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Friedman's Flaw

August 10, 2016 at 8:14 am

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Thomas Friedman has a column on the danger of "menacing" language and "toxic incitement" in politics. He concludes it by calling Donald Trump "a disgusting human being." I agree with Mr. Friedman about the desirability of avoiding toxic incitement and menacing language, but the Times columnist might be a little more persuasive if he could find a way to write about the issue without himself committing the very sins against which he warns.

Mr. Friedman says the thinking that led to Yitzhak Rabin's assassination was: "The man is illegitimate, the man is a threat to the nation, the man is the equivalent of a Nazi war criminal. Well, you know what we do with people like that, don't you? We kill them." He means to warn against Trump's language against Hillary Clinton. But the illegitimate/threat to the nation/Nazi line of criticism is often made against Mr. Trump, in the columns of the Times itself, a fact that seems totally to have escaped Mr. Friedman.

 

Trump and Objectivity

August 8, 2016 at 11:02 am

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An above-the-fold, front-page column by Jim Rutenberg in the New York Times argues that if a working journalist believes that Donald Trump "cozies up to anti-American dictators," it justifies throwing out usual standards of journalistic objectivity. Funny how this suspension of the usual rules applies to Mr. Trump and Vladimir Putin, but not to Barack Obama and the Castro brothers of Cuba or the ayatollahs of Iran, or, for that matter, to Hillary Clinton and the Russia "reset" button. It's almost as if the usual standards of journalistic objectivity don't apply. No wonder that is what the column is advocating.

 

Donald Trump Diet

August 8, 2016 at 9:34 am

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For a fine example of media bias in action, see this New York Times article on Donald Trump's fondness for "junk food":

Mr. Trump's presidential campaign is improvised, undisciplined, rushed and self-indulgent.

And so is his diet....

He prefers burgers and meatloaf, Caesar salads and spaghetti, See's Candies and Diet Coke. And he shuns tea, coffee and alcohol.

How is shunning tea, coffee, and alcohol — or for that matter, even choosing to drink Diet Coke rather than the full-calorie version — evidence of being "undisciplined...and self-indulgent"? The Times doesn't say, probably because the Times would find some way to hurl insults at Mr. Trump no matter what he eats or drinks. The underlying reality has no bearing on what the paper writes.

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Dalio Responds

July 28, 2016 at 7:26 pm

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The chairman and chief investment officer at Bridgewater Associates, Ray Dalio, has posted a response to a front-page New York Times article that was critical of the firm and its culture. He writes:

we again find ourselves in the position of being left with no choice but to respond to sensationalistic and inaccurate stories, both to make clear what is true and to do our part in fighting against the growing trend of media distortion. To let such significant mischaracterizations of our business stand would be unfair to our hard-working employees and valued clients who understand the reality of our culture and values.

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Maddening Modifying Phrases

July 7, 2016 at 10:21 am

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A Times article about a Los Angeles lawyer, John B. Quinn, a founder of the Quinn Emanuel law firm, has the dubious distinction of including two consecutive paragraphs that begin with maddeningly imprecise modifying phrases.

The Times writes:

Born in Virginia, Mr. Quinn's family moved to Connecticut when he was 2, and the proximity to New York made him a museum enthusiast.

The next paragraph begins:

Raised Mormon, the Quinns relocated to Utah when John was 12.

What is this article attempting to communicate? Was Mr. Quinn born in Virginia? Or was his entire family born there?

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Times Cheerleads for Hillary Against Trump

July 4, 2016 at 10:38 am

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From a front-page so-called "news article" in Monday's Times:

In May, The New York Times examined Donald J. Trump's plans for his first 100 days, during which he said he would focus on divisive campaign promises like building a border wall with Mexico. By contrast, The Times found in its reporting on plans for Mrs. Clinton's 100 days that she would look to push issues that might be broadly popular, like infrastructure jobs and a breakthrough on immigration.

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Dangling Modifier

June 30, 2016 at 9:21 am

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A dispatch from Libya on the front page of the Times includes this sentence: "Nightmares came after the Islamists crucified people accused of crimes at a major traffic junction, then left their bodies to rot."

What happened at the major traffic junction? The crimes? The accusations of the crimes? The crucifixions? All three things?

