READER JACOB SEGAL sends this article as an example of right-wing bias at the New York Times. What do you think?
Posted by Glenn Reynolds at 7:59 pm
Schroeder is a raving Leftist. However, one instance of criticizing this particular lunatic does not a bias make. The NYT is mainly biased because of the AP garbage they publish – which is more a sign of the general journalistic bias for the Left. Where the NYT usually errs the worst is in the selection of Headlines.
No, it’s not right-wing bias.
The economic problems of Europe are old and well-known. They became chronic more then ten years ago.
The policy changes mentioned in the article that are needed to improve economic performance are also well-known. They happen to originate from the free-market side of the spectrum.
Huh? ‘Right wing’ bias? Where, for goodness sakes?
Europe in general is suffering from the problems discussed in the article. Noticing that the socialist model doesn’t work isn’t ‘right wing bias’.
Sorry, but doesn’t “bias” imply a pattern of slanted coverage?
The merits of this issue aside, it would take at least a month’s worth of criticism of the Left on the front page to balance out their anti-Right history to even get me to consider this charge seriously.
I really found no right-wing basis, in any case no more so than the headline you cited yesterday as bias here, other than some carping quotes about socialists.
One thing worth pointing out, however, is the fact that the agreement to trade the Ostmarks for the Deutsche Mark at a 1 to 1 ratio as well as the decision to relocate the capitol from Bonn to Berlin (both of which were ridiculously costly moves) took place under the Helmut Kohl government, a notoriously corrupt government if my memory serves me correctly. So if there is a hint of bias it is the writer’s failure to point out both of these facts.
Having lived in Germany for three years and seen much of the historic sites where so many suffered, frankly, I think that the fact that the Germans are against war right now is probably a good sign.
Of course there is a right-wing bias at the times. It’s a card-carrying member of the VRWC!
It’s not fair to criticize the German economic system simply because it’s not performing. Force those nasty Americans to crank up their tax rates to proper German levels and they’ll do just fine…..
It all depends on how you define the center. If Lenin was center-right, and Stalin was a moderate Leftist, then this comes off as being slightly biased to the Right.
Then again, the NYT does make a profit, so they’re a bunch of right-wingers by definition.
Power to the People!
How’sit biased when even German economists are ripping on the Deutsche brand of welfare? The two quotes in the last three paragraphs of the story tell the entire story. The question will be if Germany takes action before they hit the wall. The last quote seems to predict “No.”
Actually, a reason that this article might prove left-wing bias is that Financial Times and the Economist printed similar stories weeks ago. Why does the NYT take longer to see that light in the tunnel?
me thinks Jacob is a troll…is this how I get my name mentioned in Glenn’s blog? I’ll send a totally arbitrary article tomorrow Glenn, I’ll claim it’s right wing bias, and I want you to print it, with my name leading…so I blog my mom over, thanks
Not sure about a right wing bias, but there are a bunch of passive voice assertions, with no real attribution or sourcing, that indicate, to me, a weak piece of Journalism:
Some experts warn…
If Germany falls sick, economists fear…
Many fear that….
There were hopes that….
….are sapping the confidence of consumers and businesses, as well as of many experts.
The confounding part of this article is its placement. Why isn’t it in the Opinion section? Clearly the author has made up his mind on Mr. Schröder is doing, but if he is to present justice in his journalism he shouldn’t be forcing that opinion on all who read it.
Unless of course the article is found in NYT’s “Room 101″ alongside the likes of Dowd and Friedman. Then, at least, we’ll be prepared for its biased commentary.
If you want real bias in the NYT, just look at how they covered the Anti-War Iraq protests a month or two again.
Or to be more precise, how they didn’t cover the protests. But hey, we’re all behind our duly elected leader 100%, right? No dissent or nothing.
Nope… no right wing bias… none, nein, nyet, na-na-nanette
I know there is no right wing bias in the NYT
as hell has not frozen over yet.
