On Thursday, the Times foreign desk updated us on the development of "class consciousness" in Cuba. On Friday, the Times nation desk portrayed complaints about airplane noise in Silicon Valley as exposing a "class divide." Today, the Times metro desk gets into the action, managing to fit a routine article about an environmental cleanup of the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn into — sure enough — what seems to be emerging as the newspaper's standard Marxist analytical framework of class struggle.
Here's the relevant passage:
The Web site JimRomenesko.com has a report from Alan Peppard of the Dallas Morning News about a talk at Southern Methodist University by the executive editor of the New York Times, Jill Abramson:
Yesterday, the Times provided a May Day update from Havana on the development of "class consciousness" in Cuba. Today it is Silicon Valley that gets squeezed into the Times' laughably predictable framework of analysis: "Corporate Jet Center Exposes Silicon Valley's Class Divide," the headline over the article says.
In fact, people of all classes who live near airports don't like the noise. This is true, in my experience and observation, regardless of economic conditions, geography, or income inequality, and regardless of whether the airplanes involved are private Gulfstreams or not-so-private People Express planes. Rather than demonstrating a class divide, the nearly universal opposition to airplane noise from neighbors of airports show that many issues transcend the class boundaries that are so ardently reinforced by Times reporters and editors.
A Times dispatch from London on a British sex-crimes investigation reports: "Stung by criticism that they failed to follow through on numerous complaints against Mr. Savile, the police are now going out of their way to appear receptive to even the most minor complaint, even ones that are decades old."
The article goes on to describe instances of alleged rape, statutory rape, assault, and sexual assault. The Times doesn't say which one of these are "minor," but it seems an oddly breezy and dismissive characterization. When it's Times reporters investigating these sorts of abuses at, say, Horace Mann, the fact that they are "decades old" doesn't mean that they are "minor" or that they should be ignored.
A Times dispatch from the May Day parade in Havana, Cuba carries this passage:
From a New York Times obituary of Deanna Durbin: "Durbin devoted most of her time to keeping her home, cooking and raising her children."
The children are much easier to raise once they are cooked.
(Following the advice of the late, great, William Safire, we'll refrain from criticizing the use of "raising" as opposed to "rearing.")
Thanks to reader-participant-community member-watchdog-content co-creator L. for sending the tip.
The headline is absurd, because the poll doesn't ask respondents if they are isolationist or internationalist/interventionist. It found 70% support for American drone strikes against suspected terrorists in foreign countries, a tactic that a strict isolationist would probably oppose. The "isolationist" headline seems to stem from the response to a question about Syria.
That question was phrased as follows: "Do you think the United States has a responsibility to do something about the fighting in Syria between government forces and anti-government groups, or doesn't the United States have this responsibility?" Twenty-four percent said America has responsibility, while 62 percent that it does not.
A Times editorial about American policy toward Syria following the Syrian regime's use of chemical weapons against the opposition says, "Mr. Obama should only act if he has compelling documentation that the sarin gas was used in an attack by Syrian forces and was not the result of an accident or fertilizer."
The Times offers no further explanation, so readers are left to puzzle out for themselves the source of the possible confusion, or imagine potential scenarios. Was Bashar al-Assad so worried that the rebels might be hungry that he lobbed shells containing fertilizer at them so that their crops would flourish? Were the chemical weapons — sorry, "fertilizer" — distributed to the rebels by the Assad regime along with copies of the latest Burpee seed catalog, bags of potting soil, and leather gardening gloves?
The front of the business section of today's New York Times carries an article headlined "Wealth Gap Among Races Widened Since Recession." It reports on an Urban Institute study about racial disparities in wealth accumulation. The headline news is that "the average white family had about $632,000 in wealth, versus $98,000 for black families and $110,000 for Hispanic families."
Here are two ways that both the Urban Institute study and the Times article are flawed:
A front-page Times dispatch from Damascus reports, "the United States has signaled growing discomfort with the rising influence of radical Islamists on the battlefield, and it remains unwilling to arm the rebels or to consider stepping in more forcefully without conclusive evidence that the Syrian government used chemical weapons, as some Israeli officials assert."
An anti-Israel cookbook published by an anti-Israel publisher gets a recommendation from the New York Times this morning, a disturbing sign of the way the newspaper's view of the Arab-Israeli conflict infects even sections like the food section, which some readers might hope would be apolitical.
The "Florence Fabricant Recommends" column recommends discovering a book called The Gaza Kitchen: A Palestinian Culinary Journey. The Times article reports that the book is a guide to "the zesty home cooking of Gaza, the strip of land on the Mediterranean coast sandwiched between Egypt and Israel." It says the book "also discusses issues in Gaza like shortages of electricity and water."
Toward the end of an article on the Boston Marathon bombing comes the claim, "Anecdotes suggest that Mr. Tsarnaev became more religious in the last several years and may have embraced more conservative Islamic ideas."
I prefer the terms "radical Islamist ideas" or "extreme Islamist ideas" or "miltant Islamist ideas." But if a journalist or his editors are in the determined mindset of pinning this bombing on conservative ideas, it sure looks like they will find a way to do it, one way or another.
Toward the end of a dispatch about an American arms sale to Israel comes the claim, "The United States has promised Israel $3.1 billion in military financial assistance in this fiscal year, the highest amount ever."
It's funny to observe these rare instances when the Times is willing to use nominal dollar amounts to declare that something is "the highest amount ever." On plenty of other issues, such as domestic spending on health or welfare, or tax revenues, the Times insists on adjusting for inflation (using the consumer price index, which is a whole nother story) or on framing the expenditure or revenue as a percentage of GDP. This is a framing issue worth keeping an eye on. The Times doesn't say tax revenues are at the highest ever, because it wants to raise taxes and discredit those who want to cut them. But it does say aid to Israel is at the highest ever, because it wants to reduce that aid (and to discredit those who fault President Obama for chilling the U.S.-Israel relationship, at least on the government-to-government level).
A "Memo From Brussels" about American defense spending and Europe's includes the following passage: "France says that by 2014 it may cut deeper still — to just 1.3 percent of G.D.P., down from 1.9 percent this year. By comparison, the United States spent 4.8 percent of its G.D.P. on the military in 2011."
Comparing 2014 or 2013 to 2011 is an apples-to-oranges comparison. If the Times wants to compare the United States and France, it should compare what the U.S. spent in 2011 against what France spent in 2011, or what the U.S. says it will spend in 2014 against what France says it will spend in 2014, or what both countries are spending in 2013.
From Paul Krugman's column today:
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