NYT ombud: Yeah, this paper is a progressive hive mind, huh?

posted at 12:31 pm on August 26, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Arthur Brisbane concludes his two-year run as the New York Times’ public editor — what most newspapers call an ombudsman — by getting a huge scoop in his valediction.  The Gray Lady is … brace yourselves … liberal.  Shocking, isn’t it?  Brisbane says in his column that he started off his gig two years ago thinking that the allegations of liberal bias in the paper were simply incorrect.  Now, after two years of analysis, Brisbane refers to an institutional bias that is “more easily recognized from without than within”:

I also noted two years ago that I had taken up the public editor duties believing “there is no conspiracy” and that The Times’s output was too vast and complex to be dictated by any Wizard of Oz-like individual or cabal. I still believe that, but also see that the hive on Eighth Avenue is powerfully shaped by a culture of like minds — a phenomenon, I believe, that is more easily recognized from without than from within.

When The Times covers a national presidential campaign, I have found that the lead editors and reporters are disciplined about enforcing fairness and balance, and usually succeed in doing so. Across the paper’s many departments, though, so many share a kind of political and cultural progressivism — for lack of a better term — that this worldview virtually bleeds through the fabric of The Times.

As a result, developments like the Occupy movement and gay marriage seem almost to erupt in The Times, overloved and undermanaged, more like causes than news subjects.

The best example of this predated Brisbane’s tenure at the public-editor desk.  Howell Raines turned the mens-only policy at Augusta into a personal crusade, dedicating more newsprint to the lack of gender diversity at the private association than most other news stories … until it became painfully clear that no one really gave a damn about a private golf club’s membership policies.  Augusta recently invited and accepted two women as members, one of whom was Condoleezza Rice (a choice clearly designed to stick a thumb in the eyes of its liberal critics), but the story had all but evaporated years before.

Brisbane also has something to say about a lack of institutional humility at the Gray Lady, and their apparent imperviousness to criticism:

Two years ago, when I wrote my “why on earth” column, I suggested that the pace of change called for a re-emphasis on “transparency, accountability, humility.” Looking back now, I think The Times could do better with these.

The Times is hardly transparent. A reader still has to work very hard to find any Times policies online (though some are tucked away there), and there is still no place where Times editors speak on the issues. As for humility, well, The Times is Lake Wobegon on steroids (everybody’s way above average). I don’t remember many autopsies in which, as we assembled over the body, anyone conceded that maybe this could have been done differently.

As if on cue, executive editor Jill Abramson responded to Brisbane by suggesting that he wasn’t one of them anyway:

Times executive editor Jill Abramson says she disagrees with Brisbane’s “sweeping conclusions.”

“In our newsroom we are always conscious that the way we view an issue in New York is not necessarily the way it is viewed in the rest of the country or world. I disagree with Mr. Brisbane’s sweeping conclusions,” Abramson told POLITICO Saturday night.

“I agree with another past public editor, Dan Okrent, and my predecessor as executive editor, Bill Keller, that in covering some social and cultural issues, the Times sometimes reflects its urban and cosmopolitan base,” she continued. “But I also often quote, including in talks with Mr. Brisbane, another executive editor, Abe Rosenthal, who wanted to be remembered for keeping ‘the paper straight.’ That’s essential.”

It is essential, but clearly they’re not succeeding at it.  They’re also not too keen on criticism, and Abramson’s defense is laughable.  A bunch of us editors sat around the table and all agree that we’re doing it right, except for Brisbane, who clearly isn’t in the know.  If anyone needed to read Brisbane’s words on humility, it’s Abramson — and I wouldn’t be surprised if Brisbane wrote them specifically for Abramson herself.

Meanwhile, let’s give Arthur Brisbane a salute on his way out of the progressive hive mind:

Let’s also give him at least one cheer for running these obvious conclusions in his last column at the NYT.


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Hive, yes. Mind? It opens for debates.

bayview on August 26, 2012 at 12:34 PM

Duh.

Philly on August 26, 2012 at 12:38 PM

Pay no attention to the man behind that curtain!~

chimney sweep on August 26, 2012 at 12:38 PM

The NYT: We report the news that fits our views.

Wino on August 26, 2012 at 12:38 PM

90% of the newspapers and tv stations are liberal, and this by far does not reflect the conservative population. This is not representative. Something is seriously wrong.

anotherJoe on August 26, 2012 at 12:39 PM

I always hold out hope that someday this will change and the MSM will pay for there partisanship. Of course I’ve always been a dreamer…

sandee on August 26, 2012 at 12:39 PM

They are preaching to their choir so who cares west of the river?

jb34461 on August 26, 2012 at 12:40 PM

Isn’t Arthur Brisbane the character in “High Anxiety” who thought he was a cocker spaniel?

bookman on August 26, 2012 at 12:41 PM

“Progressive hive mind” is the dynamic grammatical equivalent of “Socialist collective colon”.

