John, this sorry labeling episode by Sanger displays two problems of liberal bias at the NYT. First, as you describe, liberal reporters display their ignorance of distinctions of thought within the conservative movement, which also suggests they don’t have any conservative friends, and have spent next to no time reading up on conservatism. They don’t ask the question “Where is Buckley in relation to the rest of the movement?” They didn’t read what Buckley said before the war for comparison, or anything else up to now. A reporter doesn’t have to BE a conservative to know current conservatism. A reporter earns respect quickly on the right for knowing the fine distinctions. It shows they’ve been in contact, that they don’t write from inside a liberal bubble. (This is especially funny for Sanger, whom Clay Waters has pounded repeatedly for loving the “Bush in the bubble” angle.)
Sanger is narrow-mindedly looking for what liberal reporters are always looking for: signs of a “tipping point” against Bush’s war. Anything that fits that tunnel vision is “news.” Anything outside the tunnel are just neglected factoids.
Second, the classic labeling disparity. Liberal reporters would avoid sending these signals about their ignorance of conservatism if they weren’t so aggressive in using variations of the C-word. They display their sensitivity to liberals on a daily basis by avoiding the L-word.