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New York Times Claims American Flag Is 'Provocative'

May 11, 2017 at 8:19 am

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A New York Times "Memo From Turkey" — actually the memo is datelined Turkey, but is written by two Times reporters — reports on American foreign and military policy toward the Kurds and how Turkey is reacting to it. It includes this passage:

After at least a dozen Turkish attacks on the Syrian Kurdish militants last month, the United States took emphatic steps to prevent further clashes, by moving troops to the border in Humvees as a buffer between Turks and Syrian Kurds.

They even flew American flags, a symbolic and provocative move usually avoided in Middle Eastern interventions.

The Times doesn't explain what is "provocative" about flying an American flag. That may be obvious "From Turkey," but it is less than obvious to this America-based reader, who sees foreign flags flown regularly without being provoked by them.

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Principle and Principal

May 10, 2017 at 9:53 am

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From the final paragraph of a New York Times article about the television series Baywatch, now a movie:

To hear it from Mr. Berk, though, that additional pressure resulted in "incredible energy" on set that only enhanced the finished film. "Because of the luck and karma of 'Baywatch,' every failure and every creative gamble has led to greater benefits," he said. "It's a Buddhist principal: turning poison into medicine."

The word the Times wants in that spot is not "principal" but "principle." It's a subtle difference, but it's the kind of distinction that readers (at least this reader) hope and expect the Times copy desk to enforce. This is the story of stuff I learned in 8th, 9th, and 10th grade English. It's the sort of thing that you'd want professional users of the English language at a newspaper that purports to be the world's best to get right consistently and without fail.


Thomas Keller, John T. Edge

May 10, 2017 at 9:30 am

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For the second week in a row, the food section of the New York Times has featured a prominently placed article about a white man devoted to extensive complaining about his supposed failings when it comes to race or gender progress.

Each article was by the same reporter, Kim Severson.

Last week the target was Thomas Keller, the chef known for his French Laundry and Per Se restaurants. Wrote the Times:

In an era when authenticity, cultural appropriation and gender and racial imbalance in the kitchen are on the minds of many cooks and diners, Mr. Keller's style of dining and the largely white, male crew of young chefs he mentors are inviting targets.

Preeti Mistry, 40, a classically trained chef with a modified Mohawk who cooks elevated Indian street food at her Juhu Beach Club in Oakland, Calif., and her new spot, Navi Kitchen in nearby Emeryville, was in culinary school when she discovered Mr. Keller's "French Laundry Cookbook." It had become an instant professional and spiritual guide for cooks of her generation.

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We Get It

April 28, 2017 at 9:00 am

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Yesterday's five column, top of the front-page New York Times headline: "Tax Overhaul Would Aid Wealthiest."

Today's, also top of the front-page: "Trump's Plan Shifts Trillions To Wealthiest."

What are the chances they go for the same headline again at the top of tomorrow's front page? To me, it's starting to seem redundant, but I guess that is their story and they are sticking with it.


Times Sends Readers To Shop at Walmart

April 28, 2017 at 8:20 am

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Page A3 of my New York Times this morning orders me around: "Follow this advice from The Times's Julia Moskin, a Dining reporter since 2004, to stock your kitchen the right way...To outfit your kitchen, go to the big-box store of your choice: Upscale places like Williams-Sonoma and Sur La Table are browse-worthy, but they often charge much more for the same basic tools."

It seems bossy and presumptuous of the Times to try to tell me where to shop. Maybe I want to support my locally owned, neighborhood kitchen supply store rather than driving to some suburban Walmart. Maybe I like the service better at the higher-end stores. Maybe I'm an Amazon Prime member or credit card holder and want to shop there. Why are those options not "the right way"?

The problem with the Times advice is not just that it may not be "right" for everyone, but that it's hypocritical. Other parts of the Times, including the Dining section, frequently highlight items from expensive stores. Much of the news that appears in the Times itself is available for free on other internet sites.

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Wade Quadruplets

April 7, 2017 at 8:11 am

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Amid a New York Times article about a set of quadruplets who were admitted to Harvard and Yale comes this sentence:

Nigel, who wants to study neuroscience, was wait-listed and Zach, who is thinking of chemical engineering, was rejected by Stanford, so perhaps for the first time in their lives, the interests of one is pitted against those of the others.

"Perhaps" the Times writer has never had a sibling or is not the parent of them, or has never read the book of Genesis, which is all about sibling rivalry. And "perhaps" the "fewer editors" policy of the New York Times Company is responsible for the lack of subject-verb agreement between the plural "interests" and the singular "is."


