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Primates of Park Avenue, Again

June 12, 2015 at 9:25 am

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Add an eighth article to the seven that the Times has already published touting Wednesday Martin's book Primates of Park Avenue.


Mercedes Plugs

June 12, 2015 at 9:12 am

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Reviewing the movie "Jurassic World," Times critic Manohla Dargis complains, "There are so many plugs for Mercedes that you may wonder if the targeted viewers are studio executives." It's an oddly un-self-aware criticism, coming from the same newspaper that in just the past ten days has featured an interview with the head of research and technology at Mercedes-Benz Research and Development in Sunnyvale, Calif., a review of the Mercedes GLA250, which, as tested by the Times, had a sticker price of $45,505, and a third article that began:

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Rubio's Finances

June 10, 2015 at 1:57 pm

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The Times look at Marco Rubio's personal family finances — the presidential candidate cashed in his retirement account and mistakenly used a Republican Party credit card to pay for personal expenses — was, to my mind, newsworthy, but marred by a couple of flaws that have been well marked already by other outlets. The Washington Free Beacon reports that a financial adviser that the Times had review Senator Rubio's financial disclosure documents turns out to be an Obama campaign donor, a fact the Times doesn't disclose as it quotes the adviser disparaging Mr. Rubio's practices. And Politico reports that the $80,000 vessel the Times describes as a "luxury speedboat" is in fact a not-so-glamorous fishing boat.


More Primates of Park Ave.

June 8, 2015 at 9:27 am

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As if the extensive coverage the Times has already given to Wednesday Martin's book Primates of Park Avenue weren't enough, the newspaper is back today with more:

•A friendly paragraph-long mention in a front-of-the-arts-section piece about an unrelated television program, and,

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Rubio's Tickets

June 5, 2015 at 12:14 pm

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Smartertimes reader Bob Hill of Coral Gables, Fla. writes in about a Times article about Marco Rubio's traffic tickets (and Mrs. Rubio's):

Dear Editor-

Since I am a New York transplant to South Florida, this article caught my attention. The fact that Marco Rubio, or anyone else, has 2 actual tickets over a 17 year period is a non-story, I think everyone can agree- particularly considering that one of them was in Duval County, near Tallahassee, up where the police have nothing better to do than write revenue-raising speeding tickets, as this article suggests:http://www.news4jax.com/news/lawmakers-aim-to-end-speed-traps/31642710. New Yorkers know that getting a moving violation in the city might indicate unsafe driving- getting a speeding ticket in Ulster County, not so much. Same thing here.

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Julian Niccolini

June 4, 2015 at 9:10 pm

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A New York Times dispatch about the Four Seasons restaurant and its co-owner includes this sentence: "On Thursday, Mr. Niccolini, dressed, as always, in a dark suit, appeared subdued and businesslike as he greeted lunchtime customers and chatted with dining room captains and other employees."

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Wednesday Martin Primates of Park Avenue

June 4, 2015 at 9:43 am

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Just how much has the Times been obsessed with Wednesday Martin's book Primates of Park Avenue?

Let us count the ways:

May 16, 2015: 1372-word essay by the author on the front of the Sunday Review section.

May 31, 2015: 1130-word column about the book on the front of the metro section.

May 31, 2015: 888-word Sunday book review.

June 3, 2015: 1150-word review on the front of the arts section.

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Class Obsession

June 4, 2015 at 9:28 am

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A dispatch from Boston about developments in the case of an Islamist shot dead by an FBI agent and a Boston police officer puts the New York Times' obsession with class categories on full and unattractive display. From the story:

An F.B.I. agent and a police officer approached Mr. Rahim around 7 a.m. on Tuesday outside a CVS Pharmacy in Roslindale, a middle-class Boston neighborhood....

Mr. Wright was taken into custody in Everett, a working-class Boston suburb, on Tuesday after the shooting...

In Mr. Wright's working-class neighborhood in Everett, a suburb just north of Boston, neighbors said they saw police officers and F.B.I. agents around 7 a.m. Tuesday at City Hall, around the corner from Mr. Wright's second-floor apartment on Linden Street.

