WHO IS NICHOLAS KRISTOF: How should college kids describe him?

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2015

Interlude—Kristof does Port-au-Prince:
We’ve been happy to spread the good news in our recent reports:

Despite what Nicholas Kristof wrote in last Sunday’s New York Times, college kids almost never describe their female professors as “bossy!” The term appears in their reviews of female professors less than once for every million words of text.

Kristof’s column was grossly misleading concerning ascriptions of “bossy!” On the brighter side, his slippery writing made us liberals feel tribally good. Increasingly, it seems like that’s what the nation’s pseudo-journalism is all about.

For the record, Kristof was actually right in one of the claims in that column. College students do use the word “genius” disproportionately in reviews of their male professors. By a ratio of almost four-to-one, they use that flattering term more often in reviews of the men.

That said, the same is true of the word “jerk,” a fact Kristof failed to mention. For the record, the disproportion is much higher in the use of that unflattering term—a term which college kids almost never apply to female professors.

Whatever! Once again, Kristof jumped on the latest tribal bandwagon in his latest bungled column. Misusing a tricky new research tool, he spread the latest false and/or misleading claims around.

With that in mind, what words should college kids possibly use in their descriptions of Kristof? Based on his frequently horrible columns, they won’t likely go with “genius.”

Should college kids possibly go with “creepy?” Increasingly, the unflattering term pops into our heads when we see Kristof touring the world with his female movie star friends, helping us learn to admire his vast moral goodness.

Should they possibly go with “slippery?” Should they go with “international spokesman for a big industry which can be problematic?” We’ll explain that last point below.

How about a counterintuitive word? Should college kids consider describing Kristof as “unfeeling?”

For us, the unflattering word came to mind as we watched the exalted Timesman doing Port-au-Prince. The same word had popped into our heads when we read this recent column by Kristof, one of the strangest columns we have ever encountered.

At this point, does Nicholas Kristof understand the look and the feel of his interactions with the world’s children? To answer that question, we must review a column which is now fourteen months old.

The column was called “A Girl’s Escape.” It appeared on January 2, 2014—fourteen months ago.

Early in that column, Kristof introduced a 13-year-old Haitian girl named Marilaine. As he did, he defined a new term, “restavek:”
KRISTOF (1/2/14): Marilaine was one of 200,000 or more Haitian children called restaveks, typically serving as unpaid maids in strangers' homes, working for room and board. It is a vast system of child trafficking that is often characterized as a modern form of slavery. I followed Marilaine for a week in Haiti as she tried to flee, find her parents and start life over—and this is her story.

Marilaine grew up in a remote village where no family planning or public schooling is available, one of 12 children to impoverished parents
who later separated. As Marilaine tells the story, one day when she was 10 years old, she walked to her father's house to ask him to help pay her school fees. Instead, he dispatched her here to the capital to work as a restavek, a Creole term used to describe child laborers, without even telling her mother.

''My father didn't want to spend money on my school fees,'' Marilaine explained.

As is common for restaveks, Marilaine slept on the floor and woke up at 5 each morning to clean the house, fetch water and wash dishes. She says she was beaten daily with electrical cords.
“[T]he restavek system isn't always slavery,” Kristof wrote. “Sometimes the child gets more food and education than would have been the case in her own family.”

In this case, “Marilaine says that she was fed properly and that she was also allowed to attend a free afternoon school,” Kristof wrote. But because she was being beaten, she tried to run away at one point.

Eventually, an international agency intervened. In this passage, Kristof told the rest of Marilaine’s story:
KRISTOF: An aid group called the Restavek Freedom Foundation helped Marilaine escape her home and find refuge in a safe house for restaveks. The mood was festive in the beautiful home as the dozen girls living there cheered Marilaine's arrival and hugged her.

[...]

A few days later, I drove for several hours with the police and the Restavek Freedom Foundation to Marilaine's village. When Marilaine stepped out of the car, family members and neighbors were stunned. They had assumed that she had died years ago.

Yet the reunion was a letdown. Marilaine's mom didn't seem at all thrilled to see her daughter again, and Marilaine quickly made it clear that she wanted to return to the safe house in the capital so that she could attend a good school. The police told Marilaine that she would have to stay in the village with her family, and she burst into tears.

The authorities will probably eventually let Marilaine return to the Restavek Freedom Foundation safe house,
but the episode was a reminder that helping people is a complex, uphill task—and that the underlying problem behind human trafficking is poverty.
Because Marilaine is an important person, this is an important story. Fourteen months ago, that’s the way Kristof told it.

When Kristof’s column appeared, Marilaine was back in her deeply impoverished rural village, a place without public schools. She hoped to return to Port-au-Prince “so that she could attend a good school.”

That’s the way the story was told in Kristof’s column, fourteen months ago. Earlier this month, these same events formed the basis for a thirty-minute segment in a three-part PBS series, A Path Appears.

