The NYT's Skewed View: Liberal Newsweek 'Strives to Be Apolitical," Far-Left Daily Kos Just a 'Political Blog'

Two stories in Thursday's New York Times featured the paper avoiding pinning liberal labels on two media organs: the liberal newsmagazine Newsweek and the far-left political blog Daily Kos.

Reporter Jeremy Peters insisted in Thursday's Business Day that the left-leaning magazine Newsweek was "apolitical," yet easily spotted a right tilt in two potential purchasers of the struggling weekly: "2 Suitors for Newsweek Are Said to Be Ruled Out." A photo caption made the easily refutable claim that Newsweek "strives to be apolitical."

The Washington Post is looking for a bidder who will be a good fit for the magazine, which strives to be apolitical.

Really now? As Nathan Burchfiel at NewsBusters reminds us: "Newsweek has attacked Tea Parties and conservative leaders like Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh, earned praise from gay marriage activists for its coverage, launched pro-atheism attacks on religious figures like Mother Teresa, among numerous other liberal positions."

Peters gave Newsweek's editors the benefit of the doubt on its slant, which even Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz believes is an accurate view:

The ideas that Newsweek is promoting are mainly left-of-center....When Newsweek put a conservative's essay on the cover, it was by David Frum, assailing Rush Limbaugh under the headline 'Why Rush Is Wrong.' And when Newsweek took on Obama, it did so from the left, in a piece built around New York Times columnist Paul Krugman and his criticism of the president's economic policies.

Peters was able to see conservatism and libertarianism in the two rejected buyers, but not the clear liberalism at Newsweek.

With no shortage of interested parties, the issue for the Post Company has become whether it can find a new owner that the company's chairman and chief executive, Donald E. Graham, believes will be a suitable steward for the magazine.

That is the main reason the Post Company decided not to entertain offers from Newsmax or Mr. Ritchie, according to these people. The conservative political ideology of Newsmax's chief executive, Christopher Ruddy, is at odds with the editorial bent of Newsweek, which strives to be apolitical in its news coverage though is often criticized as left-leaning.

And Mr. Ritchie, who unsuccessfully tried to buy the Sun Times Media Group last year, is viewed as more libertarian in his political views. He has explored creating a third political party in Illinois with supporters of Ross Perot.

Also on Thursday, reporter Joseph Plambeck had every opportunity to identify Daily Kos as a far-left blog in "Politics Blog Questions Polling Data It Had Used," but failed to do so.

Political junkies are fascinated by the emerging brawl between Markos Moulitsas, founder of the far-left campaign blog Daily Kos, and the polling firm Research 2000, which has been providing him with encouraging data for Democrats and slams of Republican voters as racist and conspiratorial. Moulitsas is accusing the Maryland company of having "fabricated or manipulated" polling results, based on statistical analysis done by three of his readers.

The political blog Daily Kos said Tuesday that it could not trust the data it has used in its weekly poll featured prominently at the top of the Web site, raising questions for the second time in a year about the veracity of a widely used polling company.

Markos Moulitsas Zúniga, the founder of Daily Kos, said in a post that an analysis done by three readers shows "quite convincingly" that the polling data provided each week to the blog by the widely used polling company, Research 2000, was "likely bunk." The weekly poll has been published since January 2009. He is planning to sue the company for breach of contract and misrepresentation.

The Times has cited Research 2000's data in several news stories but has not commissioned polling from the group itself. More significantly, liberal columnist Charles Blow used the firm's research to mock Republicans as conspiracists in his August 8, 2009 column.

Plambeck returned again to Moulitas (in a concluding paragraph that didn't make the print edition) touting "his blog's success" and portraying Kos, who notoriously dismissed with an obscene phrase the brutal murders of four civilian contractors in Iraq, as a newly discerning data-miner.

Mr. Moulitsas said that because of his blog's success, there are other polling organizations willing to work with him, adding that he will require them to provide all of the raw data. "I'm not getting out of the polling game," Mr. Moulitsas said. "I eat it. I breathe it. The last thing I want to do is see the demise of polling. I don't know what I'd write about."

Clay Waters is editor of Times Watch. You can follow him on Twitter.