Times Cuts Local Coverage, Staff

April 5, 2017 at 9:30 am

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The number of local news articles appearing in a week's New York Times declined to 48 in 2017 from 102 in 2009 and 153 in 2001. The number of Times reporters covering New York has likewise declined, to about 42 now from 85 in 2001, the Daily Beast reports.


Uber and the Pre-New Deal Era

April 5, 2017 at 9:14 am

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A New York Times article about the ride-sharing company Uber reports:

Uber exists in a kind of legal and ethical purgatory, however. Because its drivers are independent contractors, they lack most of the protections associated with employment. By mastering their workers' mental circuitry, Uber and the like may be taking the economy back toward a pre-New Deal era when businesses had enormous power over workers and few checks on their ability to exploit it.

This is hypocritical, because the New York Times print edition is itself delivered by "independent contractors" and is full of articles written by freelance writers and images by freelance artists and photographers who are also "independent contractors." It's also inaccurate and alarmist.

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Times Versus Times on For-Profit Education

March 13, 2017 at 8:16 am

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From the New York Times Book Review on Sunday, March 12, under the headline, "The Troubling Appeal of Education at For-Profit Schools":

Some two million Americans are enrolled in for-profit colleges, up from 400,000 in 2000. Those students, most of them working adults getting short-term certificates, are disproportionately nonwhite and female. They graduate with more debt than students who have attended public and nonprofit institutions, and are more likely to default on their loans.

It's amazing how the Times manages to attack the for-profit colleges for enrolling students who are "disproportionately nonwhite and female." If the opposite were the case, and the students were disproportionately white and male, the Times would probably attack the colleges for racism, sexism, and exclusivity. For the colleges, it's a no-win situation; they get attacked for any deviation from the demographic norms, in any direction.

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Out of Print Books

March 10, 2017 at 7:53 am

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The Times arts section features a column with this note:

American Beauties is a column by Dwight Garner, appearing every other Friday, about undersung American books of the past 75 years. Used copies of books that are out of print are available from various online retailers.

Well, yes, copies of books that are out of print are indeed "available from various online retailers." But they also may be available at your local library, or your local physical, in-real-life used book store. Why the Times is editorially pushing the "online retailer" option over the other two is a mystery.


Times Versus Times

February 27, 2017 at 8:10 am

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From the lead, front-page news article in today's Times:

Despite his lament that he was handed "a mess" by President Barack Obama, Mr. Trump inherited a low unemployment rate, a lack of international crises requiring immediate attention and majorities in both houses of Congress.

"A lack of international crises requiring immediate attention"?

From a news article on page A3 of the same newspaper, same day, under the headline "U.S. Forces Play Crucial Role Against ISIS in Mosul":

HAMAM AL-ALIL, Iraq — One week after Iraqi forces began their push into western Mosul, American firepower is playing an essential role in softening the opposition from the Islamic State.

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Through the Ringer

February 27, 2017 at 7:58 am

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A Times interview with Lena Dunham and Michael Ryss about the latest episode of the HBO program "Girls" includes this rendering of a question by Times reporter Amanda Hess:

Lena, one of the most interesting things about the episode is that you can sense your investment in both characters. You're someone who's been outspoken about lifting women's voices, but you've also been put through the ringer online by strangers.

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Stephen Schwarzman 70th Birthday Party

February 16, 2017 at 10:10 am

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Tuesday's New York Times, following up Amanda Gordon's reporting for Bloomberg (here and here) without giving her appropriate credit, reported on Stephen A. Schwarzman's 70th birthday party:

In the age of Mr. Trump and his famed golden penthouse, Mr. Schwarzman's party has largely been ignored except for a bit of chattering by Town & Country and sniping among the schadenfreude-loving Acela Corridor Crowd.

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Bookstores Against Trump

February 16, 2017 at 9:50 am

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Under the headline, "Bookstores Stoke Trump Resistance With Action, Not Just Words," the New York Times has a 1,300-word article, accompanied by four photographs, about how bookstores are taking action against President Trump.

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EPA Gag Order

January 30, 2017 at 10:55 am

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Do the editors of the New York Times and the art critics even read their own newspaper?

Forgive the question, but it's prompted by this juxtaposition:

The New York Times, January 26, 2017, "Federal Agencies Told to Halt External Communications":

Longtime employees at three of the agencies — including some career environmental regulators who conceded that they remained worried about what President Trump might do on policy matters — said such orders were not much different from those delivered by the Obama administration as it shifted policies from the departing White House of George W. Bush. They called reactions to the agency memos overblown. On Wednesday, Douglas Ericksen, a spokesman for the E.P.A., said that grants had been only briefly frozen for review, and that they would be restarted by Friday.

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