Times Plays Up Sharron Angle's 'Awkward Retreats' from 'Hardline Positions'

Reporter Adam Nagourney puts all the pressure on Harry Reid's Republican challenger and her "politically intemperate remarks" and "hardline positions." There's still no mention of Reid's unpopular gaffes or liberal stands.

Following in the footsteps of The Washington Post, Wednesday's New York Times put Sharron Angle on the front page, pushing strongly on Harry Reid's notion that her extremism and ineptitude are working in Reid's favor. Reporter Adam Nagourney played up Republican pessimism:

Since Ms. Angle won, her campaign has been rocked by a series of politically intemperate remarks and awkward efforts to retreat from hard-line positions she has embraced in the past, like phasing out Social Security. There have also been a staff shake-up and run-ins with Nevada journalists, including one in which a television reporter chased her through a parking lot trying to get her to answer a question.

Republicans in this state are concerned that what had once seemed a relatively easy victory is suddenly in doubt, with signs that Ms. Angle's campaign is scrambling to regroup.

"Reid had no chance to win before," said Danny Tarkanian, one of the Republicans who lost to Ms. Angle. "He has a shot to win now. He could still lose, but I have to say he is favored."

Nagourney does not suggest "Landslide Harry" is a terrific candidate. He makes it clear that the Democrats need an anti-Angle vote to win:

If Mr. Reid is doing better than he once was, it is still relative; he is a politician in deep trouble. A Mason-Dixon poll last week found that 51 percent of Nevadans held an unfavorable opinion of him, a toxic number for an incumbent. That poll found Mr. Reid and Ms. Angle in an effective tie.

"I'll say this about Angle: I still think when we get to the end, it's still going to be about Harry Reid and whether Nevada voters want to get rid of him and send a message to Washington," said Brad Coker, managing director of Mason-Dixon. "They may still hold their nose and vote for Sharron Angle even if they don't agree with a lot of things that she says and does."

Mr. Reid's advisers made clear that the only way they could win was to make Ms. Angle so distasteful to Nevada voters that they would vote for Mr. Reid or someone else - it is possible here to vote for "none of the above" - or stay home.

"I'm not discounting her," Mr. Reid said. "In the spite of the work we've done, people need to understand more about her. There are some unusual stands she has."

But Nagourney's story makes no serious attempt to understand the "why" of Reid's unpopularity - particularly as Reid wants to note the other candidate's hardline ideological stands and gaffes. Nagourney avoids Reid's list, like Reid declaring it should be impossible to be both Hispanic and Republican - the Times continues to avoid that gaffe completely. There's no mention of Reid's gaffes about how Obama won election because he was a "light-skinned black" with "no Negro dialect." There's no mention of Reid claiming the war in Iraq was "lost" and the surge accomplished nothing.

It's too bad that the Times didn't offer more of his interview with Angle in the paper, like this exchange in the transcript they posted:

NAGOURNEY: do you think President Obama represents the values of this country, in your view?

ANGLE: President Obama and Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi represent what mainstream America is rejecting about Washington, D.C. And that is this out of touch with the people.

When Harry Reid was asked to do town halls, for instance, on Obamacare, he refused. Now people want to talk about these things. They want to talk to their representatives about it.

And certainly there was a mainstream reaction, a majority reaction, against Obamacare, and yet they passed it anyway.

That portrait of hardline ideology doesn't match the liberal-media storyline - even if it explains a Republican advantage at the polls.