Is Gerard Baker fit to be US Editor of The Times?


by Shariq
3rd September, 2008 at 10:27 am    

Gerard Baker is the US Editor of The Times. On Monday, he wrote an article for the US site Real Clear Politics, ‘comparing’ the achievements and experiences of Barack Obama and Sarah Palin. The entire piece consists of Republican talking points criticising Obama and playing up Palin’s achievements. I found the following segment particularly amatuerish.

Religious influences

Obama: Regards people who “cling” to religion and guns as “bitter” . Spent 20 years being mentored and led spiritually by a man who proclaimed “God damn America” from his pulpit. Mysteriously, this mentor completely disappeared from public sight about four months ago.

Palin: Head of her high school Fellowship of Christian Athletes and for many years a member of the Assemblies of God congregation whose preachers have never been known to accuse the United States of deliberately spreading the AIDS virus. They remain in full public sight and can be seen every Sunday in churches across Alaska. A proud gun owner who has been known to cling only to the carcasses of dead caribou felled by her own aim.

I don’t have an issue with newspaper writers and editors expressing their opinions on blogs. In fact it can be very helpful to get a sense of the politics and interests of people who are otherwise anonymous, in order to understand how their personality influences what they choose to write about.

I’m not surprised that Gerard Baker thinks that John McCain would make a better President than Barack Obama. He writes for The Times after all! However, I am shocked that a serious journalist who still works for a big newspaper would engage in this type of smearing and swift-boating in a public forum.

I know Andrew Sullivan has been engaging in something similar with Sarah Palin. However he is a full-time blogger. I don’t agree with his intrusion into the Palin family’s private life, but if he wants to give up his objectivity in order to be a full-time attack dog that’s his prerogative.

I now have no reason to trust the US coverage of The Times and will not be reading that newspaper until that hack has been removed.


              Post to del.icio.us


Filed in: Current affairs,United States






19 Comments below   |  

Reactions: Twitter, blogs


  1. cjcjc — on 3rd September, 2008 at 10:49 am  

    Some counterbalance to the BBC Today programme perhaps!

  2. Sid — on 3rd September, 2008 at 11:31 am  

    he ain’t nothing but an attack dog
    lying all the time

  3. Shamit — on 3rd September, 2008 at 11:54 am  

    I find if I wish to stop reading or watching television which is not biased and sometimes way beyond rational and fair – then I fear I might not be reading or watching anything.

    In the UK, even if you leave the extremes out, the main stream Guardian, Independent, Times, and Telegraph are all very biased on personalities and paid columnists dont mind dumping unreasonable crap on people they dont like.

  4. Ravi Naik — on 3rd September, 2008 at 12:18 pm  

    I know Andrew Sullivan has been engaging in something similar with Sarah Palin. However he is a full-time blogger. I don’t agree with his intrusion into the Palin family’s private life, but if he wants to give up his objectivity in order to be a full-time attack dog that’s his prerogative.

    You are confusing two different things: shallow and dishonest journalistic work, with tabloid reporting. There is no excuse for the former, but the latter is can be argued about specially in the context of blogs. It is perfectly legitimate to note the irony of a mother who is against sexual education in schools finding her daughter victim, I would assume, of lack of education in that matter.

  5. Hermes123 — on 3rd September, 2008 at 2:21 pm  

    Shariq, welcome to the real world. Newspapers, whether posh or not, are firstly businesses like any other and need to make money. They don’t have a public service mandate.

  6. shariq — on 3rd September, 2008 at 6:42 pm  

    Ravi, I think we are agreeing. That’s why I criticised Gerard Baker and said that even though I didn’t agree with Sullivan’s tabloid style journalism, at least he had the right to do that.

    Hermes, of course newspapers are out there to make money, but papers like The Times also trade on their journalistic integrity. I was pointing out that if you come across Gerard Baker’s work then be aware that he spends his spare time working as a McCain hack.

    Also, newspapers not having public service mandates is different from not maintaining their standards. Thank god that the current tv regulations have prevented a british version of fox news from emerging.

    Finally, fyi the final series of The Wire has done an excellent job in exploring the effects of allowing conglomerates to take over newspapers in America and its consequences on the quality of reporting.

    p.s the tucker bounds video in the video haven is fantastic. i just worry that the expectations haven’t been set low for palin’s speech tonight.

  7. The Dude — on 3rd September, 2008 at 11:40 pm  

    Shariq

    So some Murdoch brown nosing kiss Ass has got his knickers in a twice about a black man that can read, keep it real at home and run for the presidency for the United States and you want me to lose sleep. Tell me something I don’t know, like Sarah Palin is a gun toting lesbian bent on world domination. That’s news!

