Highly Instructive

So it turns out Times editor Dean Baquet refused to publish the Clinton campaign’s pushback email about the egregiously botched “criminal referral” story the paper published. I’m not going to get on the outrage bandwagon over that. This is high stakes Kabuki on both sides. The Clinton campaign may actually be happy they refused to publish – a better story than having their letter published in the paper.

But … there’s still something highly instructive we can draw from this. It is a really good object lesson on how much more wildly the Times gets played by Republicans than it ever does by Democrats. Fox and the RNC wouldn’t be playing them like a fiddle at this point.

News organizations botch stories. It happens. But the Times’‘ behavior in this case has frankly been baffling. There are a lot of ancillary questions being pressed by the Democrats and the Hillary campaign – some relevant, some not, the biggest being whether the ridiculous Gowdy committee somehow had its hands in the story. Those questions are getting enough play elsewhere. I will simply say this: it is untenable to get a story this wrong on such a consequential issue and remain steadfast that your reporters and editors did nothing wrong. I don’t mean felony wrong, like someone has to be fired or hung out to dry. But you simply can’t say you made no errors. If you relied on “trusted” sources and they got it wrong so it’s their fault, well … your trust was at least partly misplaced. Again, by friggin’ definition.

The Times has a checkered past reporting on the Clintons, to put it generously. If this had been about a Republican campaign, there would already been some sort of internal probe or review – at a minimum.

Is the Times a generally liberal paper? Of course it is. But that doesn’t have a direct or obvious effect in a situation like this. It can actually lead to sloppy and unethical reporting, as it did in the Whitewater Era.

The Times has a problem covering the Clintons. There’s no getting around that conclusion. It’s a longstanding problem. It’s institutional. I am really baffled as to why they can’t simply come clean on this one.

Dear Reader,

When we asked recently what makes TPM different from other outlets, readers cited factors like honesty, curiosity, transparency, and our vibrant community. They also pointed to our ability to report on important stories and trends long before they are picked up by mainstream outlets; our ability to contextualize information within the arc of history; and our focus on the real-world consequences of the news.

Our unique approach to reporting and presenting the news, however, wouldn’t be possible without our readers’ support. That’s not just marketing speak, it’s true: our work would literally not be possible without readers deciding to become members. Not only does member support account for more than 80% of TPM’s revenue, our members have helped us build an engaged and informed community. Many of our best stories were born from reader tips and valuable member feedback.

We do what other news outlets can’t or won’t do because our members’ support gives us real independence.

If you enjoy reading TPM and value what we do, become a member today.

Latest Edblog
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Investigations Desk:
Reporters:
Newswriters:
Director of Audience:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Publisher:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: