Ed Driscoll

You Stay Classy, Gray Lady

As Daniel Halper noted on Thursday at the Weekly Standard, “Who better than the New York Times to capitalize on a lunatic murderer to push its own agenda? Check out this headline, gracing the paper’s homepage now.”

The headline reads:

For Tucson Survivors, Health Care Cost Is Concern

Halper responds:

There’s even more to the silliness of this Times story — and it begins in the lede:

Seconds after gunfire erupted outside a supermarket here last month, Randy Gardner, one of those struck during the barrage, said another looming crisis immediately entered his mind.

“I wondered, ‘How much is this going to cost me?’ ” he said. “It was a thought that went through my head right away.”

While most people, seconds after getting shot and watching others nearby getting shot, might think about their own well-being and the safety of those around them, the Times was able to find one person to talk about health care. And from there, the piece’s political undertones come out:

Ms. Giffords, who received a bullet wound to the head and was the most gravely injured of those who survived the shooting, also had probably the best insurance, a Congressional plan known for its comprehensive coverage that was held out as a model during last year’s debate over the health care overhaul.

“The whole piece, though attempting to be subtle, is a plug for Obamacare,” Halper concludes.

Well, sometimes it’s important to steer the coverage in that direction.

Naturally though, as if caught in a time warp before the existence of alternative media, the average Timesman takes a see-no-bias attitude when questioned about these sorts of things:

Executive Editor Bill Keller was challenged Monday night on the paper’s commitment to objectivity, especially concerning opinionizing in front-page articles, in an appearance televised on C-Span, before an audience at George Washington University.

About 26 minutes into the wide-ranging journalism discussion, moderator Marvin Kalb challenged Keller:

“On the Times you have news and then you’ve got opinion. Now there should be a wall between the two. Your ombudsman Arthur Brisbane says, and I quote, ‘the news pages are laced with analytical and opinion pieces that work against the premise that the news is just the news, unquote. Many conservatives as you well know, criticize the Times as being a liberal, left-wing newspaper, and that those views get into the news part of your newspaper. Why do you allow this to happen?”

Keller: “We don’t allow it to happen. I mean–”

Kalb: “But it happens almost every day.”

Keller: “According to Art Brisbane or according to you?”

Kalb: “No, well, according to people who have read the Times for many many years. There’s more, what I’m getting at here Bill, is that there’s more analysis dipping into commentary and the editorial side of reporting than a straight hard news story.”

That’s a topic that Bill McGowan explores extensively in Gray Lady Down, including, as he put it “the late 1970s Sectional Revolution, in which the Times became a multisection publication bulging with soft news and lifestyle journalism.” But also the increasing number of op-ed writers dominating the paper, which gives it a pseudo-celebrity star-power (Maureen! Frank! Paul! Tom!) but blurred the line between opinion and news long before the Web created opportunities for competitors to arrive on the scene.

Related: Responding to Sarah Palin’s Army of Davids reference last night, Da TechGuy notes:

You know there is a reason why Instapundit took down the “NYT of bloggers” comment from his site. The times should work for the day when they can be called the “instapundit of newspapers”.

They might want to quicken their pace.