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PostWatch: An irregular correction to the Washington Post

Brought to you by Christopher Rake


Tuesday, December 03, 2002
1:43 PM

Others have linked to this Newsweek story on Rainesian bias at the New York Times, so why shouldn't I pile on?

A certain amount of griping is to be expected in any newsroom, but the chorus of complaints at the Times has been getting louder. The Masters coverage is so overheated, one staffer says, that executive editor Howell Raines is “in danger of losing the building.” Talk of a “command and control” structure—where the power to pick and place stories, shared at the Times among story editors in the past, has become much more closely held by a handful at the top—and grumbling about the ruthless enforcement of an old-boy star system have grown from a low hum to a swelling chorus in recent weeks.

Raines' advocacy extends far beyond Augusta, of course. But wait, let's not leave Augusta yet. On the famous Augusta-still-silent story, Newsweek reports:

“That was just shocking,” one Times staffer said on the condition that his name not be used. “It makes it hard for us to have credibility on other issues. We don’t run articles that just say so-and-so is staying silent. We run articles when something important actually happens.”

You may also recall earlier this year that the Times was spinning so furiously on Iraq that it interpreted a Henry Kissinger Op-Ed carefully supporting a war against Iraq as expressing opposition to that war.

After an ensuing flap, the paper assigned a media reporter a story on how the American press was increasingly seen as driving the debate on Iraq.

According to a number of sources at the Times, the reporter, David Carr, went back to his editors and told them the media, per se, weren't driving anything: the only publication injecting itself into the policy debate was the Times itself. (Carr did not return calls seeking comment.) The story never ran. An editor’s note, explaining the Times’s mistakes, was printed instead. But people were talking.

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