Fast and Furious vs. News of the World

If you read political sites like this one, you know all about Fast and Furious (or, as some prefer, Gunwalker), the biggest scandal to emerge from the Obama administration so far. The scandal involves several thousand guns which the Obama administration deliberately allowed into the hands of Mexican drug gangs, and may even have financed. It involves homicides, as a number of people were murdered with Fast and Furious weapons, including an American Border Patrol Agent. And it involves a cover-up, as the acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has broken ranks with his superiors at Obama’s Department of Justice and has testified that DOJ, up to and including Eric Holder’s top deputy, has been involved in trying to stonewall Congress’s investigation into the scandal.

So Fast and Furious has all the ingredients of a major news story; a story that may force the resignation of the Attorney General.

Then we have the News of the World story. News of the World apparently is a British tabloid. I haven’t followed the story closely, but as I understand it, the paper somehow hacked into certain cell phones, including those of celebrities and crime victims. This revelation has provoked a considerable outcry in the U.K.

Now, which of these stories should be of greater significance to a serious American newspaper? Fast and Furious is an American scandal, while the News of the World story has little or nothing to do with the U.S. A number of people have died as a result of Fast and Furious, none from the British tabloid’s cell phone hacking. Fast and Furious involves serious misdeeds by appointed American officials, including high officers in the Obama administration. Whatever misdeeds may have occurred in the News of the World scandal were committed by private British citizens. And, while the News of the World story has no impact on American politics, Fast and Furious may well lead to a reshuffling of President Obama’s cabinet and could even give rise to calls for his resignation.

So, if you are a serious American newspaper, your coverage should tilt, what, ten to one in favor of Fast and Furious? Twenty to one? At least, I would say.

But the New York Times apparently doesn’t see it that way. My count, based on a search of the paper’s archives, is that the Times has run 42 articles, op-eds and editorials on the News of the World story. Fast and Furious? By my count, five. Does that bizarre ratio reflect the paper’s bias? Presumably so; it consistently tries to protect the Obama administration. But for a newspaper to virtually ignore a major story like Fast and Furious goes beyond bias. It suggests a complete lack of seriousness as a news source.

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