August 13, 2000
comments powered by Disqus
In an editorial this morning, the New York Times again chalks up Al Gore's lag in the polls to deficiency in his personality and showmanship. This, despite the newspaper's own poll showing that voters are making their decisions based on issues.
That's hardly the only time today's editorial contradicts the paper's news coverage. Consider these words from today's editorial: "A Crisp Agenda. Anyone who paid even marginal attention to the Republican convention came away with a clear idea of what Mr. Bush plans to do if elected." And compare that to these words from a news report in the Times on August 3 from the Philadelphia convention: "It is all so murky, the rhetoric here. . . . The speeches have been vague even by the lax standards of convention oratory, an art-form that was tailor-made for bloviation. . . . .'No specifics, no nuance,' said the historian Michael Beschloss. 'I think the lack of content may be unprecedented.'"
Well, make up your mind, which was it, "crisp" or "vague"?
The editorial also contains the ritualistic reference to "Reagan-style deficits," which, if the Times were fair, it would call "Tip O'Neill-style deficits," in reference to the Democratic speaker who bears responsibility for the deficits because he presided over that branch of the Congress -- the House -- where the Constitution rests responsibility for spending.
The Oak 'Crisis': The latest environmental scare to have the New York Times worked up into a lather is the death of some tanbark-oak trees in California. The Times runs this story out this morning under the front-page headline "Puzzling Disease Devastating California Oaks,' and gives it the full treatment, complete with "scrambling" and "alarmed" scientists uttering quotes like "We've never seen anything like this."
But the story doesn't explain some basic facts about tan-bark oak trees (Lithocarpus densiflorus) that would help put the scare in perspective. For one thing, despite their name, the trees aren't usually considered oaks at all, but rather part of the Beech family. Moreover, the tanoaks are widely regarded as weeds, useful for not much more than pulp. Foresters have been trying for years to figure out how to get rid of the tanoaks and promote the growth of the redwoods and Douglas fir, which are more valuable and useful for lumber and furniture. The coastal live oaks are the beautiful oak trees for which California is known, and, if, as reported, the disease is spreading to them from the tanoaks, that could be a serious problem. But at the moment, most of the damage seems to have been to the tanoaks, which makes the Times headline and coverage about as sensible as a headline reading "Puzzling Disease Devastating New England Mosquitos," complete with an article quoting "alarmed" scientists.
Late Again: The Sunday Styles section in this morning's Times carries an article on the increasing popularity of thong underwear, complete with a scene from Kmart and statistics showing that "Victoria's Secret sold nearly 20 million thongs in 1999. Thongs and their even briefer counterpart, the G-string, now account for 40 percent of the underpants sold by the chain."
Sound familiar? The thong boom is old news to readers of the Wall Street Journal. The Journal published a front-page dispatch on the phenomenon back on June 8, 1999 -- complete with a scene from Wal-Mart and, yep, statistics from Victoria's Secret reporting that the retailer "sold 14 million thongs last year -- a whopping 40% of its total panty sales." The Times article, of course, doesn't bother to credit the Journal. And the Times also manages to mangle a fact related to the Monica Lewinsky scandal, asking "Was it only three years ago that Monica Lewinsky shocked the nation by flashing her thong at the president?" Well, actually, no, it was five years ago, and the nation was only shocked when it heard about it a few years later from the special prosecutor.
Late Again: The Times Sunday Styles section also swipes a Wall Street Journal story about how hospitals are getting more like hotels. Here's how the Times treats the story this morning: "A smiling concierge in the lobby directed Debra Paget toward the eighth-floor lounge, a sumptuous room, where she plunged into a cushy banquette. Sitting with a friend amid fountains, pink orchids and filigreed screens, she might have been at the Four Seasons Hotel, waiting for a waiter to bring her a cocktail. In fact, Mr. Paget was waiting to see her gynecologist, whose office was tucked at the rear of the lounge. . ."
Here's how the Wall Street Journal treated the story back on September 16, 1996: "The late-afternoon sun tries to push past the ornate curtains in the suite of Princess al-thani of Qatar as she prepares for a spot of 'high tea.' A waiter in a tuxedo wheels in a table carrying a silver tray of scones, strawberries, truffles and an assortment of fine teas. With a regal nod, the princess motions for her guests to be served first.
The Ritz of London? The Al-Rayyan Palace of Qatar? Actually, it is the Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C., where the princess, recuperating from a kidney transplant, is being pampered in a private room in the new Deluxe Suites Pavilion."
You've got a waiter, a luxury hotel, a hospital. The Times uses the phrase "actually" instead of "in fact," but, essentially, it's the same story -- just four years behind the curve. And of course, with no credit to the Journal. At least with the thong story the Times was only one year behind.
Anonymous Letters to the Editor: Most respectable newspapers make a habit of only running letters to the editor that are signed and verified. The New York Times starts moving away from that practice today in its magazine section, publishing a selection of responses from a web site that is owned by the Times. The responses are signed only with initials or nicknames.
Minor Stuff: A story in the city section of this morning's Times refers to "City Comptroller Allan Hevesi." In fact, the comptroller spells his first name "Alan." . . . A wedding announcement refers to "Dechert, Price & Rhoads, a Manhattan law firm." Dechert, Price & Rhoads has a New York office, but the firm's headquarters is at Philadelphia; in such cases the Times would usually describe someone as working in "the Manhattan office of Dechert, Price & Rhoads, a Philadelphia law firm."
Subscribe to the Mailing List
© 2017 FutureOfCapitalism LLC