Patterico's Pontifications

8/4/2011

Why the New York Times blacked out the Biden terrorist comments story

Filed under: General — Karl @ 10:19 am



[Posted by Karl]

The WaPo’s Eric Wemple, addressing the Politico story that Vice-President Joe Biden siad Tea Party Republicans had “acted like terrorists” in the debt ceiling negotiations, noticed it was downplayed by some big media players:

The combo of anonymous sourcing behind the Politico story plus a quasi-denial on part of the vice president appears to have steered other prominent media outlets away from the mention of “terrorists.” A Nexis search of the New York Times turns up no mention of the incident in its news pages. The Washington Post’s news operation largely stayed away, though its opinion side gave it much rotation. MSNBC doesn’t appear to have given it prominence, either.

Why? Dick Stevenson, an editor at the New York Times, writes:

Obviously we were aware of the reports that Biden had likened the Republicans to terrorists. But we had no first-hand (or even second-hand) confirmation, and the vice president’s office was disputing that he had said any such thing. We debated whether we needed at least to take account of the controversy, but decided against doing so since we could not establish that Biden had said what was being attributed to him. Maybe there is more to this than we know. But on the face of it, it is a classic example of how what were once pretty clear-cut decisions based on well-established standards are now complicated by the reality that stories increasingly get injected into the public dialogue quickly and often with minimal journalistic vetting — leaving news organizations at risk of being perceived as deliberately ignoring them if they make a judgment against publishing. (Emphases added.)

The New York Times has standards, you know.

The NYT would never, for example, run a story about rumors that then-Senatorial candidate Mark Kirk (R-IL) was gay, simply to take the opportunity to bash the intolerance of a fringe rival to Kirk and mock the admittedly decrepit state of the Illinois GOP (while spreading the rumor still further). A lede like this:

The Republican primary for President Obama’s old United States Senate seat is so consumed by closets, it should be sponsored by Bed Bath & Beyond.

Is Representative Mark Steven Kirk, a Republican respectfully feared by the White House, gay? Amid the recession, the health care debate and wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, this question is the 800-pound pink elephant in the G.O.P. room…

…would be completely beneath the lofty standards of the Grey Lady. The NYT would not stoop to recirculating rumors linking Senator John Kerry to a much younger woman, or the departure of U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, simply to chuckle over Matt Drudge’s circulation of them. After all, that would be so cheap, so unprofessional.

Conversely, the NYT would never print a rumor, not even one reported by Reuters, that Hillary Rodham Clinton was in talks to become president of the World Bank. You know why they wouldn’t report it? Because HRC and her aides had “knocked it down.” To then run with such a rumor for paragraph after sycophantic paragraph about how well-suited she would be for the job would be… unseemly. The NYT would never stoop to running that type of unconfirmed, indeed denied, rumor, let alone with a headline stating it sounded plausible.

Remember, this is the New York Times, an elite institution that would never print an unconfirmed claim by a politician, even one favored by the paper, made to the Politico:

[Rep.] Weiner always knew that his sharp tongue, combined with his frequent use of Twitter, had a potential risk. But over the weekend, Twitter trouble found Mr. Weiner in an unexpected way.

A sexually suggestive photograph of a man from the waist down, in nothing but underwear, was sent from Mr. Weiner’s Twitter-related photo-sharing account to a woman in Seattle. Mr. Weiner dismissed the picture, saying his account had been hacked and writing on Saturday in a Twitter message (of course): “Tivo shot. FB hacked. Is my blender gonna attack me next?” He told Politico, “The wiener gags never get old, I guess,” and his office issued a statement on Sunday saying, “Anthony’s accounts were obviously hacked.”

Unritically relaying an unconfirmed claim that a pol was the victim of hacking — a federal crime — would run the risk that the stenographer would look foolish, perhaps even partisan, when the story turns out to be a lie told to cover up an embarrassing scandal. Fortunately, The New York Times knows this and has well-established standards that prevent them from risking their shining reputation for fairness and objectivity.

Otherwise, people might think that the well-established standard of The New York Times is that it will not publish unconfirmed stories that undermine the paper’s political narrative, while rumors that support that narrative are fair game.

–Karl

45 Responses to “Why the New York Times blacked out the Biden terrorist comments story”

  1. I’m sure their standards would also prevent publishing stories about critical antiterrorist programs like SWIFT. After all, even if the paper was bitterly hostile to the president at the time, they wouldn’t want to risk harming the defense of the nation.

    Mike K (8f3f19)

  2. The grey slut did a nice vetting job on the front page McCain “affair”, too. But completely missed Edwards-Hunter. They’re kind of inconsistent that way.

    http://rightvoices.com/2008/02/21/nyts-story-about-mccains-affair/

    elissa (57f8bd)

  3. I’m sure their standards would also prevent publishing stories about critical antiterrorist programs like SWIFT. After all, even if the paper was bitterly hostile to the president at the time, they wouldn’t want to risk harming the defense of the nation.

