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Public Editor Quotes Smartertimes

March 31, 2014 at 9:03 am

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The New York Times Public Editor, Margaret Sullivan, links to and quotes Smartertimes in the second edition of her AnonyWatch column cracking down on the use of anonymous sources in the New York Times. You can read her column here.

 

The Michelle Obama Section

March 27, 2014 at 9:33 am

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Maybe the Times Thursday Styles section should be renamed the Michelle Obama section. Today's contains not one, not two, but three articles mentioning the first lady. Some might consider it overkill.

The main cover story about a businessman who invested in a move called "Fed Up" reports, "Michelle Obama, a noted advocate for better eating habits, declined to participate." This is an example of finding a way to insert Michelle Obama into an article even when she has nothing to do with the article.

Then there is a fashion article that reports in its opening paragraph, "Lane Bryant, the plus-size retailer, was presenting a collection designed by Isabel Toledo, a designer probably best known for the lemon-grass wool lace dress and matching coat Michelle Obama wore on the cold morning of the 2009 inauguration."

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Paul Krugman Turns Against Nate Silver

March 27, 2014 at 9:29 am

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Nate Silver's website FiveThirtyEight.com has a pretty funny analysis about how Paul Krugman's view of FiveThirtyEight has changed substantially in a negative direction since FiveThirtyEight left the New York Times.

 

Quality, Not Diversity

March 25, 2014 at 8:38 am

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"Festival Focus Is on Quality, Not Diversity," is the headline over a Times article about a film festival in New York. It reports:

These days, the programmers — Jytte Jensen, Dennis Lim, Marian Masone, Gavin Smith, Rajendra Roy and Joshua Siegel — are selecting titles that may not be to all tastes (a good thing) and that don't seem to have been primarily chosen for some mechanistic criteria, like national diversity. Here, the work is the thing.

It's a strange headline in that it suggests that quality and diversity are somehow conflicting goals rather than mutually reinforcing ones.

 

Last Year's News

March 23, 2014 at 11:37 pm

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An auto review in Sunday's Times (of a $238,180 Bentley Flying Spur) features the reviewer writing about driving the car in a snowstorm "the night after Christmas." If the Times is letting the copy age for three months before publishing, you'd think they'd be embarrassed enough about it to edit some of these dated time references away. What good does this do the guy who would have bought the Bentley back in January or February but was stuck with an inferior vehicle for two months until the Times saw fit to allow the review to see the light of day. Strange.

 

Herb Allen and Rand Paul

March 23, 2014 at 11:16 pm

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A front-page Sunday Times article about the political prospects of Rand Paul, the Republican from Kentucky, includes this: "Nate Morris, a wunderkind fund-raiser for President George W. Bush in 2004, has linked Mr. Paul to such figures as the billionaire investor Herb Allen."

Could there be a more vague verb there than "linked"? Did Warren Buffett's pal Herb Allen donate to Rand Paul's campaign or political action committee? If so, how much? If there has been such a donation, it isn't yet disclosed in the Federal Election Commission's online database. The Times article carries no comment from Mr. Allen, nor any indication that there was an attempt to reach him for comment. For all we know, the Times may be getting Herb Allen mixed up with Paul Allen, or with Harold Allen of Mexican Manufacturers, Inc., in El Paso, Texas. Was there a meeting between Herb Allen and Rand Paul, arranged by Mr. Morris? Again, Times readers can't know from the sentence. Some more clarity would be appreciated by this reader.

 

Texas Tribune Sponsors

March 23, 2014 at 10:47 pm

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Here is a Texas Tribune dispatch with which the New York Times covers, with an article in the March 23 paper, the news that the chancellor of the University of Texas announced back on February 10 that he is resigning:

An email in February by Paul Foster, the chairman of the board, indicated that this and other disagreements could have caused some regents to sour on the chancellor. (U.T.-Austin is a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune. Mr. Foster is a major donor to The Tribune.)...But of the chancellor, Mr. Huffines said: "I think he deserves credit for pushing through the turmoil. He exceeded my expectations, and I set the bar pretty high." (Mr. Huffines is president of PlainsCapital Bank, which has been a corporate sponsor of The Tribune.)