  8. um — on 4th September, 2008 at 1:04 am  

    Until I actually re-read your piece and checked your link, I stupidly thought The Times had printed this shite – I’m certainly not the only commenter who thought so.

    If you’re not reading the Times because it employs a right-wing hack who writes nasty stuff for an unaffiliated blog, can I assume you’re not reading the Guardian or Indie either, papers that actually publish pieces by reactionary clerical fascists who have much worse to say on their own websites and in private? Or don’t they count?

    I’ll wager you’d be hard-pressed to find a newspaper that met the standards you seem to expect of The Times. If you find one, get me a subscription.

    Ta.

    PS

    Thank god that the current tv regulations have prevented a british version of fox news from emerging.

    Yes. And CNN, CBS, MSNBC and the rest. Fox works because it taps into a “niche market of 50% of America”. Giving the people what they want and all that… Or should the US only have Democratic talking shops? Two cheers for the BBC.

  9. cjcjc — on 4th September, 2008 at 10:27 am  

    um – well put!

  10. shariq — on 4th September, 2008 at 12:16 pm  

    Um, yeah I really wouldn’t have a problem with Fox if it tried to balance the ‘liberal’ media by employing more reporters who happen to be conservatives then that would be fine. Chris Wallace is a good example of a conservative journalist who happens to work at fox.

    Unfortunately he’s an exception. Most of their pundits and hosts take the position of being Republican/Ultra-conservative hacks who are dishonest in how they cover the news.

    If you think that the BBC and Fox are morally equivalent then you’ve either never seen Fox or are living in some sort of dreamland.

  11. Sunny — on 4th September, 2008 at 1:24 pm  

    you got linked by crooks and liars! I love that blog.

  12. Shuggy — on 4th September, 2008 at 9:19 pm  

    However, I am shocked that a serious journalist who still works for a big newspaper would engage in this type of smearing and swift-boating in a public forum.

    Erm, apart from the point made above (‘rightwing columnist writes for Times’ as a headline surely belongs to the ‘doctor writes prescription’ school of investigative journalism?), I’m not only struggling to understand why you’re shocked – I am not at all clear why you think this point is entirely unreasonable?

    I speak as someone who would always prefer the Democrats rather than the Republicans to win – but I think y’all are missing something about the whole ‘guns and god’ issue in the States. There’s a urban-rural divide and there’s also a class divide. Sadly quite a swathe of Democrats frankly despise rural god-fearing gun owners because they are so unlike them – urban, sophisticated, “liberal”. (Strange kind of liberalism that demands that others be replicas of yourself, don’t you think?)

    Nobody should imagine the position people in the States take on gun-ownership is based on evidence alone – or even that much evidence at all. I’d draw a comparison between this and the attitude of “liberals” in this country to fox-hunting: sure there’s an animal welfare issue but what motivated much of the anti-fox-hunting crew was hatred of toffs. Fair enough, you might say – but understand this: in the States, on this issue, the class hatred is the other way around. While on balance I’d prefer Obama to win, his comments about gun-owners, religion and bitterness is indicative of the patrician snobbery that is the besetting sin of the American Democrats. I’d argue strongly that this is one of the reasons why they keep losing elections. It’s one of the reasons, incidentally, that Clinton – for all her faults – might have been a better candidate; all the polling evidence suggested that working class voters identified more strongly with her. And if you dismiss this purely as a function of racism, you find reflected in yourself precisely the problems the Democrats have – which is that the party of the ‘working man’ doesn’t appear to like the working man very much.) What, exactly, is wrong with pointing out that a presidential candidate who has identified ‘clinging to religion’ with bitterness is the same person who has sat at the feet of someone whose religion clearly has not freed him from bitterness?

    It’s something I think practically everyone has missed: the US Democrats continually make the mistake the Tories used to; mistaking their own party for the electorate. But why deal with this when you can blame the media, the Supreme Court or whatever?

  13. Sunny — on 4th September, 2008 at 9:24 pm  

    There’s a urban-rural divide and there’s also a class divide. Sadly quite a swathe of Democrats frankly despise rural god-fearing gun owners because they are so unlike them – urban, sophisticated, “liberal”.

    That is of course if you buy into the right-wing narrative that the WSJ readers and foreign policy hawks represent working class Americans over a party that is much more trade union friendly (Democrats).

  14. Rumbold — on 4th September, 2008 at 9:30 pm  

    Shuggy:

    “Nobody should imagine the position people in the States take on gun-ownership is based on evidence alone – or even that much evidence at all. I’d draw a comparison between this and the attitude of “liberals” in this country to fox-hunting: sure there’s an animal welfare issue but what motivated much of the anti-fox-hunting crew was hatred of toffs. Fair enough, you might say – but understand this: in the States, on this issue, the class hatred is the other way around.”

