I've made the case in a few different places that, one, the concept of "liberal bias" is at best incoherent, and two, that the New York Times on the whole does not have one. I have challenged the people making these claims to give me examples from the Times's print or online versions to prove it; none have stepped up, and I'm regularly surprised by the conservatism of the op-ed page. (See today's paper for Thomas Friedman's pro-globalization, pro-business, pro-low taxes on corporations column.) What I'm going to do in this blog post is analyze one of the Times's front page articles about Bush's speech.
The headline is "Bush Acknowledges Difficulties, Insisting on Fight to the End." On reading it, I note many examples of what conservatives would perceive as bias; I just see these statements as facts. Here are some:
1) "The questions now are how many more times over how many years he might have to deliver the same message of patience and resolve - and whether the American public, confronted with a mounting death toll, an open-ended military commitment, lack of support from allies and a growing price tag, will accept it."
From one perspective, these are incontrovertible facts: the commitment is open-ended; there are no major allies involved; and the price tag is growing. From another this sentence carries a sort of ominous warning in it.
2) "Using language that infuriates his opponents who say there is no link between the Iraq war and Al Qaeda, he specifically cast the battle in Iraq as part of the bigger conflict that began with the Sept. 11 attacks, which he mentioned explicitly five times and alluded to at others, and invoked the specter of Osama bin Laden."
Here's another--the writer specifically mentions that Bush referred to 9/11 five times. If this speech was about Iraq, why was 9/11 being mentioned? To someone like me, this is again pure fact; to others, I could see how (especially if they believe in a link between Al Qaeda and Iraq) this would be riling.
3) "Mr. Bush certainly has cause for some optimism. While the bloodshed goes on unabated, the Iraqis have made real progress in establishing a political system that includes Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds. American and Iraqi forces have been capturing or killing leaders of the insurgency and scooping up caches of weapons."
The articles ends not with the writer getting any last barbs in, but with Bush:
4) "We know that when the work is hard, the proper response is not retreat, it is courage," Mr. Bush said. "And we know that this great ideal of human freedom is entrusted to us in a special way, and that the ideal of liberty is worth defending."
On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the Washington Times and 10 being the Village Voice, I'm going to have to give this article a 5--smack in the middle, well-written, objective, fair and balanced. Anyone disagree?