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Centrist Lee Zeldin

January 16, 2018 at 9:53 am

One of the funnier aspects of media bias is the way that publications adjust the labels that they hurl at politicians or academics depending on the publication's agenda at a given time.

An article in today's New York Times, for example, reports, "After the tax vote, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan canceled plans to raise money for a centrist New York Republican as punishment for opposition to the tax bill, a response that penalizes a member of the speaker's party just when help is most needed to win re-election."

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Crime Is Falling, But Police Levels Remain Robust

January 8, 2018 at 9:09 am

A candidate for James Taranto's "Fox Butterfield" effect award is this New York Times news article, which appeared under the print headline, "Crime Is Falling, But Police Levels Remain Robust."

As the article itself concedes, "hardly anyone questions the size of police forces." Hardly anyone, that is, besides the New York Times.

The article is by Jose A. Del Real, whose LinkedIn bio describes him as a 2013 graduate of Harvard.

Newspapers exist in part to raise questions that "hardly anyone" is asking. But readers might be a bit less skeptical of the Times enthusiasm for shrinking the unionized government workforce if the enthusiasm extended beyond the police to other areas.

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A.G. Sulzberger Stumbles at the Start

January 1, 2018 at 7:03 pm

The newly installed publisher of the Times, A.G. Sulzberger, is out with "A Note From Our New Publisher" that suggests that maybe he might want to, you know, re-read the First Amendment before he spends much more time out in public on his new job. The "note" contains this doozy:

There was a reason freedom of speech and freedom of the press were placed first among our essential rights. Our founders understood that the free exchange of ideas and the ability to hold power to account were prerequisites for a successful democracy.

Uh, sorry to break it to you, Mr. Sulzberger, but there is no accurate count by which "freedom of speech and freedom of the press were placed first among our essential rights."

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Left-Wing News

December 27, 2017 at 8:36 am

Under the print headline "Labor Unions Gain Foothold At News Sites," my edition of the New York Times reported, "Members of the news staffs at Vice Media, ThinkProgress and HuffPost followed suit, organizing unions that their companies recognized and that subsequently ratified contracts."

I raised my eyebrows at the Times description of ThinkProgress as a "News Site" with a "news staff." Without appending a formal correction, the online version of the story carries a different headline: "Unions Are Gaining a Foothold at Digital Media Companies." And in the text of the article itself, the word "news" has been changed, so that the sentence that caused me to raise an eyebrow now reads: "Members of the editorial staffs at Vice Media, ThinkProgress and HuffPost followed suit, organizing unions that their companies recognized and that subsequently ratified contracts."

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Family Business

December 25, 2017 at 6:29 pm

Is it just me, or is there a double standard in how the Times covers inherited wealth in its own family business versus how it covers it in other families — like, say the president's family real estate business?

Here is a Timothy Egan column dated December 15, from the Times op-ed page:

Do entitled rich kids who would otherwise be parking cars without Daddy's help — think Donald Trump Jr. and his brother Eric — deserve to inherit a vast estate without paying taxes on their unearned largess?

It's a rhetorical question, and you can probably guess Egan's answer from the way he phrased the question.

Here is a Jim Rutenberg column dated December 24, from the Times business section:

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Trump and the Stock Market, Again

December 20, 2017 at 9:56 am

One of the most crucial tasks of a news organization in the Trump era is explaining what's unusual and what's not unusual. The New York Times has a major fail on that front in today's paper, with a news article by Michael Tackett. It begins:

WASHINGTON — President Trump has broken with many of the norms set by his predecessors, but in few ways has this been clearer than his cheerleading about the roaring stock market.

He is the unapologetic First Bull.

He has crowed about the stock market at least once a week for the past two months. In two Twitter messages early Tuesday morning, the president cited a 5,000-point rise in the Dow Jones industrial average this year, and then said the market had more room to roar once the impact of tax legislation he is expected to sign this week becomes law.

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Ten Ways The Times Jerusalem Editorial Got It Wrong

December 19, 2017 at 10:14 am

"Ten Ways The New York Times Jerusalem Editorial Got It Wrong" is the headline over my latest piece for the Algemeiner, which you can read here.


Uber's Lawyers

November 29, 2017 at 9:14 am

The lead business story in today's New York Times reports that Judge William Alsup of Federal District Court in San Francisco "accused Uber's lawyers of withholding evidence, forcing him to delay the trial":

"I can no longer trust the words of the lawyers for Uber in this case," Judge Alsup said. "If even half of what is in that letter is true, it would be an injustice for Waymo to go to trial."

Today's Times article does not specify what lawyer Judge Alsup was talking about. It doesn't name the lawyer or the law firm.

