Newspapers are at their best when they stick to the facts.
"A man was killed yesterday when the truck he was driving..."
You get the picture: a government is overthrown, 90 people die in a car bombing, a new opinion poll unsettles the earth, etc.
The New York Times does well to report the facts. It is perhaps the best straight news newspaper in the country, especially in foreign affairs.
It does well in its opinion pages. Opinion pages are explicitly biased.
But the Times is utterly disgraceful when articulating a dubious political phenomenon as it did today in a prominent article.
The religious right has had little press or recognition well into the second primary fundraising quarter of the 2008 presidential elections. Why? The issue of gay marriage has disappeared and with it, essentially, the political influence of the church.
How did it all happen? Because Ted Haggard, former leader of the National Association of Evangelicals, got outed for having sex with a male prostitute.
Even the Buba types smell hypocrisy when a church condemns homosexuality while its leaders indulge in said behavior.
That leaves pro-business interests with a little problem. Without 20-30 million homophobic white people in near apoplectic rage over gays getting married, the business elite have no way to win an election.
What do I mean? Dahlia Lithwick describes this "bait and switch" tactic in Harper's Magazine. "[President] Bush allowed his base to dream of an America without gay marriage, without abortion, and where black people would know their place.
"But then comes the switch. Bush's actual appointees to the federal bench don't necessarily adhere to a socially conservative worldview...They do have an agenda, but it is not the agenda of the Christian right. It is the agenda of George Bush."
As a result of the scandals that rocked the Christian Right last fall, all the chatter about "family values" has subsided. The church is utterly absent from the political scene. James Dobson, leader of Focus on the Family, has tried desperately to grab headlines (most recently praising Mitt Romney), but otherwise the religious right is so far irrelevant. Well, here comes the Times to revise reality.
The old masters like Falwell are dead or ineffective anymore, the Times writes, "In their stead a new generation of leaders who have mostly avoided the openly partisan and confrontational approach of their forebears have become increasingly influential."
You didn't know that, did you?
Where are the facts? What in God's name is the Times referring to? If I look out my window right now, am I going to see a mob of young Christians (who are under the influence) teeming on yonder hilltop?