    Comment by Mike K — 8/4/2011 @ 10:24 am

    No, no, they would never do that! After all they are patriotic. “The New York Times has standards, you know.”

    Tanny O'Haley (12193c)

  4. They treat Palin by the same standards, of course.

    Kevin M (4eb9c8)

  5. “The New York Times has standards, you know.”

    Standards like that used to get you branded with the letter “A”!

    AD-RtR/OS! (cbda31)

  6. I got my A the same way Heather got hers.

    ropelight (b4d1ad)

  7. Don’t you just hate a braggart?

    AD-RtR/OS! (cbda31)

  8. Since the DOW is off 300+ right now, which should be very embarrassing to the WH, will the NYT black-out this news too?

    AD-RtR/OS! (cbda31)

  9. I thought it was Hester who earned the A

    Chuck Bartowski (4c6c0c)

  10. Some A here, a little A there, pretty soon…
    you’re tired.

    AD-RtR/OS! (cbda31)

  11. You’re correct Chuck, it was Hester, and here I thought I was being clever. My excuse is advanced age combined with early alcohol.

    ropelight (b4d1ad)

  12. The Times would never pass along unsubstantiated accusations of racial taunting and spitting on black Congressmen. If they did, surely they would update their stories with things like audio later indicated the Congressman may have made false accusations.

    http://prescriptions.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/03/20/spitting-and-slurs-directed-at-lawmakers/

    jim2 (b4ab6d)

  13. Surely you aren’t accusing them of being biased, are you? Never!

    PatAZ (c2a729)

  14. As a Delaware TEA Party leader, I’ve written Vice President Biden a letter about his comments: http://deconservative.blogspot.com/2011/08/open-letter-to-vice-president-biden.html

    In short, I expect more from the highest public officer from the State of Delaware.

    DEConservative (f57842)

  15. If Sloe-Jpe’s foot wasn’t in his mouth, he’d have no place to put it – though you have to hand it to the guy, he’s really limber for someone his age, what with his foot in his mouth, and his head up his a$$, and all.

    AD-RtR/OS! (cbda31)

  16. Slow Joe is a heart attack on americas image.

    DohBiden (d54602)

  17. All the favorable-to-Dem’s news fit to print.

    AZ Bob (7d2a2c)

  18. “We’ve really begun to turn the economy around.” — Debbie Wasserman Shultz

    “In their single worst day since the 2008 financial crisis, stocks plunged Thursday, with the Dow tumbling 512 points, as fear about the global economy spooked investors.” – CNN

    Democrat disconnect # 5,738,217.

    navyvet (db5856)

  19. though you have to hand it to the guy, he’s really limber for someone his age…
    Comment by AD-RtR/OS! — 8/4/2011 @ 1:40 pm

    Not really…lacking a spine, being a skin covered slinky is probably not too difficult.

    Just a guess, though 😉

    ppk_pixie (6f2250)

  20. “The New York Times has standards, you know.”

    Yeah…double standards.

    Dave Surls (28f866)

  21. Navyvet wins the thread. What a pair of data points those are. DWS will say absolutely anything.

    I think many on the left didn’t realize just how serious the sea change was in 2010. They really thought they could streamroll the Tea Party, and now they are waking up and feel quite threatened.

    So they call us terrorists. That’s all they’ve got. Sure, the deal stinks for us too, but compared to what Obama wanted? With our relative weakness in power right now? From a politics POV, they have to be desperately worried about the future of their party.

    Here’s the results of Obama’s pathetic effort to triangulate. And it’s not really his fault. His party had eight years of Bush Derangement and now they just can’t think straight. They fracture at the slightest moderation.

    Dustin (b7410e)

  22. Nor would the New York Times ever publish unsubstantiated claims of koran-flushing. /sarc

    pst314 (49d034)

  23. Should I mention Walter Duranty’s “there is no famine in the Soviet Union”? 😉

    pst314 (49d034)

  24. Navyvet, 17 continuous weeks of 400,000+ jobless claims.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  25. “DWS will say absolutely anything.”

    You cut me to the quick.

    (My middle name is William)

    Dave Surls (28f866)

  26. How does the Kerry rumor fit this paradigm? Was the NYT supporting Dean or Edwards at the time?

    Milhouse (ea66e3)

  27. The WaPo’s Michael Gerson is letting Biden off the hook…. what is good for Biden is not good for Palin and the Tea Party. Double standards and hypocrisy are the name of the game.

