The New York Times recently threw a hissy fit over what it felt were overzealous efforts by Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Kelly to defend NYPD anti-terrorist surveillance programs the Times opposes. And just this week the Times, in editorializing on the exclusionary policies of the TAPPS high-school basketball tournament, chose to focus most of its ire not on the attempted exclusion of the Orthodox Beren Academy over its refusal to play on the Jewish Sabbath – which captivated the attention of the media across the country – but on the experience of some Muslim applicants.
The Times’s biased focus is manifest.
In a March 8 editorial the Times rebuked Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Kelly for having “reacted with defensiveness and hostility to the disclosure of constitutionally suspect surveillance of law-abiding Muslims in New York City, Long Island, New Jersey and beyond.” The paper chided the mayor for saying the issue was not “a political football to play with” and the commissioner for having accused critics of the NYPD of using “the media to spread this information.”
The editorial concluded by saying, “Mr. Kelly loudly defends the operation and an exemplary record of preventing terrorist attacks. He should not do that so loudly that he drowns out reasonable criticisms.”
The Times’s groveling before Muslim groups is nothing new, of course. Remember its relentless criticism of opponents of the Ground Zero mosque?
In an August 3, 2010 editorial, the Times ripped into Republican opponents of the mosque for having the effrontery to disagree: “It was not surprising that Republican ideologues like Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin came out against the mosque…. They have been shamelessly playing the politics of fear since 9/11.”
The Times also laced into the Anti-Defamation League for coming out against the mosque. Two weeks later the Times delivered a harsh rebuke to critics of President Obama’s comments in support of the mosque and in yet another editorial a month later the paper said that “The furor over the proposed Islamic cultural center and mosque near Ground Zero keeps giving us new reasons for dismay. As politicians and commentators work themselves and viewers into a rage, others who should be standing up for freedom and tolerance tiptoe away.”
Fast forward to the current controversy over the NYPD’s surveillance program. On March 3 the Times ran an editorial titled, “Surveillance, Security and Civil Liberties.” True to form, it was a one-sided indictment of the NYPD.
On March 7 the Times ran a news story headlined “F.B.I Official Faults Police Tactics on Muslims.” However, while the piece quoted a local FBI official’s criticisms, it also contained the following colloquy between Robert S. Mueller III, the director of the FBI, and Congressman Mike Honda during Director Mueller’s testimony before the House Appropriations Committee. Congressman Honda had asked about the NYPD surveillance tactics. Mr. Mueller’s response:
Let me start by saying, at the outset, that Ray Kelly and the New York Police Department have done a remarkable job in protecting New York. The fact of the matter is New York has been and will continue to be a target. And we have worked closely – very closely – together with them.
So, then, should anyone take seriously The Times’s pontifications about what is acceptable advocacy, especially when the paper skews headlines on news stories to fit its agenda?