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News You Can Use

May 25, 2015 at 1:12 pm

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An article in Sunday's Times magazine appears under the headline "How to Roll a Joint."

It's hard to understand exactly what redeeming news value the article has. Some aging hippy Times readers and contributors such as the author of Just Say Yes: A Marijuana Memoir presumably already know how. So is the idea that the Times is trying to induce people who are not already experienced pot smokers to try it? Maybe young children or teenagers? Reasonable people may disagree on decriminalization, legalization, or medical marijuana use, but the Times' enthusiasm for this drug is almost evangelical in its eagerness to spread the news; certainly outside the bounds of journalistic neutrality, skepticism, or objectivity.

If this is the product of the much-hyped New York Times Sunday magazine relaunch under a new editor, I don't think it's an encouraging sign for the magazine's future.


The 40-Year Boom

May 19, 2015 at 9:49 am

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A front-page Times news article reports: "In the aftermath of the Great Depression, the nation's finance industry shrank severely — and remained in a humbled state for most of the next four decades. The economy boomed in this period, with no major financial crises and less income inequality than in recent decades."

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Phony Statistic

May 14, 2015 at 9:20 am

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A Times article about a fatal Amtrak derailment includes this sentence: "Like the rest of the country's crumbling public infrastructure, its aging rail beds and decades-old trains are sagging under increased use, especially in the Northeast, where nearly three-quarters of all travel takes place on the trains, not on planes."

The Times doesn't give the source of this "nearly three-quarters of all travel" statistic, but it's almost certainly bogus. What about cars? Buses? Feet? Does the statistic refer to the percentage of trips or the percentage of passenger-miles? Does it refer only to inter-city or interstate travel? It offers the illusion of authority and precision without actually providing any useful information to readers.


Not Writing Well

May 13, 2015 at 10:12 am

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The Times obituary of William Zinsser, the author of On Writing Well, includes this sentence: "In his late '80s he wrote a blog on popular culture, the craft of writing and the arts for the website of The American Scholar that won a National Magazine Award for digital commentary."

It's a small thing, but there's no need for the apostrophe before "80s." One might use an apostrophe to refer to the decade the 1980s — the apostrophe in '80s would stand in for the missing digits 19. But referring to someone's age, there are no missing digits. So there should be no apostrophe.

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Scrambled Eggs

May 12, 2015 at 9:26 am

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An April 27 Times web feature on "how to eat healthy meals at restaurants" showed up in my print edition of the Times this morning, two weeks after it originally appeared on the Web. The feature includes the following sentence: "Outside of major metropolitan areas, where restaurant choices are more limited, egg-based lunches and dinners are a good way to eat well."

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Birzeit Bombshell

May 12, 2015 at 9:19 am

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A Times dispatch from the West Bank begins, "Lina Halsa certainly made a splash at the student rally for the Islamist Hamas movement here at Birzeit University last month. Wearing a sleeveless top, tight jeans, and with her hair in a ponytail, Ms. Halsa's attire was revealing even by the standards of this liberal, secular campus."

The article runs with no photograph in either the print or the online edition of the Times. The online edition includes a hyperlink to a photo on another site.

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Catching Up

May 11, 2015 at 9:21 am

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A few items I had been meaning to get to sooner over the past two weeks:

Misstep? A Times article on President Obama's nomination of Gayle Smith to be the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development says of Ms. Smith's predecessor, Rajiv Shah:

But Dr. Shah had missteps as well. The Associated Press reported in 2014 that during his tenure, U.S.A.I.D. operated a social media account to encourage young Cubans to revolt against the Castro government. The secret program ran out of funds in 2012, after two years; Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, called it "dumb, dumb, dumb" after it was disclosed.

This wording seems to side with Senator Leahy in characterizing the Cuba effort as a "misstep"; a pretty clear case of left-wing opinion creeping into what is supposed to be a news article.

Correction of the Month: From the May 1 Times:

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