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Fox News and Russia

April 19, 2022 at 9:19 am

The New York Times business section features a news article headlined "How Russian Media Uses Fox News to Make Its Case." It reports, "Russian media has increasingly seized on Fox News's prime-time segments, its opinion pieces and even the network's active online comments section — all of which often find fault with the Biden administration — to paint a critical portrait of the United States and depict America's foreign policy as a threat to Russia's interests."

The article features "four ways Russian media has used Fox News to bolster the government's narrative about the war," including "criticizing President Biden."

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Lab Leak Talking Points

February 25, 2022 at 7:48 am

A New York Times news article about a policy agenda drafted by moderate House Democrats includes this passage:

One measure included in the agenda appears to accept the Republican talking point that the coronavirus was created in a laboratory in China, then covered up by the World Health Organization — assertions that have been challenged repeatedly by scientific researchers.

The Never Again International Outbreak Prevention Act, by Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick, Republican of Pennsylvania, and Conor Lamb, a centrist Democrat running for the Senate in Pennsylvania, "would provide accountability with respect to international reporting and monitoring of outbreaks of novel viruses and diseases, sanction bad actors and review the actions of the World Health Organization."

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Lost in Newton

February 15, 2022 at 8:12 am

Instead of acknowledging a mistake and publishing a correction, the New York Times has stealth-edited the inaccurate phrase "Newton and Boston, about 10 miles apart" so that it now reads "Newton and Boston, with downtowns about 10 miles apart." That's still not accurate. There's no such thing or place as "downtown" Newton. Newton is a suburb made up of 13 villages, none of which is "downtown." Instead of defensively stealth-editing this a second time, the right move here for the Times would be to simply publish a correction acknowledging that the two cities are adjacent. The newspaper's failure to do this is a sign of a combination of arrogance and a newsroom culture that holds "corrections are bad and mean you did something wrong and will get in trouble, a kind of black mark on your record" rather than "mistakes sometimes happen, it's part of the process, and we'd much rather make it right than compound the error by legalistically or defensively refusing to admit the possibility that we are anything less than perfect." At least run the correction by someone who lives in Boston or Newton or who pointed out the original mistake to make sure that the change makes sense rather than introducing a second error. The Times hires so many people from the Boston Globe that talent retention is a serious business problem for the Globe, so you'd think that there'd be no shortage of people at the Times who might be able to help with this.

 

Lost in Boston

February 11, 2022 at 8:13 am

A Times news article about school mask mandates reports, "Newton and Boston, about 10 miles apart, give an idea of how two politically liberal and cautious districts are approaching the choice — and how and why they may come to different decisions."

It's not accurate that Newton and Boston are "about 10 miles apart." They actually directly border each other in at least two places—the Boston neighborhood of West Roxbury and the Newton neighborhood of Oak Hill, and the Boston neighborhoods of Brighton and Oak Square and the Newton village of Newton Corner. The Massachusetts Secretary of State has a map (pdf) of the cities and towns in the commonwealth that shows Newton and Boston are adjacent. If you are headed east on the Massachusetts Turnpike, you pass directly from Newton into Boston.

 

Darren Walker and a San Francisco Museum's New Director

February 10, 2022 at 8:53 am

An arts section report on the naming of Christopher Bedford as director of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art includes this passage:

Darren Walker, the president of the Ford Foundation, who has led the charge on diversity issues, said he felt comfortable with the selection of Bedford. "While I'm disappointed that a diverse candidate wasn't chosen," Walker said in a telephone interview, "no museum leader is more committed to diversity than Chris Bedford."

What is Darren Walker doing in this article? He's not on the board of the San Francisco museum. The Ford Foundation isn't a major funder of the museum. Anytime a white male gets named to any job anywhere, the New York Times article about it is now going to include a quote from Darren Walker passing judgment on whether it's acceptable?

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A Racist Photo Cutline

February 4, 2022 at 6:10 am

Casual accusations of racism are not usually my thing. But to see, in the New York Times, which makes a big public show of being antiracist, a photo of three people with the two white people identified by name in a cutline and the black person not only not named but just totally ignored, treated as if he is invisible or nonexistent, is the sort of thing that I had hoped wouldn't happen anymore. It's disappointing. The photo runs with an obituary of basketball coach Bill Fitch.

The print cutline says, "Bill Fitch, center, during practice with the Boston Celtics in May 1981. Kevin McHale was at right."

The online cutline says, "Bill Fitch, center, during practice with the Boston Celtics in May 1981 as they prepared to meet the Houston Rockets for the N.B.A. championship series. Boston went on to beat Houston in six games. Kevin McHale was at right."

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Times Refers to "Unborn" Children

January 23, 2022 at 1:31 pm

From a New York Times magazine article headlined, "Trump's Dream of a Border Wall, Twisted Into a Sci-Fi Nightmare" (yes, more than a year into the Biden administration, the Times is still having, or stoking, Trump nightmares):

As of 2015, for instance, a video game called Border Patrol had been played more than 12 million times on the website NerdNirvana. A rudimentary first-person shooter, Border Patrol invited players to place their cross hairs on three different kinds of cartoon characters: a "Mexican Nationalist" wearing a bandoleer, a tattooed "drug smuggler" in a wide sombrero and a pregnant "breeder" holding two children by the hands, one wearing a diaper, the other a little sombrero. The backdrop showed a river cutting through a cactus-dotted desert. The players' job was to shoot these brown-skinned characters as they tried to cross the river; each kill was recorded with a bloody splat. The "breeder" was worth more points, presumably because you also killed her children, born and unborn.

