Elisabeth Bumiller grants NYT's legitimacy to Fox News Sunday

This morning, The New York Times' Elisabeth Bumiller appeared on Fox News Sunday, bringing a level of legitimacy to Fox's Sunday show that is in no way warranted.

According to Nate Freeman of The New York Observer, Times officials are discouraging staff members from attending Jon Stewart's and Steven Colbert's upcoming rallies in Washington, D.C., reporting that NYT officials “view the rallies as serious political events” and that they “don't want attendance to 'raise any questions about our impartiality.'”

It's difficult to see how an appearance on Fox News Sunday wouldn't raise even more serious questions.

In recent months, Fox News and its parent company, News Corp., have taken an increasingly public role in advocating for and supporting Republican candidates and issues: This year, News Corp. has given $1.25 million to the Republican Governors Association and an additional $1 million to the conservative U.S. Chamber of Commerce - donations that have recently raised questions even among News Corp. shareholders.

The contributions are not limited to News Corp.'s direct giving. Media Matters has documented that Fox News personalities have endorsed, raised money, or campaigned for Republican candidates or causes, or against Democratic candidates or causes, in more than 300 instances and in all 50 states.

In addition, Fox News has served as a springboard for conservative campaigns - providing what one GOP strategist has called an “in-kind” contribution. Five potential Republican candidates that serve as Fox News contributors or hosts have made 269 appearances on the cable channel this year. John Kasich, a former contributor currently running for governor in Ohio, has appeared at least nine times since announcing his campaign.

Questions about journalists legitimizing Fox News Sunday are even more pronounced considering that Fox News Sunday itself serves to mainstream some of the more egregious and false attacks on progressives and conservative boosterism.

To wit: in July, Brit Hume speculated that some of President Obama's advisors - and perhaps Obama himself - were “deathly afraid” that the president was “simply and principally a black president.” Last November, Hume used his regular seat on Fox News Sunday to accuse Obama of being “willing to embrace weakness as a position for the United States,” citing Obama's “bowing and scraping” overseas. Hume sat two seats away from Bumiller this morning.

Bill Kristol, seated next to Bumiller this morning, has used his role on the show call “white women” a “problem” that “we all live with,” to smear Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor as an advocate of “identity jurisprudence,” to defend BP against Obama's “bullying,” to push the tea party movement, to deride concerns about global warming as “hysteria,” and to bash unions. During a Fox News Sunday appearance earlier this year, Kristol attacked Obama for showing “patronizing condescension” after the president called 9-11 a “traumatic event.”

Wallace himself has used his hosting role on Fox News Sunday to compare tea party activists to Paul Revere and to promote the discredited smear that the Department of Veteran's Affairs under Obama was encouraging veterans to “pull the plug.”

This morning's appearance was not Bumiller's first on Fox News Sunday. A search of the Nexis database indicates that she has appeared at least twice before.

Nor is Bumiller's appearance the only evidence of New York Times reporters giving Fox News legitimacy. According to Nexis, reporters Nelson Schwartz, Louise Story, and Mark Landler have made at least five appearances on On the Record with Greta Van Susteren this year.

The New York Times' ethical guidelines advises reporters to “choose carefully the forums in which they appear and protect the impartiality of our journalism.”

In February 2009, NPR asked Juan Williams to stop identifying himself as an NPR contributor when he appears on The O'Reilly Factor. At what point does Fox News' blatant political advocacy become too political for The New York Times?