The headlines on the New York Times website held steady, even as its rivals shifted tone and substance—the Times website declared near victory for Senator Barack Obama and certain defeat for Senator Hillary Clinton.
At first, the LA Times played down Obama’s victory and played up the possibility that Clinton could still eek out the nomination. Yahoo.com headlined a similar slant, announcing Obama and Hillary “split” the win.
That changed around 5 am Eastern time, when the LA Times headlined: “Obama Cruises and Clinton Clings.” Yahoo replaced their draw language with “Obama Strengthens Lead.”
As other news sites decided how to spin the results of Tuesday night, the NY Times signaled an end to its leading role as puppeteer in the Democratic primaries. Its political coverage included a slew of articles throwing Clinton’s odds of capturing the nomination into doubt and conceding a magnificent upset to the senator from Illinois.
“Obama Wins North Carolina Decisively; Clinton Takes Indiana By a Slim Margin,” declared its main headline at 5:20 AM Eastern Time.
“Results Provide Delegate Boost to Illinois Senator,” echoed the subtitle—in an article written by former Obama adversary, reporter Jeff Zeleny. Obama may have built a friendship with Zeleny, who has previously attacked Obama. Zeleny and co-worker Michael Powell followed Obama through Indiana for a major profile. (Another sign of Obama’s incredible coalition building techniques.)
“Options Dwindling for Clinton,” ran yet another honest assessment of the senator from New York.
Patrick Healy topped off the morning (it’s PC, I’m Irish too) with “Uncertainties Mark Clinton’s Itinerary.”
The New York Times is exceedingly welcome back where it belongs: as an ally of the Left and an objective participant in these primaries. It is refreshing to read an article by Zeleny that seems to capture the moment rather than fight against it. (My deepest appreciation and respect for the reporter.)
With these important changes in the Times, a newspaper that commands powerful sway over the political momentum of any given candidate, it feels like Obama is firmly ensconced in victory.
The Times largely sets the tone that newspapers like the LA Times and media outlets like Yahoo follow. The Times has flexed its adversarial muscle throughout the primaries. It helped generate a week-long flurry of national media attention on the question of Obama’s elitism. Those efforts damaged Obama’s support before the Pennsylvania primaries.
However, liberal blogs, like the tremendous Huffington Post this site and many others, have largely mitigated the fallout over the “elite” comments and the Reverend Jeremiah Wright “controversy” by calling attention to the mechanisms of bias in mainstream news outlets. Arianna Huffington, Jason Linkins, Sam Stein, and Celest Fremon, just to name a few, have led the charge against media corporations and pundits doping the race in Clinton’s favor.
As the mainstream media clashed with grassroots media, a virtual stalemate ensued. Obama has weathered the “controversies” well, according to opinion polls and the election results.
Now that the NY Times is lining up behind Obama, Clinton will really find her “options dwindling.” Oh, boy. LOOKOUT!!!!