The New York Times and Liberal Fairness

July 24, 2008

I don’t know which troubles me more: the liberal media’s fawning over Barack Obama or the great number of people who are buying into his mystique so uncritically. But what bothers me more than either of these is the arrogance of the liberal press, which sadly is typical of so many liberals.

The media’s deification of Obama is largely responsible for the perception that Obama is superhuman. Their coverage of his European tour — the most breathtakingly presumptuous junket we’ve witnessed in American politics in ages — is but the latest example.

How anyone can fall for the media’s Obama rock star charade, given his repeated demonstrations of unfitness for the presidency, is a subject better suited for psychoanalysts.

But we can chalk up the media’s irrational exuberance to their eagerness to have someone of like mind — someone sufficiently socialistic and appeasement-oriented — back in the Oval Office. With their insane aversion for President Bush and their craving for undefined change, it’s hardly surprising they’re blind to Obama’s increasingly obvious flaws.

What’s more difficult to stomach is their reckless obliviousness to their own close-mindedness, intolerance, unreasonableness and conceit — and their mistaken projection of these attributes onto their conservative opponents.

Contrary to liberal-spawned conventional wisdom, it is not conservatives who are selective enemies of free expression, agents of intolerance or threatened by opposing views, which they are confident can be slain in the marketplace of ideas. It is not conservatives who dominate academia or who see it as their mission not just to instruct in their disciplines but also to engage in worldview indoctrination. It is not conservatives who, behind the mask of protecting “victims,” censor political and religious speech on campus and in the public square.

It is not conservatives who, having lost in the talk radio marketplace of ideas, are pushing to reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine to suppress political viewpoints they find objectionable. And it is not conservative newspaper editors who — masquerading as objective, high-minded journalists — exhibit the stunning audacity to refuse publication of an op-ed by the presidential candidate they oppose, after having published one from the one they endorse.

This brings me to the major source of my angst: The New York Times’ rejection of Sen. McCain’s op-ed in response to the one it published the previous week by Sen. Obama on his plan for Iraq.

Honestly, when I first heard reports about this, I thought they were in jest — lampooning the Times’ liberal bias. But I was quite wrong.

David Shipley, the Times’ op-ed editor, sent an e-mail to McCain’s staff rejecting the piece and offering suggestions on how to tailor it for resubmission. “I’m not going to be able to accept this piece as currently written. … Let me suggest an approach.”

Just savor the dripping condescension. But it gets worse. Shipley said: “The Obama piece worked for me because it offered new information; … he went into detail about his own plans. It would be terrific to have an article from Senator McCain that mirrors Senator Obama’s piece.” It would have to “articulate, in concrete terms, how Senator McCain defines victory in Iraq … lay out a clear plan for achieving victory — with troop levels, timetables and measures for compelling the Iraqis to cooperate.”

In other words, it would have to use liberalspeak and “mirror” the messiah’s. I’m almost speechless.

Liberal commentators, in defending the Times’ position, are just as congenitally incapable of seeing this issue clearly. One such clarity-challenged defender argued it was reasonable for the Times to demand that McCain address the issues it raised.

That wholly misses the point. McCain is not a pundit in training submitting an opinion piece for publication, but the presumptive Republican presidential nominee presenting his side of the case. Sheer fairness alone would mandate that the Times run McCain’s piece uncensored, as it did his opponent’s.

Those saying the Times has an absolute right to reject McCain’s work embarrass themselves. This is not about the Times’ rights, but the propriety and fairness in their editorial decisions, the mindset leading them to those decisions and their inability to see their own mind-numbing bias in the process.

The left supports campaign finance reform, the Fairness Doctrine and other policies allegedly aimed at ensuring that both sides of the political argument be aired. But it’s a colossal fraud.

The Times’ rejection of McCain’s piece is a case study in how liberals apply these principles. They don’t believe in both sides presenting their viewpoints, but in controlling the nature and scope of the discussion.

Can you imagine what would be in store for political speech in this country if liberals resumed regulatory control of the airways?

I can and am horrified at the prospect; and you should be, too.