The headline on the upper right hand side above the fold on page one of The New York Times is the most prestigious piece of real estate in the world of journalism. On November 28, 2016, that headline trumpeted, “Trump Promotes Baseless Claim on Illegal Voting.” That headline looked as if it belonged on the op-ed page, rather than the most eye-catching spot of the news section. A reader who skimmed page one would have been left with the thought that there wasn’t any genuine voting irregularity, and that President-elect Trump was the only party raising this false issue.
However, Mr. Trump wasn’t alone in saying that serious electoral problems arose in the recent presidential election. Dr. Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, had loudly proclaimed that irregularities had occurred, when she called for recounts in three battleground states, and launched a seven million dollar fund raising campaign to pay for these recounts. No headlines about Dr. Stein making a “baseless claim” by doing much the same thing as Mr. Trump was doing. Nor would the eye of a reader catch the fact that the Clinton campaign was supporting Dr. Stein’s demand. None of the complainers was offering any credible evidence of election problems, but only Mr. Trump was criticized, and criticized in the most prominent place of the entire newspaper.
The New York Times has reviewed its coverage of the recent election, and concluded that whatever bias might have occurred was minor and inadvertent. You might learn a useful lesson by meditating on what you put in, and left out, of page one of November 28, 2016. The bias was obvious.
William O. Sumner
4555 E. Mayo Blvd. Apr. 4330
Phoenix, AZ 85050