Scribbler on August 26, 2012 at 12:43 PM

The NYT is practically the prototypical example of liberal/progressive/leftist bias.

farsighted on August 26, 2012 at 12:44 PM

Daniel Okrent said much the same thing. On his way out for the most part. But to his credit he did take on Krugman’s nonsense before he left.

Really, if you can’t see that there’s a liberal/left worldview that affects how the Times sees the world and covers it, then you really are out of it.

But I don’t think she’s lying. I’m quite sure that she doesn’t see any slant in the Times coverage. The editors too.

A perfect example is their coverage of presidential executive statements. When Bush was issuing them it made the front page of the Times every time. Their reporter Charlie Savage won a Pulitzer for his critical coverage of the issue.

Obama issues executive signing statements and it’s not a big deal.

SteveMG on August 26, 2012 at 12:46 PM

Brisbane writes:

The Times is hardly transparent.

Oh, I dunno, I think it’s pretty clear what a right-conservative-Republican-hating pinko-commie rude biased self-serving leftistproglibturd-fawning disgusting despicable rag it is. And so is Abramson.

stukinIL4now on August 26, 2012 at 12:47 PM

I can handle the hive mind, the bending to the will of Obama is much worse.

rob verdi on August 26, 2012 at 12:47 PM

Brisbane refers to an institutional bias that is “more easily recognized from without than within”

When you’re inside something, everything about it makes sense and looks good. It’s only in looking at it from the outside that you can see its flaws and problems.

Paul-Cincy on August 26, 2012 at 12:53 PM

They’re also not too keen on criticism, and Abramson’s defense is laughable. A bunch of us editors sat around the table and all agree that we’re doing it right, except for Brisbane, who clearly isn’t in the know.

…in other words…in that pack of mongrels…Brisbane is the mutt?

KOOLAID2 on August 26, 2012 at 12:54 PM

I always hold out hope that someday this will change and the MSM will pay for there partisanship. Of course I’ve always been a dreamer…

sandee on August 26, 2012 at 12:39 PM

This has already happened in some parts of the country. Here in CT the New London Day newspaper, the finest left leaning paper of record, is nearly bankrupt. They have laid off so many people, and their circulation is shrinking, I am not entirely sure how they manage to still publish a newspaper.

Johnnyreb on August 26, 2012 at 12:54 PM

The New York Times? Seriously?

abobo on August 26, 2012 at 12:55 PM

Politico, another bastion of left wing auto-commentary, is not taking comments. A shame. As for the NYT, it is drifting towards irrelevancy as it becomes more like The Onion. Has anyone read Dowd for the last couple of columns? Delusional, hysterical, and openly trying to help Obama with bizarre rants. She doesn’t seem to get the fact she reads scary, irrational.

pat on August 26, 2012 at 12:57 PM

Deja vu, Bernie Goldberg, all over again.

petefrt on August 26, 2012 at 12:59 PM

When the editor of the editorial pages, Andrew Rosenthal (son of Abe), said that he didn’t know whether Maureen Dowd was a liberal or conservative or Democrat or Republican, that pretty much cements the view that it’s an out of touch publication.

“I would defy anyone to label Maureen Dowd by party affiliation or ideology. I’ve known her and worked closely with her for 20 years and I can’t tell you the answer to either one” — Andrew Rosenthal, editorial page editor of The New York Times

Wow.

SteveMG on August 26, 2012 at 1:01 PM

He got paid to state the obvious? I need to network more.

SouthernGent on August 26, 2012 at 1:01 PM

The New York Time: Where those of us who know everything tell those of you who know nothing what you are allowed to think.

SWalker on August 26, 2012 at 1:01 PM

Why the land is at this state

Holder Justice Department Recruits Dwarfs, Schizophrenics, and the ‘Intellectually Disabled’

Schadenfreude on August 26, 2012 at 1:03 PM

The NYT = HBO and Sorkin’s “Newsroom”.

An echo chamber in a communist nirvana.

Newsroom btw is absolutely hysterical.

It is not meant to be.

It is meant to be earnest hard hitting social commentary about how the brave warriors of the 4th estate will indeed deliver you from the evil of right wing tea party extremists.

It is so much fail delivered so hard it’s compelling stuff. It’s worse than rubber-necking at car crashes. Yes, that double-plus-ungood.

CorporatePiggy on August 26, 2012 at 1:04 PM

Not good enough even for fish.

