Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
July 13, 2007

NYT's Sneaky Pro-Bush Headline

Josh Marshall points to some up-is-down press coverage of the Republicans filibustering in the Senate.

Yesterday the NY Times had this headline and piece:

Senate Narrowly Backs Bush in Rejecting Debate on Increasing Time Between Deployments

... The proposal died when the Senate voted 56 to 41 against moving to a vote, four short under the Senate’s rules.

Unlike the NYT headline suggests, the Senate voted not for Bush, but 56-41 against Bush. The Senate also did not vote against moving to a vote. The Senate did vote 56-41 for cloture, i.e moving to a final vote, but this was insufficient as 60 votes were needed.

Back in 2005 the Democrats were the Senate minority. When they filibustered the nomination of John Bolton as U.N. ambassador the NYT titled:

Democrats Block a Vote on Bolton for the Second Time

For the second time in a month, Senate Democrats blocked a vote on Monday ... The final tally was 54 to 38, six votes short of the 60 required to break a filibuster, ...

Instead of:

"Senate Narrowly Backs Bush in Rejecting Debate on Increasing Time Between Deployments"

a correct headline would have been:

"Republicans Block a Vote for Increasing Time Between Deployments"

You might think the difference is not important. But as anyone in the news business will confirm, headlines are extremely important for what the readers will remember.

The NYT is practicing sneaky pro-Bush propaganda here.

Posted by b on July 13, 2007 at 02:06 PM | Permalink


Saw you on TPM. Congrats!

PS- Will Billmon ever return?

PSS-BTW, I called my Senators complaining of their vote on the Webb amendment. God these repubs have no conscience.

Posted by: mpower1952 | Jul 13, 2007 2:49:58 PM | 1

WELL done for calling the NYT's on their scrappy, miss-information headline. Sweet TPM gave you the credit --- It's all good, apart from The Times' lameness..... Cheers

Posted by: jdbdoyle | Jul 13, 2007 3:17:37 PM | 2

I just sent an e-mail to the Public Editor at the NYT:

I realize that headlines aren't the stories themselves, but they are often the only thing people read, especially on subjects in which they're not intensely interested. That is why I have always thought that newspapers owe a duty to choose headlines that accurately reflect the underlying story. Yesterday's headline, Senate Narrowly Backs Bush in Rejecting Debate on Increasing Time Between Deployments, was one of the most misleading possible. The Senate did not back Bush. To the contrary, a majority of the Senate desired to proceed with a debate on limiting deployments of troops overseas and setting minimum times between redeployments. A majority of Republicans refused to end debate. This is of course "the filibuster," a device that, when used by Democrats, constituted a grave threat to democracy, but, when used by Republicans, represents the Senate backing the President. Anyone who read the headline would have thought that the Senate agreed with Pres. Bush. It did not. A more appropriate headline would have been "Republicans Threaten Filibuster Over Attempt to Limit Overseas Deployments."

I have always had great confidence in the Times, but actively misleading headlines like the one yesterday truly make me wonder whether the Times if following an overt political agenda, one that requires claims of victories by the President, even when those victories consist solely of obstructing the will of the people. Sadly, this is why I find myself more and more depending on the blogs rather than newspapers like the Times for information and analysis. Blogs are biased -- but at least they admit it.

Posted by: Aigin | Jul 13, 2007 3:33:14 PM | 3

Thanks for the credit Josh (i.e.TPM).

Folks new here might want to read one of these recent threads on Moon of Alabama:

- Ominous Signs of War - War on Iran and Syria and Palestine and ...
- Sales Tax Question or "How to tax blow jobs?"
- Nathan Sharansky - Lying with Statistics - Debunking a propaganda stooge
- The Change in World-Wide Perception of U.S. Behavior - A mess ...

Thanks to everybody for coming here. If you want to contribute, feel free to use the comments. For front paging, mail to

Posted by: b | Jul 13, 2007 3:47:56 PM | 4

@Algin - @3 - good letter, please let us know if/when the NYT responds.

Posted by: b | Jul 13, 2007 3:50:15 PM | 5

The NYT is a sneaky pro-Bush newspaper (as is the WaPo, only the WaPo is slightly less sneaky).
Bush is now described in headlines as 'firm' by both papers, before they described him as 'bold'.
They must really laugh hard when they print that shit and let's face it, the joke's on us.

Posted by: Dick Durata | Jul 13, 2007 3:52:38 PM | 6

Check this out:

Posted by: Greg | Jul 13, 2007 4:44:25 PM | 7

@Algin - #3 & b #5

or publishes it. Likely chance eh? I don't have easy access to the NYT and would probably shun it if I did.

Good work b. Most of my news-info comes from blogs (MoA #1)and our local newspapers.

Posted by: Juannie | Jul 13, 2007 5:45:04 PM | 8

@Algin - #3 & b #5

or when they publish it. Likely chance eh. I don't have easy access to the NYT and would mostly shun it if I did.

Good work b, as usual (but I don’t take it for granted). I get most of my news-info from blogs (MoA #1) and our local newspapers with editors I know and trust.

Posted by: Juannie | Jul 13, 2007 5:52:01 PM | 9

oops. I checked after my first post seemed not to go through but got faked out, but glad I got to add the amendments anyway.

