Category Archives: New York Times

Coulda Woulda Shoulda

Apparently the New York Times is still unclear on what its fucking job is. For example, after getting criticism about last week’s voter fraud story, which was short on facts and long on the “both sides have a point” crap, the paper went on the defensive:

The national editor, Sam Sifton, rejected the argument. “There’s a lot of reasonable disagreement on both sides,” he said. One side says there’s not significant voter fraud; the other side says there’s not significant voter suppression.

“It’s not our job to litigate it in the paper,” Mr. Sifton said. “We need to state what each side says.”

Mr. Bronner agreed. “Both sides have become very angry and very suspicious about the other,” he said. “The purpose of this story was to step back and look at both sides, to lay it out.” While he agreed that there was “no known evidence of in-person voter fraud,” and that could have been included in this story, “I don’t think that’s the core issue here.”

Oh, really? Would someone like to tell what the core issue is, then? One side says voter fraud is a big problem, and the facts say that it is not. Meanwhile, one side is passing laws that take the Constitutionally-protected right to vote away from millions of people. That isn’t the core issue?

But no, the Times’ reporter and national editor both think the core issue is “one side says this and the other side says that.” End of story.

Seriously, people? And since when did reporting facts become “litigating the issue”? No wonder you suck.

Yes, do keep telling me how the internet killed journalism. Please.

(h/t, Atrios)


Filed under Media, New York Times, voter fraud

Your Liberal Media

Apparently the New York Times has forgotten what it means to be a “journalist” who “reports” the “news.” Because there’s no other excuse for this:

Should The Times Be a Truth Vigilante?

I’m looking for reader input on whether and when New York Times news reporters should challenge “facts” that are asserted by newsmakers they write about.

This is not satire. This is the actual New York Times public editor musing on whether reporters should question the facts that they are presented.

And this just … well, it explains so much.

Brisbane continues:

This message was typical of mail from some readers who, fed up with the distortions and evasions that are common in public life, look to The Times to set the record straight. They worry less about reporters imposing their judgment on what is false and what is true.

Is that the prevailing view? And if so, how can The Times do this in a way that is objective and fair? Is it possible to be objective and fair when the reporter is choosing to correct one fact over another? Are there other problems that The Times would face that I haven’t mentioned here?

Oh my fucking God. Are you kidding me? Seriously? On what planet does Arthur Brisbane live?

I’m sorry, I thought checking facts and verifying the statements made by politicians was sorta the point of a damn newspaper? No? You disagree? Why the hell are you people there, then?

Clearly when bloggers bemoaned the news media’s descent into stenography, we had no clue how bad things really were.

You know, I was going to write about this last week when Dan Savage wondered “When Do We Meet Elizabeth Santorum’s Imaginary Gay Friends?” He was addressing homophobic conservatives’ tactic of claiming they can’t possibly be bigots because they have “gay friends,” you know, the same way racists always have “black friends.” Elizabeth Santorum took it one step further, claiming she has gay friends who support her father’s candidacy.

Savage wrote:

Um… political reporters? Stop accepting homophobes’ claims of gay friendship at face value. Elizabeth Santorum says she has gay friends who support her dad based on his family platform? That is an astonishing assertion. Who are these gay people who support Rick Santorum for president despite his having compared sex between consenting adults of the same sex to child rape and dog fucking? Who are these gay people who support Rick Santorum for president despite his having asserted that gay relationships are a threat to “homeland security”? Who are these gay people who support Rick Santorum for president despite his opposition not just to gay marriage, but to any legal recognition of same-sex relationships at all (no civil unions, no domestic partnerships)?

Yes. And while we’re at it, let’s stop accepting Republican claims that they “know people” who have job openings but no applicants because unemployment benefits are too generous.

And a special shout out to MSNBC’s Chuck Todd. Buddy, when someone like Bob McEwen comes on your show and says “Bain Capital hasn’t destroyed as many jobs in its entire lifetime as this president does in a typical 24 hour period,” (paraphrased but that was the gist of it this morning) don’t just ignore that and let it slide by without comment. How about saying, “Really? You’re not being hyperbolic here? You got facts to back that up?” I mean, Jesus. Next time you want to decry the lack of civility in our public discourse, look in a mirror, buddy. You let people get away with saying the most outrageous things on your own show that are flat-out lies, but it’s us foul-mouthed bloggers who are always the problem.

