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Maddening Modifying Phrases

July 7, 2016 at 10:21 am

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A Times article about a Los Angeles lawyer, John B. Quinn, a founder of the Quinn Emanuel law firm, has the dubious distinction of including two consecutive paragraphs that begin with maddeningly imprecise modifying phrases.

The Times writes:

Born in Virginia, Mr. Quinn's family moved to Connecticut when he was 2, and the proximity to New York made him a museum enthusiast.

The next paragraph begins:

Raised Mormon, the Quinns relocated to Utah when John was 12.

What is this article attempting to communicate? Was Mr. Quinn born in Virginia? Or was his entire family born there?

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Times Cheerleads for Hillary Against Trump

July 4, 2016 at 10:38 am

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From a front-page so-called "news article" in Monday's Times:

In May, The New York Times examined Donald J. Trump's plans for his first 100 days, during which he said he would focus on divisive campaign promises like building a border wall with Mexico. By contrast, The Times found in its reporting on plans for Mrs. Clinton's 100 days that she would look to push issues that might be broadly popular, like infrastructure jobs and a breakthrough on immigration.

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Dangling Modifier

June 30, 2016 at 9:21 am

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A dispatch from Libya on the front page of the Times includes this sentence: "Nightmares came after the Islamists crucified people accused of crimes at a major traffic junction, then left their bodies to rot."

What happened at the major traffic junction? The crimes? The accusations of the crimes? The crucifixions? All three things?

It's sure difficult to tell from that sentence, which stopped me in my tracks as I was reading. Maybe the Times editors are on summer vacation? Maybe they all took buyouts? Sometimes the lack of clear writing in the Times is as grating as the bias.

 

The Pickering Scandal

June 27, 2016 at 10:31 am

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The New York Times' favorite source on Iran, former State Department official Thomas Pickering, was getting paid money by Boeing, a fact that the Times failed to disclose to readers even though Boeing had a significant financial stake in the Iran sanctions being lifted. I have a report up at the Algemeiner about this that you can read by clicking here.

 

How Expensive Is Harvard

May 1, 2016 at 9:38 pm

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A Times news article about Malia Obama's decision to go to Harvard reports that the college is "one of the most expensive, costing more than $60,000 a year for tuition, room, board and other fees."

That's misleading, because that's the retail price. Most people whose parents aren't "rich" qualify for financial aid, which is essentially a discount off that sticker price. If you go to the U.S. government's "net price" calculator, Harvard doesn't even show up on the list of the most expensive 4-year private, non-profit colleges and universities. Because Harvard is so well endowed, it gives better financial aid packages than do a lot of other colleges and universities, at least to prospective students whose parents aren't as rich as President and Mrs. Obama are.

From the perspective of Harvard, at least, misleading news coverage like this is damaging, because the "expensive" reputation and tag scares away families who might otherwise consider applying.

 

The Times Crusade Against Yeshivas

April 14, 2016 at 11:41 am

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"The New York Times Tries Explaining Its Flawed Crusade Against Yeshivas" is the headline over my article at the Algemeiner. Please check it out there.

 

Surprise Emissions

April 14, 2016 at 11:32 am

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From a book review in today's Times, by critic Dwight Garner: "When a writer says something new and real, it can be shocking, like a surprise emission from a bodily orifice."

I think an editor would have done better to just end the sentence after the word "shocking" and save the reader the unpleasant shock of the rest of the sentence. As we've written here previously, the Times approach to editing this particular critic isn't exactly what you'd call a tight leash.

 

Wealthy Philanthropists

April 14, 2016 at 11:18 am

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A dispatch in the national section of the Times begins:

Opening a new front in the assault on teacher tenure, a group of parents backed by wealthy philanthropists served notice to defendants on Wednesday in a lawsuit challenging Minnesota's job protections for teachers, as well as the state's rules governing which teachers are laid off as a result of budget cuts.

Isn't "wealthy philanthropists" redundant? If the philanthopists are mired in poverty, tell us so; otherwise, we will agree simply to assume that anyone giving away lots of money is rich to begin with. Especially since the subheadline over that paragraph is "Wealthy foundations back Minnesota Lawsuit." We don't hear anything in the story or the headline about how wealthy the teachers unions are. Nor do we usually hear, at least this prominently, about the wealth of the foundations or philanthropists involved when the legal cases being pressed are those that advance left-of-center, Times-favored (now there's my own redundancy) causes.

 

More Reclusive Rich

April 14, 2016 at 10:49 am

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From a recent New York Times real estate article: "The reclusive and litigious developer Sheldon Solow, for example, has been party to hundreds of lawsuits, while the closemouthed heirs of Sol Goldman's estate rarely sell any of their vast holdings."

I've written in the past about how:

"Reclusive billionaire" is one of those stereotypes that the Times likes to use even if it isn't accurate.

My authoritative Webster's Second Unabridged dictionary describes reclusive as someone living in reclusion, in "solitary confinement" or "secluded" from the world like a "monk or hermit."

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Lost in Fall River

March 30, 2016 at 10:28 am

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A Times dispatch from Fall River, Mass., reports, "Like other former mill towns throughout the Northeast, Fall River necessarily refocused its economic base after the textile industry began departing in the 1990s." (The language is repeated in a photo cutline that goes with the article.)

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More at the Algemeiner

March 24, 2016 at 11:09 pm

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The Algemeiner has been publishing a lot of New York Times criticism by me focusing on Israel, Jewish matters, and the war on Islamist terrorism. I encourage anyone interested in those topics to check out the coverage at this link.

 

The Man the Founders Feared

March 22, 2016 at 1:42 pm

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Reader-community member-watchdog-content co-creator Bob Hill of Pinecrest, Fla. writes:

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A Whine About Wine

March 16, 2016 at 3:12 pm

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A sidebar to an otherwise pretty fascinating Times article about Eli Zabar's adventures in the wine business introduces a list of wines with the following language: "The wine list at Eli Zabar's restaurant Eli's Table offers many great values; not just expensive older bottles, but moderately priced wines as well. Here are six examples of sparkling, white and red." The list of wines that follows includes bottles at the following prices: $195, $190, $60, $295, $250, and $60."

If $60 is the Times floor for a "moderately priced" bottle of wine and four of the six bottles on the list cost at least $190, you start to wonder who the newspaper thinks is reading this stuff, or whether the paper's definition of "moderately priced" has much to do with the reality of most Americans.

 

An Epic Takedown of that NYT Editorial About Netanyahu

March 16, 2016 at 2:57 pm

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The Algemeiner is going to be publishing some of my writing about the New York Times' coverage of Israel and Jewish topics. The first piece is now up, about a Times editorial critical of Prime Minister Netanyahu. Please check out the column at the Algemeiner by clicking the link here.

 

Lost in Jerusalem

March 7, 2016 at 9:38 am

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A New York Times dispatch from Jerusalem gives a brief history of the conflict over sovereignty in the city as follows:

Israel conquered Jerusalem's Old City and its environs, along with the West Bank, from Jordan in the 1967 war. Then it expanded the city limits, taking in 28 West Bank villages on the high ground surrounding the city, and annexed the territory in a move that was never internationally recognized. Ever since, its leaders have claimed sovereignty over what they deem Israel's "united capital."

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