After Four Years of Denying It, New York Times Banner Headline Admits Obama's 'Liberal Vision'

The cat's out of the bag: Obama's a liberal. A banner headline across Tuesday's New York Times front page confirmed what conservatives have been saying about the president for years: "Obama Offers Liberal Vision: 'We Must Act.'" Peter Baker's lead story "Inaugural Stresses Theme of Civil and Gay Rights -- Safety Net Praised," also stressed Obama's liberal message. So why has the paper spent the last four years defending Obama from conservative criticism by insisting Obama was actually a centrist?

Barack Hussein Obama ceremonially opened his second term on Monday with an assertive Inaugural Address that offered a robust articulation of modern liberalism in America, arguing that “preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action.”

On a day that echoed with refrains from the civil rights era and tributes to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Mr. Obama dispensed with the post-partisan appeals of four years ago to lay out a forceful vision of advancing gay rights, showing more tolerance toward illegal immigrants, preserving the social welfare safety net and acting to stop climate change.

Yet the Times has spent the last four years insisting against evidence that Barack Obama, who pushed through government control of health care and a huge ineffective "stimulus" package, while maligning the wealthy and pushing higher taxes, as some kind of moderate. Back editions of the Times are littered with claims Obama was a centrist or moderate:

Reporter Jeff Zeleny on April 10, 2011 wrote a story under the online headline: "President Obama Adopts Centrist Approach.' Zeleny also considered Obama a "pragmatist" in December 2009: "He delivered a mix of realism and idealism....he continued a pattern evident throughout his public career of favoring pragmatism over absolutes."

An April 19, 2009 story by David Herszenhorn and Jackie Calmes claimed: "In some of his earliest skirmishes, Mr. Obama eventually chose pragmatism over fisticuffs....Pragmatism, [his aides] add, is an Obama hallmark, and among the changes he promised - and has delivered - is a break from his predecessor's often uncompromising style."

Here's reporter Jodi Kantor on Obama the law professor, May 3, 2009: "Former students and colleagues describe Mr. Obama as a minimalist (skeptical of court-led efforts at social change) and a structuralist (interested in how the law metes out power in society). And more than anything else, he is a pragmatist who urged those around him to be more keenly attuned to the real-life impact of decisions."

-- Clay Waters is Editor of the MRC's TimesWatch site