Yes, just remember: it’s the internet that killed journalism. Keep repeating that line to yourselves, news folks. It’s not true, but it sure feels good to say it.


Ha! I didn’t know there was a Republican drinking game about this. Thanks, Nashville Scene! Glad I’m not the only one who’s noticed politicians’ penchant for creating imaginary friends.


The reaction to Brisbane’s column was swift and strong. Now he claims he wasn’t asking what we all think he was asking. But I’ve read his response and don’t think he does himself any favors:

What I was trying to ask was whether reporters should always rebut dubious facts in the body of the stories they are writing. I was hoping for diverse and even nuanced responses to what I think is a difficult question. To illustrate the difficulty, the first example I cited involved whether Clarence Thomas “misunderstood” the financial disclosure form when he failed to include his wife’s income. No doubt, many people doubt that he “misunderstood” but to rebut this as false would be difficult indeed, requiring knowledge of Mr. Thomas’s thinking.

Um, no it doesn’t. It requires your reporter to ask a fucking follow-up question. Hello?

Recently I heard an interview conducted by a reporter with the BBC World Service and some South African arms dealer guy. Can’t remember his name, and I came in the middle of the program. But man, the first thing that struck me was how this interviewer hammered this guy, just would not buy his bullshit. He challenged everything this guy said, was very aggressive with his questioning. And I thought, Wow. This is not the kind of reporting we get in the United States. We get, “here tell us your side. Okay, now tell us your side. Well, that’s all the time we have! We’ll have to leave it there.” The truth’s side is never told. This is what we’ve lost…. if we ever had it.


Filed under Media, MSNBC, New York Times

American Dream Is Officially Dead

Today’s New York Times has a front page story confirming what we DFH’s have been saying for years, which is that the American dream is over, and if you’re “born a poor black kid” in America today (or poor white kid or poor Latino kid) … chances are pretty good that you’re going to stay poor when you become an adult:

But many researchers have reached a conclusion that turns conventional wisdom on its head: Americans enjoy less economic mobility than their peers in Canada and much of Western Europe. The mobility gap has been widely discussed in academic circles, but a sour season of mass unemployment and street protests has moved the discussion toward center stage.

Former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, a Republican candidate for president, warned this fall that movement “up into the middle income is actually greater, the mobility in Europe, than it is in America.” National Review, a conservative thought leader, wrote that “most Western European and English-speaking nations have higher rates of mobility.” Even Representative Paul D. Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican who argues that overall mobility remains high, recently wrote that “mobility from the very bottom up” is “where the United States lags behind.”

Liberal commentators have long emphasized class, but the attention on the right is largely new.

I have written about this a lot but it’s always good to get validation from The Paper Of Record. Just one thing, though: why is the news for the New York Times that Republicans are talking about this issue? Not, you know, that this thing has happened in America to begin with? That the American myth of a classless society and mobility up the ladder is dead? I mean, really, talk about burying the lead? Hello?

And another thing: You have to be pretty brain-dead (or drunk on conservative Kool-Aid) to think folks like Rick Santorum, Paul Ryan and the National Review give a shit about American mobility — because correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t we just have Newt Gingrich telling us that poor kids in the projects only do illegal jobs like selling drugs, and Herman Cain telling us that if you’re poor it’s your own fault, and every Republican from Tennessee’s own Ron Ramsey to Eric Cantor telling us that unemployed people are just getting fat and lazy off their unemployment checks? That the social safety net is “a lifestyle”?

So now that some Republicans are pretending to notice inequality and lack of opportunity in America, why do we think their answers will be anything other than the usual “tax cuts, deregulation and shred the social safety net” which led us here to begin with?

