News report?

Wednesday's Example of Media Bias   —   Posted on October 16, 2013

From a post by’s editor James Taranto (original post date 9/10/13):

…We must object to this scurrilous lead paragraph in a New York Times news story about Norway’s recent election:

A little more than two years after a far-right, anti-immigrant militant killed 77 people, many of them teenagers, Norwegian voters ousted their center-left government on Monday, paving the way for the conservative leader, Erna Solberg, to assemble a governing coalition that may include an anti-immigration party.

This seems a clear effort to poison the well against the new government by implying a link to the 2011 massacre. And if you read on, it turns out that “the campaign had been centered largely on economic issues, like extending already generous welfare payments (Labor) versus cutting taxes and privatizing hospitals (Conservatives).” The piece draws only tenuous connections to the attack:

But the massacre on the island of Utoya, where Anders Behring Breivik attacked youth members of the Labor Party on July 22, 2011, was never far from the surface. . . .

In a twist that is causing unease in parts of the country, the Progress Party, to which Mr. Breivik once belonged, could be a kingmaker in the coming coalition talks. The party could enter government for the first time.

Even this attempt at establishing guilt by association is undercut in the next paragraph, which notes that the Progress Party has “somewhat toned down its anti-immigrant oratory.” All in all, it’s a shabby effort to appeal to Times readers’ political prejudices–tolerable perhaps in an opinion piece, but certainly not in a news story.