Friedman on the Israel Lobby
November 20, 2013 at 9:35 am
New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman writes:
Never have I seen Israel and America's core Arab allies working more in concert to stymie a major foreign policy initiative of a sitting U.S. president, and never have I seen more lawmakers — Democrats and Republicans — more willing to take Israel's side against their own president's. I'm certain this comes less from any careful consideration of the facts and more from a growing tendency by many American lawmakers to do whatever the Israel lobby asks them to do in order to garner Jewish votes and campaign donations.
Comment of the Day
November 18, 2013 at 11:47 pm
Yesterday's post about the use of anonymous sources in the Times profile of Israeli general Herzl Halevi drew the following comment from Belladonna Rogers:
there's another, even more serious error in the Times article on General Halevi, and it is contained in this sentence, a sentence that quotes no one; it merely expresses a so-called "fact" that the reporter wishes to convey as if it were a fact, which it is not. Here's the sentence:
"Hezbollah is seen as Iran's proxy and the Palestinians' enforcer, the
boots on the ground in global terrorist attacks and the likeliest to
retaliate for Israeli aggression anywhere in the world."
"Israeli aggression"? When any other country defends itself from attacks, the word to describe what it does is "defense."
When Israel defends itself from attacks, The New York Times news columns call it "Israeli aggression."
November 17, 2013 at 11:24 pm
At the American Enterprise Institute's "Ideas" blog, Professor Mark Perry notices that the New York Times has changed its editorial position on the minimum wage issue. In 1987, the paper had an editorial headlined, "The Right Minimum Wage: $0.00." It argued that raising the minimum wage would increase unemployment. Nowadays, the paper is editorializing in favor of a $15 an hour minimum wage.
November 17, 2013 at 11:12 pm
From an otherwise fascinating Times profile of an Israeli general, Herzl Halevi:
Some who have served with him say General Halevi struggles to connect with soldiers. "He's not a man of men, he is not the center of the party, and there are voices saying that he's too complicated," said one former colleague, speaking on the condition of anonymity in order to do so frankly. "He is too political, too much involved with who will be nominated to where, and not all the considerations were only professional. Some of it was, 'Does he belong to my tribe or not?' "
From what was, at least earlier this year, the posted Times policy on the use of anonymous sources (the policy seems to have been removed from the Times Web site, or at least relocated):
November 17, 2013 at 10:51 pm
From a New York Times article claiming that Washington, D.C. is "the gayest place in America":
On the days I make the 20-minute walk from home to my office near the White House, I will pass one example after another of this city's thriving gay economy: a Mitchell Gold & Bob Williams furniture store; a clothing retailer whose window displays regularly feature bare-torso, well-endowed mannequins in nothing but tiny briefs; three CrossFit gyms; the offices of two gay newspapers, The Washington Blade and Metro Weekly (most cities cannot even sustain one); a bathhouse; and the national headquarters for the Human Rights Campaign.
Why Photo Editors Matter
November 17, 2013 at 10:37 pm
The editor of the New York Observer (here) and the editor of Commentary (here) remark on the Times' choice of a photograph to illustrate a story about an attack on an Israeli soldier. The Times chose a photo of the mother of the attacker rather than of the mother of the victim, or a photo of the victim.
Deeply Alienated Art Critic
November 14, 2013 at 9:21 am
Times art critic Roberta Smith offers her reaction to the news that Francis Bacon's "Three Studies of Lucian Freud" sold for $142 million at auction:
Auctions have become the leading indicator of ultra-conspicuous consumption, pieces of public, male-dominated theater in which collectors, art dealers and auction houses flex their monetary clout, mostly for one another. The spectacle of watching these privileged few (mostly hedge fund managers and investment-hungry consortiums, it seems) tossing around huge amounts of money has become a rarefied spectator sport. These events are painful to watch yet impossible to ignore and deeply alienating if you actually love art for its own sake.
More than ever, the glittery auction-house/blue-chip gallery sphere is spinning out of control far above the regular workaday sphere where artists, dealers and everyone else struggle to get by.
November 13, 2013 at 9:43 am
From a review on the front of today's Times arts section by Times critic Dwight Garner of the book A Colossal Wreck, by Alexander Cockburn:
Mr. Cockburn was prescient. He saw Wall Street's 2008 collapse coming from a mile away, with the overturning in 1995 of the Glass-Steagall Act, which separated commercial and investment banking.
From a May 21, 2012 column by Times Dealbook editor Andrew Ross Sorkin:
Moody's, Buffett, and the Devil
November 12, 2013 at 9:38 am
An article on the front of the business section in today's Times runs under the headline, "Suit Charges Three Credit Ratings Agencies With Fraud in Bear Stearns Case."
