February 8, 2001
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Here is Andrew Ferguson, writing in the January 22, 2001, issue of the Weekly Standard: "With the new President Bush in the White House, we're going to see the reemergence of all kinds of things we haven't seen since -- well, since the old President Bush was in the White House. . . . Say hello to homelessness, for instance: We are about to see a horrifying deterioration in the plight of our nation's street people. We haven't heard much -- anything, really -- about the homeless since, oh, roughly January 20, 1993. As it happens, the number of people living on steam grates has remained pretty much constant from the middle 1980s, when they filled the airwaves and graced the cover of countless magazines, to the present day, when they are all but forgotten. They are about to be remembered."
Sure enough, here's the top-of-the-front page headline from this morning's New York Times: "Homeless Shelters in New York Fill to Highest Level Since 80's; Increase Reflects National Trend, Official Says."
Mr. Ferguson, just to mark the point, was writing not so much about poverty but about journalistic behavior with a Republican in the White House. The intellectual flabbiness of the Times approach may be seen by the fact that the Times article, following the lead of a city official, attributes the increase in families seeking shelter to "sharply rising housing costs in an economic boom."
That little quote is worth unpacking. For one thing, according to the Times, we're not in an economic boom -- a story on the other side of today's Times front page declares "Slowing Economy Forces Governors to Trim Budgets." For another thing, it's funny how for the Times and its homelessness experts, virtually any economic condition causes homelessness. If there's an "economic boom," that causes homelessness, according to today's article. But you can bet that if there were an economic downturn, that would cause homelessness, too. Then there's the Times claim of "sharply rising housing costs." That is directly contradicted by another front-page New York Times article, the one on January 16, 2001, which reported, "Manhattan's skyrocketing apartment rental market has turned around and started drifting back toward earth. For the first time in seven years, many landlords are reducing prices and some are even offering to pay broker fees, allowing tenants to save thousands of dollars."
Stalking Sharon: One could predict that Ariel Sharon would get hostile treatment from the New York Times, but this morning is just breathtaking. A front-page headline instructs the newly elected Israeli leader that he "Must Act Quickly to Build Coalition and Prove Legitimacy." The article below that headline asserts that Mr. Sharon has a "tiny power base."
"Prove Legitimacy"? "Tiny power base"? The man just won a free, democratic election by a 25 percent margin, which the Times elsewhere today describes as "the largest in Israeli history."
Today's New York Times also repeats the one-sided claim that "months of violence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip erupted after Mr. Sharon inspected Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem." The Times article, datelined Tripoli, fails to mention that the site Mr. Sharon visited is also a Jewish holy site, the Temple Mount. Mr. Sharon didn't even go inside the Islamic holy sites, he just walked around on the plaza outside them.
Lost in D.C.: The national section of today's New York Times includes a map of the area around the White House. The map runs alongside a story about a shooting near the White House. The map strangely labels the Department of the Treasury as the "Department of the Treasury Museum."
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