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Cost of Carried Interest 'Loophole'

March 21, 2014 at 8:43 am

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An editorial in today's Times says:

If Mr. Boehner really wants to crack down on cheating, he might look to the carried-interest tax loophole, which allows hedge fund managers to mischaracterize their income as capital gains and costs the Treasury $11 billion a year — far more than extra dollars for food stamps.

The Times source for the "$11 billion a year" number is a Times op-ed that, when it appeared, Smartertimes pointed out was inaccurate, but the Times did not correct. As I wrote when the op-ed appeared:

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Multimillionaire Businessman

March 20, 2014 at 8:32 am

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A Times news article from Chicago begins:

With the selection of a multimillionaire businessman to be the Republican candidate for governor in Illinois, union leaders have begun bracing for one of their starkest campaign battles of the year over the fate of public sector labor unions, pensions and pay.

The same article mentions President Obama but doesn't call him a multimillionaire, even though he is one. And the Times writes about Mayor de Blasio all the time without calling him a multimillionaire, even though he reportedly owns "a pair of two-family homes on 11th Street in Park Slope that are valued at more than $1.1 million apiece."

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Rothstein on Museums

March 20, 2014 at 8:23 am

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This site is usually devoted to criticizing the New York Times, not to praising it. But an exception is called for in the case of Edward Rothstein's piece in today's special section on museums, which is so good, so smart, and so at odds with the paper's left-leaning conventional views, that it's almost a wonder that it made it into the paper. If you are interested in history, museums, or identity politics, it's worth your time.

 

Ochs-Sulzberger Family Narrows NYT Stake

March 18, 2014 at 11:24 am

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The Wall Street Journal's Keach Hagey shrewdly notices that the Ochs-Sulzberger family's economic stake in the New York Times company has declined to a mere 13 percent, from 19 percent as recently as 2010.

A Times company spokesman who spoke to the Journal attributed the decline to "estate planning and long term estate taxes." (I will resist the temptation to make a smart-aleck remark here about the Times editorial position on the estate tax.)

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Krugman, Tarp, and the Tea Party

March 17, 2014 at 8:55 am

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Paul Krugman writes in his New York Times column:

it's hard to find angry Tea Party denunciations of huge Wall Street bailouts, of huge bonuses paid to executives who were saved from disaster by government backing and guarantees. Instead, all the movement's passion, starting with Rick Santelli's famous rant on CNBC, has been directed against any hint of financial relief for low-income borrowers.

Finding these denunciations is not "hard," as Professor Krugman claims. In fact a quick search in the archives of the Times itself turns up a news article about Sharron Angle, "the Tea Party darling from Nevada," denouncing Senator McCain as "Lord of the TARP."

Another Times news article, which appeared on the newspaper's front page, reported:

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Israeli Group

March 17, 2014 at 8:26 am

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A Times article about Mayor de Blasio begins, "He wants to close schools for the Chinese New Year, has pledged fealty to an Israeli political group, sprinkles Spanish and Italian phrases into his speeches and speaks frequently of his wife's Caribbean heritage."

The reference to the mayor having "pledged fealty to an Israeli political group" is unexplained in the rest of the article, which is about Mr. de Blasio's relations with the Irish-American community in New York.

But it appears to be aimed at Mr. de Blasio's remarks to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. If that is indeed what the Times is talking about here, a correction is warranted, because Aipac is not in fact "an Israeli political group" but an American pro-Israel lobbying group.

 

Cleaning Sex Toys

March 14, 2014 at 8:53 am

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The New York Times has now published its second article in two months about a book that tells readers how to clean sex toys. The first article, an interview with the author, was the subject of an earlier Smartertimes post here. Today's Times article, a book review, reports:

What other book will advise you to wash your sex toys — your unmotorized ones, at any rate — in the top rack of the dishwasher? Or will note that STP Fuel Injector & Carburetor Treatment helps remove certain lube stains? Or will have a trick up its sleeve for getting bong water out of a carpet?

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Harassment of Exchanges

March 12, 2014 at 1:23 pm

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A Times editorial about the problem-plagued state ObamaCare websites accuses Republicans of "harassing state officials with requests for information about the salaries and vacation time of directors of the state exchanges." The editorial is headlined "harassment of troubled state exchanges."

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