Bmore on August 26, 2012 at 1:04 PM

“I would defy anyone to label Maureen Dowd by party affiliation or ideology. I’ve known her and worked closely with her for 20 years and I can’t tell you the answer to either one” — Andrew Rosenthal, editorial page editor of The New York Times

Wow.

SteveMG on August 26, 2012 at 1:01 PM

Maybe he is thinking of a different Maureen Dowd.

arnold ziffel on August 26, 2012 at 1:05 PM

Talk about diversity and lack there of, no point of view is to far left for them.

tim c on August 26, 2012 at 1:08 PM

Margaret Sullivan, the former editor of the Buffalo News, takes over as public editor next week. As she does, the paper says it plans “to shift the job’s focus toward more engagement with the reader online and through social media.”

I bet Abramson has gotten Margaret Sullivan’s mind right on what her new job entails. It does not include criticisms of NYT and absolutely no criticisms of Abramson.

d1carter on August 26, 2012 at 1:12 PM

So where does someone like Mr. Brisbane go? I know I am being incredibly prototypical girl b!tchy but has anyone ever listen to Ms. Abramson? I think she and Fran Drescher were separated at birth.

Cindy Munford on August 26, 2012 at 1:16 PM

I personally know three Maureen Dowds. Maybe its one of them.

99counties on August 26, 2012 at 1:17 PM

…the Times sometimes reflects its urban and cosmopolitan base…

Abramson’s conclusion is a tribute to irony — her belief that if one lives somewhere besides an “urban and cosmopolitan” Utopia like NYC, the one must surely be a bone-headed rube/hick. She beclowns herself and insults the vast majority of Americans without even knowing it.

KS Rex on August 26, 2012 at 1:19 PM

Occasionally the truth slips out—but don’t worry, it’s contained before much damage can be done.

deedtrader on August 26, 2012 at 1:20 PM

Not good enough even for fish.

Bmore on August 26, 2012 at 1:04 PM

My canary won’t use it either.

petefrt on August 26, 2012 at 1:21 PM

No shlt, Sherlock!

Archivarix on August 26, 2012 at 1:21 PM

Bring back the partisan papers and outlets. This notion of impartiality is nothing less than a lie (or delusion) concocted by the left to shut down the conservatives since the days of progressive ascension.

AH_C on August 26, 2012 at 1:21 PM

99counties on August 26, 2012 at 1:17 PM

Heh!

Cindy Munford on August 26, 2012 at 1:23 PM

They are the epitome of the “Union Of Condescending Journalists“.

listens2glenn on August 26, 2012 at 1:26 PM

Seriously though, there are two reasons for most media sources to be so rabidly liberal. First, the reporters pass through from the powerful brainwashing machine called “academia”, which can’t pass without a trace. And second, they are historically oriented to serve urban population, which is more liberal. While the latter reason is gradually fading out due to omnipresence of Internet and TV, the former is only getting more dire by the day.

Archivarix on August 26, 2012 at 1:26 PM

The New York Slimes is LIBERAL?!!!!

Shocked! I tell you, I am just shocked!

pilamaye on August 26, 2012 at 1:29 PM

This reminds me of the Manhattan socialite woman that was just SO surprised by Reagan’s 1984 landslide victory, she was quoted “I can’t believe he won…not a single person I know voted for him!”

Strike Hornet on August 26, 2012 at 1:32 PM

When the editor of the editorial pages, Andrew Rosenthal (son of Abe), said that he didn’t know whether Maureen Dowd was a liberal or conservative or Democrat or Republican, that pretty much cements the view that it’s an out of touch publication.

“I would defy anyone to label Maureen Dowd by party affiliation or ideology. I’ve known her and worked closely with her for 20 years and I can’t tell you the answer to either one” — Andrew Rosenthal, editorial page editor of The New York Times

Wow.

SteveMG on August 26, 2012 at 1:01 PM

Within 90 minutes of Romney’s joke Friday, Rosenthal was already on record, in print, calling it a Racist statement.

Del Dolemonte on August 26, 2012 at 1:34 PM

“On the record, off the Q-T, and so totally not hush-hush.”

:)

Seven Percent Solution on August 26, 2012 at 1:41 PM

Dear Arthur:

Ya think? This might also answer the question as to your shrinking readership.

And here I thought you guys were supposed to be the ‘liberal elite intelligentsia’.

GarandFan on August 26, 2012 at 1:45 PM

I personally know three Maureen Dowds.

99counties on August 26, 2012 at 1:47 PM

Don’t worry, the NYT will return to its hard hitting scrutiny of the president just as soon as Romney is elected.

