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Little Known Malpass

March 15, 2019 at 5:36 am

A news article on the front of the Times business section about President Trump's choice to head the World Bank, David Malpass, reports, "Big questions remain about how Mr. Malpass, a little-known Treasury Department official who has previously criticized multilateral institutions for overstepping their authority, will run the 75-year-old institution."

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Trump and the Environment

December 27, 2018 at 8:07 am

Today's print New York Times carries a special section about how President Trump is wrecking the environment. I stopped reading at this sentence: "Mr. Trump's regulatory ambitions extend beyond Republican distaste for what they considered unilateral overreach by his Democratic predecessor; pursuing them in full force, Mr. Trump would shift the debate about the environment sharply in the direction of industry interests, further unraveling what had been, before the Obama administration, a loose bipartisan consensus dating in part to the Nixon administration."

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Springsteen Debut

December 16, 2018 at 10:04 am

A photo cutline on the front page of the arts section of Saturday's Times, at least in my home-delivered print New England edition, reads, "The audience is unseen for the first half of 'Springsteen on Broadway,' which debut's on Sunday."

My hardcover Times Manual of Style and Usage insists, "debut. Use it as a noun (made a debut) or a modifier (debut recital), never as a verb (debuted)."

Even if one were to use it as a verb, doing so by adding an apostrophe "s" seems like a particularly egregious way of going about it.

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Elizabeth Warren's DNA

December 7, 2018 at 8:03 am

A front-page New York Times news article reports about the backfiring of Senator Elizabeth Warren's decision to take a DNA test and disclose the results in connection with her claims of Native American ancestry: "Allies in Boston pointed out that, in Ms. Warren's recent re-election effort in Massachusetts, there was no evidence that the DNA announcement hurt her standing among voters."

These "allies" may have pointed that out, but it's the job of the Times to apply some skepticism and fact-checking before passing those claims along to Times readers. Here is a November 28, 2018, press release from UMass Amherst about the results of its most recent poll:

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Harold Levy

November 28, 2018 at 7:40 am

The New York Times obituary of Harold Levy, a chancellor of the New York City public schools, includes this passage:

Appointed on an interim basis by the Board of Education in January 2000, explicitly against the wishes of Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Levy, a small, energetic man who arrived at his new office in a pinstriped suit carrying a pillow embroidered with "No Good Deed Goes Unpunished," faced daunting challenges directing the nation's largest public school system.

It was a behemoth with 1.1 million students, 84 percent of them from minority groups; 78,000 teachers whose contracts were expiring and whose ranks faced heavy retirement losses; an aging infrastructure of 1,145 schools, most of them overcrowded and decrepit, and a $13 billion budget that experts called inadequate.

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Amazon Bank

November 24, 2018 at 9:17 pm

An article on the front of the Times business section reports on companies that are offering online banking services:

Several other established companies are also moving in. Acorn, which attracted four million customers to its investing app, is about to start offering its customers a debit card to spend their money. And SoFi, originally an online lender, has added a bank account offering this year. Even Amazon is rumored to be working on a checking account for younger customers.

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Ford Foundation

November 20, 2018 at 9:37 am

The New York Times has a highly favorable architecture review of the two-year, $205 million renovation of the Ford Foundation's Manhattan headquarters, an update that apparently includes the conversion of the former president's suite into new conference rooms named after Wilma Mankiller and Fannie Lou Hamer.

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Smartertimes Gets Results

November 18, 2018 at 9:01 am

The New York Times has now issued a formal correction of the error in the North Korea editorial it published last week. The error was the subject of a Smartertimes item.

The Times correction reads: "An earlier version of this editorial incorrectly said that President Trump's special envoy for North Korea, Stephen Biegun, has yet to meet a North Korean official since his appointment. Mr. Biegun has met several senior North Korean officials, but he has not held working-level talks with his designated North Korean counterpart, the vice foreign minister Choe Son-hui."


