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Lost in Worcester

May 4, 2015 at 9:19 am

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The lead, front-page news article in today's Times, about a claim by some economists that moving can improve outcomes for poor families, includes this sentence: "The places most conducive to upward mobility include large cities — San Francisco, San Diego, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas and Providence, R.I. — and major suburban counties, such as Fairfax, Va.; Bergen, N.J.; Bucks, Pa.; Macomb, Mich.; Worcester, Mass.; and Contra Costa, Calif."

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Choose Your Greenwich

May 4, 2015 at 9:06 am

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An article in the sports section of the Times is a great illustration of the way reporters describe reality in whatever way they want to spin it. The issue is Greenwich, Connecticut. A 2009 Times article described it as "the ritzy suburb and haven for New York City's elite." A 1997 Times article reported "This affluent town, where backyards are as big as Rhode Island and more than a few people take pride in talking like George Plimpton, is committed to maintaining its image as a sanctuary for those with wealth and taste."

Today's sports article takes a different approach; an injured boxer is described as living "in a small bedroom in a working-class neighborhood in Greenwich, in a modest house his family rents cheap from a devoted friend."

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Hebrew or Yiddish

April 24, 2015 at 9:43 am

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A Times account of an Israel Independence Day celebration in Washington featuring Vice President Biden and the Israeli ambassador to the U.S., Ron Dermer includes this passage:

Mr. Dermer, using a Yiddish word, said, "We are family, mishpachah." He added, "All families have disagreements," but "what unites us is far more important than what divides us."

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The Labels Giveaway

April 20, 2015 at 2:32 pm

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One way the New York Times demonstrates its left-wing bias is its insistence on labeling conservatives as such without applying similar labels to liberals. It's hard to find a more glaring example of this behavior than in this story from the Times business section about an executive who cut his own pay while setting a $70,000 minimum wage at his firm.

The Times article mentions "Michael Strain, an economist at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative research group in Washington." It mentions "Diana Furchtgott-Roth, an economist at the conservative Manhattan Institute for Policy Research." And it mentions "Tim Kane, an economist at the conservative Hoover Institution at Stanford University." The word "conservative" operates as a kind of warning by the left-wing New York Times to its left-wing readers: "Watch out, be careful, folks, these organizations aren't in ideological tune with what you'd usually expect here."

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Soros Study

April 14, 2015 at 1:26 pm

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The New York Times writes a whole long article about a study of American drone strikes in Yemen issued by what the Times calls "a legal advocacy group," the Open Society Justice Initiative. No mention of the initiative's funding or its chairman, George Soros.

When the Koch brothers or Sheldon Adelson participate in public affairs through philanthropy, the Times calls it "dark money," calls them billionaires, and puts their name in the headlines. But when it is Mr. Soros advancing a left-wing agenda, that billionaire gets a free pass — the Times leaves him out of the story. It sure looks like a double standard.

 

Another Reclusive Republican Donor

April 13, 2015 at 9:32 am

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A Times article about Robert Mercer, a donor who supports Senator Ted Cruz, describes Mr. Mercer as " a reclusive Long Islander who started at I.B.M. and made his fortune using computer patterns to outsmart the stock market."

"Reclusive" is newspaper jargon for anyone who doesn't drop whatever he is doing immediately and run to the telephone whenever a newspaper reporter calls. Its use in these instances, as in the New Republic's description of "reclusive" Harold Simmons, bears no resemblance to the dictionary definition of the word reclusive, which describes someone living in solitary confinement, secluded from the world like a monk or a hermit. It's a way the newspapers pressure people to cooperate with them by hurling insults at those, especially Republicans, who don't play their game.

 

Smoke Pot Every Day

April 13, 2015 at 9:22 am

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The Times carries a column that reads like a paid advertisement — free of any skepticism — about a book called "Just Say Yes: A Marijuana Memoir."

The column and the book try to make the point that the author of the book, Catherine Hiller, smoked marijuana "more or less every day for the past 50 years," and "her life turned out nicely."

Plenty of other books from less obscure publishers get much less attention from the Times than this book does, so you have to wonder why it is that the Times fell so hard for this one. The Times column came on top of an article that the author wrote for the the Times about her drug-buying experiences. Maybe this is the sweet spot for the Times demographic — hippies in their 60s and 70s — but for anyone younger or less invested in the pro-marijuana advocacy campaign, it risks coming off as kind of weird.

 

Times Attacks BMW Drivers

April 6, 2015 at 9:01 am

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From an article in the New York Times Magazine, about the Thomas Guide and driving in Los Angeles:

Out-of-town visitors to Los Angeles like to say things like "driving here is a sport." But really, it's an art. It's an art that requires intuition, patience and a sense of the topography of the region. It means knowing that no matter where you are, there are mountains to the north and an ocean to the west. It means being able to peer into the souls of other drivers and knowing, with almost supernatural certainty, which ones are Grade A jerks who are seconds away from cutting you off in traffic. (Put another way, that means being able to identify newer-model BMWs.)

