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Altered Details

February 24, 2015 at 10:13 pm

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The headline at the top of the New York Times home page was "When the best sex is extramarital."

It leads to an article by "Lawrence Josephs, a psychotherapist in private practice in New York," that says at the bottom, "Details have been altered to protect patient privacy."

Which details have "been altered" and which are true? And where is the line between what is a "detail" and what is more significant than a detail? The Times doesn't provide readers any guidance on either front, and it doesn't even let us in on the question of whether any Times editors are in on the question of what is real and what is altered details.

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Always the Inequality

February 24, 2015 at 9:13 pm

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Reason's Matt Welch does a really nice job of catching the New York Times fretting that Cuba's opening to the U.S. will increase income inequality in Cuba. (Link via Walter Olson.)

And a Times column by Ginia Bellafante about climate change somehow manages to make that story, too, about inequality:

the luxury glass towers proliferating in Manhattan would also do terribly — reaching just slightly above freezing by the fourth day. During a summer blackout, glass towers, because of the intensity with which glass conducts heat, would be rough places to live; indoor temperature would get into the high 80s and beyond by Day 3. (Of course, it is the ultimate science fiction to imagine that anyone living in a $50 million apartment with wall-to-wall views would be in New York in August in the first place.)

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Dynasty's Son

February 15, 2015 at 9:55 pm

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"As Dynasty's Son, Jeb Bush Used His Connections Freely," is the headline on a front-page news article in Sunday's Times. Now there's a story so scandalous and important that maybe the Times should have assigned it to be written by its own publisher, a guy named Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr.

 

Urban President

February 15, 2015 at 9:43 pm

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"Such coalition building made Obama the first urban president in more than a century," David Gergen, a professor at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, writes in a Times review of David Axelrod's book Believer: My Forty Years In Politics.

I can't figure out what Professor Gergen means. John Kennedy, for whom the school at which Mr. Gergen teaches is named, voted from a Boston apartment address and lived in Washington, D.C.'s Georgetown neighborhood. George H.W. Bush's residence was within the city of Houston, Texas, and when he was Reagan's vice president he lived in Washington, D.C. Do Boston, Houston, and Washington not count as "urban' in Professor Gergen's definition? If so, it sure is an idiosyncratic definition.

 

Krugman on Shlaes

February 13, 2015 at 9:39 am

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Today's New York Times carries a correction on Paul Krugman's previous column: " Paul Krugman's column on Monday incorrectly described bookmakers' odds that Greece will exit the eurozone. The odds were worse than even, not better than even."

It looks like today's Krugman column will also require a correction. He writes, "Jeb Bush appears to be getting his economic agenda, such as it is, from the George W. Bush Institute's 4% Growth Project. And the head of that project, Amity Shlaes, is a prominent 'inflation truther,' someone who claims that the government is greatly understating the true rate of inflation."

In fact Miss Shlaes has not been employed by the Bush Institute, much less the "head" of any project there, for at least some months.

 

The Underfunded MBTA

February 11, 2015 at 12:19 pm

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A Times news article from Boston reports:

Most glaringly, the storms have exposed the vulnerabilities of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, which operates the region's decrepit, fitful subways, buses and commuter rail lines. The underfunded system, which carries 1.3 million people a day and is $5.5 billion in debt, has been plagued in the last 17 days by breakdowns, fires, power losses, delays of two and three hours, and scenes of commuters having to disembark and pick their way along snow-covered tracks.

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Bad Journalism

February 8, 2015 at 9:05 pm

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For an example of bad journalism, check out this passage from the page one article by Amy Chozick in Sunday's Times about Hillary Clinton's economic policy:

Many of the advocates who knew Mrs. Clinton as a champion for the poor and working-class women felt betrayed in 1996 when, as first lady, she supported Mr. Clinton's overhaul of the welfare system, which gave states more power to remove people from welfare rolls and pledged to cut federal spending on assistance for the poor by nearly $55 billion over six years. She was more skeptical about the North American Free Trade Agreement, which Mr. Clinton signed into law in 1993 and which has also been accused of hurting American workers.

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Heating a Chicken Coop

February 6, 2015 at 1:24 pm

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The Times Home and Garden section has an interview with an architect who designed a fancy chicken coop for a residence in the Hamptons. The architect says:

This may be the only chicken coop that has radiant floor heating. Usually they're lit, or warmed, by a light bulb. That's what happens when you have a good contractor who does high-end Hamptons homes. When the contractor brought up radiant floor heating, I thought, 'That's ridiculous.' But then I thought, 'That's a really good idea.' If the heating fails, you'd have a bunch of dead chickens in winter.

