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More on Ajami

June 23, 2014 at 1:56 pm

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Further to the earlier post here on the Times' nasty obituary of Fouad Ajami, Mike Doran notices that the Times even got the title of one of Ajami's books wrong. It was The Vanished Imam: Musa al Sadr and the Shia of Lebanon, not, as the Times has it, "The Vanishing Imam." Minor point, perhaps, but confirms the lameness of the overall treatment. The only thing vanishing is whatever credibility the Times had left on this one, which was not much to begin with.

A Twitter account that appears to be created by Fouad Ajami's son Tarik commented, "crappy obit, and I'm a raving liberal."

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Walmart Responds

June 23, 2014 at 9:50 am

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Walmart responds to a column by Timothy Egan on the Times op-ed page by posting to its Web site a red-inked, corrected version.

Pretty great the way the Internet lets Walmart respond in a much more detailed way than a letter to the editor of the Times would ever allow it to do.


Fouad Ajami

June 23, 2014 at 9:31 am

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The writer and professor Fouad Ajami gets a remarkably hostile obituary in today's New York Times. "Edward Said, the Palestinian cultural critic who died in 2003, accused him of having 'unmistakably racist prescriptions,'" the Times writes.

Three paragraphs of the review are devoted to quotes from the hard-left Nation. One, talking about a book by Ajami, says:

The scholar Andrew N. Rubin, writing in The Nation, said it "echoes the kind of anti-Arabism that both Washington and the pro-Israeli lobby have come to embrace."

The final passages of the obituary are also from the Nation:

In a profile in The Nation in 2003, Adam Shatz described Mr. Ajami's distinctive appearance, characterized by a "dramatic beard, stylish clothes and a charming, almost flirtatious manner."

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Affirmative Action

June 17, 2014 at 1:13 pm

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David Leonhardt's "Upshot" column is about two books — Sheryll Cashin's Place Not Race and The Century Foundation Press's The Future Of Affirmative Action — that consider what will happen after the end of race-based affirmative action in college admissions. Without explaining why, Mr. Leonhardt ignores a third recent book about affirmative action in admissions, Cheating: An Insider's Report on the Use of Race in Admissions at UCLA, by Tim Groseclose, which suggests that some colleges will go on using race-based affirmative action even after it is outlawed and even while publicly denying that they are doing so. Mr. Groseclose's book documents how this happened at UCLA. It would have been good to include in this Times column.


Pay and Performance

June 17, 2014 at 11:23 am

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Reuters takes a skeptical look at the executive compensation at the New York Times Company. It finds it to be high relative to peer companies:

As a percentage of revenue, Times Co's compensation is more generous than at six companies and less generous than at three. But as a percentage of free cash flow, it far outranks every company, in many cases by a long way....The study also looked at relative share price performance. While Times Co's stock price surged 86 percent in 2013, it is still more than 37 percent below where it was at the end of 2006, before the financial crisis hit. For that same period, the Standard & Poor's 500 is up about 36 percent.


Dean Baquet Cancer

June 16, 2014 at 10:02 am

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A short news article posted to the Times web site on Monday reports that the newspaper's brand-new executive editor, Dean Baquet, "had a malignant tumor removed from his kidney on Saturday after "doctors discovered the tumor on Thursday."

The Times article leaves many questions unanswered, among them:

•In what hospital did the surgery take place?

•Will Mr. Baquet receive any follow-up treatment such as chemotherapy or radiation?

•What are the chances of a recurrence?

•Why did it take until Monday to disclose a tumor found on Thursday and a surgery that happened Saturday?

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On Iraq, Contradictory Coverage

June 13, 2014 at 9:26 am

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What's happening in Iraq? Today's New York Times offers conflicting stories. A page one article by Tim Arango reports:

residents of Mosul say that so far the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has handled the local population with a light touch. Some residents, hardened by their hatred of the army, spoke of the insurgents almost as if they were a liberating army. The militants, residents said, greet people at checkpoints and ask citizens if they are carrying a weapon, and if the answer is no, they let them on their way.

Many spoke of being able to move around the city more freely for the first time in years, after the militants unblocked roads that the army had shut down for security reasons and took down the blast walls that had become a permanent feature of nearly every major Iraqi city over the last decade.