Which George Bush?

November 18, 2018 at 8:51 am

A New York Times article about the Presidential Medal of Freedom reports: "Mr. Obama honored President George Bush."

Because there have been two presidents named George Bush, that sentence in the New York Times isn't particularly helpful. In cases, such as this one, where it's not easily or immediately apparent from the context which president is meant, the Times would do its readers a favor by using middle initials — George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush — to distinguish.

In case you were wondering, it was George H.W. Bush who received the medal from Obama.


Insulting Work

November 16, 2018 at 8:26 am

In a front-page New York Times news article about the presidential prospects of Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio, comes this passage: "Throughout his political career, he has championed populist platitudes like the 'dignity of work' that have resonated with working-class voters in all corners of Ohio while also supporting liberal social causes like women's reproductive rights and L.G.B.T.Q. rights."

The Times repeats the language in a photo cutline: "Mr. Brown has championed platitudes like the 'dignity of work' that have long resonated with working-class voters in all corners of Ohio."

A "platitude," according to my authoritative Webster's Second Unabridged dictionary, is "commonplaceness, dullness, insipidity; as there was much platitude in his remarks" or "a trite, dull, or commonplace remark, especially one uttered as if it were a novelty or matter of importance."

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Wrong on North Korea

November 14, 2018 at 9:54 am

A New York Times editorial, "North Korean Nuclear Shell Game," about the Trump administration's North Korean nuclear diplomacy complains about "no deadlines, no verification regime, no penalties for noncompliance," and asserts, "Mr. Trump's special envoy for North Korea, Stephen Biegun, has yet to meet a North Korean official more than two months since his appointment."

Never mind the hypocrisy and inconsistency — the Times cheerleads for sketchy nuclear deals with Iran and even with North Korea when they are reached by Democratic administrations, but once a Republican gets into office, all of a sudden the Times editorials sound like they are being ghostwritten by Frank Gaffney.

Never mind that the Times doesn't even acknowledge the Trump administration's significant accomplishment of achieving the safe release of three Americans who had been held hostage by North Korea.

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Praising Asians

November 13, 2018 at 9:13 am

From the latest article in the New York Times' coverage of the Harvard admissions affirmative action case:

Claire Jean Kim, a professor of Asian-American studies at the University of California, Irvine, said the Harvard lawsuit is the "continuation of a historical dynamic that's been around for almost two centuries."

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New York Times Suspends Iran 'Journeys'

November 9, 2018 at 3:29 pm

It's been a long time in coming since Smartertimes first reported on the trips back in 2014, but the New York Times is finally suspending the money-making, journalist-guided luxury trips it has been running to Iran. The Algemeiner has news of the Times decision.


Vanishing Northeastern Republicans

November 9, 2018 at 8:13 am

Of all the angles for the New York Times to choose for a front-page post-election political story, the "vanishing Northeastern Republican" one they used is pretty lame.

The Times blames President Trump: "A Trump-Fueled 'Wipeout' for House Republicans in the Northeast," is the headline.

But the Times has been writing the obituary of Northeastern Republicans since long before Donald Trump became a political force.

Here, for example, is a Times dispatch from 2006:

It was a species as endemic to New England as craggy seascapes and creamy clam chowder: the moderate Yankee Republican.

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Wrong on Harvard

November 1, 2018 at 9:41 am

A front-page New York Times news article about the federal lawsuit over Harvard's admissions practices reports, "Harvard has officially permitted students to see their admissions files since 2015, after a group of Stanford students successfully used a federal education law to gain access to their records."

That's not accurate. Harvard permitted students to do this in the early 1990s. Stanford had nothing to do with it. I know this because I got a copy of mine, or at least the summary sheet. Here is coverage from the Crimson at the time. A Harvard student from that era who is a friend of mine and who was my colleague at the New York Sun, Josh Gerstein, recounted the whole story in a recent piece for Politico.

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