Celebrating her first year on the job New York Times Public Editor, Margaret Sullivan was interviewed by Joanne Lipman on CNN’s Reliable Sources today. The interview began with the big question, does the NY Times have a liberal bias. Her answer was a yes but her rationale was disturbing for those who look for the news media to truthfully report on what is happening in the world.
Lipman: Big newspapers used to employ in-house watchdogs to keep them on the straight and narrow and to represent readers. Few do that anymore.
But “The New York Times” does, and theirs is as outspoken as they come. I sat down earlier to talk with public editor Margaret Sullivan as she marks one year on the job. Margaret Sullivan, thank you so much for joining us.
Sullivan: Thanks, Joanne. Great to be here.
Lipman: So let’s dive right in. The loudest criticism that we often hear about “The New York Times” — I don’t know if it’s the most frequent but it’s certainly the loudest — is that it has a liberal bias. Does it?
Sullivan: Well, some of my predecessors have taken that head-on. In fact, Daniel Okrent, the first public editor, once wrote a column — and I think the headline said something like “Is ‘The Times’ a Liberal Newspaper?”
And his answer in the lead was, of course it is. And he went on from there. And it got quite a bit of response.
I mean that is obviously something people feel about “The Times,” and I think maybe the best way to think about it is that “The Times” reflects its readership, its community. It’s an urban paper; it’s a New York City paper. I mean that’s a reasonable criticism, I think.
Lipman: So it is a yes?
Sullivan: It’s a modified yes with a lot of nuance in it.
(full video of 7 minute interview is embedded below)
Ms. Sullivan is basically saying, because we are an urban paper and our audience is liberal we are going to feed them liberalism despite it relevance to the truth. And she didn’t seem the least but embarrassed by her papers biased.
I wonder if Ms Sullivan ever considered that if the Times picked its stories based on the truth the people should know rather than just the stories that feed its liberal agenda–or if the Times covered stories truthfully instead of with the liberal bias they admit to, maybe its readers would be a bit less liberal. Truth can change people’s minds.
The NY Times seems to be OK with its slant…it has the attitude of sure we’re biased–big deal is one of the reasons the newspaper which used to be known as the Grey Lady, is now known as the Tired Old Slut.