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White House Highlights NYT Bias In Coverage Of Impeachment Hearings
New York, United States of America - July 8, 2017. The New York Times building in the west side of Midtown Manhattan.
Avalon/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The White House is calling out headline bias at the New York Times after the outlet published multiple slanted reports relating to the impeachment hearings on Wednesday.

Hogan Gidley, deputy assistant to the president and principal deputy press secretary, posted a tweet Wednesday afternoon with a screenshot of multiple Times headlines with annotations pointing out various points of bias in allegedly straight news reporting.

“Media bias is real, it’s wrong, it’s dangerous, and it must be called out and exposed. Here are four @nytimes headlines and six clear, egregious examples of bias,” Gidley tweeted. “Can you spot more? (Keep in mind, these are JUST the headlines…we didn’t even post all examples IN the articles.)”

The examples included relate to how the Times referred to law professor Jonathan Turley, who was called by Republicans to testify at the Judiciary Committee’s first impeachment hearing, and the three other professors, who were called by Democrats.

The main headline from the Times read: “Trump Committed Impeachable Offenses, 3 Scholars Tell Judiciary Committee.” Gidley noted that the Times did not say the three scholars who supported impeachment were all called by Democrats, but did note that the lone voice against the impeachment proceedings was called by Republicans.

The second headline from the Times read: “But Expert Invited by Republicans Says Case Is ‘Slipshod.’” As Gidley explained, the Times not only made this “GOP perspective” headline smaller than the “anti-Trump headline,” it also put in quotes the “anti-impeachment perspective” while stating the “pro-impeachment perspective” authoritatively without quotes.

Further, the Times twice noted that the anti-impeachment scholar was invited by Democrats while never mentioning the three pro-impeachment scholars were invited by Democrats.

Another headline read: “The Republicans’ lone expert witness, the law professor Jonathan Turley, has represented whistle-blowers and terrorism suspects.” Gidley claimed this headline “implies GOP could only find one but hides that Dems prevented GOP from inviting more” (emphasis original). He also suggests the Times “cherry-picked experience highlights” to make Turley look bad and a Democrat-called scholar, Pamela Karlan, look good. To be fair, representing whistle-blowers is probably not seen as a bad thing, but many might think differently about terrorism suspects. The Times did not include information for Karlan that the paper would view as a negative.

The headline about Karlan read: “Pamela Karlan, also a law professor, counts a landmark gay rights case as among her litigation experience.” Now, perhaps the Times felt some readers would view that as a negative, but it was clearly not worded in a way that would allow readers to make that decision. The Times called the case a “landmark gay rights case,” emphasizing that it was important and about rights, something everyone should support. This is a common tactic the media uses in allegedly unbiased news articles – they add “rights” to the end of the cause they support, such as gay rights or abortion rights, to signal which side people should be on.

The reaction to Gidley’s tweet was predictably mixed, with right-leaning accounts asking for the White House to put out more diagrams such as this one, and left-leaning accounts demanding Gidley do the same for Fox News’ bias, ignoring the fact that Democrats have an entire apparatus, Media Matters for America, that does just that and is declared a serious, non-partisan watchdog group by left-wing media outlets.

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