Cavalry on August 26, 2012 at 1:49 PM

When The Times covers a national presidential campaign, I have found that the lead editors and reporters are disciplined about enforcing fairness and balance, and usually succeed in doing so.

Obviously, a different definition of usually.

98ZJUSMC on August 26, 2012 at 1:51 PM

Politico, another bastion of left wing auto-commentary, is not taking comments.

pat on August 26, 2012 at 12:57 PM

That has become almost a staple of lefty commentary.

98ZJUSMC on August 26, 2012 at 1:56 PM

When a news organization has no diversity of opinion there is nobody to put the brakes on obviously foolish conclusions.

When Dan Rather reported the George W. Bush was AWOL from the National Guard, my BS meter was pegged; but there was nobody on staff to act as a canary in the coal mine. There was no BS meter present, and if there was they simply did not feel at liberty to express that other view point.

The news media either discriminates against conservatives or they create a hostile work place where no conservative is free to speak their minds. (It’s probably both.) They get away with this because conservatives will tolerate that which no liberal could tolerate. Conservatives simply do not sue others. Conservatives believe in freedom and therefore allow employers to exercise their freedom. Liberals do not and they sue people that pis them off.

The news media may never learn that it is in their own best interests to have people of all view points on staff. I believe this is called: Fair and Balanced.

The Rock on August 26, 2012 at 1:56 PM

Obviously, a different definition of usually.

98ZJUSMC on August 26, 2012 at 1:51 PM

I think the author wants to be invited to dinner by those honchos, so he decided to spill his guts by dumping on the little people at the NYT.

BuckeyeSam on August 26, 2012 at 2:30 PM

“I would defy anyone to label Maureen Dowd by party affiliation or ideology. I’ve known her and worked closely with her for 20 years and I can’t tell you the answer to either one” — Andrew Rosenthal, editorial page editor of The New York Times

Wow.

SteveMG on August 26, 2012 at 1:01 PM

Maybe he is thinking of a different Maureen Dowd.

arnold ziffel on August 26, 2012 at 1:05 PM

I’ll bet he knows at least three Maureen Dowds.

Solaratov on August 26, 2012 at 2:49 PM

The mythical open and tolerant mind of a leftist.

jukin3 on August 26, 2012 at 2:51 PM

Brisbane’s observations remind me of Jefferson’s ploughman and professor in that rules he relies on are artificial. His whole argument is constructed around his choice to call it a conspiracy, which, while he argues most basic aspects of it are accurate and the evidence indicates it, he continues to believe it is not, in fact, a conspiracy.

Who the heck calls it a conspiracy? It’s not about conspiracy, it’s about policy. No one at the Times is conspiring, they’re coordinating, and they are effective at it because they are pretty much all of one mind. So, it’s not surprising it virtually bleeds though to the public in their reporting and it’s biased.

At least Brisbane is somewhat honest, even though incongruously so, but I find it hard to take his revelation as serious as he does, when he went in to the job not believing but having the temerity to say it is “more easily recognized from without than within” all because he continues to characterize it as a “conspiracy”.

For that matter, Jill Abramson was pretty clear in her full support for Brisbane’s view, though she worded in a way that made it sound like she was disagreeing. If you read it, she never says their product isn’t full of bias, all she says is that their are constantly conscious of their views, wanting the reader to infer that they work to prevent it or be evenhanded, but not find it in herself to actually say it.

Hivemind.

Dusty on August 26, 2012 at 2:55 PM

Nothing proves Brisbane’s point better than Abramson’s response.

devan95 on August 26, 2012 at 3:00 PM

Why the land is at this state…

Holder Justice Department Recruits Dwarfs, Schizophrenics, and the ‘Intellectually Disabled’

Schadenfreude on August 26, 2012 at 1:03 PM

My guess is that this policy is provisional and won’t be acted on if Obama is reelected, but if Obama loses he’ll fill the system with them and let Romney take the message flack the Dems will orchestrate for having to let a lot of these people go.

I am curious about one thing, though. The reports say these people would be ‘appointments’. Is this a strict definition, such that people appointed can be removed at will, or can some appointments still be a career employee that can’t just be removed the will of an existing or new administration?

Dusty on August 26, 2012 at 3:12 PM

Do you think this message is at all sinking in with most of the NYT’s readership? Think again. On the comment boards, many of them are still deluded enough to believe that “truth has a left-wing bias” and that Brisbane is more worried about believability than about veracity, not realizing that the NYT’s lack of veracity is precisely why its level of believability is so low.

bmmg39 on August 26, 2012 at 3:31 PM

“I would defy anyone to label Maureen Dowd by party affiliation or ideology. I’ve known her and worked closely with her for 20 years and I can’t tell you the answer to either one” — Andrew Rosenthal, editorial page editor of The New York Times

Wow.