    That is a brilliant point. As hyper-rational as many of the left pretend to be, the main reason for the ban was a hatred of rural areas and the upper classes. The rural economy, tradition and the fate of other animals mauled by cuddly foxes was ignored. Just look at how much Parliamentary time was spent debating it. Not that I would go fox hunting, as it seems pretty unfair, but it is an excellent comparison with gun ownership in the US.

  15. Shuggy — on 4th September, 2008 at 9:40 pm  

    Read before you write – I think I was careful to say ‘a swathe’, not necessarily the party as a whole. I really think you’d benefit from acquainting yourself with some basic facts about American political culture before you write much more on this subject. Have you even the faintest glimmer of an idea about the history of the US trades union movement? I don’t think you’ll find many members of the Democratic elite come from that background. You should also be aware that in the US – as here, btw – getting yourself worked into a lather about ‘foreign policy hawks’ is strongly correlated to class and certainly not in the direction you’re alluding to. I really have to say to you – as someone who has decided, for reasons best known to yourself, to slosh around in the pool of opinion about the US election – as far as the Democrats are concerned, you’re part of the problem, not the solution. Why are you mentioning trades unions in this context? On this space as in LC, you have shown precious little interest in economic issues that effect ordinary voters.

  16. Sunny — on 5th September, 2008 at 12:04 am  

    Have you even the faintest glimmer of an idea about the history of the US trades union movement? I don’t think you’ll find many members of the Democratic elite come from that background.

    I do, thanks for your concern though. Any political party would incorporate a loose coalition of groups, some of which may despise each other over various issues but will come together because they hate the other party more.

    My point was, while its very predictable that you’ve come here to bash liberals/lefties here, I’d still say as a whole Republicans are more out of touch than Democrats.

    On this space as in LC, you have shown precious little interest in economic issues that effect ordinary voters.

    This, as you said in a recent post on your blog, is frankly bollocks. If you’d bothered to pay any attention, we feature a lot on poverty and how the Tories will affect poorer people. There were three pieces over two days just on James Purnell when he made the attack on poor people over the welfare state. There have been tons in the past, and I’m actively trying to develop new writers focusing specifically on trade unions.

    Add to that, the continuing series of pieces Kate Belgrave has done on the fight by the workers against Freemantle (and more will be coming soon), and you’ll find the blog has more than its fair share of economic issues.
    Not for the first time Shuggy, you’re chatting out of your arse.

  17. Tim Young — on 12th September, 2008 at 9:12 pm  

    I love reading the Times but the Gerard Baker is surely one of the worse journalist I have come across. His piece are pure Republican propaganda and does not even pretend to come across as impartial.

    I wonder how much he gets paid to write for them.

    Take a look at all his articles. All anti Barack Obama.

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/gerard_baker/

    Americans might be able to take Fox News but in UK, it is hard to stomach such bias drivel.

  18. douglas clark — on 12th September, 2008 at 11:05 pm  

    Shuggy,

    Your urban / rural analysis works for me, to an extent at least.

    It is perfectly clear that in rural areas the hunter gatherer, gun owner, god fearing anti gay shtick works. These are folk that would act against their better interests simply because they are unwilling to give up on a lifestyle. Why should they? As long as Federal government stays out of the way they can continue to perpetuate a lifestyle that they are quite content with.

    I’d really like you to explain this a bit further though:

    You should also be aware that in the US – as here, btw – getting yourself worked into a lather about ‘foreign policy hawks’ is strongly correlated to class and certainly not in the direction you’re alluding to.

    Where has Sunny got this wrong, exactly? If you mean this:

    That is of course if you buy into the right-wing narrative that the WSJ readers and foreign policy hawks represent working class Americans over a party that is much more trade union friendly (Democrats)

    Then you are missing the fundamental urban / rural dichotomy that you started with. It is perfectly reasonable to see two distinctions here, one between urban and rural poor where the split is self evident; and another between urban rich and poor where it is not so obvious.

  19. David Vaillancourt — on 12th October, 2008 at 9:03 pm  

    I agree with most of these comments re Baker. When he DOES actually write something which is favorable towards Obama, you can almost see him “holding his nose”. I don’t read him any more – I used to find some of his commentary worthwhile, but now I find it so skewed that it does not qualify as informed opinion. Pity – we could use as much reasoned analysis as possible in difficult and complex times.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Pickled Politics © Copyright 2005 - 2010. All rights reserved. Terms and conditions.
With the help of PHP and Wordpress.