The NYT’s Out-of-Control Bias

The New York Times has shown a blatant bias against Russia and Vladimir Putin for years but it is now merging that animus with its contempt for Donald Trump, a stunningly unprofessional performance, notes John V. Walsh.

By John V. Walsh

An astonishing piece appeared in the New York Times recently. It reported a fierce bias in the Times’s coverage of politics and current affairs, most notably when it comes to Donald Trump. The bias turns up not just in the opinion pages but in the News, reports Liz Spayd, the new “public editor,” a position once called the ombudsman.

But the surprise does not end there. Spayd’s report is based on letters from liberal readers, which are filling her inbox to overflowing. Here are some examples that she cites:

New York Times building in New York City. (Photo from Wikipedia)

New York Times building in New York City. (Photo from Wikipedia)

“You’ve lost a subscriber because of your relentless bias against Trump — and I’m not even a Republican,” writes an Arizonan.

“I never thought I’d see the day when I, as a liberal, would start getting so frustrated with the one-sided reporting that I would start hopping over to the Fox News webpage to read an article and get the rest of the story that the NYT refused to publish,” writes a woman from California.

“The NY Times is alienating its independent and open-minded readers, and in doing so, limiting the reach of their message and its possible influence,” writes a Manhattanite.

Since these examples are all letters from liberals, the public editor comments: “You can imagine what the letters from actual conservatives sound like…. Emails like these stream into this office every day. A perception that the Times is biased prompts some of the most frequent complaints from readers. Only they arrive so frequently, and have for so long, that the objections no longer land with much heft.”

Of course this is nothing new for the Times. The bias in favor of the latest project of the American Imperium has been true for my entire lifetime. But it used to be subtler, and it used to include some real information, albeit buried away somewhere deep within an article. Noam Chomsky was once fond of reminding us that it was better to read the Times articles backwards, because some truth was buried in the last couple paragraphs.

Getting Even Worse

But in the last few decades since the end of the Cold War and the rise of NATO Expansion and American Exceptionalism during the 1990s in the Clinton “co-presidency,” the situation has grown much worse.  The age of American Triumphalism has caused more rot in the mainstream media. Not only with the Times but with other major outlets like the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and National Public Radio.

Former New York Times reporter Judith Miller.

Former New York Times reporter Judith Miller.

A striking example occurred when the Times lent its front page to a fabricated and now thoroughly discredited story by Judith Miller and Michael R. Gordon in September 2002 claiming that Iraq had secured aluminum tubes to build nuclear centrifuges. That was just weeks before Congress took a vote to “authorize” George W. Bush to launch an invasion of Iraq.

I still recall the day I looked at that article and thought it was fact free and source free and that any decent editor would turn it back. It was clear at that moment that the fix was in and that we were on our way to a war which our Elite had decided upon. (Judith Miller eventually was the sacrificial lamb when that story and its origins in Dick Cheney’s office became known. But the co-author, Michael Gordon, continues as the “chief military correspondent” for the Times, and the editors in charge have never been punished.)

It seems that the situation has gotten worse with the rise of Trump who endangers the Imperium’s quest for world domination by seeking to “get along” with Russia and China. Once Trump took that stance, the vitriol and vituperation became a daily feature in the Times.

Indeed their columnist Timothy Egan seems to write about little else these days. Only Maureen Dowd provides occasional timid relief, daring to point out that Trump “talks to the press,” a dig at Hillary who rarely does. (Clinton held a limited news conference – her first of the year – this past week.)

I know that many Times readers now seek out Fox, just like the letter writer quoted above. And many also turn to Breitbart and the Drudge Report as well as RT and China Daily. Even when the Times reports some actual facts, it reports only selected ones (a half truth is a full lie) or buries them in a narrative that neutralizes them.

More Times readers should recognize that they are being taken for a ride. And they should stop being so damned cocksure and snooty about their “knowledge.” They often look more foolish than they might think.

