Rep. Chris Shays, Conservative? NYT Full of Labeling Slant

And in Colorado, "a drift toward socially conservative orthodoxy" made the Republican party a "tough sell to newcomers."

Rep. Christopher Shays of Connecticut, conservative?

Thursday's Times was packed with results from individual House and Senate races, was also chock-full of labeling slant. Western-based reporter Kirk Johnson in Denver on Thursday, surveyed the grim post-election aftermath for Republicans from Denver Thursday and found one reason Republicans lost:

Here in Colorado, minority status by the Republicans combined with a drift toward socially conservative orthodoxy that political scholars say has been an increasingly tough sell to newcomers.

As for liberal labels, there were two in a front-page story by David Herszenhorn and Carl Hulse, "Democrats in Congress Vowing To Pursue an Aggressive Agenda," balanced by a reference to "more conservative Democrats."

Thursday's special state-by-state analysis section, written by a scattered team of 11 Times reporters, was a cornucopia of labeling slant, with 11 references to conservatives vs. 4 for liberals. That actually marks an improvement from a similar guide after the 2004 presidential election,in whichconservative references outnumbered liberal ones 20-2. (Then again, what else can you say about results from Massachusetts and Vermont?)

Some tidbits from Thursday's edition:

In Arizona, Rep. John Shadegg wascalled "a scion of the conservative establishment in the state." Elsewhere, there were a couple of references to "fiscally conservative" Democrats.

Most chuckle-worthy was this description of long-besieged Connecticut Rep. Christopher Shays, the last Republican standing in New England:

Christopher Shays of Connecticut, the lone conservative in a region long dyed blue, suffered a startling defeat to a Democratic businessman from Greenwich, Jim Himes."

Shays, a conservative? Shay is a at most a centrist: His rating from the American Conservative Union is 45 (out of a possible 100), making him the most liberal Republican in the House or Senate based on my eyeballing of ACU's list. For good measure, Shays also scored ahealthy 55 rating out of 100 on a similar vote-rating system issued by ACU's liberal counterpart, Americans for Democratic Action in 2007. The Times later notedShay's reputation as "a fiscal conservative and social progressive," again avoiding the word "liberal."