The PBS series was hosted and narrated by Kristof; he starred in all its events. If you watched this PBS series, you saw the footage from the events he had described in that column.

Kristof is present in all the footage, accompanied by one of his endless posse of female movie star friends.

The PBS series showed you the footage from the events Kristof discussed in that column. But if you watched the PBS series, you saw a story which was quite different from the story he told in that piece.

On a purely journalistic basis, we’re surprised that PBS can get away with this sort of thing, or that it’s even willing to do so. How had the original story been changed?

In his column, Kristof said that Marilaine burst into tears when she was told, by the police, that she had to remain in her village. On the PBS show, you thought you saw Marilaine weeping because her mother had said that she couldn’t afford to keep her—in effect, because she couldn’t stay in the village.

In the column, we were told that Marilaine was forced to stay in the village. On the PBS show, you thought you saw Marilaine get into the Restavek Freedom Foundation’s big van and drive straight back to Port-au-Prince.

In the column, we were told that Marilaine had been cheered and hugged by a dozen girls on the night that she was freed from her abusive adoptive family.

On the PBS show, you saw her being welcomed and cheered as described. But you saw her being cheered that way after she'd been rejected by her mother—after the van ride back to Port-au-Prince, the van ride which didn’t occur.

According to Kristof’s original column, the story he showed us on PBS isn’t the story which actually happened. We’re surprised to think that PBS is willing to play it that way.

On a purely journalistic basis, we’re surprised that PBS is willing to do that. If Kristof’s original column was accurate, his PBS broadcast resembled “reality TV,” with basic events and chronologies changed to tell a better story.

PBS could almost sell the rejiggered footage to Bravo for airing as “Real Restaveks of Port-au-Prince!” But our problems with Kristof’s role on that PBS program go a bit deeper than that.

The presence of the movie stars is one “creepy” part of the problem. In the eight or nine segments on the three-part series, Kristof is accompanied by a different female star in each and every segment.

No male movie stars allowed! That said, Ronan Farrow was allowed to tag along with mom in Mia Farrow’s guest segment.

Should college kids call PBS “cynical” as they watch this unfold? Rather plainly, we’re being told that PBS viewers won’t watch a show about Haitian kids unless a female star is present on-screen to help them choke it down.

There is one “repulsive” scene in the Haiti segment where Kristof sits on a leafy terrace high above Port-au-Prince. He’s enjoying drinks with Alfre Woodward as they gaze, just a bit grandly, on the city below.

(Should college kids be wondering what the plane fare must have been to jet the two stars in? Should they wonder if the same amount of cash could perhaps have opened a school in that forgotten village?)

The presence of the movie stars is a somewhat “creepy” element. That said, we were actively troubled by other aspects of the Haiti segment, at least until we learned that the segment didn’t show us what actually happened.

In the segment on the PBS show, we see tears streaming down Marilaine’s face after she has been taken back to her village. We think she’s crying because her mother has told her she isn’t wanted.

According to Kristof’s column, that isn’t why Marilaine was crying. But as we watched the show, we were appalled, for these reasons:

Why in the world had this lovely child been exposed to this torment? Why hadn’t adults from the foundation gone to the village without Marilaine to determine whether her family was willing and able to take her back?

Kristof never explained. Instead, the camera kept playing on his face so viewers in PBS land could see how concerned he was.

We had another question. Were Kristof and the foundation really planning to take Marilaine back to the western world’s worst rural poverty and just leave her there?

On TV, we got to enjoy a happy ending! Marilaine returns to Port-au-Prince, where she is greeted by those cheering girls.

That said, we were puzzled as we watched the show. Had Kristof really planned to take Marilaine back to that village and leave her? Despite the happy ending we got, we were puzzled, left a bit sickened, by the whole presentation.

On the PBS program, Kristof seemed to be too “unfeeling” to explain the puzzling events we saw unfolding. And by the way:

What had the legal basis been for the events we saw unfolding? At no point did Kristof, or his move star friend, explain this basic matter. Instead, we got lots of footage designed to make us appreciate Kristof’s greatness, intercut with the movie star shots which set our hearts at ease.

Only when we read the earlier column did we realize that these events had not occurred in the manner shown on PBS. Beyond that, the column suggests that Haitian law and Haitian legal authorities were involved in these events, a matter that went unexplained on Kristof’s reality show.

Increasingly, we don’t think much of Kristof. Rather, we wonder if college kids should think that something may have gone a tiny bit “wrong” in his head.

As his PBS program aired and re-aired, we watched the Haiti segment several times, trying to figure out what we were seeing. When we stumbled upon his earlier column, we realized that we had seen a rejiggered reality show which reshaped basic events.

We wondered what kind of person could have produced that segment without seeing that the events, as shown, would be puzzling and upsetting to decent viewers. It reminded us of the “unfeeling” column Kristof had written a few weeks before, in which he couldn’t seem to understand the horror of a story he told about the abandoned children of one of his high school friends.

