In his final column as Public Editor of the New York Times, Arthur S. Brisbane concluded that “the paper’s many departments … share a kind of political and cultural progressivism … that virtually bleeds through the fabric of The Times.” But it’s certainly not because of any conspiracy, just a meeting of like minds in promoting a worldview that editors and writers share: urbane, worldly, and flexible. Wrote Brisbane:
I … noted two years ago that I had taken up the public editor duties believing “there is no conspiracy” and that The Times’ output was too vast and complex to be dictated by any Wizard of Oz-like individual or cabal.
I still believe that, but also see that the hive on Eighth Avenue is powerfully shaped by a culture of like minds — a phenomenon, I believe, that is more easily recognized from without than from within…
As a result, developments like the Occupy movement and gay marriage seem almost to erupt in The Times, over loved and undermanaged, more like causes than news subjects.
Brisbane was the fourth public editor to take on the task of handling complaints about the Times’ reporting on various issues and then writing about them every couple of weeks. He is a self-proclaimed Democrat with all the proper liberal credentials: stints at the Kansas City Star and the Washington Post, and the requisite degree from Harvard.
When he arrived on the scene he viewed his role as that of coroner, called in to do autopsies on “flawed new articles that drew complaints.” And there were plenty. So many, in fact, that The Times’ “believability rating” at Pew Research Center continues to decline, in contrast to that of Fox News. Asked Brisbane: “Can that be good?”
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