Published August 27, 2012
As they head to the convention, anxious Republicans wonder, do Americans get it? Do they understand what is at stake? Will the liberal media prevail?
To which I say: not to worry! Americans are on top of the issues, and ahead of the curve. How can I be so certain? There are several data points, but let’s start with one that is especially gratifying – one that shows that the country no longer believes in the New York Times.
In a recent Pew poll, the legendary paper of record was voted less “believable” than ABC News, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, NBC news, and CBS News. What a comedown for the Grey Lady.
Not only is the paper considered less trustworthy than most others news organizations, the decline has been sharp. The average believability of the 13 news organizations reviewed was 56%; the Times came in at 49%. (The Wall Street Journal comes in at 58%, by comparison.) Whereas trust in all those outfits has dropped in recent years, the Times has fared worse than most. Since 2010, their rating has sunk from 58 to 49.
For a paper that boasts a proud heritage and certainly a devoted following among liberals, this should be worrisome. Indeed, in his “farewell column” published this past weekend, Public Editor Arthur Brisbane, essentially the paper's ombudsman, took the Times to task, saying that its “political and cultural progressivism…virtually bleeds through the fabric of The Times.” He describes the paper as a “hive on Eighth Avenue…shaped by a culture of like minds” – a uni-view that he suggests is more visible from the outside than the inside. That may or may not be correct, but for sure, Americans have taken note.
For the Obama White House, this disaffection with our leading newspaper should be something of a heads-up. If the Times acts as a virtual mouthpiece for the administration, and people do not find it credible, what does that say about the president?
It is not only 63% of Republicans that judge the Times lacking in credibility, it is also 56% of independents. Among those same independents, only 45% consider the Wall Street Journal unreliable.
The Times’ performance is nearly identical to that of Fox News, which is widely considered right-leaning. While neither organization is likely to welcome such pigeon-holing, branding the Times a partisan mouthpiece would surely have been more controversial in the past.
For someone who grew up in a Republican household that nonetheless considered the Times an essential part of our intellectual diet, the paper’s increasing bias over the past decade has been breathtaking.
The carefully placed articles that laud the president’s security chops (pieces that have now landed the White House in hot water for information leaks) and those that incessantly remind Americans that Mitt Romney is a MORMON and a wealthy one to boot – the reporting has become as one-sided as the sledge-hammer editorials and over-the-top op-eds. (Does anyone really consider one-note Paul Krugman, who never met a government spending hike he didn’t like, a deep thinker?)
An article that appeared last week is typical of the paper’s embarrassing slide. The online headline claims “In Poll, Obama is Given Trust Over Medicare.” The piece states that the Romney-Ryan approach to reining in our most threatening entitlement program is “deeply unpopular” in Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin. The authors point out that Medicare is the third-most important issue to likely voters in those critical states, and say polls show the GOP team not winning the debate on that subject. It is only after 6 paragraphs that other findings of the same polls are revealed – namely that since Ryan came on board, presumably bringing Medicare to the fore, President Obama’s six-point lead over Romney in Wisconsin and Florida has evaporated. The race in those states is now too close to call – despite what the Times claims is “the risk Mr. Romney took when he chose Mr. Ryan to be his running mate.” A risk, apparently, worth taking.
Does the Times care? When the paper’s Managing Editor Dean Baquet reveals that Obama and Romney campaign officials are reviewing and exercising veto control over their coverage, does the Grey Lady blush?
Frank Rich, writing in his final column for the paper, probably reflected the sentiment of his former colleagues when he wrote, “The Times is our essential news organization, and more so now than ever, when so many others have dwindled in size, ambition and scope.” Many people would agree with that assessment. Does it still hold true if the paper is not believable?
The public has caught onto the biased New York Times, but that’s not the only reason for optimism. Consider the (unlikely) election of Scott Brown in sapphire-blue Massachusetts and the thumping handed the president in the 2010 election. Remember the Wisconsin win of incumbent Governor Scott Walker who survived a recall election despite a veritable tidal wave of money and support from organized labor. The pundits anticipated none of these upheavals.
Remember, too, the persistent skepticism about ObamaCare? Mr. Obama has now given dozens – perhaps even hundreds – of speeches in favor of his health care bill, and has spent millions on ads touting the law’s advantages. Notwithstanding this onslaught, Americans are as opposed as ever.
Really, it is extraordinary – and it is promising. Our country understands that you can’t offer free health care to 31 million people and not have it deepen our deficits. They understand that taking $716 billion from Medicare cannot leave our seniors with the care they have counted on.
This is a tight race. The president remains popular personally, despite the unpopular nature of his policies. I have every faith that come November policy will out, and that Americans will vote for the good of the country; I believe they get it.