The stat that stood out in my mind was the following:
Since then , Berlin has spent well over $100 billion rebuilding the east, a fiscal burden that will be felt for decades.
This one statistic says more about the relative economic strength of Germany/Europe vs. the United States than anything I’ve previously read.
Germany, the economic powerhouse of Europe, will be burdened for decades by the spending of $100B over 12 years (a little over $8B per year). Meanwhile, when America gets hit with the most economically devastating mainland attack in its history, we increase our defense budget by $37.5B within 12 months and we’re only worried about a temporary dip back into deficit spending, one that could probably be avoided if we rejiggered the tax cuts that were passed… that very same year.
Hell, in the 80s and 90s we had yearly deficits larger than the entire German outlay over 12 years. And, in the late 90s, we had annual surpluses double the size.
Count me as no longer much concerned over the Euro overtaking the dollar anytime soon…
When I lived in West Germany in the early 70′s the social welfare state was as prominent as it is now, but this was, of course, before unification. They were still bringing in Turkish and Greek gastarbeiters and the American military presence was as strong as it ever was. I think that a lot of Germany’s problems could be explained by the costs of unification: both the ridiculous ones I mentioned before and the expense that would have come with reunification regardless.
When I was there last time in 1991, the economy was still fairly strong, but showing signs of strain. I think that writer should have delved more into the impact of reunification.
Brian pointed out what a cursory reading on my part failed to notice. Good point Brian.
It’s also worth pointing out that EU requirements on deficit levels probably also play into Germany’s problems.
So telling the truth constitutes a right wing bias? Does this mean unbiased or left wing slant consists of factual flights of fancy?
To me, “bias” would imply some sort of distortion of the facts, which is simply not the case here. This article is just a rare example of something lacking left-wing bias, and for that reason it may appear “right wing” to some people.
I have been trying to figure out what makes him think this is biased to the right. The only thing I can think of is that it actually comes out and baldly states that Schröder’s employment and welfare reform proposals were “stymied by labor unions and other vested interests.” I can only imagine how much it would get under a leftie’s skin for someone to have the audacity to blythely include labour unions in the “vested interests” class.
I agree with Dodd’s points. You could argue that there is a neoliberal slant to the story, but that does not necessarily mean right-wing. Only an unreconstructed Stalinist would take offense at the coverage, which includes, in addition to its swipes at labor unions, assigns part of the blame for Germany’s economic woes to the deficit spending constraints imposed by the EU — that smacks of anti-globo IMF whining to me.
I’d be curious to hear Jacob’s rationale for calling this right-wing bias, though.
Here’s what Segal emailed. I didn’t want to post this earlier because I didn’t want to influence people’s perceptions:
Note the oppostion of correct policies vs. “leftist”. Note the assumption that welfare and labor policies are the primary source of German problems. Note the complete absence of any comment from labor leader, opponent of purported neo-liberal reforms. Note no discussion of any negative consequences of same reforms. Note that only at the end does the author mention that German problem may orginate in reunification.
I’m not persuaded by Segal’s claim, but I thought I’d throw the idea out and see how others felt.
I’m not persuaded either. The writer did bring up the point of reunification, albeit at the end and, as I’ve said all along the reunification issue is one that cannot be ignored or minimized.
To the extent that reunification was minimized, Segal has a good argument. I think it may be just an example of extremely sloppy and lazy reporting. I have a friend who is also a friend of Roger Cohen, the Times Foreigh Editor (and onetime Berlin Bureau Chief). I met him once and if I ever meet him again, perhaps I’ll bring it up.
Whatever bias that can be read into this story is due to the word choices, phrasings and selection of quotations made by the reporter. Most of this was done, I think, in the name of “lively writing” and a quest for crisp copy. That said, the story’s spot-on and presents a fair and “lively” assessment of Schroeder’s bind.
A couple of thoughts:
Much of the liberal slant cited in the American press (and in European reporting on America) shares the same roots. This is not to say that the average big-city newsroom wordsmith ain’t liberal, because he/she most definitely is. As a 20-plus-year newspaper-creature, I can testify to this home truth.
