Tilting at Windmills

July/August 2012 The bias towards, seeing pro-Obama bias

By Charles Peters

Arthur S. Brisbane, the ombudsman for the New York Times, wrote a column this spring urging his paper’s reporters to take “a hard look at the president,” implying that they had not been doing so. His main evidence of pro-Obama bias dated from the 2008 campaign and the president’s first year in office. The fact is that from mid-2009 until today, the Times’s reporting of the White House has been very tough.

The real challenge for political coverage for the Times and the rest of the media is to tell the truth about the Republicans in Congress and get it on the front pages. Here’s why: the political scientists Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein have demonstrated that it was Republicans who were mostly responsible for congressional failures during the Obama years, but the public remains so unaware of this fact that there is a strong chance that the Republicans will win both the House and the Senate in November.

Think of how many times you’ve read articles that blame both parties—or blame “Congress” without identifying which party. The media is sacrificing truth to the appearance of evenhandedness.

Charles Peters is the founding editor of the Washington Monthly and the author of a new book on Lyndon B. Johnson published by Times Books.