Recent weeks have seen ombudsmen at both the New York Times and the Washington Post defend their respective newspapers from charges of journalistic bias and a deep-seated, enduring slant to the political left. Defined as “trusted [intermediaries] between…an organization and some…external constituency,” it is the job of New York Times ombudsman Arthur Brisbane and the Post’s Patrick Pexton to represent “the broad scope of constituent interests” by seeking to present readers with facts and straightforward, impartial reporting.
Of course, anyone with a sense of humor—or any sense at all—will get a real kick out of claims of straightforward and impartial reporting by the Times or the Post. But that is exactly what these embattled colleagues have done in their attempts to defend recent articles responsible for more than the usual show of outrage from the reading public.
On May 10th, the Post printed a story of Mitt Romney’s 1965 involvement in forcibly cutting the hair of fellow Cranbrook student John Lauber. According to the very lengthy article, Romney and a number of friends threw Lauber to the ground and submitted him to a cruel and “vicious hack job.” Of course, Lauber also turned out to be gay. A remarkable coincidence of timing considering Obama’s sudden act of “coming out” in support of gay marriage. As the Post tells it though, these things “… just happened to coincide…”
However, as PJ Media points out, “…the story directly quoted a dead man; it claimed things about him that, being dead, he is in no position to affirm or refute; it mischaracterized the opinion of one of its core witnesses; and the family of the dead man (Lauber) says the story is factually inaccurate.”
The Post’s Pexton responds to such criticism from conservative web sites and large numbers of readers with: “The Mitt Romney bullying story holds up to scrutiny,” even as he defends as quite innocent timing clearly designed to assist the President.
The New York Times’ unintentional foray into slapstick involves the newspaper’s April 21st laugher “A Hard Look at the President.” Not only has Pinch’s family publication never come close to doing what the title suggests; Ombudsman Arthur Brisbane actually hopes to reassure readers skeptical of the Time’s intentions by stating “The warm afterglow of Mr. Obama’s election, the collateral effects of liberal-minded feature writers—these can be overcome by hard-nosed, unbiased political reporting now.”
Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey responds to this extraordinary statement beautifully, with “One can imagine Lucy telling Charlie Brown much the same thing right before pulling the football away for the 50th year in a row.”
It is hardly a secret that the New York Times and Washington Post literally act as willing and dutiful publicity arms of the Democrat Party and the Obama Regime. What is interesting is the sudden concern exhibited by these publications about the way in which they are viewed by their readers. Expressed public outrage has done little to stir corporate ombudsmen from decades of smug slumber in the past. So why now? Is it possible that these important media allies of the President realize that their guy is in desperate trouble and must therefore respond to and deny any potentially harmful accusations of bias and intrigue?
It might be very instructive to see if it becomes commonplace for the media to defend its journalistic integrity over the coming months.
Photo credit: niallkennedy (Creative Commons)