, "Why canâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢t the New York Times call torture […]