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Tipping Point

December 14, 2016 at 10:26 am

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The lead article in this week's Times food section is by Julia Moskin and reports on adjustments made by restaurants that have stopped tipping and have instead included the full cost of service in the prices listed on the menu. The article includes this paragraph:

Instead of expecting customers to tip the people who wait on them, tip-free restaurants pay all employees wages that reflect their skill and seniority. The customer pays a fixed amount, stated in writing (in menu prices), as in virtually every other kind of consumer business, from Nordstrom to Netflix to The New York Times.

It stopped me in my tracks, because, as a paying home-delivery subscriber to the New York Times, about every four weeks my newspaper is accompanied by a plea for tips, along with an envelope, from my home-delivery service provider. Does Ms. Moskin subscribe to the Times? Does her editor? Do they tip the person who delivers the newspaper to them?

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Correction of the Day

September 21, 2016 at 9:16 am

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From the New York Times op-ed page:

An Op-Ed essay on Tuesday about relief for refugees included the phrase, "In our experience, militant violence is vanishingly rare." Because of a miscommunication, the phrase, which was added by an editor, was published without final approval of the authors.

I actually liked the op-ed piece, which was by the mayors of New York, London, and Paris and which was pro-immigrant. But the worst kind of editing is the kind that inserts factual inaccuracies into an article without the approval of the author, especially when the inaccuracy appears insensitive to terrorist victims. The statistical rarity of the militant violence is little consolation to those killed or maimed by it, or to their friends and family members.


Algemeiner to Honor Lipsky

August 29, 2016 at 9:51 pm

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Much of my New York Times criticism has moved over to the Algemeiner, a publication that also happens to be honoring my longtime colleague and former partner in the New York Sun, Seth Lipsky, at a benefit in New York on September 15. More details and tickets are here. It looks like it will be fun.


New York Times Ads Aim at Geriatric Audience

August 29, 2016 at 9:48 pm

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Ads in the print edition of the New York Times that are aimed at people who have trouble walking, reading, or going to the bathroom are the topic of an article I wrote recently for Heat Street. Please check it out by clicking here.


Friedman's Flaw

August 10, 2016 at 8:14 am

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Thomas Friedman has a column on the danger of "menacing" language and "toxic incitement" in politics. He concludes it by calling Donald Trump "a disgusting human being." I agree with Mr. Friedman about the desirability of avoiding toxic incitement and menacing language, but the Times columnist might be a little more persuasive if he could find a way to write about the issue without himself committing the very sins against which he warns.

Mr. Friedman says the thinking that led to Yitzhak Rabin's assassination was: "The man is illegitimate, the man is a threat to the nation, the man is the equivalent of a Nazi war criminal. Well, you know what we do with people like that, don't you? We kill them." He means to warn against Trump's language against Hillary Clinton. But the illegitimate/threat to the nation/Nazi line of criticism is often made against Mr. Trump, in the columns of the Times itself, a fact that seems totally to have escaped Mr. Friedman.


Trump and Objectivity

August 8, 2016 at 11:02 am

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An above-the-fold, front-page column by Jim Rutenberg in the New York Times argues that if a working journalist believes that Donald Trump "cozies up to anti-American dictators," it justifies throwing out usual standards of journalistic objectivity. Funny how this suspension of the usual rules applies to Mr. Trump and Vladimir Putin, but not to Barack Obama and the Castro brothers of Cuba or the ayatollahs of Iran, or, for that matter, to Hillary Clinton and the Russia "reset" button. It's almost as if the usual standards of journalistic objectivity don't apply. No wonder that is what the column is advocating.


Donald Trump Diet

August 8, 2016 at 9:34 am

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For a fine example of media bias in action, see this New York Times article on Donald Trump's fondness for "junk food":

Mr. Trump's presidential campaign is improvised, undisciplined, rushed and self-indulgent.

And so is his diet....

He prefers burgers and meatloaf, Caesar salads and spaghetti, See's Candies and Diet Coke. And he shuns tea, coffee and alcohol.

