NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Covering the New York Times

July 30, 2003

The New York Times is the 600-pound gorilla of American journalism. Despite recent setbacks, it still sets the tone for much of the rest of the media and can establish the national agenda on key issues, says Bruce Bartlett.

Because of its dominant influence within the national media, the Times deserves much of the responsibility for how people view the press generally. Recent polls suggest that this view is not very positive.

A Pew Research Center poll released July 13 found almost half of Americans say that some elements of the press are too critical of the United States. Other results:

  • Fifty-three percent say that the press is politically biased and 56 percent believe that the news is often reported inaccurately.
  • Fifty-one percent say that the media tilt toward the left, with only 26 perceiving a rightward bias; interestingly, only 14 percent believe neither label applies.
  • In short, the vast majority of people think that the press comes nowhere close to achieving objectivity.
  • In 1985, 55 percent of people thought that the press usually got the facts straight, with 34 percent saying that reports were often inaccurate.
  • Now, an astonishing 62 percent say that the press is often inaccurate, with just 36 percent believing that the facts are straight.

Longtime Wall Street Journal editor Robert Bartley believes that liberal ideology is behind the problem of inaccuracy. "An editor trying to put out objective reports," he wrote in a July 28 column, "has to contend with a newsroom dominated by a single viewpoint." That viewpoint ignores or downplays facts that contradict the liberal worldview and plays up those that support it.

Source: Bruce Bartlett, "Covering the New York Times," National Center for Policy Analysis, July 30, 2003.


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