NYT Editor Bill Keller Denies Pro-Obama Bias on ABC

The paper's executive editor insisted, against all evidence, that the president is "getting examined pretty microscopically."

ABC's This Week roundtable took up the media's favoritism toward President Obama. George Stephanopoulos marveled at "how obsessed the President and White House are with Fox News," prompting George Will to observe that's because "it's the discordant note in an otherwise harmonious chorus." New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller, however, cautioned "don't confuse attention with love" as he maintained of Obama's coverage: "I don't think...it's been unskeptical or uncritical." Indeed, Keller insisted, "he's getting examined pretty microscopically."

Sam Donaldson cracked up the panel with a back-handed slap at the White House press corps. Asked how they are doing, Donaldson proposed before being drowned out by guffaws led by Stephanopoulos: "I think it's doing okay. I mean, they're going to come to life as the public gets more skeptical-"

(Fox News Sunday also had a segment on the media's love affair with Obama. Stephen Hayes of The Weekly Standard saw "a clear ideological affinity for Barack Obama and his programs" as well as "a huge do-something bias" for government action to solve perceived problems. NPR's Mara Liasson predicted: "I think the honeymoon is probably going to wind down sometime this fall.")

This Week set up the segment by playing two close to reality jokes President Obama told at Friday night's Radio and Television Correspondents Association dinner:


- I was up tossing and turning, trying to figure out exactly what to say. Finally, when I couldn't get back to sleep, I rolled over and asked Brian Williams what he thought.

- Why bother hanging out with celebrities when I can spend time with the people who made me one?

From the June 21 This Week:


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: The President's going to have to answer a lot of these questions, Wednesday night, in this conversation that Diane Sawyer and Charlie Gibson are having with him. Which has sparked debate on talk radio and others, on whether the press has been too easy on President Obama. Here's how the President answered the question in an interview this week.

BARACK OBAMA ON CNBC: I got one television station that is entirely devoted to attacking my administration. You know, I mean, that's a pretty-

CNBC's JOHN HARWOOD: I assume you're talking about Fox.

OBAMA: That's a pretty big megaphone. And you'd be hard-pressed if you watched the entire day to find a positive story about me on that front.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, George, I've always been struck by how - and it's not too strong a word, how obsessed the President and White House are, with Fox News.

GEORGE WILL: Well, it's the discordant note in an otherwise harmonious chorus. That's why. Look, three love affairs in history, are Abelard and Eloise, Romeo and Juliet and the American media and this President at the moment. But this doesn't matter over time. Reality will impinge. If his programs work, he's fine. If it doesn't work, all of the adulation of journalists in the world won't matter.

STEPHANOPOLOS: Some studies have found the President has gotten an abnormal amount of coverage had coverage his personal life, personal style, celebrity coverage.

BILL KELLER, NEW YORK TIMES: Well. First of all, he's a fascinating life story. So, the personal side gets covered. Of course, it's the first obviously African-American family in the White House. But, you know, don't confuse attention with love. I mean, here is a new President who has promulgated one, huge, ambitious program after another. So, of course, he gets a lot of big, page-one headlines. But I don't think, at least up until now, it's been unskeptical or uncritical. Read our business columnists on his approach to the deficit, his quasi-nationalization of the auto industry. He's getting examined pretty microscopically.

STEPHANOPOULOS: How is the White House press room doing?

SAM DONALDSON: I think it's doing okay. I mean, they're going to come to life as the public gets more skeptical-

[loud laughter, led by Stephanopoulos, from the other panelists]