John V. Walsh is a frequent contributor to CounterPunch.com, Antiwar.com, LewRockwell.com and DissidentVoice.org. He is a founding member of “Come Home America.” Until recently he was Professor of Physiology and Neuroscience at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.  He can be reached at john.endwar@gmail.com. [This article first appeared at Counterpunch.]

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30 comments for “The NYT’s Out-of-Control Bias

  1. Zachary Smith
    August 7, 2016 at 11:19 am

    Donald Trump isn’t a reliable tool for Israel. It’s as simple as that. The Neocon Times does write about other things, but the primary focus of the rag is to assist Israel in every way possible. If Israel wants another little country dismantled and the pieces stomped flat, that’s what the Times wants too.

    A site I look at every now and then is this one.

    https://timeswarp.org/

    The piece on the Hannibal directive – where Israel murders its own soldiers to keep them from being captured – is typical. (as is the Times handling of the story)

    I’d hate to be an Israeli soldier for any number of reasons, but that would add to the pressure. And a nation willing to execute members of its armed forces is obviously enthusiastic about killing Palestinians. As is the Times.

    How much value do you suppose Holy Israel gave to the lives of the US Navy men aboard the USS Liberty? About the level of the people living in Gaza would be my guess.

  2. Bart
    August 7, 2016 at 11:42 am

    As a NYT digital subscriber, I have written to Ms Spayd and left comments every time they publish one of their Russia bashers, both of the in-house and out-house (heh) variety.

    But the narrative has been firmly set there and elsewhere. The terms “annexed Crimea” and “invaded Ukraine” must be on Post-it note reminders on all reporters’ desks.

  3. Bill Bodden
    August 7, 2016 at 12:31 pm

    It should come as no surprise that the New York Times and other mainstream print, radio and television media are conduits for whatever propaganda the establishment (plutocrats, political duopoly oligarchs, and global corporations) wants disseminated to the thoughtless masses. Why should we expect more? Corruption is rampant throughout major entities determining the path the American Empire will take and is accepted as normal. American media rightly castigated Nazi Germany and Japan for their barbarism during the Second World War. Now the inheritors of power are perpetrating crimes against humanity that are as morally repugnant as the crimes Nazi and Japanese leaders were charged with at the war crimes trials after WW2. The difference between their leaders and ours is that they were held accountable; whereas, ours continue their crimes with impunity and the acquiescence of a majority of the American people. And this behavior continues throughout the nation where police can act as judge, jury and executioner with equal impunity and often with approval of some citizens.

    Commentators on independent media such as Consortium News, CounterPunch, TruthDig, etc. are like bit players in a Greek or Shakespearean tragedy who dispense nuggets of truth while the main characters continue evolution of the plot to its tragic end.

  4. MediaShams
    August 7, 2016 at 1:48 pm

    The reason for their bias is clear, they want to eliminate the 2nd Amendment. They know this election will shift the SCOTUS. That’s it folks, that’s the reason the NYT and Washington Post are so biased.Their editorial boards are fighting for this election to go democrat.

    There will be a couple leaks coming out in the next few weeks of recorded phone calls amongst editors and staff of both of these organizations, where in essence they are strategizing how to go about this. Will shake the ground of the entire media and POLLING empire.

    • Rikhard Ravindra Tanskanen
      August 16, 2016 at 4:50 pm

      No they don’t, Trump-supporter.

  5. Joanne Ransing
    August 7, 2016 at 2:10 pm

    I consider the NYT to be on par with a tabloid magazine at the supermarket checkout. I blocked them from my newsfeed and refuse to click on any article with their byline even if the headline is tempting. I do not want to encourage them to continue with the yellow journalism. They have been discredited and deserve no attention from thoughtful people.

    • John
      August 7, 2016 at 6:05 pm

      There are more articles from the NYT on all the media internet news providers than anyone……Our job is to tell these internet news providers to either stop the yellow journalism spots or we (you’ll) contact the sponsors (the money flow)……

  6. NICOLE
    August 7, 2016 at 2:12 pm

    OMG so glad someone had the guts to write this! However don’the forget about other Clinton media lapdogs: cnn abcès manic etc I-M à Canadian and been following this very closely. U r right, I go to the outlets u mentioned for the truth I dob-think understand Americans taking at face value what NYT and like media without seeking the truth

  7. Nancy
    August 7, 2016 at 3:07 pm

    The NYT, Israel, and the Clintons need to clean-up their acts – despicable!

  8. John
    August 7, 2016 at 5:56 pm

    America is a nation who would rather believe the lies. Its a shame really because all the nations of the world looked to the mighty USA as a beacon of freedom. The American citizens are so easily duped. At 20 trillion dollar debt and still printing under the table to prop up your stock market…The American citizen are being taken for a ride…..a very long ride….it will not end well for you…but the liars will prosper all the more….

  9. Realist
    August 7, 2016 at 6:44 pm

    I used to post comments on the opinion page of the New York Times all the time (not under the moniker of “Realist”), back when Marie Burns was the super commenter. She would usually beat us all with the first post which was always of professional quality, most of the time better than that of the paid columnist. But, there were times when I’d win the race for first and many times when I’d receive the greatest number of “likes” from the readership. I’d post several responses to the likes of Krugman, Brooks, Friedman and Kristof every day, usually from an ultra-liberal perspective.

    Those were fun days until about five or six years ago when the Times first introduced its pay wall. I received a free subscription for one year from one of their advertisers. Why, I don’t know. But the experience started to turn south as the Times introduced a class of pre-approved “trusted” commenters. Stellar commenters including Marie Burns were NOT given this trust and not approved without moderation first. I, of course, was not trusted either. I was also not about to pay the Times for the privilege of being disrespected, so they lost me as a subscriber and a contributor.

    The Times got a whole new line-up of more “mainstream” lemmings making remarks and their paid contributors, like Krugman, seemed to take a sharp turn to the right (towards authoritarian philosophy, group think, support for the elites rather than the masses). The Manchurian Candidate Barack Obama, whose mind must have gone blank on all the “hope and change” he had promised to deliver, was never wrong on his increasingly bellicose neo-consecrated philosophy of aggressive engagement against the outside world. If the man was for running the printing presses to prop up stock prices or “surging” troop strength in his multiplying battlefronts, Krugman was now all for it. Acting like Dubya the Second was now not a bad thing.

    I’ve basically bailed on the NYT (as well as the WP, WSJ, CNN, MSNBC, Huffpo, and other old haunts) as a source of any truth. It’s clear they have all been thoroughly co-opted by a neo-con agenda. They serve the purposes of the oligarchs whose primary focus these days is to beat down Russia and China in a race to control all that remains of the dwindling natural resources in this world. If they succeed, they will be stuck administering all the people presenting living under those governments, but that part of it is the lowest priority for them. They don’t give a fig about current American citizens, watch how they will treat “subhumans” if they ever get the chance.

    I often lament about how little of the truth posted on the pages of “Consortium News,” “Information Clearing House,” “Counterpunch” and other sources of alternative news and opinion filters into the “mainstream” corporate media, but I really know that the facts are that award-winning journalists like Robert Parry, scholars like Stephan F. Cohen, and former intelligence officers like Paul Pillar (to name very few) are simply blackballed by the establishment. They are all guilty of “Thought Crime.” There is no “free press” or free media of any sort in America today. And, the New York Times sure ain’t any part of such a thing. It’s a “con,” in the service of the neo-cons.

    • Bob Van Noy
      August 8, 2016 at 10:28 pm

      Well done Realist. Thank you.

  10. Sam F
    August 7, 2016 at 7:14 pm

    I did some research into ownership of the mass media in the 1980s. Of the largest 100 US newspapers, between 40% and 60 percent were directly controlled by persons with Jewish surname, and most of the remainder were indirectly controlled through advertising and distribution. The only other distortions obvious from their payroll were that most newspapers in New Jersey were controlled by Italians, and only the newspapers in Texas and Louisiana had no apparent ethnic bias. I was later advised that this is because they are owned by the oil companies.

