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Liz Smith and Pat Buckley

November 16, 2017 at 10:47 am

A nasty piece in the Times by Jonah Engel Bromwich runs under the headline "Liz Smith's Complicated Relationship With the Closet." It posthumously faults a journalist for being what the Times deems to be insufficiently public about her sexual orientation. Mr. Bromwich writes:

At the height of her influence, in the 1980s and early '90s, Ms. Smith covered for still-closeted celebrities like Malcolm Forbes and promoted conservative socialites like Pat Buckley, whose husband, William F. Buckley Jr., the editor of National Review, had written that people with AIDS should be tattooed.

For those reasons, she came under fire by the columnist Michelangelo Signorile, who during the run of the magazine OutWeek named and shamed closeted gay celebrities whom he saw as hypocrites in the midst of a deadly pandemic.

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Bad Advice on Snowblowers, Generators, and Apples

November 16, 2017 at 10:17 am

Since the news business alone doesn't seem to be making enough money to keep New York Times owner Carlos Slim satisfied, the company has been expanding into other areas, like giving advice.

Page A3 of my November 16, 2017, New York Times, under the headline, "Here to Help: Home Maintenance Tips For The Winter, includes the following on how to "make sure your home is prepared for the harsh weather": "Make sure your snow blower is in good working order before it snows. You do not want to be caught in the first major storm with only an orange shovel to dig yourself out."

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Buzzfeed Valuation

October 23, 2017 at 9:03 am

Andrew Ross Sorkin's New York Times column last week ran under the headline "How Valuable Is a Unicorn? Maybe Not as Much as It Claims to Be." It reported that eye-popping valuation for venture-capital-backed companies "may be a bit of myth — or perhaps wishful thinking." Citing Stanford research, it warned that the "headline" valuations were tricking people.

On the front of today's Times business section is an article about BuzzFeed building a movie studio in Southern California. In passing, the Times reports, "BuzzFeed, which is now valued at about $1.7 billion." No caveats about dilution or special terms for some investors or how that number may be a myth, a trick, or wishful thinking. It's almost enough to make one wonder whether the reporter of the BuzzFeed story, Sydney Ember, or her editor even bothered to read Sorkin's column, or, if they did, whether they took it seriously.


Blacks For Trump

October 9, 2017 at 8:24 am

Amidst a Times arts section article about a late-night talk-show host, Robin Thede, comes this passage:

Ms. Thede explained, "We're not going to spend a half-hour telling you Trump is bad, because black people didn't vote for him anyway. They know that."

No challenge or explanation from the New York Times on that, which seems off base, because some black people did vote for Trump, and also because most people aren't just "bad" or "good" but are some combination of both.


Che Guevara

October 9, 2017 at 8:10 am

Today's New York Times devotes an entire page to not one but two separate articles marking the 50th anniversary of the death of Che Guevara. It's hard to recall another historical figure whose 50th death anniversary has been marked with such extensive and mostly positive coverage by the Times.

The headline over one of the articles is "Execution Still Haunts Village, 50 Years After Che Guevara's Death." At the Forward and the New York Sun we had a rule that if the word "still" was the most appropriate word for the headline or the lead paragraph of a story, the article had to be spiked, because it was a sign that it wasn't news, it was olds.

For better, more accurate journalism than the Times has to offer on this topic, I recommend this 5 minute, 49 second John Stossel video.


Median Age of the New Yorker

October 3, 2017 at 10:03 am

Amid a Times business section article about S.I. Newhouse Jr. and the New Yorker magazine comes this paragraph:

Mr. Gottlieb took the job anyway. If he did not reinvent the magazine in his five-year tenure, neither did he turn it into a moneymaker. The median age of the magazine was rising, and Mr. Newhouse decided to make yet another change: He fired Mr. Gottlieb and replaced him with Ms. Brown, the 38-year-old British editor who had made a splash with the celebrity- and royalty-heavy Vanity Fair.

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Pork Chop Underwear

September 28, 2017 at 7:47 pm

In the middle of a Times Magazine profile of the writer John McPhee comes this passage:

Almost immediately after that hiking-guide of an opening, "The Pine Barrens" unleashes all kinds of color and legend and bizarre characters, including a deep-woods cranberry farmer who invites McPhee into his shack while eating a pork chop in his underwear.

That sentence could have used some editing to make it clear that it was the farmer, rather than the pork chop, that was in the underwear. One sees these sorts of misplaced modifying phrases in the Times more and more often. You'd think maybe in a profile of a writer known for his writing craft, the newspaper would do a little better.


Lost at Harvard, Again

September 19, 2017 at 11:16 pm

A Times news article reports about disappointing returns from Harvard's endowment:

The endowment has experienced turnover in recent years. After the 2005 departure of Jack Meyer, who had served as chief executive for 15 years, Jane Mendillo took over. She was succeeded by Stephen Blyth.