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Weddings Editor Aims to "Normalize" Unwed

January 12, 2022 at 6:25 am

The New York Times has published a question and answer style interview with Charanna Alexander, who in May 2021 was named "weddings editor" at the newspaper:

Do you have any other goals for the section?

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Whitewashing a Communist Camp
Editor

December 19, 2021 at 1:23 pm

The New York Times has a strange, repeated "odd tendency to euphemize or dance around communism." The latest example comes in a super-long and pretty boring profile of a 97-year-old World War II veteran. The Times claims the person is known as "the king of the artificial Christmas Tree." The Times writes, "in midsummer of 1949, he went to Camp Unity, a leftist camp in Wingdale, N.Y."

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Times Advice: Invest in China

November 21, 2021 at 8:58 am

A column in the Sunday business section by Jeff Sommer, who "also edits business news" and previously was a national editor at the Times, reports:

Vanguard, for instance, projects that the U.S. stock market will produce annualized returns of only 2.4 to 4.4 percent for the next decade, in no small part because prices are so high.

Other world stock markets haven't risen as much lately, and, partly for that reason, Vanguard expects that they will outpace the U.S. market by almost three percentage points, annualized, in the decade ahead. That's a reminder that a truly diversified stock portfolio is a multinational one, containing shares from all major public stock markets (including those in China).

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Homicide Surge Mystery

November 16, 2021 at 8:13 am

The New York Times focuses on the surge in homicides, publishing a front-page news article that jumps to two full pages inside. The Times highlights what it calls "a surge in homicides that has swept across the country," reporting that "in many large cities — including Atlanta, Chicago and Philadelphia — the number of homicides this year is on track to surpass last year." The Times just can't figure out what might be behind this: "In dozens of interviews, criminologists, city and state officials and people close to murder victims could not name a single, direct cause of the spike in homicides, and said that it could take years of data collection before the phenomenon is fully understood." Still, it could be "the continued destabilizing effects of the coronavirus pandemic."

Somewhat remarkably, the Times manages to cover this phenomenon without any mention of the Black Lives Matter protests against police. Some police and conservative politicians have linked the rise in crime to those protests.

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Times Publishes Chinese Propaganda

August 24, 2021 at 9:36 pm

"In Afghanistan, China Is Ready To Step Into the Void" is the headline over a New York Times op-ed by Zhou Bo. The Times identifies him at the top of the article by saying "Mr. Zhou was a senior colonel in the People's Liberation Army from 2003 to 2020 and is an expert on the Chinese Army's strategic thinking on international security." At the bottom of the article, there's a longer identification: "Zhou Bo is a senior fellow at the Center for International Security and Strategy at Tsinghua University and a member of the China Forum. He was a senior colonel in the People's Liberation Army from 2003 to 2020 and is an expert on the Chinese army's strategic thinking on international security. He directed the Centre for Security Cooperation in the Office for International Military Cooperation at the Ministry of National Defense."

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"Art" of Burned American Flags

August 22, 2021 at 7:19 am

An article in this morning's T magazine profiles an artist named "Puppies Puppies," who "also goes by Jade Kuriki-Olivo."

The Times reports, "At its most political, Kuriki-Olivo's work is also at its most literal, and tends not to equivocate. In her most recent show at New York's Queer Thoughts, 'Executive Order 9066 (Soul Consoling Tower),' about the World War II internment of nearly 120,000 Japanese Americans and Japanese immigrants, for instance, the artist showcased an urn filled with the ashes of burned American flags."

Also: "She can get by 'only so far' on her art, she said, and also does in-person sex work."

I guess it says something good about the market economy that someone can't make a living from art that consists of "the ashes of burned American flags." What it says that this same Times magazine is full of ads for luxury products is another story. Anyway, this is one where it's hard to tell whether the "conceptual art" is that of Puppies Puppies or the Times editors publishing the stuff.

 

Stalinism or "Social Justice"?

August 15, 2021 at 11:51 am

From the New York Times obituary of Leon Litwack, who was a longtime professor of history at the University of California, Berkeley:

He took his commitment to social justice with him to Berkeley, where he campaigned for Henry Wallace, the 1948 Progressive candidate for president, and protested the state's requirement that public employees, including university faculty, sign an oath of loyalty to the United States.

During the summers, while his better-off classmates went on vacation, he worked as a mess boy on freighters shipping out of San Francisco Bay, becoming active in the Marine Cooks and Stewards Union, one of the country's more left-wing labor organizations.

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Art Review Likens Cars to "Lethal Poisons"

August 14, 2021 at 9:27 pm

A New York Times art review of a show of automobiles at the Museum of Modern Art faults the museum for lending its reputational gloss to Volkswagen.

The review says:

In a wall panel the curators mention the Beetle's "inglorious origins," though there is more recent VW unpleasantness this show and catalog do not discuss. Over the last decade, MoMA has enjoyed more than a million dollars in support each year from Volkswagen — a company that admitted to equipping 11 million cars with illegal software to cheat emissions testing, and then lying to investigators about the scheme. Researchers at West Virginia University found some cars equipped with the software belched almost 40 times the permitted levels of nitrogen oxides. In early 2017, Volkswagen pleaded guilty in the United States to criminal charges that included conspiracy to defraud the government, violations of the Clean Air Act and obstruction of justice. VW paid $20 billion to resolve civil and criminal charges related to the scandal, and that figure has grown since then.

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