Media Critics Left and Right Agree: Times Goofed in Not Running McCain Op-ed

The left-leaning Columbia Journalism Review concluded that the Times' "tenuous arguments about newsworthiness" served "only to feed the paper's reputation as a vehicle for thinly veiled liberal bias."

TheColumbia Journalism Review, notpreviously known as aRepublican stronghold, sees liberal bias in the Times' rejection of an op-ed by John McCain supporting the war, a week after the paper ran an anti-war op-ed by his Democratic opponent, Barack Obama.

CJR contributor Lester Feder wrote of Deputy Editorial Page Editor David Shipley's rejection of McCain:

McCain partisans have decried the Times's decision - and, if you read the two columns side by side, Shipley's justification does seem rather thin. The similarities between Shipley's words and an unsigned July 17th Times editorial denouncing McCain for not having "matched Mr. Obama's seriousness on Iraq" suggest that the rejection is an expression of its heightening exasperation with the presumptive GOP nominee - not an adherence to general principles of newsworthiness. Failing to be straightforward about this was a mistake. Instead of making a statement about its judgment of McCain's leadership - a judgment that it could defend on principle - the Times has only reinforced its reputation on the right as a biased liberal broadsheet.

It is unclear what detailed "plans" sounded new to the Times when it accepted Barack Obama's July 14th submission.

CJR didn't find the responsefrom Shipley(a speechwriter for President Clinton in the mid-90s, BTW) very convincing:

But in his email to the McCain campaign, Shipley was specific about what "details" he expected from the Arizona senator:

"[T]he article would have to articulate, in concrete terms, how Senator McCain defines victory in Iraq. It would also have to lay out a clear plan for achieving victory - with troops levels, timetables and measures for compelling the Iraqis to cooperate. And it would need to describe the senator's Afghanistan strategy, spelling out how it meshes with his Iraq plan."

As Feder correctly pointed out:

The whole point of McCain's rejected op-ed, published today in the New York Post, is that he doesn't think it is wise to offer the kind of Iraq statement that would satisfy the Times. McCain declares that "any draw-downs must be based on a realistic assessment of conditions on the ground - not on an artificial timetable crafted for domestic political reasons. This is the crux of my disagreement with Sen. Obama."

He concluded that the Times' "tenuous arguments about newsworthiness" served "only to feed the paper's reputation as a vehicle for thinly veiled liberal bias."

The New York Post on Tuesday ran the McCain op-ed rejected by the Times, and editorialized that the "paper of record" had failed its responsibility to its readership:

...on an issue as central to the presidential race - and as critical to America's War on Terror - as this, you'd think "the paper of record" would let each side make its case. Ha! The irony, of course, is that millions of Americans will now see McCain's piece, anyway. And the only party damaged in the process is... the Times. Sounds about right to us.