How is shunning tea, coffee, and alcohol — or for that matter, even choosing to drink Diet Coke rather than the full-calorie version — evidence of being "undisciplined...and self-indulgent"? The Times doesn't say, probably because the Times would find some way to hurl insults at Mr. Trump no matter what he eats or drinks. The underlying reality has no bearing on what the paper writes.

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Dalio Responds

July 28, 2016 at 7:26 pm

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The chairman and chief investment officer at Bridgewater Associates, Ray Dalio, has posted a response to a front-page New York Times article that was critical of the firm and its culture. He writes:

we again find ourselves in the position of being left with no choice but to respond to sensationalistic and inaccurate stories, both to make clear what is true and to do our part in fighting against the growing trend of media distortion. To let such significant mischaracterizations of our business stand would be unfair to our hard-working employees and valued clients who understand the reality of our culture and values.

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Maddening Modifying Phrases

July 7, 2016 at 10:21 am

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A Times article about a Los Angeles lawyer, John B. Quinn, a founder of the Quinn Emanuel law firm, has the dubious distinction of including two consecutive paragraphs that begin with maddeningly imprecise modifying phrases.

The Times writes:

Born in Virginia, Mr. Quinn's family moved to Connecticut when he was 2, and the proximity to New York made him a museum enthusiast.

The next paragraph begins:

Raised Mormon, the Quinns relocated to Utah when John was 12.

What is this article attempting to communicate? Was Mr. Quinn born in Virginia? Or was his entire family born there?

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Times Cheerleads for Hillary Against Trump

July 4, 2016 at 10:38 am

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From a front-page so-called "news article" in Monday's Times:

In May, The New York Times examined Donald J. Trump's plans for his first 100 days, during which he said he would focus on divisive campaign promises like building a border wall with Mexico. By contrast, The Times found in its reporting on plans for Mrs. Clinton's 100 days that she would look to push issues that might be broadly popular, like infrastructure jobs and a breakthrough on immigration.

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Dangling Modifier

June 30, 2016 at 9:21 am

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A dispatch from Libya on the front page of the Times includes this sentence: "Nightmares came after the Islamists crucified people accused of crimes at a major traffic junction, then left their bodies to rot."

What happened at the major traffic junction? The crimes? The accusations of the crimes? The crucifixions? All three things?

It's sure difficult to tell from that sentence, which stopped me in my tracks as I was reading. Maybe the Times editors are on summer vacation? Maybe they all took buyouts? Sometimes the lack of clear writing in the Times is as grating as the bias.


The Pickering Scandal

June 27, 2016 at 10:31 am

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The New York Times' favorite source on Iran, former State Department official Thomas Pickering, was getting paid money by Boeing, a fact that the Times failed to disclose to readers even though Boeing had a significant financial stake in the Iran sanctions being lifted. I have a report up at the Algemeiner about this that you can read by clicking here.


How Expensive Is Harvard

May 1, 2016 at 9:38 pm

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A Times news article about Malia Obama's decision to go to Harvard reports that the college is "one of the most expensive, costing more than $60,000 a year for tuition, room, board and other fees."

That's misleading, because that's the retail price. Most people whose parents aren't "rich" qualify for financial aid, which is essentially a discount off that sticker price. If you go to the U.S. government's "net price" calculator, Harvard doesn't even show up on the list of the most expensive 4-year private, non-profit colleges and universities. Because Harvard is so well endowed, it gives better financial aid packages than do a lot of other colleges and universities, at least to prospective students whose parents aren't as rich as President and Mrs. Obama are.

From the perspective of Harvard, at least, misleading news coverage like this is damaging, because the "expensive" reputation and tag scares away families who might otherwise consider applying.


The Times Crusade Against Yeshivas

April 14, 2016 at 11:41 am

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"The New York Times Tries Explaining Its Flawed Crusade Against Yeshivas" is the headline over my article at the Algemeiner. Please check it out there.


Surprise Emissions

April 14, 2016 at 11:32 am

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From a book review in today's Times, by critic Dwight Garner: "When a writer says something new and real, it can be shocking, like a surprise emission from a bodily orifice."

I think an editor would have done better to just end the sentence after the word "shocking" and save the reader the unpleasant shock of the rest of the sentence. As we've written here previously, the Times approach to editing this particular critic isn't exactly what you'd call a tight leash.


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