Le Sigh. But I digress. Back to the issue at hand, which is that people in evul-Socialist-librul-Commie countries with free education and socialized medicine actually have more social mobility than the supposed land of opportunity, the good ol’ USA:

At least five large studies in recent years have found the United States to be less mobile than comparable nations. A project led by Markus Jantti, an economist at a Swedish university, found that 42 percent of American men raised in the bottom fifth of incomes stay there as adults. That shows a level of persistent disadvantage much higher than in Denmark (25 percent) and Britain (30 percent) — a country famous for its class constraints.

Meanwhile, just 8 percent of American men at the bottom rose to the top fifth. That compares with 12 percent of the British and 14 percent of the Danes.

Despite frequent references to the United States as a classless society, about 62 percent of Americans (male and female) raised in the top fifth of incomes stay in the top two-fifths, according to research by the Economic Mobility Project of the Pew Charitable Trusts. Similarly, 65 percent born in the bottom fifth stay in the bottom two-fifths.

By emphasizing the influence of family background, the studies not only challenge American identity but speak to the debate about inequality. While liberals often complain that the United States has unusually large income gaps, many conservatives have argued that the system is fair because mobility is especially high, too: everyone can climb the ladder. Now the evidence suggests that America is not only less equal, but also less mobile.

John Bridgeland, a former aide to President George W. Bush who helped start Opportunity Nation, an effort to seek policy solutions, said he was “shocked” by the international comparisons. “Republicans will not feel compelled to talk about income inequality,” Mr. Bridgeland said. “But they will feel a need to talk about a lack of mobility — a lack of access to the American Dream.”

Yes well surely the answer is to abolish the estate tax, make sure every student graduating from college is saddled with crushing debt, and maintain the costliest, least efficient healthcare delivery system in the Western world. That’s the ticket!

C’mon, New York Times. We’ve all seen this movie before. It’s an election year, which means this is the year Republicans pretend to care about the little guy and trot out their same tired ideas which have failed from the get-go. Meanwhile, Democrats will let another opportunity to seize the national conversation slide by because they’re too scared of looking liberal. Pfft.


Filed under American trends, economy, Media, New York Times

The New York Times Regrets The Error

Okay, this made me laugh:

Corrections: December 13

An article on Thursday about a push to ban horse-drawn carriage rides in Central Park misstated part of the name of an organization to which an upstate New York veterinarian belongs, and it described the carriages incorrectly at one point. The veterinarian, Dr. Nena Winand, is a member of the American Association of Equine Practitioners, not the American Society of Equine Practitioners. And the carriages have four wheels, and therefore are not “hansom cabs,” which are two-wheeled. An accompanying picture caption, as well as a subheading in some editions, and a correction in this space on Friday repeated the error about the cabs. (A reader pointed out this inaccuracy in a letter published in The Times in 1985, but this is the first correction of numerous such references through the years.)

Got that? A reader pointed out the New York Times has been incorrectly using the term “Hansom cabs” 26 years ago, and they’re just now running a correction.

So take heart. Maybe we’ll get a correction about all of those Iraq WMD claims the New York Times printed — somewhere around 2029.


Filed under Media, New York Times

The New York Times Finally Notices Ron Paul

I just don’t know what to say to this:

IT wasn’t quite the slip-up (or slip-down, as it were) most people expect during a presidential campaign, but whatever happened to Ron Paul’s eyebrows at Tuesday night’s debate certainly caught some viewers’ attention.

For those of you not yet riveted by the Republican race, Mr. Paul, the dark-horse libertarian with equally dusky brows, was a victim of hot lights, faulty adhesive or merely a devilish optical illusion when his right eyebrow seemed to dip toward the stage at Dartmouth College.

Seen on television, Mr. Paul appeared to have a second, thinner brow under the one headed south, creating a delicate X over his right eye.

There’s a picture at the link.

So this is what it’s come to. I almost feel sorry for the New York Times. This is how they compete with the foul-mouthed bloggers now? Ron Paul, on the other hand, should be thrilled that the esteemed newspaper is finally paying attention to his campaign.


Filed under 2012 presidential election, media, New York Times, Ron Paul

>So Glad We Gave Them $12 Billion

>JP Morgan was apparently not just too big to fail, it appears they were too big to warn American regulators about crook Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. But authorities in the UK were much luckier:

The UK’s Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) was warned about Bernard Madoff in October 2008, two months before the fraudster confessed that his investment empire was a sham, according to a lawsuit unsealed in New York.

