I've always felt The New York Times is a schizophrenic paper --- alternately very good or very bad.
The "paper of record" has won a myriad of Pulitzer Prizes over the years for coverage on a variety of issues, including environmental problems and questionable business practices by U.S. corporations.[tag]
Reporters Charlie Savage and James Risen have turned out some terrific stories on civil liberites and national security issues.
But the Times has fallen down badly on other occasions, particularly with respect to foreign policy and war coverage. The paper's reporting in late 2002 and 2003 on Iraq, which presented thinly-sourced stories claiming that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, helped the Bush administration build its public case that Iraq had to be invaded and Saddam removed.
Months later, the stories were discredited when inspection teams could find no WMD. But the damage had already been done --- an invasion of Iraq took place in March, 2003. That set off a brutal ten-year war which cost over 5,000 American lives and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives.
It emerged later that the Times' pre-war stories had relied heavily on the claims of one Iraqi expatriate leader, Ahmed Chalabi, who wanted to return to power and stood to benefit from Saddam's removal.