It’s cliche beyond description, but here goes: Bias is in the eye of the beholder. It wasn’t until I had my Road-to-Damascus conversion to conservatism several years ago that I became painfully aware of the leftist sympathies that lard so much news copy these days. Before that, such stories merely constituted an impassioned presentation of the facts, something I think remains the case with many major-league reporters and editors these days.
“The Greens advocate bolder economic policies than the Social Democrats, and many experts hoped that they would be able to write them into the agenda for the new government.”
That’s on the first page of the internet version of this supposedly right-wing biased article. Since the Greens are pretty much more socialists than the Social Democrats, if this were biased to the right, I doubt their economic plans would be described as “bolder.” Also, using the passive voice, “many experts” actually HOPED the Greens policies would be put into effect, which would have likely worsened the situation, if you assume as Mr. Segal has this article is putting the blame on “leftists” policies.
But, it is interesting. Those who view this as right wing obviously feel socialism IS the mainstream of the left. How honest of Mr. Segal to point that out. Of course, he’s mistaken. This article could have easily have been written by the folks at the center-left Democratic Leadership Council or even The New Republic. In this country any way, even most Democrats know that outright socialism has failed. Remember, that’s why they sought a “Third Way.”
Right-wing bias exists in the article only if you believe the hard left (i.e. socialists) constitute the actual mainstream left. I’m a right winger and I don’t even believe that.
Segal’s criticism of what the author left out are certainly valid critiques of the article from a journalism standpoint, but if their is bias, there is no evidence it’s strictly right-wing. Again, unless you believe anything right of socialism is “right-wing.”
Bartkiw: “Where the NYT usually errs the worst is in the selection of Headlines.”
It’s not the writers but the editors who write the headlines, that’s why they’re the worst (ie: “6 Israelis Die at Polling Station; Sharon Wins”)
It’s like that at pretty much every publication.
By right wing I meant neo-liberal, the belief in the efficiacy of markets and the inefficiency of government. The article is consistent with Times’ bias towards the neo-liberal outlook, at least in European coverage. Roger Cohen has this bias without question. The worst thing about it is the failure to look at both sides. No interview with labor union officials or left economists to at least try to balance out the assumptions of the author of the article and everyone he interviews.
What this article illustrates that while the Times may be by and large socially liberal, it, like other mainstream outlets, tend to the “conservative” or “neo-liberal” in economics.
I think Jacob is correct that the article demonstrates a ‘bias’ of sorts in its implicit belief in the efficiency of markets and the inefficiency of government and union control of an economy.
If this was the early seventies, perhaps this belief in markets could be considered a ‘right-wing’ position. Now, thank God, it’s generally accepted that central planning doesn’t work and that flexible market economies are the best vehicle for improving the lives of all citizens.
There is this belief out there that every story should be appropriately ‘balanced’ and have perspectives from ‘both sides’, here Jacob suggests that there should be a quote from a union official or a ‘left economist’. The thing is – probably less than 1 in 100 economists believes that Germany’s current system will lead to recovery and new growth (and we all know what the union official would say even without a gratuitous quote).
If there were quotes from ‘both sides’, the reader would be left with the impression that economists are evenly divided on this issue, when in reality there is widespread agreement.
I knew those damn Euro-pee-ons were nothing but a buncha Marxists…
Now that Jacob has made clear what he thinks is biased–”the belief in the efficiacy [sic] of markets and the inefficiency of government”–one can at least respond intelligently.
Socialism failed. Socialism killed tens of millions of people (leaving aside the millions more killed in wars). Some measure of free markets creates the wealth that socialism destroys and a very broad welfare state consumes.
It is true that the article is only partly sympathetic to socialism (it implies that the contributions of the Greens might be positive for economic policy), but that hardly makes it right-wing. It is far more sympathetic to socialism and a European style welfare state than the doctrines warrant. It is indeed passingly unsympathetic to labor unions.