The allegation was made in a suit filed against JP Morgan, one of Madoff’s banks, on behalf of the fraudster’s victims.

According to the suit, filed by the court-appointed trustee Irving Picard, executives at JP Morgan allegedly told Soca that they were concerned about “investment performance achieved by its [Madoff’s business] funds which is so consistently and significantly ahead of its peers, year-on-year, even in the prevailing market conditions, as to appear too good to be true – meaning that it probably is”.

Wow, that’s nice. Meanwhile, over at the New York Times, their reporting on the same lawsuit looks a little different:

Senior executives at JPMorgan Chase expressed serious doubts about the legitimacy of Bernard L. Madoff’s investment business more than 18 months before his Ponzi scheme collapsed but continued to do business with him, according to internal bank documents made public in a lawsuit on Thursday.

On June 15, 2007, an evidently high-level risk management officer for Chase’s investment bank sent a lunchtime e-mail to colleagues to report that another bank executive “just told me that there is a well-known cloud over the head of Madoff and that his returns are speculated to be part of a Ponzi scheme.”

I find this interesting. Both stories are extremely damaging, but the New York Times makes no mention of SOCA and the tip British authorities received. Curious.

I’m also curious why JP Morgan executives warned British law enforcement about Madoff, yet said nothing to American regulators or law enforcement. Remember: the lid was blown off Madoff’s scheme when his sons came forward — it was Madoff’s children who turned him in to the FBI. Yet all this time JP Morgan knew about the fraud, and some bank employees even privately warned their own clients. Even worse, bank executives tipped off the British authorities. But Americans were kept in the dark. Thousands of clients lost close to $65 billion — many of them philanthropic funds. That’s money which would have gone into our communities. JP Morgan said nothing.


According to The Guardian:

The suit is damning of JP Morgan’s alleged role in the scandal. It claims that Soca was informed by JP Morgan “only in an effort to protect its own investments” and the bank did nothing further to stop the fraud even though it had informed the authorities.

And these are the assholes we give $12 billion to? Hey, fuck you, you anti-American, taxpayer-fleecing, selfish dicks. Too big to fail, my ass.

I wonder if there is some difference between the two country’s regulatory laws which made Britain the recipient of this information and America not. I guess it’s not polite to ask such things.

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Filed under banks, JP Morgan, Madoff, New York Times

New York Times Fail

The New York Times regrets the errors:

Correction: October 17, 2010

An article last Sunday about Pamela Geller, a blogger who attacks Islam, misidentified the location of a beach from which she video-blogged about her visit to Israel during the Israel-Hezbollah war in 2006. She was in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., at the time of her reports, not at a beach in Israel. The article also overstated the number of monthly unique visitors to Ms. Geller’s Web site, Atlas Shrugs. The site attracts 194,000 such visitors, according to Quantcast statistics — not one million. (The Nielsen Company estimated 184,000 in September.) And because of an editing error, the article misspelled the surname of the lead singer of the Who whom Ms. Geller was likened to for being the “front man” in the attack on Islam. He is Roger Daltrey, not Daltry.


(Via Sadly No.)


Filed under media, New York Times

>The New York Times Regrets The Error

>That pesky liberal media strikes again:

A front-page article and headline on May 21 reported findings from an unreleased Pentagon report about prisoners who have been transferred abroad from the American detention center in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The article said that the Pentagon had found about one in seven of former Guantánamo prisoners had “returned to terrorism or other militant activity,” or as the headline put it, had “rejoined jihad.”

Those phrases accepted a premise of the report that all the former prisoners had been engaged in terrorism before their detention. Because that premise remains unproved, the day the article appeared in the newspaper, editors changed the headline and the first paragraph on the Times Web site to refer to prisoners the report said had engaged in terrorism or militant activity since their release.

The article and headline also conflated two categories of former prisoners. In the Pentagon report, 27 former Guantánamo prisoners were described as having been confirmed as engaging in terrorism, with another 47 suspected of doing so without substantiation. The article should have distinguished between the two categories, to say that about one in 20 of former Guantánamo prisoners described in the Pentagon report were now said to be engaging in terrorism. (The larger share — about one in seven —applies to the total number described in the report as confirmed or suspected of engaging in terrorism.)