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National Academy Museum Anonymouse

June 10, 2014 at 2:42 pm

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Times public editor Margaret Sullivan's crusade against the careless or sloppy or unjustified use of anonymous sources is going widely unheeded in the Times newsroom, to judge by what appears in the newspaper. The latest example comes in an arts section article about the National Academy Museum:

A former benefactor of the academy expressed concern that the changes would do little more than perpetuate an image of the institution — as an unstable place. "I don't see any long-range thinking about what to do," the former benefactor said.

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Sharpton Warns Against Race-Baiting

June 10, 2014 at 1:52 pm

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"Sharpton Warns Against Race-Baiting in New York Contest" is the headline over a New York Times article that makes no mention of Rev. Sharpton's own history of race-baiting and that seems totally un-tuned-in to any irony or humor in the headline. The reporter, Kate Pastor, lists on her Linked In profile a 2000 B.A. in American Studies from George Washington University with a "focus on race, class and gender."

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


Divine Providence

June 10, 2014 at 1:37 pm

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The "Hard Cases" column in the Science Times lists "divine providence" among the reasons that could cause an elderly patient discharged from a hospital to have to be readmitted. Personally, I am a believer in divine providence, but it is a factor that is usually so absent from the explanatory framework on display in the Times news columns that I did a double-take when I saw it in the newspaper. It'll be interesting to see whether the Times starts applying it as an explanation in political news articles about election results, military analyses about the outcomes of wars, economic news articles about jobless statistics, and sports stories about horse races or baseball games.


Wrong Handshake

June 10, 2014 at 9:14 am

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A Times interview/profile of Israeli President Shimon Peres includes the following passage:

On Sunday, as Mr. Netanyahu lambasted the Palestinian leader for his "partnership" with Hamas, Mr. Peres and Mr. Abbas were shaking hands in a Vatican garden. It had been 21 years since his handshake on the White House lawn with Yasir Arafat after the signing of the Oslo Accords. That handshake led to a shared Nobel Peace Prize. Yet peace is hardly on the horizon.

The famous Arafat White House lawn handshake was not between Arafat and Mr. Peres but between Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin, who also got a Nobel prize but who is strangely airbrushed out of this Times account. If Mr. Peres and Mr. Arafat shook hands on the White House lawn, no one paid much attention at the time; the Times coverage of the day made no mention of it.


Former Charlotte Mayor Pleads Guilty

June 6, 2014 at 1:52 pm

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A Times dispatch from Charlotte, North Carolina about a former mayor, Patrick Cannon, pleading guilty to "a single count of honest services wire fraud" in a deal with federal prosecutors somehow manages to omit Cannon's political party affiliation, leaving Times readers who suspect the newspaper of partisan bias to wonder if the paper would have omitted it if Cannon had happened to be a Republican instead of a Democrat.

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


Offshore Tax Avoiders

June 6, 2014 at 1:01 pm

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The Tax Foundation offers a useful debunking of a new report on corporate taxes that was issued by Citizens for Tax Justice and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. The report was the subject of a remarkably and disappointingly unskeptical column in the Times by Floyd Norris that ran under the headline "The Islands Treasured by Offshore Tax Avoiders." In addition to the points made by the Tax Foundation that were omitted from Mr. Norris's column, it's worth mentioning that CTJ and U.S. PIRG are both tax-exempt themselves.


Ramallah Anonymouse

June 4, 2014 at 9:14 am

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A Times dispatch from Ramallah about the swearing in of a new Palestinian Authority government includes the following paragraph:

"Same thing, just different faces," scoffed a 47-year-old shawarma seller in Ramallah who gave his name only as Ibrahim.

Times reporters and editors had several options here. They could have interviewed more shwarma sellers until they were able to find one willing to be quoted by name. They could have killed the paragraph and run the article without it. Or they could have published the article as is, with the anonymous quote, which violates the newspaper's stated policy on anonymous sources. Looks like it's time for another edition of the Times public editor's anonymous source watch.



June 4, 2014 at 8:47 am

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Yesterday's front-page Times article about the former Brooklyn district attorney, Charles Hynes, described an adviser to him, Mortimer Matz, as "nearly 90." Today's article is more straightforward: "Mr. Matz, 89,..."


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