SteveMG on August 26, 2012 at 1:01 PM

LOL. Apparently even Maureen’s long-time friends and co-workers don’t bother to read her columns.

AZCoyote on August 26, 2012 at 3:36 PM

Don’t worry, the NYT will return to its hard hitting scrutiny of the president just as soon as Romney is elected.

Cavalry on August 26, 2012 at 1:49 PM

In between ferreting out military and diplomatic secrets and printing them for our enemies to see.

trigon on August 26, 2012 at 3:42 PM

That filthy lying whore Abramson should be horse-whipped, tarred, and feathered for daring to invoke the name of Abe Rosenthal, the last NYT editor who gave a darn for facts and accuracy. He was liberal in outlook – although anti-communist and pro-Israel like Democrats used to be – but when a fact was reported in the news columns or even in op-ed pieces under him, you could take it to the bank.

Adjoran on August 26, 2012 at 3:52 PM

^C’mon, that’s uncalled for.

Attack her ideas and not her.

You make yourself sound like a nutjob with that type of language.

SteveMG on August 26, 2012 at 4:01 PM

“I agree…that in covering some social and cultural issues, the Times sometimes reflects its urban and cosmopolitan base,” [Abramson] continued.

“Social and cultural issues?” And, Madam Editor, is that the same definition of “base” you would use to reflect the paper’s “political issues” coverage? (Yes, shrinking would be correct, but let’s try to stay on topic.)

Barnestormer on August 26, 2012 at 4:08 PM

FLASHBACK:
NewsBusters: New NY Times Executive Editor Abramson Admits, Sort of, the Times’s Liberal Slant
http://newsbusters.org/blogs/clay-waters/2011/09/14/new-ny-times-executive-editor-abramson-admits-sort-timess-liberal-slant

StewartIII on August 26, 2012 at 4:55 PM

“I agree with another past public editor, Dan Okrent, and my predecessor as executive editor, Bill Keller, that in covering some social and cultural issues, the Times sometimes reflects its urban and cosmopolitan base,” she continued.

Yes, heaven forfend you expose your Lefty readers to anything that contradicts what they already believe.

DrMagnolias on August 26, 2012 at 4:58 PM

Times executive editor Jill Abramson says she disagrees with Brisbane’s “sweeping conclusions.”

“In our newsroom we are always conscious that the way we view an issue in New York is not necessarily the way it is viewed in the rest of the country or world(.”)

Unspoken subtext;


“Of course, that means everybody else is wrong and also probably evil. So we must bring them to the Light- or destroy them.”

The progressive worldview is easy to comprehend. Their actions- and inactions- tend to broadcast it, no matter how often they tell you to “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain”.

I might add that when progressives deny that they are in any way biased, it’s about as convincing as an addict insisting he can “quit whenever he wants to”.

Because that would imply he wants to quit, or they want to stop trying to remake the world into their fantasy Utopia. And that is never going to happen.

Ever.

clear ether

eon

eon on August 26, 2012 at 8:09 PM

Let’s also give him at least one cheer for running these obvious conclusions in his last column at the NYT.

What? We have to pat him on the back for stating the obvious? I don’t think so.

woodNfish on August 26, 2012 at 11:49 PM

I always hold out hope that someday this will change and the MSM will pay for there partisanship. Of course I’ve always been a dreamer…

We could always firebomb the building. It’s possibly the only language the Times responds to with deferential courtesy.

Afterwards they might start calling our milketoast middle of the road candidates “right wing extremists” .

See the difference? Scare quotes! Hah.

papertiger on August 27, 2012 at 3:38 AM

If this guy, or some other ombudsman would write this as his first column after being hired by the Times, now that guy would be on to something.

That guy might even make a dent, and a name for himself.

papertiger on August 27, 2012 at 3:42 AM

“In our newsroom we are always conscious that the way we view an issue in New York is not necessarily the way it is viewed in the rest of the country or world….Abramson told POLITICO Saturday night.

“I agree with another past public editor, Dan Okrent, and my predecessor as executive editor, Bill Keller, that in covering some social and cultural issues, the Times sometimes reflects its urban and cosmopolitan base,” she continued.

Translation: WE view issues differently than the rest of the country because WE are more urban and cosmopolitan than the rest of you rubes.

mountainaires on August 27, 2012 at 6:02 AM

Me thinks Brisbane’s old haunt, the KC Star, could use his deft touch, again.

locomotivebreath1901 on January 25, 2013 at 10:52 AM