NY Times investigation reveals NY Times did fine on IRS coverage

Has the Gray Lady’s coverage of the ongoing, escalating IRS scandal been a bit tepid? Apparently enough people thought so – and wrote in to the newspaper – that the public editor, Margaret Sullivan, felt compelled to take the pages of her journal and apologize. Oh… who am I kidding? They weren’t going to apologize at all. But she at least noted that folks had been unhappy. (Emphasis mine.)

Has The Times been interested enough in the politically charged events involving the Internal Revenue Service?

Many readers don’t think so. One, Harry Koenig of Monroe Township, New Jersey, wrote to me this week with strong words of criticism.

Noting that he had emailed earlier complaining about a lack of coverage of I.R.S. official Lois Lerner’s missing emails, a situation that has caused accusations of a Watergate-style political cover-up, he wrote again to complain that the coverage, once it began, was inadequate

(Try to remember the highlighted phrase above. We’ll come back to it.)

Harry was polite enough, I suppose. His last letter is included in full. But I’m guessing he wasn’t exactly thrilled with the response he received. (With a snippet more emphasis from yours truly.)

The Times was somewhat late in beginning to cover the latest development about the lost emails. My office had begun to field several days’ worth of reader protests on the lack of attention when the first story finally went online. Despite that slow start and the quiet display of the subsequent stories (an analytical piece might have been a good choice for the front page), The Times has given its readers insightful coverage of a situation heavily clouded by partisan politics.

So they were “slow” to begin covering new developments as they came. And when they did provide coverage, it never seemed to make the front page. (Page 19 was the latest offering.) But hey… that’s okay. And the reason for it being okay is found in the highlighted portions of the post above.

You don’t have to read very far between the lines to get the translation. And it goes something like this:

This isn’t a story. This is a made-up, non-scandal dreamed up by Republicans to embarrass the administration. But because we are so dedicated to serving the interests and needs of our few remaining subscribers, (not to mention providing a flimsy, back-door excuse when this keeps coming up) we’ll go ahead and publish a few things. But, being such a non-story and all, we just won’t run it on the front page where everyone would notice it. (Also not to mention that it would tick off all of the liberals who keep us afloat.) And we’ll continue to describe it with code words like partisan politics so you’ll remember that this isn’t really a story.

Side note to Margaret Sullivan: If you wish to just go ahead and use the above paragraph for your next public editor journal entry on this subject, be my guest. No charge.