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Nearly Shut Down

March 9, 2015 at 9:40 am

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The lead front-page news article in today's Times begins:

WASHINGTON — In their first major test of governing this year, Republicans stumbled, faltered — and nearly shut down the Department of Homeland Security.
And that vote may have been the easy one.

So much for the idea that Republicans would get credit for not shutting down the Department of Homeland Security.

Imagine the coverage if the Republicans had shut down the Department of Homeland Security (which wouldn't have actually shut down anyway, because something like 85% of the workers are considered "essential.")

Or imagine if the Times covered Obama that way. The passage of ObamaCare would have been covered with an article that would have begun, "President Obama nearly lost the vote to pass his signature domestic initiative."

Or imagine if the Times covered sports that way. The Patriots Super Bowl victory would have been written up as "the Patriots nearly lost the Super Bowl."

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Times Crops George W. Bush Out of Selma

March 9, 2015 at 9:39 am

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The decision to crop George W. and Laura Bush out of a front-page New York Times photo of the Selma anniversary march is attracting some attention.

Update: The Times public editor tackles the issue and finds the photo wasn't cropped; rather, the Times staff photographer at the event didn't even bother to submit a photo that included President Bush, explaining, "Bush was in the bright sunlight. I did not even send this frame because it's very wide and super busy and Bush is super-overexposed because he was in the sun and Obama and the others are in the shade."



March 5, 2015 at 11:09 am

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It was quite a day for anonymice.

The lead article in the Thursday Styles section, about the supposed news that Uber and Lyft have put a damper on the sex that used to take place in the backseats of New York City taxis, includes the following attributions:

a 28-year-old marketing manager in the tech industry named Suzanne, who asked that her surname not be used because, well, she's a marketing manager, not an adult-film star...

Stephanie, a 23-year-old publicist in Manhattan who asked that her last name not be published because of the damage it might do to her business

Chris, 31, an executive at a tech start-up who also requested that his last name not be used

Then the foreign section has an account of a stabbing attack on the American ambassador in South Korea:

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Bibi's Speech

March 4, 2015 at 9:01 am

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It's actually hard to tell which is the New York Times staff editorial about Prime Minister Netanyahu's speech to Congress and which is the op-ed piece from the Iranian ambassador to the United Nations, which may be one of the reasons that a new effort is under way to get Jewish groups to stop subsidizing this sort of thing by buying full-page advertisements in the Times.


Palm Beach Republicans

March 2, 2015 at 9:26 am

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The lead news article in Sunday's New York Times appeared under the headline, "G.O.P. Race Starts in Lavish Haunts of Rich Donors." It began:

PALM BEACH, Fla. — Instead of the corn dogs and pork chops on a stick ritually served up on the hustings of Iowa, the latest stop on the donor trail featured meals of diver scallops and chocolate mousse. The setting was the Breakers, a sprawling Italian Renaissance-inspired hotel here, where the cheapest available rooms fetched $800 a night. And for the half-dozen Republican presidential candidates invited to the annual winter meeting this weekend of the Club for Growth, an influential bloc of deep-pocketed conservatives, the prize was not votes. It was money.

There are at least two problems with this story.

The first is that one person I know who attended the meeting paid $532 for his room at the Breakers. There was a block rate for Club for Growth people that the Times doesn't mention.

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Book Critic's Onanism Obsession

February 26, 2015 at 11:19 am

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From a book review by Times book critic Dwight Garner that the Times issued this week: "Kinky details are allowed to crawl in. Mr. Christgau says he masturbated when young to the Song of Solomon (the Bible book, not the Toni Morrison novel)."

It seems a bit hypocritical of Mr. Garner to criticize the book author, Robert Christgau, for allowing such details to crawl in, when Mr. Garner himself specializes in including them in his own reviews.

A post here back in September enumerated at least five previous instances in the past four years in which Mr. Garner wrote about masturbation. Smartertimes observed then:

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Altered Details

February 24, 2015 at 10:13 pm

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The headline at the top of the New York Times home page was "When the best sex is extramarital."

It leads to an article by "Lawrence Josephs, a psychotherapist in private practice in New York," that says at the bottom, "Details have been altered to protect patient privacy."

Which details have "been altered" and which are true? And where is the line between what is a "detail" and what is more significant than a detail? The Times doesn't provide readers any guidance on either front, and it doesn't even let us in on the question of whether any Times editors are in on the question of what is real and what is altered details.

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Always the Inequality

February 24, 2015 at 9:13 pm

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Reason's Matt Welch does a really nice job of catching the New York Times fretting that Cuba's opening to the U.S. will increase income inequality in Cuba. (Link via Walter Olson.)