It is hardly right-wing to believe in capitalism and that too big a government is a bad thing. It was central to Bill Clinton’s campaign in 1992, leading to the claim that the era of big government is over.
It is not right-wing in America to believe what 80% of Americans believe–that capitalism is good and that, while government does many wonderful things, when it gets too big, the economy suffers.
That conventional wisdom might be wrong, but it is NOT right-wing. Most Democrats believe this as well.
I actually think that it shows the Times left wing bias to conclude that reunification was the cause of the economic problems. In my view, it is the German rigid labor laws and welfare state that are to blame. Slowly but surely, the populations get older, the workers get lazier and the entitlements keep rising. No nation can keep that up forever.
Sure, the reunification was a costly affair, but the reason it had such a tremedous impact is that the German economy was sick in the first place.
BTW, while its true that a labor leader was not interviewed, neither was a company executive. And there was a quote by a Green party memeber. Mr Segal, is he not Left enough for you? Do you consider the Greens middle of the road?
So 25 people on this blog can’t even reconstruct what someone might THINK would be a neo-liberal bias in this article despite a complete lack of representation of those “leftist” parties resisting the “correct” consensus that Germany’s social welfare state must be dismantled.
Gosh guys, I’m just as puzzled as you are because I just soak in the neo-liberal consensus and capitulate its tenets.
To be sure, increased privatization over the past 25 yrs. in this country has been more efficient at funneling wealth to the top quintile, but Germany is right to ask whether that’s the kind of efficiency they prefer (this is trite, i’m aware…)
But Jesus H. last time I checked an economy more mixed towards socialism wasn’t plausibly on the hook for murders committed by particular communist leaders. What about the fact that life expectancy in Russia is now down by 7 yrs. vs. 1990 levels owing to the plan implemented by those neo-liberals at the Harvard Policy institute? I could much more plausibly put Mark Landler or the previous responders to this post on the hook for that one.
p.s. the only reason that 80% of Americans now accept the neo-liberal consensus is because there was a right-wing shift in the media some 20 yrs. ago on economic matters. In the meantime, the bottom and middle quintiles have increased their wealth intake almost nada despite having cooporated in the creation of vast amounts of new wealth. So it’s true that the economic left is no longer represented, but not because “flexible market economies are the best vehicle for improving the lives of all citizens”. Rather, because folk like you are all happily brainwashed with rhetoric re: “class warfare”, etc.
Thanks for proving my point.
If Lenin was center-right, and Stalin was a moderate Leftist, then this comes off as being slightly biased to the Right.
I love Stalinists like you. I can’t conceivably be seen as more evil than yourself.
“By right wing I meant neo-liberal”
i.e. you meantcenter left.
Left of Lenin, right of Stalin.
Or, in other words, Trotskyite.
How ever you cut it, it’s still Communist.
i guess it would be a little much to ask from commentators on this blog for a counter- argument since they aren’t capable of reconstructing a plausible position that dares to hover outside their own precepts.
[GROWLLL, snarrllll, hisssssss]
Ya wanted to play.
“But Jesus H. last time I checked an economy more mixed towards socialism wasn’t plausibly on the hook for murders committed by particular communist leaders. What about the fact that life expectancy in Russia is now down by 7 yrs. vs. 1990 levels owing to the plan implemented by those neo-liberals at the Harvard Policy institute? ”
So crime has increased, as totalitarianism has decreased. You are surprised?
I’m talking about Stalin’s brutality. Please. To compare modern crime rates to what Stalin did is an insult to all concerned.
That’s like comparing Hitler to Ted Bundy.
Tim, we could very well be arguing apples to oranges. Or, as I think of it, “the sky is red and the fruit is blue”…
However, I am adamant in my view that socialism is a failure. Indeed, I would challenge you to provide an example of its success.
OTOH, I could be misreading you. If I am, my apologies.
