Politics and the culture wars must scare journalists to death — even those who work for The New York Times. They regularly trade their reporter’s notebooks for stenography pads.
For example, consider this article by James C. McKinley, Jr. in today’s News York Times (A19 of the national edition): A Claim of Pro-Islam Bias in Textbooks. Some people think that some current textbooks are biased in favor of Muslims to the detriment of Christians. I have no idea if such a claim is grounded in facts or not. And the reason I have no idea: The New York Times didn’t bother to report the facts. McKinley just wrote down what people told him and passed it on to his readers.
That’s stenography, not reporting.
And what about his editors? Why was this incomplete story allowed to run?
To report this story properly (i.e. acting as a custodian of facts with a discipline of verification) would mean actually reading the passages in question and quoting them in full. To report this story properly would mean asking history experts to comment. But it would also mean covering the rhetoric beat — reading the words in the textbooks — the facts of ink on paper — and reporting what you can plainly see.
(One might argue that there’s only so much room in the paper for such a treatment. OK, click the link. There’s no such thing as space limitations on the internet. Where are the links to the books/passages in question?)
But no. Gotta be objective.