NYT: Re-Reporting the Non-News

This morning’s New York Times includes an article by Elisabeth Bumiller about Bruce Bartlett, a respected conservative expert on budget and tax policy (among many other things). The article reports that Mr. Bartlett was dismissed from his post at a think tank after he wrote a book critical of the Bush administration. As her stories usually are, Ms. Bumiller’s piece is well-written and interesting.

There’s just one problem. The Times already reported the story.

On October 17 of last year, Ms. Bumiller’s colleague in the Times’ Washington bureau, Richard Stevenson, wrote a story headlined: “In Sign of Conservative Split, A Commentator Is Dismissed.”

So why re-report this non-news?

As it so often does, the Times’ agenda is apparent: paint the appearance of division amongst conservatives and provide fodder for the argument that right-leaning organizations, from the White House on down, don’t tolereate descension.

Whether the story is on target or not, no newspaper should be letting an agenda drive its news coverage. (Or, non-news coverage, as the case might be.) Of course, that never stopped the Times before.

Cross posted — with lots of discussion — at On Tap