And the latest associate professor: James B. Stewart is one of the genuine posers of the modern press corps.
That said, it wasn’t Stewart who decided to run this long and pointless report on the front page of today’s New York Times. That decision was made by an editor—an editor who continued to show this newspaper’s oddball news judgment.
Stewart’s report runs 2400 words. It concerns an argument about broccoli and health care—an argument which came center stage when Justice Scalia sampled it during the Supreme Court’s March 27 hearing. Stewart offers the following thought about Scalia’s remark:
STEWART (6/14/12): Since then broccoli has captured the public imagination and become the defining symbol for what may be the most important Supreme Court ruling in decades, one that is expected any day and could narrow the established limits of federal power and even overturn the legal underpinnings of the New Deal.Really? Has broccoli “captured the public imagination” since March 27? Only if you listen to Rush or you watch Fox News—and truthfully, not even then. According to Nexis, this topic hasn’t been mentioned at all in the New York Times since March 31, when Stewart himself last wrote about it.
On Fox, Nexis records exactly four mentions of this topic during that 11-week span.
Stewart’s silly claim to the side, broccoli hasn’t “captured the public imagination” in the months since Scalia spoke. That said, the broccoli argument may end up playing a part in the Court’s upcoming decision. Just look what Akhil Amar told Stewart:
STEWART: Even those who reject the broccoli argument appreciate its simplicity. Whatever the Supreme Court rules, Mr. Rivkin and his libertarian allies have turned the decision into a cliffhanger that few thought possible.Professor Amar seems to agree—the broccoli argument may play a role in the way this thing turns out. For that reason, it would have been interesting to see Stewart examine Amar’s claim—his claim that it’s a horrible argument.
“I have some grudging admiration for them,” said Akhil Amar, a professor of law and political science at Yale and author of a book on the Constitution. “All the more so because it’s such a bad argument. They have been politically brilliant. They needed a simplistic metaphor, and in broccoli they got it.”
In 2400 words, Stewart doesn’t bother doing that. Does the broccoli argument make any sense? People! My dearest darlings! Why should we care about that?
Stewart piddles all about, evading the key, basic point. But if you think his front-page news report is an example of sad-sack journalism, we also recommend yesterday’s fiery op-ed piece, “I’m a Mormon, Not a Christian.”
The column was written by David Mason, a fiery associate professor at Rhodes College in Memphis. Early on, the fiery fellow let us know that he is just extremely tired of all the acrimonious niggling concerning Mormons and Christians:
MASON (6/13/12): I am confident that I am not the only person—Mormon or Christian—who has had enough of the acrimonious niggling from both sides over the nature of the trinity, the authority of the creeds, the significance of grace and works, the union of Christ’s divinity and humanity, and the real color of God’s underwear.Mason has had enough of the acrimonious niggling! Indeed, to show us he’s had enough, he writes an op-ed column about the niggling in the nation’s leading newspaper, a column in which he manages to hit every hot button known to man or talk radio host. He hits the underwear in the passage we’ve quoted, but that’s just one of his cries for attention.
Before the fiery Mason done, Jesus is “a bumpkin carpenter” and Christianity is or was involved in “cannibalism.” Here's the good news: If Christian war against Mormons hasn’t broken out once again, we’ll guess it never will!
Mason’s piece is highly acrimonious. It’s built on nothing but attitude. We humans almost always react when provoked, but does anyone actually care whether Mason, who is a Mormon, considers himself a Christian? We have no idea why the Times would want to run a fiery piece of this type, especially at a time when it might serve to jumble a White House race.
Does anyone on the planet care if the very fiery Mason considers himself to be a Christian? One more question:
With fiery associate professors like this, who needs talk radio hosts?
The look of one person nodding: Yesterday, we discussed Michael Barbaro's report about the "verbal gaffe" war between Obama and Romney. Each hopeful is saying the other rates as "out of touch."
Are these claims working? This is what counts as "evidence" in the world of the New York Times:
BARBARO (6/13/12): On Tuesday morning, [Romney] appeared on ''Fox and Friends,'' where he said the president was ''really out of touch with what is happening across America.''Is Romney's criticism seeping in? Barbaro can pretty much say that it is because he saw one person nodding!
''The president needs to go out and talk to people, not just do fund-raisers, go out and talk to people in the country and find out what is happening,'' Mr. Romney said.
That criticism appears to be seeping in. At the event here, Frank Attkisson, a small-business consultant and local commissioner, nodded in agreement with Mr. Romney during the speech, and afterword said the president's statements about the private sector and the health care law reveal ''his true colors.''