Glad we got that straightened out.

So, one out of every 20 terrorists detained at Gitmo “rejoins jihad” after their release. Or, for another way of putting it, 19 0f 20 do not.

Big difference how you put it but either way, it’s a helluva lot better than 1 out of 7.

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Filed under Guantanamo, New York Times

>End Of An Error


Goodbye New York Times, hello Washington Post.

Your liberal media: still not liberal.
William Kristol is gone from the New York Times.

The thing is, this clown never should have been hired to begin with. His columns were riddled with embarrassing errors, even in his very first piece.

Look, it’s fine to offer a conservative opinion in your op-ed pages but what is up with hiring political operatives for this task? Folks like Kristol have drunk so much Kool-Aid, they are deeply in the tank for the GOP, rendering their “opinion” nothing more than RNC talking points. That’s not reality-based opinion, that’s media spin:

Such willful blurring of the line between journalists and political partisans has consequences. One is the shock—even outrage—that results when a journalist has the temerity to behave like one. Recall the uproar when CNN’s Brown challenged Tucker Bounds, McCain’s spokesman, to provide an example of a decision Sarah Palin had made in her role as commander in chief of the Alaska National Guard. The McCain camp had held up this experience as evidence of her readiness for the vice presidency, and when Brown asked Bounds to back up that claim, he either could not or would not—and Brown wouldn’t let it go. Bounds cried foul, suggesting she was somehow out of line. Hmmm. Tenacity and an adversarial tone. That does seem suspicious. In the days following that exchange, there was far too much serious discussion of Bounds’s ridiculous charge.

The Brown-Bounds dustup was an early salvo in the McCain campaign’s full-throated deployment of the well-worn media-bashing strategy—a strategy that benefits when everyone (from Nick Kristof to Bill Kristol to the anonymous blogger on the partisan site Daily Kos who spread a rumor that Palin’s newborn son actually belonged to Palin’s seventeen-year-old daughter Bristol) is mashed together under the banner of The Media. Serious news outlets do themselves—and the rest of us—no favors by encouraging this distorted understanding of what they do and why.

I’m no fan of Nick Kristof but as the CJR pointed out in December, Kristol,

writing once a week since January, has had five published corrections for errors of fact in his column; the former, [Kristof] writing twice a week in that same period, has had no published corrections but did take the extraordinary step of using an entire column to apologize to Steven J. Hatfill, the scientist who was named (and recently exonerated) by the government as the leading suspect in the 2001 anthrax attacks; in 2002, Kristof had written columns urging closer scrutiny of the then-anonymous “person of interest” who turned out to be Hatfill.

Let’s hope the New York Times learned a valuable lesson from its failed Kristol experiment and quit blurring the lines between political operatives and journalists.

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Filed under media, New York Times, William Kristol

>Media Bashing For A New Century

>Bless their hearts. The “media elites” can’t catch a break–not from the Republican Party, and not from liberals.

The so-called “liberal media” (and I can’t even type those words with a straight face) got quite a drubbing at the Republican National Convention last week — so much, in fact, that it sparked this hilarious video featuring the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank as the face of the “Eastern media elite.” If you haven’t seen it, check it out. It’s hilarious.

In yesterday’s New York Times Mark Leibovich addressed the GOP’s media bashing, correctly pointing out that it’s SOP for Republican candidates to blame “the liberal media.” This is true, and it’s not just politicians who like to portray themselves as a poor, oppressed minority unfairly battered by a biased press. I hear that line from conservatives all the time. They just haven’t owned up to the fact that truth has a well-known liberal bias.

But it works, for some bizarre reason. They circled the wagons and cried foul when the New York Times uncovered John McCain’s relationship with a Washington lobbyist, then cried foul when the Times didn’t cover the stalkerazzi lying in wait to nail a trysting John Edwards, who wasn’t even a candidate any longer. Hello?

