Former New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller in yesterday’s paper wrote a column titled “Murdoch’s Pride Is America’s Poison.” That slam, of course, is a reference to Rupert Murdoch’s prized U.S. property, Fox News Network, a generator of immense profit and influence. Writes Keller:
[W]e try to live by a code, a discipline, that tells us to set aside our personal biases, to test not only facts but the way they add up, to seek out the dissenters and let them make their best case, to show our work. We write unsparing articles about public figures of every stripe — even, sometimes, about ourselves. When we screw up — and we do — we are obliged to own up to our mistakes and correct them.
Fox does not live by that code.
A forceful rebuttal comes from Jonathan S. Tobin on Commentary.com. Clearly chafing at the notion that the New York Times adheres to a code not binding on the Fox people, Tobin riffs away:
While there are occasional instances of fairness, they merely highlight the paper’s typical unfairness to anyone or any group that it opposes. The comparison is also ridiculous because most of Fox’s programming is the moral equivalent to the Times’ editorial and op-ed pages. There the analogy between the two is almost exact. Liberal voices are a distinct minority on Fox but no more so than genuine conservatives at the Times.
If anything, a comparison of the airtime that Fox devotes to straight news coverage to the Times’ news pages is actually quite flattering to the former.
Must these two outlets be pitted against one another like this? It all seems so hostile. After all, in recent months, there’s been some evidence of a partnership between the two outlets.
Let’s have a look at the record. On Feb. 6, the New York Times publishes a story titled “Obama to Return Major Donations Tied to Fugitive.” Here’s the lede:
Two American brothers of a Mexican casino magnate who fled drug and fraud charges in the United States and has been seeking a pardon enabling him to return have emerged as major fund-raisers and donors for President Obama’s re-election campaign.
In the piece, reporter Mike McIntire essentially narrates how he busts the Obama re-election campaign on its ties to this family, the Cardonas. ”When The New York Times asked the Obama campaign early Monday about the Cardonas, officials said they were unaware of the brother in Mexico. Later in the day, the campaign said it was refunding the money raised by the family, which totaled more than $200,000.”
Fox News considered this news worthy of aggregation. On the Feb. 7 edition of “Special Report with Bret Baier,” the host noted:
BAIER: ....It coincides with the filing time of the “New York Times,” which had a story about the Obama campaign giving back several hundred thousand dollars collected by a family member of Mexican casino owner who skipped bail 17 years ago after being arrested on drug and fraud charges.
The two news orgs showed synergistic brilliance again in April, after the New York Times published a money-and-politics story on the Obama White House. Co-bylined by McIntire and Michael Luo, the April 14 story was titled “White House Opens Door to Big Donors, and Lobbyists Slip In”and carried this damning lede:
Although Mr. Obama has made a point of not accepting contributions from registered lobbyists, a review of campaign donations and White House visitor logs shows that special interests have had little trouble making themselves heard. Many of the president’s biggest donors, while not lobbyists, took lobbyists with them to the White House, while others performed essentially the same function on their visits.
Fox News managed to cram this story into its lineup. In an April 16 airing of “The Five,” this discussion unfolded:
ERIC BOLLING: All right. We’ve got to move on. White House visitor laws cross-reference to President Obama’s donor list show something interesting. You can in effect buy your way into the White House.
Look at this. “The New York Times” chart shows if you give under 30,000 bucks, you have 20 percent chance of making it in the White House. But check this out -- if you give over 100 grand, 75 percent chance of making it to the White House.
Dana, this matters because --
DANA PERINO: Because one, number one, on the front page of “New York Times” on a Sunday. That’s a big deal.
The takeaway: The New York Times is a crusading newspaper in bed with liberal politicians and dedicated to ruining and mocking and belittling conservative America. Until, that is, it publishes some deeply reported investigation pulverizing the liberals and Democrats that it uniformly comforts. At that point, it becomes the grand and storied NEW YORK TIMES. McIntire reports that the Mexican fugitive and White House access stories each took “weeks” of hard work to compile. It’s nice that Fox acknowledged the enterprise. I resent any effort to divide these two news organizations.