Celebrating her first year on the job as New York Times Public Editor, Margaret Sullivan was interviewed by Joanne Lipman on CNN’s Reliable Sources today. The interview began with the big question: Does the New York Times have a liberal bias? Sullivan’s answer was a yes but her rationale will prove disquieting for anyone who looks for the news media to report truthfully on what is happening in the world.
Here is the money part of the interview. A video of the entire 7-minute Q and A follows.
Lipman: So let’s dive right in. The loudest criticism that we often hear about “The New York Times” — I don’t know if it’s the most frequent but it’s certainly the loudest — is that it has a liberal bias. Does it?
Sullivan: Well, some of my predecessors have taken that head-on. In fact, Daniel Okrent, the first public editor, once wrote a column — and I think the headline said something like “Is ‘The Times’ a Liberal Newspaper?”
And his answer in the lead was, of course it is. And he went on from there. And it got quite a bit of response.
I mean that is obviously something people feel about “The Times,” and I think maybe the best way to think about it is that “The Times” reflects its readership, its community. It’s an urban paper; it’s a New York City paper. I mean that’s a reasonable criticism, I think. [Emphasis added]
Lipman: So it is a yes?
Sullivan: It’s a modified yes with a lot of nuance in it.
Sullivan is basically saying that because we are an urban paper and our audience is liberal we are going to feed them liberalism despite its questionable relevance to the truth.
I wonder if Sullivan ever considered that if the Times picked its stories based on the truth the people should know rather than just the stories that feed its liberal agenda — or if the Times covered stories truthfully instead of with the liberal bias they admit to — maybe its readers would be a bit less liberal. Truth can change people’s minds.
The New York Times seems to be OK with its slant. It has the attitude of “Sure we’re biased, but big deal.” That is one of the reasons the newspaper that used to be known as the Grey Lady, is now more appropriately nicknamed the Tired Old Slut.