Blair Scandal Reveals Long-Standing Bias at the Times

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The
May 11 issue of the New York Times carried an extraordinary
mea culpa – the detailed admission of wrongdoing by former
Times reporter Jayson Blair. According to the article, "Mr.
Blair repeatedly violated the cardinal tenet of journalism, which
is simply truth."

I
have news for you. If truth defines the litmus test for good journalism,
the New York Times has failed. Exhibit A is the Times' coverage
of gender health stories.

The
fact is, American men die 5.5 years sooner than their female counterparts.
The truth is, men lag on almost every indicator of health status.
The reality is, the
government spends three times more money on breast cancer research
than for prostate cancer
.

Yet
this side of the truth is seldom heard in the pages of the New
York Times.

Indeed,
the New York Times has evidenced a clear-cut bias against
men's health. A search of all articles published in the Times
during the period 1996–2002 reveals the following:

  • Men's
    Health: 468 articles
  • Women's
    Health: 787 articles
  • Prostate
    Cancer: 1,572 articles
  • Breast
    Cancer: 2,714 articles

Worse, the New
York Times has featured stories that have uncritically touted
the feminist claim that women are mistreated by the medical care establishment.

For
example, it has long been known that women
stand at far greater risk than men
of developing complications
during risky cardiac procedures. For this reason, physicians are
cautious in referring women for these invasive tests.

Despite
this fact, the Times ran a front-page story on July 25, 1991
that claimed, "Studies Say Women Fail to Receive Equal Treatment
for Heart Disease." But when later studies began to cast doubt
on the feminist discrimination claim, the Times buried that
article on page C6 ("Studies Split on Sex Gap in Treating Heart
Patients." April 14, 1992).

Another
example – the NYT published its first Women's Health
section in 1997, but did not run a special section on Men's Health
until two years later.

The
articles in the 1999 Men's Health Section were replete with sexist
put-downs. One article opened with this patronizing headline: "As
Patients, Men are Impatient, or Uneasy, or Both. They Need to Get
a Grip, Like Women." Another headline used a derogatory tone
to explain men's shorter lifespan: "Why Men Don't Last: Self-Destruction
as a Way of Life."

One
can only wonder how the NYT editors could approve articles
that were downright insulting to men.

Following
the May 11 revelations, the brass at the Times has tried
to portray the Blair scandal as an isolated, one-time incident.
Publisher Sulzberger, ever sensitive to the feelings of others,
opined, "Let's not begin to demonize our executives –
either the desk editors or the executive editor."

Mr.
Sulzberger, the problems at your newspaper run much deeper than
Jayson Blair.

May
26, 2003

Carey
Roberts [send him mail]
is a researcher and consultant who tracks gender bias in the mainstream
media.


     

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