An August Times article did a better job:

"You misled the judge time and time again," Judge Alsup told Arturo González, Uber's outside counsel from the law firm Morrison & Foerster.

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Liz Smith and Pat Buckley

November 16, 2017 at 10:47 am

A nasty piece in the Times by Jonah Engel Bromwich runs under the headline "Liz Smith's Complicated Relationship With the Closet." It posthumously faults a journalist for being what the Times deems to be insufficiently public about her sexual orientation. Mr. Bromwich writes:

At the height of her influence, in the 1980s and early '90s, Ms. Smith covered for still-closeted celebrities like Malcolm Forbes and promoted conservative socialites like Pat Buckley, whose husband, William F. Buckley Jr., the editor of National Review, had written that people with AIDS should be tattooed.

For those reasons, she came under fire by the columnist Michelangelo Signorile, who during the run of the magazine OutWeek named and shamed closeted gay celebrities whom he saw as hypocrites in the midst of a deadly pandemic.

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Bad Advice on Snowblowers, Generators, and Apples

November 16, 2017 at 10:17 am

Since the news business alone doesn't seem to be making enough money to keep New York Times owner Carlos Slim satisfied, the company has been expanding into other areas, like giving advice.

Page A3 of my November 16, 2017, New York Times, under the headline, "Here to Help: Home Maintenance Tips For The Winter, includes the following on how to "make sure your home is prepared for the harsh weather": "Make sure your snow blower is in good working order before it snows. You do not want to be caught in the first major storm with only an orange shovel to dig yourself out."

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Buzzfeed Valuation

October 23, 2017 at 9:03 am

Andrew Ross Sorkin's New York Times column last week ran under the headline "How Valuable Is a Unicorn? Maybe Not as Much as It Claims to Be." It reported that eye-popping valuation for venture-capital-backed companies "may be a bit of myth — or perhaps wishful thinking." Citing Stanford research, it warned that the "headline" valuations were tricking people.

On the front of today's Times business section is an article about BuzzFeed building a movie studio in Southern California. In passing, the Times reports, "BuzzFeed, which is now valued at about $1.7 billion." No caveats about dilution or special terms for some investors or how that number may be a myth, a trick, or wishful thinking. It's almost enough to make one wonder whether the reporter of the BuzzFeed story, Sydney Ember, or her editor even bothered to read Sorkin's column, or, if they did, whether they took it seriously.


Blacks For Trump

October 9, 2017 at 8:24 am

Amidst a Times arts section article about a late-night talk-show host, Robin Thede, comes this passage:

Ms. Thede explained, "We're not going to spend a half-hour telling you Trump is bad, because black people didn't vote for him anyway. They know that."

No challenge or explanation from the New York Times on that, which seems off base, because some black people did vote for Trump, and also because most people aren't just "bad" or "good" but are some combination of both.


Che Guevara

October 9, 2017 at 8:10 am

Today's New York Times devotes an entire page to not one but two separate articles marking the 50th anniversary of the death of Che Guevara. It's hard to recall another historical figure whose 50th death anniversary has been marked with such extensive and mostly positive coverage by the Times.

The headline over one of the articles is "Execution Still Haunts Village, 50 Years After Che Guevara's Death." At the Forward and the New York Sun we had a rule that if the word "still" was the most appropriate word for the headline or the lead paragraph of a story, the article had to be spiked, because it was a sign that it wasn't news, it was olds.

For better, more accurate journalism than the Times has to offer on this topic, I recommend this 5 minute, 49 second John Stossel video.


Median Age of the New Yorker

October 3, 2017 at 10:03 am

Amid a Times business section article about S.I. Newhouse Jr. and the New Yorker magazine comes this paragraph:

Mr. Gottlieb took the job anyway. If he did not reinvent the magazine in his five-year tenure, neither did he turn it into a moneymaker. The median age of the magazine was rising, and Mr. Newhouse decided to make yet another change: He fired Mr. Gottlieb and replaced him with Ms. Brown, the 38-year-old British editor who had made a splash with the celebrity- and royalty-heavy Vanity Fair.

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Pork Chop Underwear

September 28, 2017 at 7:47 pm

In the middle of a Times Magazine profile of the writer John McPhee comes this passage:

Almost immediately after that hiking-guide of an opening, "The Pine Barrens" unleashes all kinds of color and legend and bizarre characters, including a deep-woods cranberry farmer who invites McPhee into his shack while eating a pork chop in his underwear.

That sentence could have used some editing to make it clear that it was the farmer, rather than the pork chop, that was in the underwear. One sees these sorts of misplaced modifying phrases in the Times more and more often. You'd think maybe in a profile of a writer known for his writing craft, the newspaper would do a little better.


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