February 28, 2001
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The metro-section gossip column of today's New York Times reports that an umbrella group called American Muslims for Jerusalem is planning a boycott of Estee Lauder Cosmetics after Ronald Lauder's appearance at a rally in support of keeping Jerusalem united under Israeli sovereignty.
The Times describes the boycott planners as "some of the largest and most influential Muslim-American organizations"; it doesn't mention that the sponsors of American Muslims for Jerusalem include the American Muslim Alliance and the American Muslim Council, groups so extreme in their hatred of Israel and their refusal to condemn terrorist attacks that even Hillary Clinton returned campaign contributions from leaders of the groups during her Senate campaign.
The Times describes the rally Mr. Lauder attended as "a rally of religious and nationalist Israelis." It's funny how the Times never uses the word "nationalist" to describe, say, Americans who don't want to turn Washington over to rule by America's enemies. There's nothing wrong with Israeli nationalism, but, as a word choice, the Times might have just as easily chosen "patriotic" or "Zionist" or "Jewish" instead of "nationalist" to modify "Israelis." Or, even better, the paper could have dropped the adjectives and just said that the rally opposed the division of the Israeli capital.
The Times might have noted that Ronald Lauder in fact has little involvement in the cosmetics company, which is run primarily by Leonard Lauder, who is Ronald's brother.
And anyway, since when is a politically motivated boycott centered on a foreign policy dispute fodder for a gossip column? Why doesn't the Times handle this in a regular news article that would have allowed the exploration of these issues in some depth?
Finally, the Times mangles the name of the group Mr. Lauder heads. The Times calls it the "Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish American Organizations"; in fact, it is the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
Big Increases: The lead editorial in this morning's New York Times refers to the Bush budget's "big increases in education, defense, science research and a few other areas." Looks like those patsies over at the Times editorial page fell for the Bush administration spin yet again. While President Bush is proposing an increase in spending on health research, funding for the U.S. Geological Survey is slated for a 22 percent cut and funding for the National Science Foundation is set for an annual increase of 1 percent, as the Boston Globe and the Wall Street Journal have reported. Not exactly "big increases."
Narrow-Minded: An article in the metro section of today's New York Times reports on Mayor Giuliani's proposals for spending on housing. The article is a typical case of the Times habit of drawing its experts for commenting on the news from a narrow ideological spectrum. The most conservative position expressed in the article is the mayor's proposal, which contemplates more tax dollars being spent on "housing" in exchange for certain policy changes. The others paraphrased include "some city housing advocates" who are disturbed that not enough of the $688 million in new government spending comes from the city itself. Also mentioned are "city council officials" who "said they regretted that the mayor had offered the housing money with strings attached" but who "said they were confident that in the end, the government's investment in housing would increase." Completely absent from the article is the voice of any free-market-oriented analyst who might suggest that the appropriate action to create more housing in the city would be to reduce regulations, taxes and rent controls, without spending more government money.
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