Breaking News: New York Times budges on unfair "fair and balanced" reporting.
We have complained frequently in this space about the timidity of New York Times reporting in their straight news section when strictly factual reporting might come off as politically biased, at least to a biased observer:
The New York Times With Gloves On (includes relevant links to posts)
For Propaganda 101, We Need Journalism 2.0
To Boldly Go Where No Responsible Journalist Has Gone Before
So, the big news since 2001 that Fox News has infected American news with a propagandistic approach, aggressively distorting stories and manipulating context, while claiming to be "fair and balanced" has generally escaped the careful scrutiny of NYT reporters. That big story was left to the opinion writers.
That is, until now.
It started with the post-election stories on "fake news" which revealed the sources of these stories: 'Inside a Fake News Sausage Factory; 'This is all about Income'. For some reason, that news about fake news became newsworthy after the election, but not so much before the election.
Of course, the fake news story begs the question of the granddaddy of fake news, Rupert Murdoch.
And so the Times budged, big time, with "One Nation Under Fox: 18 Hours With a Station That Shapes America. Fox News is a singular force, crafting a searing narrative about what's happening in the world for millions of viewers, including President Trump."
That headline captures the heart of the problem. First, millions of citizens could be fooled by Fox News' narrative. After enough exposure to the 'searing narrative', many of those citizens came to favor a candidate who knew nothing about government or politics, other than that same searing narrative that he himself absorbed by watching Fox News.
But that was in the magazine section, which is devoted to features considered newsworthy. Not exactly straight news, but not quite the opinion pages either.
Maybe the need to cover the Ailes and O'Reilly scandals helped with perspective on Fox.
The latest graphic provides a perfect example of the crucial link that ties the fake news story to the Fox News saga: "How Russian Propaganda Spread From a Parody Website to Fox News."
While Trump remains president, we can only hope that the courage of the NYT will only grow so that the fear of being labeled not fair and balanced, even unfairly, will not prevent the NYT from reporting straight news, in context, with accuracy in support of a compelling true narrative because, if the NYT refrains from the narrative, people come up with their own appealing narrative, courtesy of Fox and Friends.