It turns out that the “bitter clingers” reside not in West Virginia or rural Pennsylvania, but on West 43rd Street:
[H]ere’s a comparison of today’s New York Times and Washington Post on their handling of the IRS scandal. Keep in mind that print headlines and web headlines often differ.
The Post has two front-page above-the-fold articles on the scandal, a news story and an in-depth look at the IRS in the wake of the controversy. There’s also a tough lead editorial expressing renewed outrage at the IRS’s conduct and demanding thorough reform.
Yet after the first dramatic day of congressional hearings, the Times has no front-page coverage at all of the scandal per se. Instead we have a story on President Obama’s efforts to move his agenda forward, beyond “distraction.” The Times story quotes White House aides accusing Republicans of seizing on “woes” to thwart the president’s agenda. The paper itself seems to be taking the White House line.
Just below the Times story on Obama’s attempts to move past “distraction,” a tiny squib notes that there is an article about the IRS on page 12. The teaser is: “Republicans are widening their aim at the Internal Revenue Service.” The headline of the page 12 Times article itself is: “Republicans Broaden Scope of I.R.S. Inquiry, Hoping to Entangle White House.” For comparison, the Post’s front-page news story headline is: “Panel grills IRS on tax targeting.” In other words, the Times treats the scandal as little more than a Republican-hyped distraction, while the Post takes it as a matter that should concern everyone. In contrast to the Post, there is no Times editorial on the scandal today.
Colbert King’s Op-Ed in today’s Post condemns the IRS in passing, while also trying to rescue government itself from the taint of the scandal. Times Op-Eds by Gail Collins and Charles Blow in various ways try to minimize the scandal. All the Op-Eds seem to line up fairly well with the news coverage and official editorial stances (or lack thereof) of their respective papers.
A week ago, the author noted:
For those without dead-tree versions, the Washington Post has a story on the IRS scandal above the fold on page one, as well as a lead editorial demanding a full accounting. The New York Times puts the story on the bottom of page 10 and has no editorial.
Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, the saying goes, but not his own set of facts. The Times has a long history of slanting the news into outright fiction, of course, and winning Pulitzers for their efforts.
But is there anything more corrosive to democracy than a partisan media? The Times has an unearned preeminence in American media, and matches that status with unrivaled arrogance. For some, it may still be the “paper of record”; for people with truly enquiring minds, it is irrelevant. And that acknowledges that there are good reporters still working for the paper. But their association with such a discredited institution taints their work, however well-reported and well-intentioned it may be.
PS: I put the New Yorker magazine in this category as well, in a junior capacity. It once stood for thoughtful inquiry, engagingly written. Now it’s The People’s Daily, weekly, and on glossy print.