It's sure difficult to tell from that sentence, which stopped me in my tracks as I was reading. Maybe the Times editors are on summer vacation? Maybe they all took buyouts? Sometimes the lack of clear writing in the Times is as grating as the bias.

 

The Pickering Scandal

June 27, 2016 at 10:31 am

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The New York Times' favorite source on Iran, former State Department official Thomas Pickering, was getting paid money by Boeing, a fact that the Times failed to disclose to readers even though Boeing had a significant financial stake in the Iran sanctions being lifted. I have a report up at the Algemeiner about this that you can read by clicking here.

 

How Expensive Is Harvard

May 1, 2016 at 9:38 pm

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A Times news article about Malia Obama's decision to go to Harvard reports that the college is "one of the most expensive, costing more than $60,000 a year for tuition, room, board and other fees."

That's misleading, because that's the retail price. Most people whose parents aren't "rich" qualify for financial aid, which is essentially a discount off that sticker price. If you go to the U.S. government's "net price" calculator, Harvard doesn't even show up on the list of the most expensive 4-year private, non-profit colleges and universities. Because Harvard is so well endowed, it gives better financial aid packages than do a lot of other colleges and universities, at least to prospective students whose parents aren't as rich as President and Mrs. Obama are.

From the perspective of Harvard, at least, misleading news coverage like this is damaging, because the "expensive" reputation and tag scares away families who might otherwise consider applying.

 

The Times Crusade Against Yeshivas

April 14, 2016 at 11:41 am

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"The New York Times Tries Explaining Its Flawed Crusade Against Yeshivas" is the headline over my article at the Algemeiner. Please check it out there.

 

Surprise Emissions

April 14, 2016 at 11:32 am

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From a book review in today's Times, by critic Dwight Garner: "When a writer says something new and real, it can be shocking, like a surprise emission from a bodily orifice."

I think an editor would have done better to just end the sentence after the word "shocking" and save the reader the unpleasant shock of the rest of the sentence. As we've written here previously, the Times approach to editing this particular critic isn't exactly what you'd call a tight leash.

 

Wealthy Philanthropists

April 14, 2016 at 11:18 am

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A dispatch in the national section of the Times begins:

Opening a new front in the assault on teacher tenure, a group of parents backed by wealthy philanthropists served notice to defendants on Wednesday in a lawsuit challenging Minnesota's job protections for teachers, as well as the state's rules governing which teachers are laid off as a result of budget cuts.

Isn't "wealthy philanthropists" redundant? If the philanthopists are mired in poverty, tell us so; otherwise, we will agree simply to assume that anyone giving away lots of money is rich to begin with. Especially since the subheadline over that paragraph is "Wealthy foundations back Minnesota Lawsuit." We don't hear anything in the story or the headline about how wealthy the teachers unions are. Nor do we usually hear, at least this prominently, about the wealth of the foundations or philanthropists involved when the legal cases being pressed are those that advance left-of-center, Times-favored (now there's my own redundancy) causes.

 

More Reclusive Rich

April 14, 2016 at 10:49 am

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From a recent New York Times real estate article: "The reclusive and litigious developer Sheldon Solow, for example, has been party to hundreds of lawsuits, while the closemouthed heirs of Sol Goldman's estate rarely sell any of their vast holdings."

I've written in the past about how:

"Reclusive billionaire" is one of those stereotypes that the Times likes to use even if it isn't accurate.

My authoritative Webster's Second Unabridged dictionary describes reclusive as someone living in reclusion, in "solitary confinement" or "secluded" from the world like a "monk or hermit."

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Lost in Fall River

March 30, 2016 at 10:28 am

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A Times dispatch from Fall River, Mass., reports, "Like other former mill towns throughout the Northeast, Fall River necessarily refocused its economic base after the textile industry began departing in the 1990s." (The language is repeated in a photo cutline that goes with the article.)

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More at the Algemeiner

March 24, 2016 at 11:09 pm

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The Algemeiner has been publishing a lot of New York Times criticism by me focusing on Israel, Jewish matters, and the war on Islamist terrorism. I encourage anyone interested in those topics to check out the coverage at this link.

 

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