It’s okay for Ron Fournier, who is directing the political coverage of the Associated Press this election, to have been in consideration for a job on the McCain campaign. It’s not okay for Keith Olbermann to make his views known. In fact, Olbermann has been bumped from the anchor chair on election night, to appease the WATBs on the right:

The McCain campaign has filed letters of complaint to the news division about its coverage and openly tied MSNBC to it. Tension between the network and the campaign hit an apex the day Mr. McCain announced Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate. MSNBC had reported Friday morning that Ms. Palin’s plane was enroute to the announcement and she was likely the pick. But McCain campaign officials warned the network off, with one official going so far as to say that all of the candidates on the short list were on their way — which MSNBC then reported.

“The fact that it was reported in real time was very embarrassing,” said a senior MSNBC official. “We were told, ‘No, it’s not Sarah Palin and you don’t know who it is.’ ”

Whaaah!!!! Reporters doing their jobs instead of taking talking points and press releases from the campaigns! Must stop! Must stop now!

Tell it to Fox News, assholes.

Unfortunately, there are some legitimate issues with our media elites, which those in the media themselves don’t seem to recognize. It’s what folks like Digby and Atrios refer to as “The Village,” the insulated bubble in which those who hold power and the media that is supposed to be covering them exist. We saw it when John McCain hosted the media at a chummy barbecue–and was rewarded with such glowing verbiage as “grillmaster” and “all-American dad.” We were horrified when the AP’s Ron Fournier and Liz Sidoti greeted John McCain with that box of donuts at a luncheon. Barack Obama was likened to a terrorist. No donuts for you, black man!

Is it political bias or personal bias? The Washington press corpse, as we call it, is all about access and cocktail parties. It’s really hard to objectively cover a subject whom you’re playing golf with tomorrow.

Here’s what I mean: Buried in Leibovich’s story, where he defends the press against charges of liberal bias, is this tidbit:

At the last Republican National Convention, in New York City, Mr. McCain hosted 50-or-so media A-listers to a 68th-birthday party for himself at La Goulue on Madison Avenue. The guest list included network anchors, network news executives, Sunday talk show hosts and a lot of other media types who all qualify as Kind of a Big Deal. Mr. McCain proposed a hearty and gracious toast to his guests that night, raising his glass to “my base.”

This kind of chummy cliquishness is what bothers me. It’s not liberal-vs-conservative, it’s insider-vs-outsider. The anchors and Washington powerful put on a good show for the 6 o’clock news, then everyone goes out for cocktails afterwards. Meanwhile, Amy Goodman and two Democracy Now! staffers are arrested at the Republican National Convention for covering protestors. That’s some free speech for ya.

I wrote about this a long time ago in a post called Real Deep Memory Hole. I dug up an old Rolling Stone column from 1972 which criticized the media’s deference toward candidate Richard Nixon while burying stories about George McGovern. Replace the word “newspaper” with “mainstream media” and you have a pretty accurate portrait of where we are today:

Newspapers, as A.J. Liebling explained in The Press, are neither public servants nor custodians of the Holy Grail.

They are private enterprises in a capitalist economy whose primary function is to make money. Just like a department store or a gas station.

They are not in the business of truth and honesty and the public good unless the owner of the paper sees that as a way to making money.

The other thing to understand about newspapers is that they are owned by rich people and rich people are, by and large, Republicans.

So when your friendly neighborhood newspaper dumps on McGovern, runs his campaign news inside the paper and spreads the latest bullshit about Nixon’s runaway lead in the polls all over page one, remember that Republicans own the newspapers. As Liebling once noted, Democrats only work there.

Thirty-five years later, what has changed? As I wrote then, it’s gotten worse:

Because rich Republican families no longer own the newspapers. Rich Republican corporations do–corporations which make their money from things like (in the case of GE, which owns 80% of NBC Universal), defense contracts.

Will the internet change things? Will talk radio? Probably not. Corporations have infiltrated every level of political process. Corporations exist solely to make money. And the media that could protect us from this creeping tyranny of the corporation is so deeply entrenched in that world, they don’t even see the problem. They think it’s liberal-vs-conservative; it’s not, and don’t let them fool you into thinking that. Look deeper.

Follow the money.

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Filed under corporations, media, MSNBC, New York Times, Ron Fournier