Nov 1 2003

Our ‘Liberal’ Times

One thing editors of the New York Times and I keep trying to do is knock down the notion that the Times is a liberal paper. But we go at it differently. They do it by stuff like calling the Nazi groper Schwarzenegger a moderate Republican (10/11/03), by apologizing for implying that George W. Bush might not be telling the truth (10/14/03) and by hiring the smarty-pants right-wing columnist David Brooks, who tells us (10/14/03) that baseball fans out in Bush country are courteous, unlike the boors in Boston and New York.

I’ve read the Times over 70 years—-worked there for 24-—and never saw a foreign intervention that the Times did not support, never saw a fare increase or a rent increase or a utility rate increase that it did not endorse, never saw it take the side of labor in a strike or lockout, or advocate a raise for underpaid workers. And don’t let me get started on universal health care and Social Security. So why do people think the Times is liberal?

For one thing, it depends on how you define liberal. Many good people define it as favoring freedom of choice, protection of the environment, separation of church and state, an end to capital punishment and our savage drug laws. Good causes—-the Times says it’s for all of them. Yet when push comes to shove, it backs candidates who take the other side. It’s allergic to progressives—always has been. As I relate in My Times, Wall Street bankrolled Adolph Ochs—-another groper, by the way-—to keep the Times going as a conservative Democratic paper to beat back the progressives of the day. It’s been the same ever since.

—J.H. (WBAI, 10/14/03)