NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–William Proctor starts his day with The New York Times. He believes you do, too, although you may not know it.
“The Times is pursuing a highly potent, largely clandestine, and unnoticed strategy to promote a particular worldview — not only in editorials, op-ed columns or other opinion pieces, but also in news stories,” Proctor writes in his new book, “The Gospel According to the New York Times,” published by Broadman & Holman.
Proctor contends that The Times uses its power to crusade against conservative stands in such areas as abortion, religion, capital punishment and gun control.
Proctor, a Harvard Law School graduate, longtime journalist and author, has spent several years studying how The Times exerts power not only toward its readers, but also in its wide influence through articles syndicated to other media — from your local TV news to your hometown newspaper.
More recently, Times reporters and columnists have been seen as frequent guests on TV news analysis programs.
“On PBS and CNN and elsewhere, you not only find that Times reporters are there, but also that they are being listened to with bated breath,” said Proctor, a former reporter for the New York Daily News. “They are regarded as experts or authorities on the issues.”
But what they are often doing is promoting what Proctor calls “culture creep.”
He’s convinced that it has dangerous potential for those who are trying to live their lives according to biblical teachings.
After studying The Times methodically for many months and recording numbers of stories and references to particular topics, as well as how they were played up — or slighted — in the paper, Proctor found that his opinions were supported.
The Times’ editorials and even a significant number of news stories are often communicated with a “quasi-religious fervor,” Proctor said. In fact, it’s prevalent enough that he uses spiritual terminology to describe “the seven deadly sins or major behaviors and beliefs that the Times loves to hate and attack.”
This is his list as he expressed it in The Gospel According to the New York Times:
— The sin of religious certainty — especially evangelical Christian and Roman Catholic certainty.
— The sin of conservatism — especially right-wing Republican politics.
— The sin of capital punishment.
— The sin of broken public trust — including ethical violations in business, government and the nonprofit sector.
— The sin of the Second Amendment — or virtually any form of private gun possession.
— The sin of censorship — or placing any restrictions on freedoms of the press, speech or expression.
— The sin of limiting in any significant way a woman’s right to abortion.
“Perhaps the greatest threat to the social and political agenda of the New York Times is conservative religion — especially evangelical Christianity,” Proctor writes. “Traditional religious groups are often the source of activist movements against many of the Times’ pet causes — including abortion rights, the gay agenda, and the freedom (when supported by government grants) to engage in ‘artistic’ expressions of blasphemy or sacrilege.”
Has Proctor thus stopped reading the Times, which many consider the “newspaper of record” in the United States?
Not at all. He reads it every day at his home in Vero Beach, Fla., and he admires much of its coverage of health, medicine, science and technology, and “the straight news reporting on national and international issues.” But he also regularly reads The Wall Street Journal, which consistently take a more conservative editorial stand than The Times, and Christianity Today, which provides yet another avenue of information.
Proctor suggested that news consumers try to find a similar balance as they access information about the world.
He has some rules to help: 1) don’t limit yourself to just one publication; 2) discern from the editorial and the op-ed pages where the publication stands, and pick something on the other side, too; 3) choose something from the Christian media, in addition to secular papers.
“I think it’s up to every discerning reader, if you don’t want to be infected by this culture creep, to look for an agenda,” Proctor said. “If you ever watch the news, listen to National Public Radio or, for that matter, listen to anything on television, you’re still going to be getting a dose of this agenda.
“The key thing I want to get across is not that we are dealing with some vast left-wing conspiracy, but more of a corporate culture that has evolved over the years.” And virtually all of the news and entertainment media in this culture have become more liberal on social issues, he concluded.
“If you don’t have your personal views pretty well in hand, you could find yourself marching to that drumbeat.”
Broadman & Holman is the publishing arm of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.
(BP) photo posted in BP photo library at www.sbcbaptistpress.org. Photo title: THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO THE NEW YORK TIMES.