So everyone who drives a newer-model BMW is a "Grade A jerk"?

Funny, no ads from BMW in this Sunday's Times Magazine.

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Apologists for Saudi Beheadings

March 24, 2015 at 8:21 am

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Contrarianism and counter-intuitiveness are great, but one can take them too far, too, and it sure looks like that is what the New York Times did in a front-page news article from Saudi Arabia about "avenues for mercy" in the Saudi legal system. The Times reports:

No aspect of Saudi justice draws more attention than punishments like beheading or amputation. But Saudi legal practitioners say that penalties are on the books to deter crime and that the system limits their use.

In Saudi jurisprudence adultery and apostasy merit death, but executions for either are rare because the law makes it hard to secure convictions. Adultery, for example, can be proved by the testimony of witnesses, but they must be four Muslim men who see the sex act itself — proof nearly impossible to obtain.

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Gladwell Coaches NYU Presidential Candidate

March 20, 2015 at 9:46 am

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A Times news article on the naming of a new president of New York University ends this way:

N.Y.U. picked Dr. Hamilton from over 200 nominees. It did not disclose who the other candidates were. But at one point, Michael Lynton, the chief executive of Sony Entertainment, wanted the job, according to emails that were published online during the Sony hacking scandal last year.

According to the emails, Mr. Lynton discussed his desire for the job last fall with the New Yorker writer Malcolm Gladwell.

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Rand Paul's Sleep

March 17, 2015 at 12:46 pm

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A front-page New York Times news article about Senator Rand Paul and his presidential campaign concludes with this passage:

keeping up with the South by Southwest set is not for everyone. On Saturday night, after he left a concert with the D.J. Mark Ronson, Mr. Paul headed straight for bed. He was asleep by 10:30.

For at least this literal-minded reader, this was an ending that raised more questions than it answered. For starters, how did the Times know when Dr. Paul fell asleep? It must have been hard for the senator to doze off with the Times reporter there staring at him watching for what time his eyes shut and listening to see if he started snoring. If that's not what happened, the Times is relying on someone's say-so without telling us who that person is, or how that person knows.

 

Friedman's Half-Correction

March 17, 2015 at 12:25 pm

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The New York Times has issued a correction of the Thomas Friedman column we wrote about here the other day. We wrote: "The passage about Mr. Adelson joking 'with another wealthy Israeli' is a strange one because neither Mr. Adelson nor the person he was joking with, Haim Saban, is an Israeli. They are Americans." The Times correction reads, "Thomas L. Friedman's column on Wednesday incorrectly suggested that the businessman Sheldon Adelson is Israeli. He is American."

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Friedman and Adelson

March 12, 2015 at 9:32 am

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In advance of the Israeli election, Thomas Friedman has a column up attacking Sheldon Adelson. One of Mr. Friedman's complaints is that Mr. Adelson invests in newspapers. From the column:

Israel has much stricter laws on individuals donating to political campaigns, so Adelson got around that in 2007 by founding a free, giveaway newspaper in Israel — Israel Hayom — whose sole purpose is to back Netanyahu, attack his enemies in politics and the media, and enforce a far-right political agenda to prevent any Israeli territorial compromise on the West Bank (which, in time, could undermine Israel as a Jewish democracy). Graphically attractive, Israel Hayom is now the biggest-circulation daily in Israel. Precisely because it is free, it is putting a heavy strain on competitors, like Yediot and Haaretz, which both charge and are not pro-Netanyahu.

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Aaron Kushner and the Orange County Register

March 12, 2015 at 9:24 am

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A Times article about Aaron Kushner stepping down from his leadership role at Freedom Communications, publisher of the Orange County Register, reports:

John A. Catsimatidis, the billionaire owner of the Gristedes supermarket chain, is considering making a bid for The Daily News in New York. There have been rumors that James L. Dolan, the billionaire owner of the New York Knicks, may also be interested.
They might look across the country for a cautionary tale. In 2012, Aaron Kushner paid about $50 million, plus the assumption of $110 million in pension obligations, for The Orange County Register, a venerable publication that was once among the most read newspapers in California.

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Kosher Deli's Roots

March 12, 2015 at 9:13 am

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A Style section article includes the following one-sentence paragraph:

The $22 corned beef Polo Bar sandwich may not be the towering meat cake familiar to lovers of New York deli but, true to its roots in a city that, as the 2014 documentary "Deli Man" points out, once had 1,550 registered kosher delicatessens, it is house-brined, served with melted Swiss cheese on marble rye and comes with a pickle and a side of coleslaw.

It is strange that "melted Swiss cheese" is cited as evidence that the Polo Bar corned beef sandwich is "true" to the roots of a city that "once had 1,550 registered kosher delicatessens." A true kosher deli wouldn't let swiss cheese anywhere near a corned beef sandwich — it would violate the provision of Jewish law that forbids mixing milk and meat.

 

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