So it turns out that so many people complained about the Times coverage of Hillary Clinton in general that public editor Margaret Sullivan felt compelled to address it:
Back in the days when President Bill Clinton was being impeached after an affair with a White House intern, and the Clintons were being beaten up over the Whitewater real estate deal, Mrs. Clinton described what she saw as the “vast, right-wing conspiracy” behind relentless political persecution.
But surely, one might think, The New York Times could not be part of that. On the contrary, the paper often is slammed for liberal bias; and its editorial board (although run separately from the news side) hasn’t endorsed a Republican for president since Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956.
One of their commenters answered that best:
Conservatives have figured out that the Times will react to accusations of “liberal bias” by bending over backwards, echoing and imitating the “reporting” of right-wing media. To avoid charges of not being “fair and balanced,” the NYT can be counted on to provide negative information, including outright lies, against Democrats. False equivalency abounds, with opposing views always presented, whether or not they have any validity or make any sense. Right-wing anonymous sources plant lies with Times reporters and get them published. That happened with this most recent error-filled story about Hillary Clinton because she happens to be the strongest Democratic candidate for president.
But the Times, as always, insists there’s really no problem:
Mr. Purdy and the executive editor, Dean Baquet, insist that this scrutiny is necessary and that it is being done fairly. Because Mrs. Clinton stirs such strong emotions, they say, there are bound to be unending complaints from both her supporters and detractors.
But I agree with this sentiment from a reader, Evan Hannay, who is troubled by some of the Clinton coverage: “Hillary deserves tough questions when they are warranted. But it is undeniable that she is already facing significantly tougher coverage than any other potential candidate.” He thinks The Times should make “a promise to readers going forward that Hillary is not going to be treated unfairly as she so often is by the media.”
Last Thursday, I handed Mr. Baquet a printed copy of Mr. Hannay’s email and asked him to address it.
To that end, he told me that he has urged reporters and editors to focus anew on issues stories. And he pledged fairness. “I’m happy to make a promise that she’ll be treated fairly,” he said, though he added, “If you look at our body of work, I don’t believe we have been unfair.” One testament to that, he said, was an investigative piece written by David Kirkpatrick shortly after the 2012 Benghazi attacks, with conclusions seen as favorable for Mrs. Clinton, who was then secretary of state. It came under heavy attack from the right.
So how do they control that when Maureen Dowd still writes there? This was her Saturday column, in which she’s urging Joe Biden to run. In it, she of course trashed Hillary Clinton.
I can’t even count all the loaded terms she used in this latest Clintonpalooza. Yeah, we get it, Maureen. You think Hillary is “entitled,” “disingenuous,” “controlling,” has a “history of subterfuge,” “sketchy value systems,” makes “Faustian bargains,” “robotic,” “queenly,” even “Frozen.” (And you cite Rupert Murdoch’s Wall St. Journal, which also used to be a respectable news organization, as proof!) Either you have some actual, legitimate dirt on them (in which case, you should investigate, document and publish it, since that is allegedly the job of a journalist), or this is just more of the Times’ trademark assassination of Hillary Clinton by a thousand paper cuts.
People think language doesn’t affect them, but it does. (Look at this Media Matters piece on MoDo’s Clinton coverage.) Whenever I write about the media slant on Hillary Clinton, the response I get from men (not women) is that it’s “silly,” their problems with Clinton are all about “issues” — and then, by the way, they repeat the exact same language that people like Maureen Dowd have been using for 20 years. When they tell me it doesn’t affect them, I say, “Then how did you make this character assessment? Do you know her personally?” No, but they don’t have to know her. They can just tell. By the issues.
I’ve been doing this for 13 years now, and it’s depressing as hell to watch Democrats do the Republicans’ dirty work for them. The GOP groups have even come right out and said that their strategy is to attack Clinton from the left through social media — and still progressives jump in, assuming that everything they’re told is the truth. Because they don’t like her, so it must be. And so on.
Well, I’m not going to spend all my time debunking each and every conservative meme that comes down the pike. People should know better by now.