New York Times experiment in self-awareness lasts all of two days

Last Sunday the New York Times Public Editor, Arthur Brisbane, publicly chastised his paper for not providing adequate scrutiny of President Obama’s record, admitting that they had perhaps “basked a bit in the warm glow” of Obama’s election. An understatement to be sure, but any acknowledgement of bias from the Times is a rare event, and so this understandably received a lot of coverage by the conservative media. Well fast forward two days later, and observe Times’ editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal pretty much give Brisbane, and conservatives, the (metaphorical) finger. Get a load of this: (emphasis added)

President George W. Bush used his executive power to bypass Congress, almost as a matter of routine. Now President Barack Obama is pulling a similar stunt.

I was appalled, and so was the Times editorial board (and so, in fact was Senator Barack Obama) when a Boston Globe reporter, Charlie Savage, documented Mr. Bush’s use of presidential signing statements and executive orders. But I am not appalled by the way Mr. Obama is relying on those instruments – as detailed in today’s Times by that same enterprising reporter, who now works for us. Context and intent make all the difference.

Now this is the New York Times we know and love! Ah yes, “context and intent”. Predictable explanation: it was wrong for Bush to exert executive power in order to bypass Congress, because he and Dick Cheney were trying to destroy the Republic. But Obama is only attempting to help people with his “we can’t wait” campaign; and in fact, he only reluctantly adopted this approach due to those evil Republicans whose sole objective is to ensure he fails. In this telling, it’s a wonder Obama hasn’t declared martial law.

Yes, Rosenthal is definitely still basking:

Unlike the Bush/Cheney team, Mr. Obama did not take office with the explicit goal of creating new powers for the presidency. That was not part of his agenda. Moreover, his executive actions often are more modest in their effect than the White House’s public relations team might admit.

Ask the Catholic Church how “modest” Obama’s executive actions have been? Or how about the family of Anwar al-Awlaki? Because whatever you think of the policy, I don’t remember President Bush asserting the “modest” power to assassinate U.S. citizens overseas.

Rosenthal’s column appears in an online section of the Times laughably named “The Loyal Opposition”. Perhaps this title dates back to the Bush administration, because if the editors of the Times support President Obama on this, given their former stance, it’s hard to imagine what they would ever oppose. They’ve got the loyal part down pat, but what they really seem to be opposed to is consistency, and fair reporting.

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