The Paper That Tilts the Field

From the March-April 2004 Trumpet Print Edition

Dick Morris said the biggest loser in the war coverage “was the New York Times, formerly the newspaper of record, but now reduced—in full public view—to a newspaper of the political opposition. Its readers got to see, in plain view, the paper’s pessimism and bias against the Bush administration.”

For people who do not read the Times—more than 99 percent of Americans—this may seem insignificant. But while most people do not read the paper, news producers around the world do.

The New York Times, Bernard Goldberg wrote in his new book Arrogance, “sets the agenda” for many mainstream news outlets, especially the big three television networks. Goldberg knows the system because he worked at CBS himself for almost 30 years. According to Goldberg, NOTHING “carries nearly as much weight in network television newsrooms as the New York Times.” He said there were “too many examples to count” where TV executives turned down story ideas from reporters until they first appeared in the New York Times. John Stossel made a similar point in his recent book Give Me a Break. The ABC correspondent said that a lot of people he worked with “thought the news was whatever was in the day’s New York Times.”

Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Charles Krauthammer wrote this during the presidential campaign four years ago: “[T]he Times front page is the epicenter of the media echo chamber. It is the primary text for those who compose the evening news on the three networks” (Washington Post, Sept. 29, 2000). He then explained, “The Times does not determine election results. If it did, we’d be looking back fondly on the Mondale and Dukakis administrations. But because it both reflects and affects general media coverage of campaigns, it matters. It tilts the playing field. This year, the angle is particularly steep” (ibid.).