And a Times column by Ginia Bellafante about climate change somehow manages to make that story, too, about inequality:

the luxury glass towers proliferating in Manhattan would also do terribly — reaching just slightly above freezing by the fourth day. During a summer blackout, glass towers, because of the intensity with which glass conducts heat, would be rough places to live; indoor temperature would get into the high 80s and beyond by Day 3. (Of course, it is the ultimate science fiction to imagine that anyone living in a $50 million apartment with wall-to-wall views would be in New York in August in the first place.)

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Dynasty's Son

February 15, 2015 at 9:55 pm

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"As Dynasty's Son, Jeb Bush Used His Connections Freely," is the headline on a front-page news article in Sunday's Times. Now there's a story so scandalous and important that maybe the Times should have assigned it to be written by its own publisher, a guy named Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr.


Urban President

February 15, 2015 at 9:43 pm

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"Such coalition building made Obama the first urban president in more than a century," David Gergen, a professor at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, writes in a Times review of David Axelrod's book Believer: My Forty Years In Politics.

I can't figure out what Professor Gergen means. John Kennedy, for whom the school at which Mr. Gergen teaches is named, voted from a Boston apartment address and lived in Washington, D.C.'s Georgetown neighborhood. George H.W. Bush's residence was within the city of Houston, Texas, and when he was Reagan's vice president he lived in Washington, D.C. Do Boston, Houston, and Washington not count as "urban' in Professor Gergen's definition? If so, it sure is an idiosyncratic definition.


Krugman on Shlaes

February 13, 2015 at 9:39 am

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Today's New York Times carries a correction on Paul Krugman's previous column: " Paul Krugman's column on Monday incorrectly described bookmakers' odds that Greece will exit the eurozone. The odds were worse than even, not better than even."

It looks like today's Krugman column will also require a correction. He writes, "Jeb Bush appears to be getting his economic agenda, such as it is, from the George W. Bush Institute's 4% Growth Project. And the head of that project, Amity Shlaes, is a prominent 'inflation truther,' someone who claims that the government is greatly understating the true rate of inflation."

In fact Miss Shlaes has not been employed by the Bush Institute, much less the "head" of any project there, for at least some months.


The Underfunded MBTA

February 11, 2015 at 12:19 pm

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A Times news article from Boston reports:

Most glaringly, the storms have exposed the vulnerabilities of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, which operates the region's decrepit, fitful subways, buses and commuter rail lines. The underfunded system, which carries 1.3 million people a day and is $5.5 billion in debt, has been plagued in the last 17 days by breakdowns, fires, power losses, delays of two and three hours, and scenes of commuters having to disembark and pick their way along snow-covered tracks.

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Bad Journalism

February 8, 2015 at 9:05 pm

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For an example of bad journalism, check out this passage from the page one article by Amy Chozick in Sunday's Times about Hillary Clinton's economic policy:

Many of the advocates who knew Mrs. Clinton as a champion for the poor and working-class women felt betrayed in 1996 when, as first lady, she supported Mr. Clinton's overhaul of the welfare system, which gave states more power to remove people from welfare rolls and pledged to cut federal spending on assistance for the poor by nearly $55 billion over six years. She was more skeptical about the North American Free Trade Agreement, which Mr. Clinton signed into law in 1993 and which has also been accused of hurting American workers.

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Heating a Chicken Coop

February 6, 2015 at 1:24 pm

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The Times Home and Garden section has an interview with an architect who designed a fancy chicken coop for a residence in the Hamptons. The architect says:

This may be the only chicken coop that has radiant floor heating. Usually they're lit, or warmed, by a light bulb. That's what happens when you have a good contractor who does high-end Hamptons homes. When the contractor brought up radiant floor heating, I thought, 'That's ridiculous.' But then I thought, 'That's a really good idea.' If the heating fails, you'd have a bunch of dead chickens in winter.

The Times doesn't challenge that claim. But two chicken farmers I know say that while some heat may be necessary to make sure the chickens' drinking water doesn't freeze, the chickens themselves don't need heat. They are birds, after all. The Times suspends its usual concern with global climate change and excessive energy consumption when it's an architect-designed chicken coop in the Hamptons that is being heated.


Lost at Lands' End

February 5, 2015 at 3:08 pm

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A New York Times business section article by Rachel Abrams about Lands' End reports, "If you bought an item from Lands' End recently, you probably did so in Sears. At the beginning of last year, 274 Lands' End shops were inside the retail giant, while Lands' End operated just 16 of its own stores."

This is inaccurate. In fact, if you bought an item from Lands' End recently, you probably did so not in a Sears, but from your computer at your home or office. This is especially true of New York Times readers, who are probably more likely to be Internet users and less likely to be Sears shoppers than the overall population. But it's true overall; according to a recent Land's End SEC filing, "Online sales represented approximately 80% of our U.S. consumer revenue in 2013, up from approximately 20% in 2002."

Disclosure: I own shares of Sears Holdings, the parent company of Sears.


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