The End of a Free Ride?

Carol Platt Liebau
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Posted: May 30, 2013 8:07 PM

No press outlet has been more predictably sycophantic or less balanced in its adoring coverage of Barack Obama than The New York Times -- and no old media outlet plays a greater role in setting the agenda for the elite press than the Times, either.  That's why two recent developments are worth noting.

First, to her credit (not words I'd use often!), Executive Editor Jill Abramson had the Times decline Eric Holder's invitation to an off-the-record meeting.  That's the right decision, given that "the transparent administration" shouldn't be holding such meetings about curtailment of press liberties and reputable outlets shouldn't be giving the Attorney General a chance to sweet talk themin secret.

Second, check out this story running in today's Times: "Travels of the President Under a Microscope in an Era of Belt-Tightening."  Believe it or not, it's actually fair reporting about the political costs of the President's expansive travel schedule -- and begins with coverage that could actually be construed as somewhat critical.

Don't misunderstand: The Times will never be an Obama adversary in the same way that the paper goes after Republicans. But it is noteworthy that, even as the President's approval ratings begin to fall, the bloom likewise seems off the rose for some of Obama's erstwhile most uncritical cheerleaders.

Perhaps there's an outside chance that elite media will actually start covering the most transparent administration in history.  Any event that reminds the elite press that its first loyalty should be to the people it purports to inform -- rather than to a politician -- is most welcome.