I thought the article was very straight forward and honest. It does not set out to be an analysis of the entire German system. No business leaders were quoted, perhaps because they fear labor union backlash, nor were any foreign dogs from Amerika, France, or Britain.
The relevance of the Times reminds me of a line from the Cherry Orchard by Checkov. After a writer has left the room one character asks another if the writer is any good. “Not really”, is the response, “all he writes about are the things intelligent people already know about and what the rest don’t care about.”
That is the Times.
If an American paper that has front-page puff-pieces on Robert Byrd is balancing its coverage with “right-wing” reports on the political woes of a chancellor in friggin’ Germany (in which, I might ad, the chancellor’s leftist politics aren’t even mentioned until paragraph 7), well, color me unimpressed.
Tim, I find it offensive that you dismiss the blood of socialism’s victims as “murders comitted by particular communist leaders.” The most common causes of death-by-communism, planned starvation and, in medicine, supply shortages and technological stagnation, is endemic to a command-and-control economic system, and I damn well can implicate an “economy more mixed towards socialism” for its innate monstrosity.
With regard to the perceived deline of life expectency in Russia since 1990: I would take those Soviet statistics on life expectancy with a grain of salt. The reports may indicate not a decline in life expectancy, so much as an increase in the accuracy of reporting. In truth, we don’t know what the median life expectancy was in the RSFSR, and there’s an end of it.
Maybe it’s just me, but I think it was hilarious that the ad on the right hand side column at the bottom showed a picture of the Nazis marching through the Arc de Triumph. Pretty freaking funny–but a slip, not bias.
I think that some of you need to study the difference between socialism and communism. There is a difference. Sweden, for example, is for the most part a socialist state, whereas Cuba is a communist state.
It reads like it was written by an economist. It that ain’t right-wing bias, what is? ;-)
Well, glad we cleared all that up. Neoliberal = rightwing? I suppose Segal’s idea of top dead center would be, what, the Nation?
This reminds me of a talk radio exchange I heard in NC eight years ago (during the Food Lion v. ABC’s 20/20 lawsuit) in which a woman decried the “liberal media” for trying to protect the public from orporate criminals. When asked for her idea of a “balanced” news source, the caller replied, “Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network.”
I don’t think there’s any such thing as unbiased news, as bias is also in the eye of the beholder. The best you can hope for is fairness, and as Eric rightly points out, the NYT piece was definitely fair.
By right wing I meant neo-liberal.
I find myself wondering why, if you meant neo-liberal, you said “right-wing”. Of course, where one places a certain veiwpoint on the spectrum is indicative of one’s own position on it but if you actually meant a school of liberalism, why bring the right into it at all? Or is it that all perspectives that give markets their due are automatically right-wing positions?
Tim, I’ll counter argue. Your class warfare stuff is blatantly false. The poor in this country, have gotten a lot richer. All quintiles have gotten richer. The only way your arguments work, if you believe America is one CONSTANT pie that never changes in total size. If that’s the case, then yes, in RELATIVE terms, the lower quintiles may be “worse” off. But, that’s intellectually dishonest, since in ACTUAL terms, the poor have gotten a lot richer.
Listen, the income gap long ago was discredited as a valid statistic in the real world. It’s like this. If I make 100K and you make 50K, our income gap is 50K. If we both have an equal performing year in the eyes of our bosses, then we could both in end up with, say, 5% raises. After you calculate this new raise, then our income gap would have grown in actual numbers, even though we both got equal raises, percentage wise. We both performed equally yet our gap grew. It’s called compound interest. Welcome to the real world.
This whole quintile crap is meant to prove your goal of forced equality of results. FOrtunately, for you, America is still a country that believes people are responsible for themselves. If I get a raise of 10K, I’m fricking celebrating. I’ll let you lament the injustice of not getting as big a raise as Bill Gates.
America is a constantly growing pie. And folks of every class benefit from it. You class warriors can use bogus data all you want. It won’t change the facts.
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