The Times doesn't challenge that claim. But two chicken farmers I know say that while some heat may be necessary to make sure the chickens' drinking water doesn't freeze, the chickens themselves don't need heat. They are birds, after all. The Times suspends its usual concern with global climate change and excessive energy consumption when it's an architect-designed chicken coop in the Hamptons that is being heated.

 

Lost at Lands' End

February 5, 2015 at 3:08 pm

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A New York Times business section article by Rachel Abrams about Lands' End reports, "If you bought an item from Lands' End recently, you probably did so in Sears. At the beginning of last year, 274 Lands' End shops were inside the retail giant, while Lands' End operated just 16 of its own stores."

This is inaccurate. In fact, if you bought an item from Lands' End recently, you probably did so not in a Sears, but from your computer at your home or office. This is especially true of New York Times readers, who are probably more likely to be Internet users and less likely to be Sears shoppers than the overall population. But it's true overall; according to a recent Land's End SEC filing, "Online sales represented approximately 80% of our U.S. consumer revenue in 2013, up from approximately 20% in 2002."

Disclosure: I own shares of Sears Holdings, the parent company of Sears.

 

Nocera Editor's Note

February 4, 2015 at 4:34 pm

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That is quite an editor's note that Joe Nocera's column about Sheldon Silver was saddled with, with the note asserting that the column "was premised on several factual errors." This comes less than a year after a Times public editor column took Mr. Nocera to task for another column about which Warren Buffett said "the whole column is based on an incorrect fact — one that could have been easily checked, but wasn't."

The New York Sun has a characteristically shrewd editorial pointing out further that the Times "editor's note" compounds the error by reporting inaccurately that Mr. Silver has been indicted, when in fact that has not happened.

 

Times Sexualizes Children

February 2, 2015 at 9:55 pm

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"Just Kids" is the headline on a New York Times "T" magazine photo spread featuring a model on her back on a half-bare mattress on the floor. The text with the picture asserts that "virginal white lace paired with leather and suede evokes the sexy decadence..." The clothing on the model — a $7,900 Tom Ford jacket and $5,500 skirt, and a $1,725 Givenchy bodysuit — costs $15,125, which seems like a lot of money for "kids," even those attempting to evoke sexy decadence. The Times photo shoot seems to have involved not only a model, a photographer, and a stylist but also a hairdresser, a makeup artist, a manicurist, three photographer's assistants, a stylist's assistant, and a hair assistant, or a total of at least 11 people, all of whom are credited by name in the Times.

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Stanford and Harvard

January 29, 2015 at 3:34 pm

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The Times writes up an effort by some Stanford students to use a federal law to gain access to their college admissions files as if it's some kind of new thing, without mentioning that Harvard students figured this out back in the early 1990s.

 

Cohen's Means

January 29, 2015 at 2:53 pm

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"Scholars at Odds on Ukraine" is the headline over a New York Times article that begins:

Since the crisis in Ukraine began, the Russia scholar Stephen F. Cohen has cast himself in the role of the unbowed dissenter, whose sharp criticisms of America's foreign policy in the region have earned him denunciations as "Putin's American toady," as The New Republic put it, and worse.

But Mr. Cohen is also a man of means, whose wife's charitable foundation has donated large amounts of money to support Russian studies, which have been hard hit by declining government funding.

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Houthi Moderation

January 27, 2015 at 9:34 am

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One reader observed that the following news article, which appears under the headline, "Experts See Signs of Moderation Despite Houthis' Harsh Slogans," may be "the New York Timesiest thing ever written":

AMMAN, Jordan — At first glance the official slogan and emblem of the Houthis, who are now the dominant force in Yemen, does not offer much hope to American policy makers.

It includes the words "Death to America, death to Israel, damnation to the Jews." Houthis shout it when they march, wear it on arm patches, paint it on buildings and stick it onto their car windows. When pictured, those words are rendered in red, framed by "God is great" and "Victory to Islam" in green, on a white background.

Sometimes the red words are shown dripping blood.

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Climate Change

January 23, 2015 at 8:34 am

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A short Times news article reports on Senate developments on climate change:

On Thursday, the Senate voted 56 to 42 not to take up an amendment offered by Senator Bernard Sanders, independent of Vermont, that declared that climate change is real, is caused by humans and wreaks devastation. The amendment also called on the federal government to lead the way in the national transition away from dependence on fossil fuels.

Senators voted 54 to 46 not to take up an amendment offered by Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, that also declared human-caused climate change to be real and devastating, and urged the government to support research on technologies that would capture carbon emissions from fossil fuels.

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