Wednesday, March 07, 2007

There They Go Again

Todd Gitlin shares this tidbit about the Gray Lady's attempt at fair & balanced.

The front-page headline is damning: "In ’05 Investing, Obama Took Same Path as Donors." The story, by Mike McIntire and Christopher Drew, is awfully gosh-darned important. It's on the same front page as the Libby verdict and "Questions About Cheney Remain." This is big.

The story? Well, here's the lede:

Less than two months after ascending to the United States Senate, Barack Obama bought more than $50,000 worth of stock in two speculative companies whose major investors included some of his biggest political donors.

Sounds like they nailed him dead to rights. But hold on for the fourth graf:

A spokesman for Mr. Obama, who is seeking his party’s presidential nomination in 2008, said yesterday that the senator did not know that he had invested in either company until fall 2005, when he learned of it and decided to sell the stocks. He sold them at a net loss of $13,000.

The spokesman, Bill Burton, said Mr. Obama’s broker bought the stocks without consulting the senator, under the terms of a blind trust that was being set up for the senator at that time but was not finalized until several months after the investments were made.

So let's see if we've got this straight. First graf: "Barack Obama bought...." Fourth graf: "the senator did not know that he had invested...."

If you're feeling nostalgic for the '90s, or if you're of a numerological bent, please note that today's peculiar choice of a front-page story comes fifteen years minus one day after the legendary March 8, 1992, front-pager by Jeff Gerth on Gov. Bill Clinton's Whitewater deal.

So the NYT is off and running to demonstrate that it's even-handed. So today's story about the Congressional testimony of the fired U. S. Attorneys is on page A14: "Prosecutors Describe Contacts From Higher Up."

That chalk-on-blackboard sound you hear is the sound of Bill Keller, facing the most demonstrably and systematically corrupt administration since Warren G. Harding, bending over backward to prove that the Times is even-handed.

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