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Two From the Algemeiner

July 20, 2017 at 7:41 am

Most of my New York Times criticism on Israel and Jewish topics has moved over to the Algemeiner. The two latest pieces are "Nine Flaws With New York Times 'Israel's War on George Soros' Article" and "New York Times Showers Compliments on Iranian Foreign Minister." Please click on the hyperlinks to the headlines and check them out if you are interested in those topics.


CIA Iran Coup

July 20, 2017 at 7:32 am

A New York Times editorial headlined "Avoiding War With Iran" includes this passage:

Most Americans are aware of Iran's crimes against this country, including the 52 Americans taken hostage in 1979; the 241 Marines killed in the 1983 bombing of their barracks in Lebanon; and the 1996 bombing of the Air Force quarters in Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia. Perhaps less known are events that still anger Iranians — like the 1953 coup aided by the C.I.A. that ousted Iran's democratically elected leader, Mohammed Mossadegh, and America's intelligence support for Iraq in the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war.

It's as if the editorial writers are totally unaware of the Weekly Standard article "The Myths of 1953," by a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, Ray Takeyh, reporting on newly declassified documents indicating that, as he puts it:

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Smoking Marijuana While Black

July 19, 2017 at 1:00 pm

A New York Times editorial about arrests for marijuana smoking in public expresses regret that "the state missed an opportunity to fix this problem five years ago when a bill that would have made public display of marijuana an offense similar to a traffic violation — rather than a crime — died in the Legislature."

The newspaper's proposed solution? "The city needs to do more to minimize arrests. District attorneys can take the lead by refusing to prosecute most, if not all, of these cases."

I understand the idea of prosecutorial discretion, which at least as I understand it is basically that, given the broad universe of possible crimes to pursue, prosecutors have some latitude to decide how and where to focus the finite and limited resources of their offices.

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Arbitration Clauses

July 17, 2017 at 9:41 am

The New York Times has an editorial arguing that banks should be prohibited from forcing customers to handle disputes in arbitration rather than in court:

In recent decades, banks and other corporations have increasingly required customers to agree in advance to individually arbitrate any conflicts that arise over products and services, rather than sue in court. Arbitration, however, has turned out to stack the deck; corporations choose the arbitrators and set the rules of evidence. As a result, individuals usually abandon the effort rather than pursue their grievances.

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'Largely Unregulated'

July 17, 2017 at 9:20 am

The New York Times has a pattern (see here, here, and here for previous examples) of publishing news articles describing things as "largely unregulated" or "lightly regulated." Often that's inaccurate and just a way for the Times to insert its editorial opinion advocating for increased regulation. The latest example of this comes on today's front page, in an article about companies trying to make money by guiding NFL players through a head-injury settlement process:

The cottage industry of companies and law firms, going by names such as N.F.L. Case Consulting, Concussion Case Management and Legacy Pro Sports and looking to help people file settlement claims, is largely unregulated, even if their pitches are for services that are usually unnecessary.

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Go Ahead, Celebrate the Mosul Win

July 16, 2017 at 6:47 am

No sooner had the Iraqi Army liberated Mosul from the clutches of the Islamic State terrorists than American journalists were rushing to find a way to rain on the parade.

"It is far too soon to celebrate," wrote the New Yorker's Robin Wright, who is a fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

"The government's costly victory in Mosul and the questions hanging over its aftermath feel more like the next chapter in the long story of Iraq's unraveling," Tim Arango wrote in a front-page New York Times news article, leaving unspecified whose feelings, exactly, other than his own, were being described.

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Fourteen Flaws In Tom Friedman's Latest Column

July 14, 2017 at 7:43 am

Thomas Friedman's latest column, which appeared in the New York Times under the headline "Israel to American Jews: You Just Don't Matter," has at least 14 flaws. I enumerate and explain in my latest piece for the Algemeiner. Please check it out here.


