More 'Subtle' Bias at the NYT

Elisabeth Bumiller, reporter for the New York Times, filed this story about a ceremony at the new Air Force One pavilion in California, where President Bush dedicated the new building located on the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. She opened the story by highlighting three famous rides aboard Air Force One, when the aircraft was a Boeing 707. While recounting this history, she exposes her political bias within the first few sentences. See if you can find it. 

One of these things is not like the other.

The blue-and-white 707 flew seven American presidents more than one million miles over nearly three decades of tumult in the United States and the world. Jimmy Carter took it to Germany to greet the hostages from Iran the day after his administration ended, Richard M. Nixon flew it back home to California after resigning the presidency, and Ronald Reagan took it to Berlin when he told Mikhail S. Gorbachev to “tear down this wall.”

Let’s take a look at this shall we?

Jimmy Carter tried in vain to free the Iranian hostages, and many believe it was this failure that cost him the 1980 election. A few minutes after Ronald Reagan was elected President of the United States, the hostages were released. Rejected by the American people, Carter travelled to Germany to welcome the hostages, not as a reelected president, but as a one-term ex-president leaving behind a legacy known more for its failures than its successes. Recollection of his less than spectacular tenure still hounds him today.

Richard M. Nixon, exposed as the crook he claimed he wasn’t, resigned the presidency and left D.C. as an ex-president who lost the trust of the American public. To his dying day he never admitted his wrong doing, and like Carter, his legacy will be marred forever.

Ronald Reagan travels to Berlin, Germany and delivers THE speech of the 20th century. His words and actions usher in the collapse of communism in the Soviet Union.

As I take a look at this, Bumiller highlights the lowest moments for two U.S. presidents. Yet her third example highlights one of the most (if not the most) important events in history. In fact, for Ronald Reagan, the trip on that 707 would mark a moment in time which would chronicle his greatest success – ending the cold war. But Bumiller aligns this event with two presidential moments of failure.

What is she trying to communicate here? Does she believe that Reagan’s moment of triumph was actually a moment of embarrassment for America? Probably, but rather than keeping this position out of the story, she includes it, and upholds a tradition of subtle bias at the Gray Lady.

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