Reprinted from Media Matters
As the most famous and powerful news organization in America, the New York Times prides itself on leading the press pack. And as the media world fragments into smaller and smaller slices, it's the Times that can still set the agenda like few other outlets can.
The good news for the Times in 2015 was that its collective fingerprints were all over key chapters of the year's campaign coverage. The bad news is the Times would probably like those fingerprints to be lifted.
Because rather than being heralded for its groundbreaking campaign work, the newspaper's editors and reporters spent an awful lot of time last year answering criticism about the paper's sloppy and erroneous coverage of Hillary Clinton, and specifically answering for why the Times newsroom and its opinion pages seemed obsessed with knocking down the Democratic frontrunner and getting key facts wrong in the process.
By the summer, the Times' Clinton miscues and slights had piled so high that there was a growing consensus among media watchers that the daily had allowed its disdain for Clinton to color its coverage, and that the Newspaper of Record was in desperate need of a course correction.
Boston Globe columnist Michael Cohen:
"There's also no getting around the fact that the Times coverage of Hillary Clinton is a biased train wreck."
New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen:
"I have resisted this conclusion over the years, but after today's events it's fair to say the Times has a problem covering Hillary Clinton."
Three times last year, the Times presented would-be blockbuster stories that targeted Clinton with overheated tales of unethical, and possibly illegal, behavior. And three times last year, the Times swung and missed, badly.Email Mess
Clinton became synonymous with "email" in 2015 when the Times in March broke the story that she had used a private account while serving as secretary of state. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell had also used a private email account while in office (and Jeb Bush had done something similar while serving as governor in Florida), but the Times argued Clinton's action was deeply secretive. The Times also accused Clinton of having possibly "violated federal requirements" with her use of personal email for official government business, specifically citing the Federal Records Act. It was that hint of criminality that gave the story so much pop in the press.