Actually, after the 2005 departure of Jack Meyer, Mohamed A. El-Erian took over. It's strange that the Times wouldn't mention that, since El-Erian can often be found commenting on the markets and on public policy, including from the perch of the Times' own op-ed page.


Pete Domenici

September 14, 2017 at 11:35 am

The New York Times uses, of all places, an obituary of Senator Pete Domenici as a forum to re-litigate the Reagan economic record:

Mr. Domenici supported the conservative theory that tax cuts stimulate economic growth. But he went on to grapple with the president himself, as well as with Republican colleagues in the Senate, on the long-term fiscal consequences of the White House's proposed tax cuts and increases in military spending, questioning whether they might spur inflation and defeat any chances of balancing the budget.

Congress passed steep tax cuts in 1981, and critics of the legislation said the reductions only deepened the federal deficit and fueled a subsequent recession. Reagan agreed to a huge tax increase in 1982 to reduce the deficit, and the economy began to rebound.

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Lost at Harvard

September 14, 2017 at 10:49 am

The New York Times, whose billionaire owner Carlos Slim is unwilling fully to fund the paper's newsgathering operations, has lately resorted to turning over space on its front page and news columns to outside non-profit organizations.

The problem with this approach is that, in some cases, the non-profit news organization's standards are even worse than those of the Times itself.

Such is the case with a front-page article about a doctoral program candidate whose application was rejected by Harvard. The candidate had spent more than 20 years "in an Indiana prison for the murder of her 4-year-old-son."

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Trump And Congress

September 9, 2017 at 10:24 pm

The new Congressional editor of the New York Times, Jonathan Weisman, had a recent Times article claiming that "Mr. Trump appears to have so little regard for or understanding of Congress."

That article appeared on page A2 of my edition of the Times.

The page one, lead headline in the same paper was "U.S. Ends Program Giving 'Dreamers' Legal Protection; Outcry Is Swift and Emotional, as Trump Tells Congress to Fix Immigration."

The headline across page A11 of the same paper was "Trump May Leave Final Iran Nuclear Deal Decision to Congress."

Trump may have "so little regard for" Congress, but the Times itself is reporting that he is giving it responsibility for two matters — immigration law and a treaty involving Iran — that President Obama had arrogated to the executive branch notwithstanding the Constitution.

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Decline of Editing

September 6, 2017 at 9:23 am

The reductions in the Times copydesk and the buyouts of experienced employees have been much in the news. It's hard to escape seeing evidence of it in the actual newspaper. Here are two recent examples.

A Tyler Kepner "On Baseball" column includes this sentence:

After the initial disclosure of the Boston sign stealing by Michael S. Schmidt of The New York Times, Commissioner Rob Manfred all but said "boys will be boys" in a meeting with reporters at Fenway Park on Tuesday afternoon.

Michael Schmidt of the New York Times was stealing signs for Boston? Boys will be boys in the commissioner's meeting with reporters? This sentence manages twice to violate the Strunk and White rule to "keep related words together." The sentence could be easily fixed in a variety of ways. One possibility:

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Leonhardt on George Romney and Tax Rates

September 5, 2017 at 10:28 am

David Leonhardt has an op-ed column about income taxes that is so misleading and inaccurate that if it came from President Trump, the Times would be up in arms about it. The column is worth spending some time with as an example of just how flagrant the Times can be in trampling the truth.

The most glaring falsehood concerns the actual top federal marginal tax rate. Mr. Leonhardt writes, "Since 1987, the top rate has hovered between 30 percent and 40 percent."

Actually, in 1988, 1989, and 1990, the top rate was 28%.

Mr. Leonhardt can maybe claim he was rounding up, but when Mr. Trump rounded 37.4% up to "almost 40%," the Times jumped all over him about it.

Mr. Leonhardt writes:

I am convinced that the current top tax rate, 39.6 percent, is too low.

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Times Shocked By Trump-Era Growth

August 31, 2017 at 10:34 pm

"Surprising Briskness In Economic Growth" is the headline the Times printed over a news article reporting that the economy "is showing some unexpected vigor."

This is "surprising" and "unexpected" only to those liberal groupthinkers who thought President Trump's attempts to cut taxes and regulations wouldn't translate into improved economic growth. Investors certainly expected growth, which is part of why they've bid up the prices of stocks since the election. Certainly a lot of the Americans who voted for Trump expected that he would boost the economy, and aren't particularly surprised that he's starting to come through on it.


Check the Labels

August 31, 2017 at 10:28 pm

One of the most egregious ways that the New York Times demonstrates its liberal bias is by slapping the label "conservative" on conservative news outlets and think tanks, while omitting the "liberal" label when describing liberal news outlets and think tanks.

One recent example comes in a James Stewart column about tax reform in the District of Columbia. Mr. Stewart refers to "the conservative website The Daily Caller" and "conservative supply-side advocates like Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform." But "the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center" gets no ideological label from the Times. Nor does its senior fellow, Steven M. Rosenthal.

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