Posted by: Juannie | Jul 13, 2007 5:56:01 PM | 10

A flood of comments here. My question: I think there's a difference between defeating a bill with a cloture vote (or other procedural measure) and using the cloture vote to avoid voting on an appointee. I imagine that the NYT's headlines reflect some distinction between those two ideas. Any evidence that the NYT has, in the past, used the "blocK" terminology when Senate Democrats blocked a bill (in 2002-2006)?

Posted by: Robert C. | Jul 13, 2007 7:06:45 PM | 11

I have no idea how someone can try to distinguish a difference between a failed cloture vote on a bill, and a failed cloture vote on a judicial appointee. Talk about ridiculous semantics.

The plain truth is that the Republicans, who wailed and cried that they just wanted a chance for an "up or down vote" on their conservative judical appointees, have completely forgotten a couple of years later how much they hate filibusters! Remember when they were threatening to change the Senate rules so they wouldn't have to mess with cloture?

Now that the worm has turned, the Republicans are all about endless debate. Seems we couldn't possibly have an up or down vote on any issue relating to troop reduction, withdrawl, rest, etc without giving aid and comfort to the terrorists!

What a joke.

Posted by: Jim A | Jul 13, 2007 7:48:48 PM | 12

I thought you guys all knew the NYT's reporting was crap, even before and more important after Judas Miller and her sidekick played point propagenda for Jr.'s little war.

Anyway, Iraq veterans: "...the entire war is an atrocity"

In a very wide-ranging and in-depth piece of reporting, Chris Hedges & Laila Al-Arian of The Nation have interviewed fifty combat veterans of the Iraq war. The results are devastating.

Oh, and WTF is going on in Pakistan rumors of massive riots are all over the underground news.
Then there is this: Islamic revolution will come in Pakistan, warns cleric, as militants bury their dead

President Pervez Musharraf vowed yesterday to step up the fight against gun-toting fundamentalists, as the first funerals were held for militants killed in the Red Mosque siege and a defiant captured cleric predicted an Islamic revolution in Pakistan.

"Extremism is not finished in this country. We have to fight it and we have to finish it," the general said, promising new weapons and training for security forces along the Afghan border.

Musharraf has not even begun to deal with the true extent of thebacklash that will come from the Red Mosque raid.

And all the guns in the world cannot remedy the situation in Pakistan, in terms of a government really taking care of - and responding to - the needs of its people.

People turn to militant fundamentalism when all the normal mechanisms of government continue to fail.

Will Musharraf have to call Bush to send in the troops like Neocon Bill Kristol expects?

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jul 13, 2007 10:09:43 PM | 13

bernhard.. have i told you lately..yer the bomb baby. in my book this is the most awesome (linguist impaired i am) site on the internet. congrats on getting big league affirmation even if it is for one of your quick observation/natch posts instead of one requiring brilliant analysis/deduction which you do so well w/regularity and are my favs.

wink/blowing kiss to hamburg

Posted by: annie | Jul 13, 2007 11:27:12 PM | 14

What evidence is there that the Republicans blocked a vote, or
threatened to block a vote, on the actual troop deployment amendment, apart from their defeating the cloture motion? Why did Webb/Reid withdraw the amendment after the cloture vote failed? If they believed there was a lot of public support for it why not let the Republicans embarrass themselves by filibustering? I found this in a document on the Senate
Filibusters and Cloture in the Senate

"...In recent times, conversely, the Senate leadership has increasingly utilized cloture as a routine tool to manage the flow of business, even in the absence of any apparent filibuster."

"For these reasons, the presence or absence of cloture attempts cannot
be taken as a reliable guide to the presence or absence of a filibuster. Inasmuch as filibustering does not depend on the use of any specific rules, whether a filibuster is present is always a matter
of judgment."

Posted by: Tom | Jul 14, 2007 9:24:18 AM | 15

that is a very interesting observation Tom, no one around here would be surprised to find out that the democrats are posturing over ending the war while doing what they can to carry on with business as usual.

being a people's deputy does seem to be a rather putrid business. thank you for pointing out yet another instance of just how rotten they all are.

Posted by: dan of steele | Jul 14, 2007 10:52:46 AM | 16

On his website Senator Webb has a couple of press releases that accuse the Republicans of obstruction and they are dated July 10, one day before the cloture vote.
"I would, first of all, like to express my vice[?] that this filibuster might occur which, as the chair knows, would increase the requirement of the vote to 60 votes in order for the amendment to proceed. This is a very simple and a very fair amendment."
“Today the Republicans decided to filibuster an amendment that goes straight to the well-being of our troops. I deeply regret this move, which makes it necessary for the amendment to be passed with a minimum of 60 votes instead of 51."

I don't think that last statement is technically correct - his amendment could pass with 51 but it would take 60 to stop the alleged filibuster. I'll contact his office to see if they can provide more details about the filibuster.

From my previous comment: "Inasmuch as filibustering does not depend on the use of any specific rules, whether a filibuster is present is always a matter
of judgment."

Posted by: Tom | Jul 15, 2007 9:22:57 AM | 17

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