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A Times Reporter Attacks His Mother

October 21, 2015 at 10:02 am

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The Times food section today features an article about broilers. It includes this sentence: "Our mothers pressed them into service for steaks and chops (which I must admit my mother ruined by cooking them until they were gray and dry)."

If the Times reporter has a complaint about his mother's cooking, let him address it to her in person (if she is alive). Or take it up in psychotherapy. Instead, Times readers are hauled along into the middle of this intra-family conflict, in which the mother isn't given a chance to respond to the accusation. She might have replied that the Times reporter ought to be grateful that she fed him at all, given the way he was to end up publicly griping about her cooking before an audience of hundreds of thousands of Times readers.

Times reporters who use the paper's columns (and the time of readers) to complain about family members without allowing the family members a chance to respond are a recurrent problem. For an earlier example, see here.

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Not a Parody

September 30, 2015 at 10:07 am

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The Times chose to run a question and answer-style interview with one (just one) of the many MacArthur Foundation "genius" prize fellowship winners on the cover of its arts section. Never mind that winners of right-wing awards never get the attention in the Times that the left-leaning MacArthur geniuses do. Here is a portion of the Times interview with Brooklyn-based painter Nicole Eisenman:

Q. Do you feel that one of the reasons you were able to move toward painting and greater fluidity of meaning was that things had changed over the course of the 1990s, the art world was becoming a bit more open and your anger was less urgent?

A. Well, in some ways I think that conversation around queer politics is more or less over because of the success of the gay community in mainstream culture. Now the conversation has shifted to class, and that's where I want the focus of my work to be. There, and on race and trans politics as well.


Anti-Government Republicans

September 28, 2015 at 9:30 pm

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The lead story of my Saturday Times print edition here in Boston carried the subheadline, "Conservatives Viewed the House Speaker as Not Anti-Government Enough." By later editions, the subheadline had changed to "Surprise Announcement May Help Avert Another Government Shutdown."

The editor who killed the early subheadline displayed some good judgment in improving it. Alas, that judgment did not extend to editing the rest of the news article about the resignation of Speaker Boehner. It reported, "His downfall again highlighted the sinewy power of a Republican Party faction whose anthem is often to oppose government action....With antigovernment fervor helping to prompt Mr. Boehner's decision, several candidates for the Republican presidential nomination were quick to try to capitalize on the animus."

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Saudi Beheadings

September 28, 2015 at 9:19 pm

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Back in March, the Times ran a front-page news article by Ben Hubbard under the headline, "Saudi Justice, Harsh But Able To Spare The Sword." The gist of it was that Saudi justice is more lenient than it is commonly given credit for:

No aspect of Saudi justice draws more attention than punishments like beheading or amputation. But Saudi legal practitioners say that penalties are on the books to deter crime and that the system limits their use....Saudi Arabia executed 88 people in 2014, while 35 people were executed in the United States.

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New York Times Co. Sells Access To Iranian Oil Official
Sponsors Of London Conference Are Offered Introductions, VIP Treatment

September 20, 2015 at 12:50 am

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The New York Times Company is planning to make money by selling in-person access to a key official in Iran's oil ministry.

A Times staff member, Brenda Erdmann Hagerty, sent an email Friday soliciting sponsorships and selling tickets to the conference, which is set for October 6 and 7 at London. The email, a copy of which was obtained by SmarterTimes.com and which is reproduced below, pronounces the Times "Oil and Money" conference "delighted to announce that H.E. Seyed Mehdi Hosseini, chairman of the Oil Contract Restructuring Committee at the Iranian Ministry of Petroleum, will be attending in person."

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Jewish Man Dies, Rocks Pelt Car

September 17, 2015 at 8:36 am

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National Review's Kevin D. Williamson does a pretty fine job of pointing out some of the absurdities of a New York Times dispatch from Ramallah.

And another Web site has what it says are details of the reporter's personal history as a protester and advocate against Israel.


Bittman's Farewell

September 16, 2015 at 9:04 am

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Mark Bittman's farewell Times op-ed column includes this sentence: "I'm sorry, too, that more progress hasn't been made in reducing the marketing of junk food to kids and on limiting the ease with which children can buy soda." What would he do? Require ID and set a 21-year drinking age for soda?


