A surprisingly fair story in the NYT on Prop. 8

Some editors at the NY Times must have been asleep to allow this surprisingly fair story be published. Am I the only one who read this as actually kind of portraying Prop. 8 supporters in a positive light?

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B has had three main careers. Some of them have overlapped. After attending Stanford University (class of 1985), he worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. In 1995, he took up his favorite and third career as father. Soon thereafter, Heavenly Father hit him over the head with a two-by-four (wielded by the Holy Ghost) and he woke up from a long sleep. Since then, he's been learning a lot about the Gospel. He still has a lot to learn. Geoff's held several Church callings: young men's president, high priest group leader, member of the bishopric, stake director of public affairs, media specialist for church public affairs, high councilman. He tries his best in his callings but usually falls short. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

18 thoughts on “A surprisingly fair story in the NYT on Prop. 8

  1. Um, or it could be that the New York Times is quite frequently “surprisingly fair.” Of course Fox News and Rush Limbaugh will continue feeding you propaganda that the New York Times hates your guts. But they don’t.

  2. Not surprisingly from the NYT, it is a balanced and fair article. It makes clear the truth: the proponents of Proposition 8 are promoting a religious issue, NOT a moral issue. I have few qualms with any one, or group of religions, defining marriage anyway they might choose. I do take issue with religion demanding their definitions be adhered to by the public at large.

    “We hold these truths to be self evident,that all men are created equal…” those are extremely powerful, meaningful words that as Americans, regardless of our religion or lack thereof, we should not trifle with!

  3. I love it when liberals defend the NYT as being “balanced and fair.”

    Less biased people may want to read this article, which explains quite clearly why the NY Times and other mainstream media outlets are going the way of the dinosaur.

    http://abcnews.go.com/Business/Story?id=6099188&page=1

    Within a few years the NY Times, which is now losing money, will be bought out and merged with other media operations. Wouldn’t it be ironic if Fox News or Rupert Murdoch buy out the NY Times someday? Here’s the latest circulation figures — note that less biased publications like USA Today and the WSJ (liberal front page, conservative op-ed) are not losing readership, while the more biased publications like the NY Times, LA Times, Wash Post, etc, ARE losing readership.

    http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003878040

  4. Geoff,

    Don’t you know? “Reality has a well known liberal bias.” :)

    As far as the Wall Street Journal, dude, if you are going to pretend to desire non-bias in your newspaper, don’t go around stating that the Wall Street Journal is unbiased, particularly its highly partisan Op Ed section.

  5. Dan,
    Geoff’s right about the W$J. Its editorial page doesn’t just slant right–it virtually collapses right. But that’s what, three pages of the paper? As a gentleman I work for said, while the editorial pages are written by Republicans, the rest of the paper is written by Democrats.

    That said, Geoff, and in spite of the protestations of conservatives, there’s not that much liberal bias in the NYTimes. The editorial pages, yes (although they’ve got David Brooks). The political coverage? Maybe. But I actually like the Times’s business section better than the W$J, and the Times has the best food and arts sections out there. I’m a devoted anti-Yankee, so I don’t touch the sports section (I don’t actually know if it is pro- or anti-Yankee, but I’m not taking any chances). It does a pretty goe metro-NY. So sure, it leans left, but if you take out the editorial pages, you’ve got a pretty centrist paper.

    The problem with USAToday is that it is boring. The writing goes nowhere, the stories are generally surface-level, the arts section is US Weekly quality, and there’s no (significant) food section.

  6. Sorry–I say “they’ve got David Brooks” like that balances out what’s-her-face. I generally skim the left-hand column of the editorial pages (the four unsigned editorials) and see if anything else of interest shows up. It usually doesn’t. I do think, though, that judging a paper’s bias by its editorial pages doesn’t do anyone much good. But I’m not a big fan of anyone, right or left, who is a “pundit” while trying to pass as a newsperson.

  7. Sam B, when was the last time the NY Times did a hit piece on Michelle Obama like this:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/18/us/politics/18cindy.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

    When was the last time they tried to track down the drug dealers who sold coke to Obama (like they do with Cindy McCain)?

    Look, these discussions get tedious because if you don’t see the bias now, when it is worse than ever, than you never will, and a large percentage of bias is simply perception. Trying to convince somebody to change their perception is nearly impossible, as any missionary knows. So, if you don’t see the bias in the NY Times, well, that’s cool. Peace, man.

  8. Geoff,

    You’re too defensive. You’ve got your walls up. You won’t let yourself see something from the New York Times (like that Cindy McCain piece) as anything but a “hit piece,” when it really wasn’t.

  9. How long ago did Obama do drugs?
    How long ago did Cindy McCain do drugs?
    If I’m a reporter and I have the option to track down something 30 years old or something 15 years old, what am I going to pick?
    Obviously, the more recent event. The research is probably going to be a lot easier.
    I think another reason no one has tracked down Obama’s dealers is that the article would backfire–attacking someone for something they did as a teenager is seen as a sad excuse for an attack. Kind of like why people don’t attack Palin for her pre-marital sex and pregnancy-out-of-wedlock while she was in college.

