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Skipping the Smartphone

July 4, 2015 at 10:48 pm

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One of the things I find most grating about the Times is the way it sometimes seems totally oblivious to the possibility that some Jews might take their religious law seriously.

This occurred to me the other day on reading a Mark Bittman column that goes on and on about what a fool anyone would be to cook with anything other than butter or lard. The possibility that someone might avoid lard because it isn't kosher, or might not want to cook with butter because of kosher restrictions against mixing milk and meat, is not mentioned or considered. (A 2014 interview with Mr. Bittman reported, "Bittman says he pretty much has had nothing to do with Judaism since he graduated from high school in 1967.")

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Glenn Hubbard

July 4, 2015 at 10:29 pm

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An editorial in Saturday's Times is headlined "Jeb Bush Needs Some New Economic Advice." It is an entire article devoted to attacking the dean of Columbia Business School, Glenn Hubbard, suggesting, essentially, that Mr. Bush should not listen to Mr. Hubbard.

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Jihadists or Other Extremists

July 3, 2015 at 6:51 am

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At Bloomberg View, Megan McArdle does a fine job of debunking that recent front-page New York Times article claiming that homegrown right-wing extremists kill more Americans than Islamist jihadists do.


Homeless Shelter Inspections

July 2, 2015 at 9:47 am

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The Times seems to have finally found a form of regulation it doesn't like (other than those regulating marijuana or trade with Cuba). An editorial today appears to side with Mayor de Blasio in opposing state inspections of the city's homeless shelters: "Mr. de Blasio said the governor's vindictiveness had even extended earlier in the year to surprise state inspections of city homeless shelters."

"Even"! Given that the Times devoted vast space and editorial resources less than two years ago to the plight of Dasani, an 11 year old who lived in a fetid city homeless shelter in Brooklyn, the idea that the Times would now be siding with the mayor against the governor's efforts to exercise oversight in this area is astonishing.


Lame Apple Coverage

July 1, 2015 at 9:30 am

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In this day and age, there's just no excuse for publishing a news article about an appellate court decision without including a hyperlink to the opinion. Yet the Times did exactly that in an article that runs under the headline "Ruling That Apple Led E-Book Pricing Conspiracy Is Upheld." The Times reports:

By a 2-to-1 vote, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit said it agreed with the conclusions of Judge Denise L. Cote of United States District Court in Manhattan, who rendered the decision in 2013.

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July 1, 2015 at 9:07 am

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A Times news article about the decision by Congress not to renew the charter of the Export-Import Bank includes the following passages:

For the longer term, advocates of the bank in both parties believe that by the end of July they can foil the antigovernment Republicans in Congress who blocked the bank's reauthorization and pull off a legislative Lazarus act restoring the agency's full powers for up to five years...

"We did it!" the antibank conservatives at the antigovernment advocacy group Heritage Action for America exulted in an email hours before the midnight deadline for the bank charter. [Emphasis added.]

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Juxtaposition of the Week

June 29, 2015 at 9:54 am

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"Is Greater Focus on the Superrich Right for the Times?" headline, "Public Editor's Journal," June 25, 2015.

"Finding the Right Fit for Flying Private," headline, Times business section, June 26, 2015 (over an article about whether chartering, a jet card, or fractional ownership is the best alternative).

"The McLaren 650S Spider Is a $280,000 Thrill Ride," headline, Times auto review, June 26, 2015.

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Quote of the Day

June 29, 2015 at 9:33 am

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From Times public editor Margaret Sullivan's Sunday column, about books by New York Times journalists, comes this gem from New York Times editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal: "It's tricky. Books are inherently a commercial enterprise."

That made me laugh for two reasons. First, books are not inherently a commercial enterprise. There are plenty of non-profit publishers, including Encounter Books, the Jewish Publication Society, Beacon Press, Nation Books, and just about every university press, including Harvard University Press (publishers of Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century) and Yale University Press. And even at for-profit publishers, plenty of editors are motivated not only by a desire for profit but also by other desires, such as literary excellence.

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Home and Hone

June 29, 2015 at 9:25 am

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My print edition of the Times carried a front page news article about the end of the hunt for two men who had escaped from a maximum security prison in upstate New York. It included this sentence: "They found shelter in empty hunting cabins, but left telltale clues of their presence that helped a vast array of agencies — from the State Police to the United States Marshals to the Federal Bureau of Investigation to state Forest Rangers — hone in on them over the last week."

That sent me to the Times archives in search of a May 25, 1980 "On Language" column by William Safire, who wrote, "The phrase 'to hone in on' is a mistake. The confusion is based on 'to home in,' or 'to home in on' ..."

According to the website Newsdiffs.org, sometime between 9:17 pm and 10:50 pm some astute Timesman or Timeswoman caught the mistake and fixed it by changing the 'n" in "hone" to an "m" in "home."


The Label Giveaway

June 25, 2015 at 8:19 am

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One way the Times reveals its biases is with the political labels it applies to others. One recent Times story referred to Judge Robert Bork as "an ultraconservative." Wouldn't it have been sufficient simply to describe him as conservative? Then a Times news article by David Sanger, who actually has been providing some strong and appropriately skeptical coverage of the negotiations over Iran's nuclear program, referred to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy as "a conservative think tank." That erroneous description was deleted in later versions of the story, according to the website newsdiffs.org, which tracks such changes. At least they didn't call the Washington Institute "ultraconservative." David Bernstein points out that the description "ultraliberal" appears rarely, if ever, in Times news copy outside quotation marks.


The Inequality Beat

June 25, 2015 at 8:08 am

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A Times Company press release carries a memo from the executive editor, Dean Baquet:

After a dozen remarkable years as chief television critic, Alessandra Stanley has decided to return to reporting. As part of The Times's deepening focus on economic inequality in America, she will be creating a new beat: an interdisciplinary look at the way the richest of the rich — the top 1 percent of the 1 percent — are influencing, indeed rewiring, the nation's institutions, including universities, philanthropies, museums, sports franchises and, of course, political parties and government.

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Enigma Data Mining

June 23, 2015 at 9:40 am

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The Times business section carries a news article about a data analysis business called Enigma. The article includes this passage:

Enigma is embarking on a sizable expansion, planning to nearly double its staff to 60 people by the end of the year. The growth will be fueled by a $28.2 million round of venture funding, led by New Enterprise Associates, that will be announced on Tuesday. (The New York Times Company is among the investors.)

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Rosenthal Responds

June 19, 2015 at 8:18 am

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Times editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal gives an interview to the Forward with his different view of the phone conversation he had with Michael Oren, who was then Israel's ambassador to the United States.


Oren Versus Rosenthal

June 18, 2015 at 9:53 am

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Over at Commentary, John Podhoretz does a good job of noticing a section in Michael Oren's new book, Ally, reporting on a phone call between Mr. Oren, then Israel's ambassador in Washington, and Andrew Rosenthal, the editorial page editor of the New York Times. Mr. Rosenthal doesn't come out looking too good. Update: Mr. Rosenthal has responded here.


SmarterTimes in the Times

June 16, 2015 at 9:52 am

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The Times public editor, Margaret Sullivan, devoted her Sunday print column to the overkill coverage in the Times of the Primates of Park Avenue book by Wednesday Martin. Ms. Sullivan included a nice mention (though no hyperlink, alas) of "Ira Stoll on the Smartertimes website."


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