Correction Delayed

July 8, 2017 at 11:03 pm

It's one thing for the Times to get an architect's first name wrong, as it did in a July 4 dispatch reporting on the building activities of developer Sheldon Solow. Yet when the Times's own former architecture critic, Paul Goldberger, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his work at the Times, publicly calls the paper out on Twitter: "The day after @nytimes writes about new Apple hq w/o mentioning its architect it calls Richard Meier 'Thomas Meier'" — it's another thing for the newspaper not to correct the apparent mistake, either online or in print. It's as if they're indifferent to getting it right, or as if the paper's copy editor layoffs and "work slowdown" are having severe effects.


New York Times Knee Surgery

July 4, 2017 at 11:47 pm

Jane Brody's "Personal Health" column appears under the headline "What I Wish I'd Known About My Knees." It reports on arthroscopic surgery and steroid injections for knee troubles. The column reports: "Many of the procedures people undergo to counter chronic knee pain in the hopes of avoiding a knee replacement have limited or no evidence to support them. Some enrich the pockets of medical practitioners while rarely benefiting patients for more than a few months."

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Ignoring the Apple Architect

July 4, 2017 at 11:01 pm

An excellent question from Paul Goldberger, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1984 for his architecture criticism for the New York Times: "How can @nytimes write whole piece on new Apple hq, cite design details, and never mention architect, Norman Foster?"

The offending Times story is here.

The replies to Mr. Goldberger's Tweet are also worth a quick scroll — quite a few mention that the Times is not what it once was and that the newspaper is laying off a bunch of editors.

Foster's involvement would be particularly interesting to the Times' New York-based readers because of his involvement on the World Trade Center site and in a largely aborted plan to redesign the New York Public Library.


David Brooks Responds

June 30, 2017 at 10:44 am

Maybe I'm reading too much into it, and it's just a coincidence, but it sure looks possible that Times columnist David Brooks read my criticism of his column and, in a subtle way, responded in his own column. Here's the back and forth:

My June 23 criticism:

From David Brooks' column, offering advice to people in their 20s:

"If you are going to be underemployed, do it in a way that people are going to find interesting later on. Nobody is ever going to ask you, 'What was it like being a nanny?' They will ask you, 'What was it like leading excursions of Outward Bound?'

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Most Condescending Passage of the Year

June 23, 2017 at 9:09 am

From David Brooks' column, offering advice to people in their 20s:

If you are going to be underemployed, do it in a way that people are going to find interesting later on. Nobody is ever going to ask you, "What was it like being a nanny?" They will ask you, "What was it like leading excursions of Outward Bound?"

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Good Muslims

June 21, 2017 at 11:45 am

From a New York Times theater review by Elisabeth Vincentelli of an off-Broadway production titled "36th Marathon Of One-Act Plays: Series C":

Most one-act plays have, by default, a tight focus: between two and four characters, unity of time and place. "The Good Muslim," on the other hand, ambitiously moves seven characters through a fast-food prep area, a porch, the subway and even virtual reality....

Until reality catches up, Aliah lets off steam by playing a game that appears to involve the mating rituals of white preppies. Then one day she has a terrifying encounter on the subway, a brief moment that evokes the racist harassment that's been flourishing during the past few months.

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Rediscovering the First Amendment

June 20, 2017 at 4:32 pm

A New York Times staff editorial about the Supreme Court's Decision in Matal v. Tam includes this unusual passage:

The decision is likely to help the Washington Redskins, who lost their trademark protections in 2014 after years of complaints from Native American groups. At the time, this page supported the Trademark Office's decision, and we still regard the Redskins name as offensive. Based on this case, however, we've since reconsidered our underlying position.

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Trump Mergers and Acquisitions

June 19, 2017 at 9:02 am

"C.E.O.s Say They're Confident, but Merger Numbers Don't Lie" was the headline on Andrew Ross Sorkin's June 12 New York Times column blaming President Trump for a lack of corporate deals. Mr. Sorkin wrote:

If you can't remember reading about a big deal announced recently, that's because there hasn't been one. The reality is that since Mr. Trump was elected, mergers have fallen off a cliff.

The numbers tell the story: So far this year, the number of deals and their size are at the lowest level since 2013....

Yes, the prospect of an early morning Twitter tirade from Mr. Trump may be holding back deal making. And that's not confidence inducing.

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