    It is difficult, at least for me, to remain angry at Vice President Joe Biden, who combines a predisposition toward offensive gaffes with being an obviously decent guy. He currently stands accused of saying the Tea Party “acted like terrorists” during the debt-limit debate. In Biden’s defense, it seems that he was reflecting the intemperate language of others during a meeting with House Democrats. Which also leaves some House Democrats with no defense.

    As a rule, it is distasteful and counterproductive to equate one’s political opponents with murderers of the innocent. Claiming that someone has “held the budget hostage” is a metaphor. Calling someone a “terrorist” is an excuse for a fistfight. But Biden’s obvious flaw is foolishness, not viciousness. The first we would forgive a friend; the second is harder to overlook. When Biden later said that Gabrielle Giffords is “now a member of the cracked head club like me,” it was tasteless. But who could accuse Biden of being intentionally cruel toward Giffords? Biden lacks the normal filter of appropriateness. But an unfiltered Biden is not, as far as I can see, an angry or heartless man.

    Tossing around a word like “terrorist” slips a little more poison into our political discourse. But so does the taking of exaggerated offense – the political equivalent of flailing in dramatic reaction to a basketball foul. In politics, as in life, the motive of an insult matters.

    Dana (4eca6e)

  28. Biden lacks the normal filter of appropriateness.

    Alzheimers.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  29. I must have missed the WaPo’s defense of Palin and the Tea Party during the Loughner ugliness.

    Dana (4eca6e)

  30. Heck I always thought Slow Joe was actually Sloe Joe, cause I have been informed he likes his gin.

    peedoffamerican (ee1de0)

  31. Gotta stay on the team. And stick to the narrative. Otherwise no soup for you.

    f1guyus (2a84e9)

  32. Biden is the shart on the American briefs.

    Condor84 (f0bc58)

  33. “Tossing around a word like “terrorist” slips a little more poison into our political discourse.”

    It’s no big deal to me. Since I already hate Democrats like the plague, it don’t much matter what they say. It’s not like it’s going to make me hate them any more than I already do.

    So…might as well go for it.

    Lying about people, and calling them terrorists when they aren’t, just helps validate my feelings about libtards, so actually it’s a good thing.

    Dave Surls (28f866)

  34. Didn’t Joe Biden’s speech crime lead to shooting Rep Giffords?

    Sponge Bob (786e37)

  35. #28 Biden lacks the normal filter of appropriateness.

    Alzheimers. Stupidity

    Sponge Bob (786e37)

  36. Lurch, John Kerry for the uninitiated says the Tea Party doesn’t deserve equal time, whereas ManBearPig(Gore) tells Keith, that America deserves it’s own Arab Spring, not like those ‘violent’
    Tea Party though.

    ian cormac (81c5c2)

  37. Speaking of terrorists…

    Gov Chris Christie – the guy many Republicans want as their next President – has nominated Sohail Mohammed – a Muslim judge to the NJ Superior Court.

    When asked if he was worried about Sharia Law, Christee responded,

    “Sharia Law has nothing to do with this at all, it’s crazy! The guy is an American citizen!… the Sharia Law business is just crap… and I’m tried of dealing with the crazies. it’s just unnecessary to be accusing this guy of things just because of his religious background.”

    The FIRST CHOICE of most Republicans for President of the United States has just called you and your Islamophobic assholes: “crazies”.

    CHECKMATE.

    heh

    Ted (e9ef3a)

  38. Speaking of terrorists… the teagaggers are terrorists and…

    Gov Chris Christie – the guy many Republicans want as their next President – has nominated Sohail Mohammed – a Muslim judge to the NJ Superior Court.

    When asked if he was worried about Sharia Law, Christee responded,

    “Sharia Law has nothing to do with this at all, it’s crazy! The guy is an American citizen!… the Sharia Law business is just crap… and I’m tried of dealing with the crazies. it’s just unnecessary to be accusing this guy of things just because of his religious background.”

    The FIRST CHOICE of most Republicans for President of the United States has just called you and your Islamophobic assholes: “crazies”.

    CHECKMATE.

    heh

    Ted (590c90)

  39. I get it it’s cause he’s so fat, right?

    good one Mr. Ted

    happyfeet (3c92a1)

  40. ok I have one

    When Chris Christie sits around the house he really sits around the house!

    happyfeet (3c92a1)

  41. cause of he’s so fat!!!

    happyfeet (3c92a1)

  42. Ted please drop dead islam apologist oh wait your friends will do that.

    DohBiden (d54602)

  43. I don’t remember saying that all Muslims want to bring Sharia law to America…in fact it was a journalist that asked that question, not a TEA Partier…I think it’s a valid question to ask…sort of like I would expect a Russian defector to be challenged about their views on Communism before they got appointed to a government post. Course, with this administration, if the answer is anything other than yes I love Karl Marx…ur fired.

    DEConservative (f57842)

  44. “Ted” is that midget racist hilljack Yelverton.

    JD (92e366)


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