Commentary

New York Times' Bias Is Not Always Obvious

By Bill Donohue | July 17, 2020 | 5:16pm EDT
Featured is the outside of a New York Times bureau. (Photo credit: Gary Hershorn/Corbis via Getty Images)
Featured is the outside of a New York Times bureau. (Photo credit: Gary Hershorn/Corbis via Getty Images)

The opinion editor of the New York Times, Bari Weiss, resigned this week after being shamed for doing her job. She criticized what she saw as a censorial workplace, one that was biased against conservative opinion. Indeed, she said she experienced "unlawful discrimination" and  a "hostile work environment." 

What Weiss endured was widely covered by the media. What the media do not cover are the multiple instances of bias of a more subtle nature, and in this regard, the New York Times is hard to beat. Take, for example, two news stories that were recently posted online.

Every institution has its poster boy for sexual abuse crimes, and for the Catholic Church in the United States that would be former cardinal Theodore McCarrick. The New York Times' 3,000-plus-word story on the predatory priest was not only a dud (it broke no new ground); it never touched on the most serious issue relevant to McCarrick's sordid history. 

What Catholics want to know is not one more anecdote about McCarrick's homosexual adventures—which is all the story offered—they want to know who knew what and when about his behavior. The Catholic clergy and laity have been waiting for more than two years for the Vatican report on him. Why the delay? Never once do the reporters mention this. 

Why are they so stunningly incurious about the only thing that matters about the McCarrick saga? To be blunt, why are they being protective of Pope Francis? They certainly would not be so generous to his two predecessors.

On a completely different note, the newspaper did a story on Nick Cannon, a prominent media star who was fired from ViacomCBS for making anti-Semitic remarks. The mega-media outlet issued a statement that made clear its objections: "ViacomCBS condemns bigotry of any kind and we categorically denounce all forms of anti-Semitism."

Both the "anti-Semitism" and "bigotry" parts of that sentence appeared in the following media outlets: AP, UPI, ABC, CBS, NBC, BBC, Variety, USA Today, MSN, Time, HuffPost, Fox Business, Hollywood Reporter, Miami Herald, Washington Examiner, Townhall, and Yahoo

Why didn't the New York Times print that sentence? It is not as though no one saw it. Here is what its story said

"A ViacomCBS spokeswoman said in a statement that the company categorically denounced all forms of anti-Semitism." 

Why did the newspaper shorten the actual statement? Because it decided—this was no mistake—not to call attention to ViacomCBS denouncing "bigotry of any kind," not just anti-Semitism.

This matters, especially to the Catholic League, because ViacomCBS has had in its employ known anti-Catholic bigots, the most recent and obvious example of which is Trevor Noah. 

On May 20, I wrote to the ViacomCBS board of directors saying, "Trevor Noah is out of control." After providing an example of his latest assault on priests, I mentioned how a year earlier, I contacted Viacom's executives (this was before the merger with CBS) about Noah's "relentless anti-Catholic remarks."

Anti-Catholicism is just as unacceptable as anti-Semitism, or any other expression of bigotry. Yet in the worldview of the New York Times, only the latter matters (and even there many Jews would not agree). 

The omission of any mention of the Vatican report on McCarrick and the omission of ViacomCBS's statement registering its opposition to "bigotry of any kind" are two examples of the kind of discreet bias that marks the New York Times. It's what happens when the newsroom becomes "a hostile environment."

Bill Donohue is president and CEO of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, the nation's largest Catholic civil rights organization. He was awarded his Ph.D. in sociology from New York University and is the author of eight books and many articles.

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