According to a Vanity Fair report The New York Times is blocking reporters from doing left-wing cable talk shows because they don’t want to appear “biased”.
On Sunday, May 19,Â New York TimesÂ finance editorÂ David EnrichÂ got a request from a producer at MSNBC to appear onÂ Rachel Maddowâ€™s show the following night. Enrich had a red-hotÂ front-page storyÂ for Mondayâ€™s paper, about anti-money-laundering specialists at Deutsche Bank flagging suspicious transactions involvingÂ Donald TrumpÂ andÂ Jared Kushner,Â and Maddow wanted to bring him on air to talk about it.
Maddow is MSNBCâ€™s ratings queen, jostling withÂ Sean HannityÂ every night for the crown of most-watched time slot in cable news. Thatâ€™s why reporters tend to relish the exposure they get from doing her show. Enrich said yes, but after mentioning the planned appearance to theÂ Timesâ€™s communications department, he was told he would have to retroactively decline. The reason? TheÂ TimesÂ was wary of how viewers might perceive a down-the-middle journalist like Enrich talking politics with a mega-ideological host like Maddow. The producer, who was informed that theÂ TimesÂ asks members of the newsroom not to appear on opinionated shows to discuss political subjects, was miffed about the cancellation, sources said. Enrich declined to comment. An MSNBC spokesman said, â€œFor over a decade,Â The Rachel Maddow ShowÂ has welcomed the best journalists from across the country and celebrated the hard work they do, day-in and day-out. This includes countlessÂ New York TimesÂ reporters and editors. That commitment to journalism is part of the DNA of the show.â€
Itâ€™s not just Maddow. TheÂ TimesÂ has come to â€œprefer,â€ as sources put it, that its reporters steer clear of any cable-news shows that the masthead perceives as too partisan, and managers have lately been advising people not to go on what they see as highly opinionated programs. It’s not clear how many shows fall under that umbrella in the eyes ofÂ TimesÂ brass, but two others that definitely do areÂ Lawrence Oâ€™Donnellâ€™s andÂ Don Lemonâ€™s, according to people familiar with managementâ€™s thinking. Hannityâ€™s orÂ Tucker Carlsonâ€™s shows would likewise make the cut, but it’s not likeÂ TimesÂ reporters ever do those anyway. Iâ€™m told that over the past couple of months, executive editorÂ Dean BaquetÂ has felt that opinionated cable-news show are getting, well, even more opinionated. Baquet and other managers have become increasingly concerned that if aÂ TimesÂ reporter were to go on one of these shows, his or her appearance could be perceived as being aligned with that showâ€™s political leanings. â€œHe thinks itâ€™s a real issue,â€ one of myÂ TimesÂ sources said. â€œTheir view,â€ said another, â€œis that, intentionally or not, it affiliates theÂ TimesÂ reporter with a bias.â€
It’s not so much a new policy as a reinforcement of an old one. Reached for comment, aÂ TimesÂ spokeswoman pointed me to the section of theÂ Timesâ€™s â€œEthical Journalismâ€ handbook that covers broadcast media appearances: â€œIn deciding whether to make a radio, television or Internet appearance, a staff member should consider its probable tone and content to make sure they are consistent withÂ TimesÂ standards. Staff members should avoid strident, theatrical forums that emphasize punditry and reckless opinion-mongering.â€ Without question, this is not how MSNBC’s anchors see their shows (or CNN’s for that matter). And these guidelines were crafted back in the mid-aughts, a media moment that seems downright quaint compared to today. (What forum is more â€œstrident and theatricalâ€ than Twitter, where many aÂ TimesÂ reporter spends hours of their day? Of course Twitter has been its own minefield for theÂ Times.)
I have to say I think this is the wrong move from The New York Times. Our issue with the Mainstream Media is not that they go on left-wing shows it is that they report with a left-wing bias. I would have no issue with New York Times’ reporters going on Maddow’s show. My issue would be that it would likely become a Republican bash fest where the real story is hindered. The New York Times is doing all it can to look like they don’t hate Republicans and have no bias. They either need to fix there reporting or just come out as a left-wing news outlet.
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