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Blair Scandal Reveals Long-Standing Bias at the Times
May 20, 2003
by Carey Roberts

The May 11 issue of the New York Times carried an extraordinary mea culpa -- the detailed admission of wrongdoing by former Times reporter Jayson Blair. According to the article, "Mr. Blair repeatedly violated the cardinal tenet of journalism, which is simply truth."

When six U.S. soldiers were taken hostage in Iraq, Blair was filing articles based on his interviews with Gregory Lynch, father of Private Jessica Lynch. According to Blair's article, Mr. Lynch "choked up as he stood on his porch here overlooking the tobacco fields and cattle pastures." Problem is, Mr. Lynch's porch does not overlook any tobacco fields or cattle pastures. In fact, none of the Lynch family remembers even talking to Blair.

Commenting on the egregious violation of journalistic standards, former Times reporter Alex Jones commented, "There has never been a systematic effort to lie and cheat as a reporter at The New York Times comparable to what Jayson Blair seems to have done."

I have news for you, Mr. Jones. Because if truth defines the litmus test for good journalism, the New York Times has failed. Exhibit A is the Times' coverage of gender health stories.

The fact is, American men die 5.5 years sooner than their female counterparts. The truth is, men lag on almost every indicator of health status. The reality is, the government spends three times more money on breast cancer research than for prostate cancer.

Yet this side of the truth is seldom heard in the pages of the New York Times.

Indeed, the New York Times has evidenced a clear-cut bias against men's health. A search of all articles published in the Times during the period 1996-2002 reveals the following:

Men's Health: 468 articles
Women's Health: 787 articles

Prostate Cancer: 1,572 articles
Breast Cancer: 2,714 articles

Worse, the New York Times has featured stories that have uncritically touted the feminist claim that women are mistreated by the medical care establishment.

For example, it has long been known that women stand at far greater risk than men of developing complications during risky cardiac procedures. For this reason, physicians are cautious in refering women for these invasive tests.

Despite this fact, the Times ran a front page story on July 25, 1991 that claimed, "Studies Say Women Fail to Receive Equal Treatment for Heart Disease." But when later studies began to cast doubt on the feminist discrimination claim, the Times buried that article on page C6 ("Studies Split on Sex Gap in Treating Heart Patients." April 14, 1992).

Another example -- the NYT published its first Women's Health section in 1997, but did not run a special section on Men's Health until two years later.

The articles in the 1999 Men's Health Section were replete with sexist put-downs. One article opened with this patronizing headline: "As Patients, Men are Impatient, or Uneasy, or Both. They Need to Get a Grip, Like Women." Another headline used a derogatory tone to explain men's shorter lifespan: "Why Men Don't Last: Self-Destruction as a Way of Life."

One can only wonder how the NYT editors could approve articles that were downright insulting to men.

Following the May 11 revelations, the brass at the Times has tried to portray the Blair scandal as an isolated, one-time incident. Publisher Sulzberger, ever-sensitive to the feelings of others, opined, "Let's not begin to demonize our executives -- either the desk editors or the executive editor."

Mr. Sulzberger, the problems at your newspaper run much deeper than Jayson Blair.

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