A Times article about the socialist senator from Vermont who is running for president as a Democrat, Bernie Sanders, reports that he "even spent time on an Israeli kibbutz in the 1960s." As William Safire points out on Twitter, the formulation "Israeli kibbutz" is a redundancy. Call the Squad Squad, as Mr. Safire might say.
Some might argue that the word "Israeli" helps people who don't know what a kibbutz is. But my view is that those people can look it up in a dictionary, and that the paper needn't be edited for the most ignorant readers. If the Times editors really think a definition is necessary, a more elegant way to do it would be with a parenthetical phrase — "a kibbutz, an Israeli collective farm, in the 1960s" — rather than the inartful way the paper wound up doing it.
Andrew Ross Sorkin's column today, which appears under the headline "Roadblocks en Route From Wall Street to Washington," has some problems.
Mr. Sorkin writes: "Henry Paulson, the former chief executive of Goldman Sachs, was the last Wall Street executive to be appointed Treasury secretary." Not accurate. The current Treasury Secretary, Jacob Lew, is a former Wall Street executive, having earned a bonus of $940,000 for his work at Citigroup in 2008 on top of his base compensation of $1.1 million.
The Times has an interview with NYU professor and movie director Spike Lee. The paper describes him as "thoughtful, chatty and intense." From the interview:
A photo cutline in the Times refers to "Rabbi Sarah Silverman, right, of Women of the Wall." The rabbi's correct name is Susan Silverman. She has a sister named Sarah, but that Silverman is a writer/actress/comedian, not a rabbi.
A Times dispatch from Breckenridge, Colorado, reports on what the article calls "a housing crisis in ski country":
A book review in today's Times asks irritably, "Must we read, for the umpteenth time, about the salubrious effects of faith?"
No, no one "must," not even this Times reviewer, who could have, and maybe should have, chosen to review some other book if she was so hostile to the subject matter of this one.
From a dispatch from Jerusalem in the Times foreign section, under the headline, "Arrest of Leftist Israeli Activist Underlines Political Split":
Hardly a day goes by without a reminder that personnel decisions at the Times happen very very very slowly.
Item: Mark Bittman, in a farewell piece for the Times Insider, reports: "In 1994, Trish Hall, then the Living section's editor, asked me if I wanted to write a column for the new Dining section. Duh — who would say no to that? Three years later (The Times doesn't often move quickly) The Minimalist was born."
"Wealth Inequality Rising Fast, Oxfam Says, Faulting Tax Havens" is the headline over a Times dispatch on the front of the business section. Not a mention of the fact that Oxfam, as a non-profit, is itself a "tax haven" of a sort. Nor, for all the words in the story, is any space or attention given to any source or organization that might suggest that the inequality is less a problem than the advocacy group claims it is. If there's any difference between the Times article and what an Oxfam press release would say, it escapes me. Okay, it was a holiday weekend. But if reporters and editors are going to just play along with these holiday weekend press releases by practicing stenography rather than skeptical, good journalism, what is the point of paying for the newspaper rather than just signing up for the Oxfam publicity list?
A Times dispatch from Iowa suggests that snowshoeing is some sort of luxury activity. "While he has yet to shoot anything during this campaign, unlike Mr. Cruz, it is probably also unlikely that Mr. Rubio will be shot on film doing anything really fancy-pants, like windsurfing or snowshoeing, anytime soon," the Times says.
This seems like a sentence that was edited in Manhattan or Washington, rather than somewhere like rural Maine or New Hampshire or Western Massachusetts, where snowshoes aren't "fancy-pants" but rather just a practical way of getting to your traps or maple taps or ice fishing hole or outhouse or wood pile or cabin if you can't afford a snowmobile or if the dirt road hasn't been plowed.
One of the most strange news articles ever appears on the front of the business section of today's Times. It begins:
As an editor the word "only" is usually a red flag for me. It's an easy way for a reporter to slip in his or her own opinion about whether a number is so high as to merit concern or so low as to not be worth fretting about. A fine example is this paragraph from a dispatch from Regensburg, Germany, which appears in today's Times under the headline "Benedict's Brother Says He Was Unaware of Abuse":
"Only" 72 cases of abuse? Seems like a lot to me. The story could have been improved by editing out the words "But" and "only."
Under the headline "Privilege, Pathology and Power," Times columnist Paul Krugman writes:
Who are the people that Professor Krugman presumes to assess as not merely spiritually damaged, but extremely so? Professor Krugman briefly mentions Donald Trump, then quickly advances to his real targets, Sheldon Adelson and Paul Singer. Professor Krugman warns of a "march toward oligarchy," which he describes as... well, here it is:
The lead, front-page news article in today's Times is a perfect example of why I find the newspaper both indispensable and infuriating. It's indispensable, because who else is paying close enough attention, and has enough space, to report that "the lobbying firm run by Norman Brownstein" was mobilized to preserve the "loophole." Mr. Brownstein and his firm have been the topic of extensive coverage over at our sister site FutureOfCapitalism.com, but the Times leaves out all his Democratic connections.
From the "Metropolitan Diary" column of today's New York Times:
Is this "all the news that's fit to print"? Is this what has become of what was once a serious newspaper? It has turned into a place where readers can send in sex stories featuring fake names and have them printed? Is there no editor of the paper who is embarrassed by this sort of thing or who thinks the space might be better used for something else, like, you know, actual journalism?
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