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Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Sheffield's Blinders
Topic: NewsBusters

Conservative media critics -- like, say, those at the Media Research Center -- would have you believe that the only reason newspapers are currently facing financial difficulties is because readers are tired of their purported liberal bias.

Matthew Sheffield is one of those. In an April 24 NewsBusters post, Sheffield rails against the New York Times, claiming that shareholders inflicted some "accountability" on the Times' "unprofessional and unethical behavior" by more than 40 percent of common-stock shareholders witholding a vote on the company's directors. Sheffield claimed that "the uber-leftist Sulzberger family ...  has been running the paper into the ground financially and off a cliff when it comes to bias, all the while stuffing its own pockets." He goes on to rail against the Time's dual-tier stock structure, under which, he says, "the people who own most of the Times stock actually have no control as to who runs the company since their shares can't vote on a majority of the board of directors."

Not only does Sheffield not mention the current paradigm shift from print to online that newspaper-based media companies are currently undergoing -- nor note that stockholders unhappy with the dual-tier stock structure (a not-uncommon structure, also used by companies such as Google, Ford, and Berkshire Hathaway) are free to sell said stock -- he approvingly repeats a claim from a pseudonymous commenter who makes the "astute point" that "Pinch [Sulzburger] and the Times are not about publishing. They are not about principle. They are there to push a left wing agenda."

That is an incredibly silly claim (if we made it, we'd want to stay anonymous too), and it says a lot about Sheffield that he thinks such a comment is "astute." The anonymous commenter's single piece of evidence for his claim is that the Times criticized Alberto Gonzales in a editorial. It ignores that numerous Republicans have criticized Gonzales, as well as numerous examples of the Times is deviating from its purported "left wing" agenda.

But the facts would interfere with the conservative media-bias narrative. Sheffield's blinders are way too comfortable for him to contemplate such a thing. 

Posted by Terry K. at 11:03 PM EDT

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