  10. Geoff,
    I gave you the political reporting as a maybe. Like I said, I pay limited attention to that and the editorial page. If that’s your standard, then Dan is right that the W$J is a very biased right-wing paper. I agree with you, though, that it isn’t. The NYTimes is the same–it certainly does have a distinct bias on its editorial page, and it may in political reporting. But in general, I’ve found that the long-form reporting that it (and the Journal) does lends itself to giving most voices a fair chance to express themselves. CNN and the AP, not so much–in their 3-to-7-paragraph stories, there’s not much room to develop anything. But where you have half a page or more (as most news stories in both papers do), both sides are much more likely to get a fair shake.

    And again, most of the reporting is not in the A section, meaning most is even further divorced from right-left dichotomies.

  11. Sam B, when it comes to the newspaper business, the primary decision takes place when an editor (presumably working with a reporter) decides what should be covered and what shouldn’t. Most straight news stories are relatively impartial, because you see quotes for both sides, etc. But the issue is: why don’t certain things get covered? If you are a conservative, the non-coverage of the Jeremiah Wright/Rezko/Bill Ayers stuff is unimaginable — because if McCain had such associations they would be on the front page.

    But I accept that I will probably be unable to convince anybody about this issue — people have taken sides and don’t want to hear the other side. I already know the answer by heart “it HAS been covered, some of it is old, it happened when he was eight years old, etc, etc, etc.” So, again, I’m not willing to fight a losing, endless battle on that issue. People see what they want to see, and I am concentrating on being positive as our country slips into an abyss of socialism and chaos with the seemingly inevitable coming Obamization. :)

    Returning to the original point of this story, it occurs to me upon re-reading the NY Times article on Prop. 8 that things that I see as a positive (wow, all those Chinese and African-American Christians are standing up for traditional marriage! Wow, a coalition of Christians that may last beyond the Prop. 8 issue!) is probably viewed with horror by your average Upper West Side NY Times reader, causing them to spit out granola chunks into their mocha lattes. So, it’s also possible that the story is actually a negative story on Prop 8 — if you see if from a different perspective.

  12. Geoff,

    As one who has not leaned one way or the other on Prop 8, I see the story you linked to as very fair to both sides.

  13. Geoff,
    Fair enough. I don’t read through any paper in enough depth to recognize what is or is not being included.

    As for your average UWS NY-er–in a broad sense, you’re probably right. Or, at least, you would be if California’s Prop. 8 had any relevance here. But frankly (because I do live on the Upper West Side), outside of the bloggernacle, I have heard absolutely nothing about it. People here are excited about Obama, but Wall Street’s issues are much more relevant to most of us than California’s. So maybe, if you believe the NYTimes is an organ of the liberal left, you can at least grant it that, where its primary readership doesn’t have a significant stake, it can be balanced. (Seriously–other than NPR’s Marketplace, the Times’ coverage of the financial collapse has been the best that I’ve seen. The Journal’s was good, too, but I really do prefer the Times business section to the Journal, in terms of front-page business news.)

  14. Sam B, agreed that the Times financial page is really quite good. See, we have reached agreement and can now look forward to many happy years of Bloggernacle bliss!

  15. I agree that the editorial page of the Times is leftist, even shrilly leftist (as are Krugman and Rich, in particular. Dowd is just plain mean (but funny sometimes)).

    During the buildup to the Iraq war, although the editorial page was against it, the news pages tended to report the Administration’s position (and Judith Miller’s pieces seemed very supportive of the Administration’s views on Iraq).

    I think the Times’ coverage of the LDS Church has been quite fair and even positive over at least the last 10 years, if not longer.

  16. DavidH, I have to agree with you because I cannot think of an article in the Times that was not fair to the Church. Before the Utah Olympics, there was a horrible article on the Church in Newsweek (filled with the most ridiculous factual errors, including a picture of Joseph F. Smith as the prophet Joseph Smith). But I can’t recall any Church hit jobs by the Times.

    Hindsite is 20-20 on Iraq, of course. Almost everybody favored the invasion based on the intelligence available at that time (don’t you remember former Pres. Clinton confirming that Saddam definitely did have WMD — was the Times not supposed to report a former president sharing intelligence?). The press has really beat itself up for not questioning that intelligence, but when the CIA and Colin Powell are swearing up and down, it’s pretty tough for the press to do anything but report what they are saying — is the Times supposed to have its own intelligence unit infiltrating the Saddam regime? In retrospect, the main reason the press has beat itself up so much on this issue is that they decided in 2006 that Iraq was a massive failure that somehow THEY should have prevented. The problem with this view is that it supposes that the press has an advocacy purpose, which is of course not its purpose. At least it shouldn’t be.

  17. Having worked for a small paper I notice two things. First, the headlines and second, where quotes are placed in a story. If responding quotes are far down the article or on following pages I suspect there is a bias.

    Sorry to be disagreeable, but I think the NYT front page is biased, less in the stories it chooses to pursue than the wording chosen for headlines. Notice how Republicans and Democrats are characterized in the headlines.

    Also notice that liberal views more often than not come first in NYT stories.

    Furthermore, it does matter, if you believe in the marketplace of ideas. Living in an adversarial system, imagine if we limited one side in a court case.

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