Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt admits the obvious - the Times early coverage of the most recent installment of the Jeremiah Wright story was a joke:
While The Times was aggressive with its coverage on the Web, it was slow to fully engage the Wright story in print and angered some readers by putting opinion about it on the front page — a review by the television critic of his appearances on PBS, at an N.A.A.C.P. convention and at the National Press Club — before ever reporting in any depth what he actually said, how it squared with reality and what it might mean as Democrats ponder Obama as their potential nominee.
Carol Hebb of Narberth, Pa., spoke for many when she wrote that she found the newspaper’s initial coverage “very strange.” If editors did not think Wright’s remarks were newsworthy enough to be on the front page, she asked, why did they put the review by Alessandra Stanley there? “I was very surprised that her piece was not accompanied by a ‘factual’ article reporting the content of Mr. Wright’s comments more completely and perhaps adding some meaningful context.”
Peter Weltner of San Francisco wrote that he wished The Times had examined what he said were falsehoods in Wright’s remarks — like the claim that blacks and whites learn with different parts of their brains — instead of “merely guessing why Mr. Wright said it.”
I’m with Hebb and Weltner. For a newspaper that showed great enterprise on the subject last year — breaking the story that Obama had disinvited Wright to deliver the invocation at the announcement of his presidential campaign, and publishing a deep examination of their relationship before most Americans had heard of Wright — it was a performance strangely lacking in energy at a potential turning point in the election.
I'LL BE DAMNED: Clark Hoyt includes this iconic phrase:
Wright — he of the “God damn America” sound bites on YouTube — came back onto the scene a week ago Thursday...
As of May 4, the Times has yet to include that phrase in a straight news story. It has previously appeared in a Kristol column, a Dowd column, and an editorial denouncing the Republican's North Carolina ad.
Today Wright is quoted in both the Hoyt column and a Week In Review appraisal of black liberation theology. Baby steps! This is real breakthrough stuff for the "Lots of the News That's Fit To Print (All The News That Fits Our Narrative)" Team.