The New York Times and New York's political class are often attacked as bastions of wealthy, out-of-touch elites whose world view is completely divorced from that of most middle-class Americans. This is not a fair characterization - but every now and again it's obvious why the characterization has come to be part of the political lexicon. Check out these three examples from just the last week to see what I mean.
EXAMPLE 1: NYT SAYS BEING AGAINST THE WAR IS "FRINGE"
The first example comes from the Times' piece today about congressional Democrats' anti-war Out of Iraq Caucus, the New York Times is so blinded by its elitist, Serious Person disdain for the vast majority of the public that it actually published this absurdly oxymoronic statement:
"Even with a majority of Americans opposing the war, the caucus is struggling to overcome its fringe image."
I say this statement is oxymoronic because Democrats who want to bring the troops home from Iraq do not have a "fringe image" among the public, which also - according to polls - strongly wants the same thing. Then again, maybe I'm wrong: Maybe this statement is just a very public admission that editors and reporters at newspapers like the New York Times really believe they get to unilaterally decide "images," not the public; and from their Beltway vantage point where the only Serious People are those neoconservatives who pushed the war in the first place, anyone who wants to end the war is a Dirty Hippie on the "fringe." Either way, this line is stunning (though sadly not shocking) for its sheer idiocy, its Beltway-typical disconnection from public opinion, its deliberate contempt for the majority of the country - or whatever combination of all three led to its publication.
EXAMPLE 2: NYT PRAISES LIMOUSINE ENVIRONMENTALISM
The second example comes from the Times' story last week about the good news that a major Texas utility will limit building coal plants. We get this nugget:
"Goldman Sachs has been one of the most aggressive firms on Wall Street in taking action on climate change; the company sends its bankers home at night in hybrid limousines."
Now, it's true that Goldman Sachs has taken a few important steps on climate change. But the Times citing its policy of "sending its bankers home at night in hybrid limousines" is not one of them. Obviously, even citing this as some sort of proof of environmental conviction reeks - literally - of "limousine liberalism" - that is, purely cosmetic, seemingly holier-than-thou moves that don't really amount to much. That's especially true in a city that has vehicles far more fuel efficient than "hybrid limousines" though which Goldman Sachs bankers may have never ridden on: those things known as "subways."
EXAMPLE 3: "SCHOLARS" & NY MAYOR "WORRIED" ABOUT TAX BURDEN FALLING ON BILLIONAIRES
The third and final example from the last week comes in the Times' story about a report showing that - newsflash - New York City pays a lot of taxes. Here's the key excerpt, in which the paper cites Edmund J. McMahon Jr., a "scholar" at the fringe right wing Manhattan Institute:
"One of the concerns, Mr. McMahon said, is the city's excessive reliance on Wall Street - a worry that Mayor Bloomberg has expressed. 'We have a tax structure in this city that's more dependent than ever on high-income businesses and individuals,' he said."
Ah yes - just a few years after Bloomberg forced taxpayers to finance the construction of Goldman Sachs palatial Manhattan headquarters - and simultaneously refused to modestly increase blue collar city workers' wages - we now hear from the mayor and his right-wing pals that the major problem facing the city is that Wall Street pays too much of the tax burden. Yes, the Big Apple real crisis above and beyond its chronically underfunded schools, burgeoning health care crisis and crumbling infrastructure is the fact that billionaires like Mike Bloomberg are being forced to pay too much in taxes.
Now, as I said to start out - the New York Times and New York City's political class really do suffer from unfair attacks. The paper's investigative and business reporting is stellar, and the city has produced some pretty terrific political leaders (see Eliot Spitzer for an example). But make no mistake about it: the paper and the city's elites don't attract criticism for absolutely no reason. When it comes to some of the biggest issues of the day, they both regularly trumpet an attitude that gives a big, gold-ringed finger to ordinary Americans.
UPDATE: Here's another example today of idiocy/bias from the New York Times, this time on health care.
Follow David Sirota on Twitter: www.twitter.com/davidsirota