"We sold our soul to the devil for revenue," a Moody's employee said in an internal document.
Oddly, the Times article does not make any mention of the fact that Moody's largest shareholder, according to Yahoo! Finance, is Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, with, as of June 30, 2013, a stake of roughly 11.5% worth roughly $1.5 billion. Mr. Buffett recently boasted to CNBC about his return on the investment: "We're selling Moody's at six times what we paid."
November 8, 2013 at 9:47 am
The Home section of the Times carries an item that reads, in its entirety, as follows:
A new superyacht by Zaha Hadid presents the billionaire playboy with a problem. There is undeniable prestige of trolling Mediterranean harbors in a yacht designed by a Pritzker-prize-winning architect. But the boat's outer shell is made of an interwoven network of support bands, which gives it a futuristic webbed look and obscures the primary decks. Who on shore will see the bikinied frolicking?
Ms. Hadid collaborated on the design of a master prototype, above left and right, with Blohm & Voss, a Hamburg-based shipbuilder known for innovation in the field (the firm worked with Philippe Starck on a superyacht, and built the world's second-largest private yacht, Eclipse). A fleet of five yachts is being developed from the original design, with each boat varying based on buyer preferences. First up is a 295-foot yacht named Jazz, top.
November 7, 2013 at 9:42 am
The editor Seth Lipsky used to mock articles labeled "news analysis" by suggesting that the rest of the articles in the newspaper be labeled "analysis-free." Consider the following passage from a New York Times "news analysis" of the challenges facing New York's mayor-elect, Bill de Blasio:
In one possible situation, the governor could find money for Mr. de Blasio's prekindergarten classes, but avoid enacting new taxes — depriving the mayor-elect of the potent political dividends that come with making the wealthy pay more.
November 6, 2013 at 9:25 am
From an article on the front of the New York Times business section:
The history of SAC's rise as it became one of the biggest and most successful hedge funds and its subsequent fall, punctuated by the settlement on Monday, is part of a larger story of how the industry has evolved since the 1980s, when insider trading charges were treated with the seriousness of a parking ticket.
Was the reporter who wrote this article even alive in the 1980s? Was the editor who moved the article along even alive in the 1980s?
Here is a New York Times headline from December 19, 1987: "Boesky sentenced to 3 years in jail in insider scandal."
Here is a New York Times headline from 1989: "'Junk Bond' Leader Is Indicted by U.S. In Criminal Action."
Kosher Chicken Bacteria
November 5, 2013 at 9:08 am
There's something not quite kosher about the Times coverage of a scientific study comparing "the prevalence of antibiotic-resistant E. coli bacteria on four types of chickens: those raised conventionally; organically; without antibiotics, and those slaughtered under kosher rules."
First, the Times quotes the study's lead author saying: "Every other week for 10 weeks, I would go and spend the entire Saturday buying chicken." Kosher butchers tend to be closed on Saturdays, which is the Jewish sabbath, which raises some unanswered questions about the study's methodology.
Second, the Times article includes a comment from "an organic farming consultant who reviewed the study at The New York Times' request." But the Times article includes no comment from any kosher chicken producer, retailer, or "consultant." Why give the organic chicken folks a chance to defend their product but not the kosher chicken folks? Could it possibly be because the Times newsroom personnel love organic chicken but, with few exceptions, don't care much about eating kosher?
News Section Columns
November 4, 2013 at 9:36 am
One of the ways the Times displays its left-wing bias is in the news-section columns. It's one thing to have an op-ed page that tilts left. But in the New York Times, the Sunday metro section regularly carries a left-wing column by Ginia Bellafante and the Saturday business section regularly carries a left-wing column by James Stewart, with no right-wing or even center-right column to balance them out.
This past weekend was no exception. Mr. Stewart, who in his previous column proposed increased taxation without representation on "ultrawealthy nonresidents who own property in New York City," is at it again. This time around, he wants to raise taxes on what he calls "The fortunate 400 people with the highest adjusted gross incomes." Mr. Stewart writes:
Gross and Capital Gains Taxes
November 1, 2013 at 11:07 am
The New York Times reports without skepticism on the call by Pimco's Bill Gross to increase capital gains tax rates to the current rates on ordinary income. The Times writes:
Mr. Gross was referring to tax breaks that some of the wealthiest Americans receive because they earn their income through investments, which are taxed at a lower rate than regular income. This has led to a yawning gap between the rich and the poor.
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