    I also found cases where the names of editors and reporters and managers showed no bias, but the parent organization was heavily biased. Consumer Reports had no apparent payroll bias, but the parent organization Consumers Union was almost 100 percent Jewish. It seems very unlikely that this occurred without intent to introduce bias for personal gain. Scientific American published a disproportionate number of Jewish writers, but nearly all of them were names added on as authors but not mentioned in the article as having any connection to the research. National Geographic was under siege in the 2000s, having taken on a Jewish editor who published almost nothing but articles by or about or promoting Jews. I stopped subscribing to these magazines for that reason.

    Control of the mass media of a large democracy does not happen by accident, nor for benevolent causes. It is an effort to control a population for personal gain, by working for unfair advantages for one’s ethnic or economic group. It is subversion by propaganda warfare against democracy. In this country since WWII it has almost always been done by Jews and warmongers.

    This is not a conspiracy theory, it is the sad truth, readily verified by those who care for the truth. It is not a diatribe against Jews, most of whom are not involved, but a record of the tragedy of the response to fascism. Just as some of those who are bullied may become bullies, some of the victims of fascism became fascists for their own group. Whenever a group has suffered from an external enemy (or can be made to fear an external threat), it becomes vulnerable to the self-appointed protectors within, who accuse their opponents of disloyalty and urge their group to militarism for “defense.” The fascist party seizes the resources of other groups and distributes these as rewards to their supporters, like the Nazis and Israelis. When they have no enemies the tyrants must persecute foreign groups or nations to provoke a threat, for that is the business which supports them.

    That is the business of the US mass media, including the NYT and the many papers it now owns, and most other papers, TV stations and “news services.” Truth is the only thing they are not paid to print.

    • Bill Bodden
      August 7, 2016 at 11:25 pm

      Sam: I appreciate your point, but the problem with referring to Jews in situations such as this is that some readers may forget there are Jews and there are Jews. A Jewish acquaintance of mine once said to me, “You have to remember there are Jews and there are ****s.” There is much to be said, when appropriate, for referring to pro-Israel supporters as such instead of Jews. When discouraged by these people, go to mondoweiss.net for a reminder that there are exemplary Jews who have the integrity and courage to advocate for justice and oppose injustice when it comes to Palestinians and Israelis.

      • Sam F
        August 8, 2016 at 12:57 pm

        Yes, I am well aware that there are many wonderful Jewish people, and do not mean to suggest otherwise. But one cannot identify pro-Israel types by surname, so I had to research on the basis of ethnicity. In fact only about half of Jewish people can be identified by surname even by an expert, a percentage which is decreasing, so one must assume that roughly twice as many are present than are so identified. And a large fraction of the surnames are translated to other languages (e.g Wolf = Lobo) or modified in certain characteristic ways (e.g. Low = Loew = Lowe or Rubenstein = Stein = Ruby), so the research is not quite trivial.

        • Bill Bodden
          August 8, 2016 at 1:39 pm

          Sam: Your study appears to be very interesting and sharing your data on this or other websites at opportune moments would spread the enlightenment.

          • Sam F
            August 9, 2016 at 7:56 pm

            I would have to do quite a project to update the 1980s data now, to ensure that it is reproducible and comprehensible. So I’m hoping that someone not so busy will pursue this, hopefully someone familiar with the organizations and willing to learn the surname stuff, able to research corporate ownership etc.

    • Rikhard Ravindra Tanskanen
      August 16, 2016 at 4:55 pm

      Do you have any evidence, moron? Of course, you don’t show it, for the reason it doesn’t exist. And below you have written many of the name are translations of Jewish names. Thus explaining the names which aren’t Jewish. That makes that argument unfalsifiable, assuming your list exists, which it doesn’t.

