The American Prospect carries an informed piece about the perceived anti-war and anti-Bush tilt of the New York Times under new editor Howell Raines. The Prospect — a left-of-center magazine — makes the interesting point that the conservative pundits who roast what they see as the Times’s agenda haven’t actually spent much time working in the daily media, and therefore don’t understand how ad hoc coverage decisions really are.
The bug in the Prospect’s ointment is that a publication’s Editor doesn’t need to have a heavy hand on the spike to direct coverage. Quite the contrary; coverage can be steered in many less-visible ways — like hiring the “right” people.
But based on my own experience, the Prospect gets it right, and backs up its thesis with some actual quotes from some actual reporters on the Times. From the article:
To generalize, conservative pundits assume that establishment media such as the Times are partisan because that’s how their own journalists are expected to operate. They believe Howell Raines runs The New York Times the way they know Wes Pruden runs The Washington Times.