Slemrod on the Bush Tax Cut

September 16, 2015 at 8:44 am

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A Times "Upshot" article by Josh Barro interviews several economists about the possible effects of Jeb Bush's proposed tax plan on economic growth. The article includes this passage:

"This is four smart people who made an educated guess based on looking at other models," said Joel Slemrod, a public finance economist at the University of Michigan. "If I had to pick a number, I would have picked a lower number."

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Tom Brady Divorce Rumors

September 10, 2015 at 10:29 pm

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The Times misstep that's causing all the buzz this week is the newspaper's publication, and then unexplained partial unpublication, of a chart highlighting the Jewish religion of members of Congress opposed to the Iran deal. That graphic, which used the color yellow to mark the Jewish members and high-Jewish-population districts, is reproduced before and after the changes in Yair Rosenberg's Twitter feed, which also carries a series of illuminating comments about the matter. (A Times spokeswoman explained to the Washington Post's Erik Wemple that "After a number of readers raised questions, editors took another look and decided that that element of the graphic put too much emphasis on the question of which Democrats opposing the deal were Jewish...singling those lawmakers out in a separate column of the graphic seemed unnecessary, and struck some readers as insensitive.")

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Not Pedro

September 5, 2015 at 7:58 am

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A dispatch in the Times sports section about the ouster of Red Sox television broadcaster Don Orsillo reports, "The acquisitions of players like Rick Porcello, Pedro Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez have not worked out well."

The player the Times means is Pablo Sandoval, not "Pedro." The newspaper should run a correction.

Thanks to reader-participant-community member-watchdog-content co-creator Hannah Stoll for sending the tip.


Trump's Tax Plan

September 3, 2015 at 11:31 am

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A Times article about Donald Trump's proposal to tax carried interest as ordinary income reports, "the fiscal impact of taxing carried interest income at ordinary income rates would be small: about $2 billion a year in added revenue within a nearly $4 trillion federal budget."

The Times cites no source for this "$2 billion a year" claim.

A February 2013 Times op-ed estimated the annual revenue increase from such a change at between $11 billion and $13 billion. I challenged that estimate at the time, but the Times declined to correct it.

A 2013 Times news article reported, "Changes to the treatment of carried interest could bring in $17 billion over 10 years, according to Congressional estimates."

So now the Times has provided three different estimates of the revenue consequences of this change, with no guidance to readers about which estimate to believe or why the estimates differ so widely. It's disappointingly bad journalism.

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Strange Omission

August 31, 2015 at 9:31 am

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Two articles in today's New York Times discuss the presidential candidates and their relations with Wall Street or the banking industry. A front-page article, headlined "Banking Ties Could Hurt Joe Biden in Race With Populist Overtone," reports on Vice President Biden's links to the credit-card industry in Delaware, framing it as a potential vulnerability. A second article appears on the front of the business section and is headlined, "Candidates' Divergent Views on Wall Street." It reports that Jeb Bush was "a paid adviser to Lehman Brothers and Barclays immediately before the financial crisis."

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Louisiana Responds

August 23, 2015 at 10:29 pm

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The state superintendent of education of Louisiana, John White, has responded to an op-ed piece in the New York Times. A further response is here.


Waiter Confessions

August 23, 2015 at 7:21 pm

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The Times Sunday Review section features a confessional piece by a waiter at an unnamed fancy restaurant. He claims: "Grown men wearing Zegna and Ferragamo would sit at the bar chanting, 'We are the 1 percent!'"

I find this hard to believe, but perhaps I am just traveling in the wrong circles.


Amazon Work Conditions

August 16, 2015 at 9:47 pm

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The New York Times has a long article about the "bruising workplace" of Amazon.com. It claims in a headline, "the company is conducting an experiment in how far it can push white-collar workers to get them to achieve its ever-expanding ambitions."

An Amazon executive, Nick Ciubotariu, has a LinkedIn post rebutting the Times article and explaining problems and inaccuracies with it.

A professor of journalism at the City University of New York, Jeff Jarvis, who is an Amazon shareholder, has a post complaining that the Times article "lacks two key attributes: context and — I can't quite believe I'm saying this — balance."

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