  11. Silly Me
    August 7, 2016 at 9:05 pm

    I haven’t canceled the emails the NYT sends daily, although I have to hold my nose reading only the headlines. However, the publication acts like a weathervane, showing me the current themes and tropes of mass manipulation.

    Yes, I have also sent a couple of messages to them in the last two years, the last one focusing on their “being a disgrace to journalism,” but of course, they didn’t respond. Yet there is something admirable about their ability to fill a paper with nothing else than lies. At least, they are consistent and reliable in that sense.

    Anyway, reading their headlines is a more efficient way to find out about the latest manipulative trends (when they start a new one, I actually read the article) than watching TV, which I simply couldn’t put up with. It is not an accident that they don’t allow reader responses after articles anymore.

    • dahoit
      August 9, 2016 at 9:57 am

      Back in the Iraq day,I used to call the reader hotline and vent.One day,I accidentally called another number,and a scumbag editor called back and said he’s sue me if called again.:)
      The pleasure of reading daily newspapers is long gone,as they only induce rage.

  12. Bill Bodden
    August 7, 2016 at 11:28 pm

    The sins of the NYT are replicated across the nation in regional and local media serving the interests of local establishments.

  13. exiled off mainstreet
    August 8, 2016 at 5:05 am

    Pravda was more objective during the Soviet era than the Times or Post is now. I’m afraid it is going to end badly.

    • Silly Me
      August 8, 2016 at 6:15 am

      Soviet education and literacy levels produced a lot more erudite population than the one present in America today.

      Russian propaganda actually uses existing data and sources even today, something that disappeared from the news in the US in March, 2012. Thinking is easier when data are available.

  14. Jonn White
    August 8, 2016 at 8:21 am

    The bias is blatant. So blatant that even the casual observer is taken aback and alarm bells in the subconscious start their soft klaxon wail: What’s going on here!!! Washington Post and WSJ and NYT when read together can almost always be counted on to yield a solid return on available truth; and so it is worrisome to thoughtful readers to see the open and obvious bias in reporting as a direct warning.

    When Mom and Dad laugh-crinkled eyes and faux seriousness tell us as they close the door at night, that there’s nothing in that closet, we may protest, but down deep we are not afraid. Yet, if they do so sharply and with fear warping their voices and their faces, then we are not reassured at all.

  15. Kerryman
    August 8, 2016 at 10:33 am

    Donald Trump is utterly unfit for the office of President of the United States. Dress it up anyway you wish: The New York Times is biased in its reporingt of DT, it is biased in its coverage of Putin, etc. Donald Trump is unfit and is a danger to the well-being of our country, its citizens and those of the nations of the world.

    • Realist
      August 8, 2016 at 11:06 am

      The American voters have repeatedly elected unfit individuals to the presidency in recent years. Why should this time be any different? The fact is, it won’t be no matter which one of ’em gets the most votes.

    • dahoit
      August 9, 2016 at 9:58 am

      OK,John.

  16. John
    August 8, 2016 at 4:51 pm

    they should stop being so damned cocksure and snooty about their “knowledge.” They often look more foolish than they might think.

    Stupid people are virtually always cocksure of themselves, John. You have to be skeptical of your own thinking in order to read both sides of issues, and thereby attain some semblance of a balanced perspective on things. I would love to see a study relating self confidence to factual knowledge. I would expect to see a negative correlation. I suspect that one or more such studies exist but I have no clue about where to find them. If your experience is anything like mine your friends who are most belligerent and sure of themselves are also the most ignorant, often breathtakingly so.

    • Realist
      August 8, 2016 at 5:38 pm

      Thoughtful reflection and the willingness to change one’s position on an issue is considered a weakness in the American political arena. They even have a disparaging term for it: flip-flopping. Flip-flopping is considered worse than suicidal pig-headedness in the Land of the Free.

  17. Dimitri Emmanuel
    August 8, 2016 at 6:21 pm

    Panem et Circum

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