Is Nicholas Kristof “unfeeling?” We've heard that it can happen to people with too many movie star friends! This brings us to the overall framework for his PBS series.

Forgive us, but the series almost seemed like an advertisement for a major industry—an industy you might describe as the philanthropic industrial complex. It wasn't just the female stars who accompanied Kristof in every segment. At the very start of the series, George Clooney and other stars appeared, assuring us of the general greatness and worth of what we were going to see.

Forgive us for saying what follows, but we see a problem with that.

We will assume, until we’re shown different, that the Restavek Freedom Foundation is run by good decent people (in Cincinnati) who are doing good work in Haiti. That said, there is an ongoing question about the value of various programs run by various such entities—programs in which a lot of money (from PBS viewers, for instance) may be changing hands.

In his somewhat self-serving PBS show, Kristof almost struck us as a bit of a tool for his rich and famous and powerful friends. The program seemed a bit like an infomercial for a set of organizations which may also need the services of normal journalistic scrutiny.

Watching a rather “creepy” man sipping drinks with his movie star friend—watching the PBS cameras instruct us in his obvious moral greatness—we thought back to the very strange column he wrote about the children his high school friend had failed or refused to support.

In that peculiar column, Kristof seemed unable to empathize with the abandoned children of his high school friend, who he praised to the skies. He didn't seem able to understand the tragedy of those children.

On his PBS show, he seemed to display the same problem. We thought we heard college kids call him “lacking in empathy” as he dragged Marilaine all around the countryside with his latest movie star friend.

Increasingly, we’re wary of Kristof’s heavily-pimped moral greatness. Tomorrow, we’ll return to his recent columns.

We’ll explain why you should possibly be just a bit skeptical too.

Tomorrow: “When Israeli Jews Just Don’t Get It”

70 comments:

  1. Warning to casual readers of this blog: These comments are unmoderated. They are infested by one or more readers who routinely praise the blog author in a variety of ways, rarely substantive. Such praise is an indicator of the level of interest of other readers, but not validity of the content posted which is routinely debunked by those the fans of the author call trolls.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. A troll is someone who visits this blog for the sole purpose of attacking the blog author or other commenters rather than discussing the topics posted. For example, this comment is a troll because he or she brags about debunking others, something trolls always think they are doing but rarely actually accomplish.

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    2. The person making that comment did not brag. And the debunking mentioned was the validity of the blog's posted topics, not the author or commenters.

      By attacking the person falsely you have accomplished nothing except providing an example of your own definition of a troll.

      Delete
    3. Is this your idea of debunking?

      You are all caught up on word play but unable to process meaning. I think you are KZ, or his close cousin. If you are instead someone who thinks this stuff is clever, maybe you are 12 and will grow up. If you are older, it is sad you cannot find a real hobby, become a volunteer somewhere or do some good in the world with your excess time.

      Delete
    4. Based on the promptness of your responses it would appear you are the one weeded to your keyboard with eyes on this website.

      I think you are a "Little Bit Nutty" to use a Somerby quotation without source. Or perhaps its cousin "Chock Full O'Nuts" and East Coast Irish Catholic version.

      Delete
  2. Warning to casual readers of this blog: These comments are unmoderated. They are infested by one or more trolls who routinely attack the blog author in a variety of ways, rarely substantive. Such attacks are not an indicator of the level of interest of other readers, the validity of the content posted nor of the esteem in which the blog author is held by others.

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    1. Rarely Substantive Troll attack:

      "Despite what Nicholas Kristof wrote in last Sunday’s New York Times, college kids almost never describe their female professors as “bossy!” "

      Kristof never wrote about how often the description was used.
      When Somerby first attacked Kristof for the column his complaint was exactly on that point, that Kristof ignored the frequency of word usage. Now, using a negative that cannot be disproven, he allows dumb readers to assume Kristof must have written that its usage was the opposite of "almost never."

      Substantive Somerby Attack:

      "Who is Nicholas Kristof? Increasingly, we think he’s a bit of “a creep.”

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    2. Kristof said women were called bossy more often than men, implying that the word bossy appeared frequently in student evaluations. You apparently don't follow implication, a kind of reasoning that normal people engage in when reading. That is your limitation, not Somerby's. We are all sad that you have this difficulty but why must you inflict these kinds of comments on us day after day? When you don't understand something, go ask someone you trust offline. They will explain it to you.

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    3. For the record, Kristof was actually right. His basic claims are basically valid.

      Delete
    4. No, actually, I don't do "implication" very well. Thinking that specific words have specific meanings, I tend to trust those actual meanings more than I want to dream up "implications" of what I really, really want them to mean.

      Ah, but I am told repeatedly by both of Bob's remaining fans that thinking a blogger should say what he means and means what he says, is not only "literalism" but a sign of mental illness.

      Yes, indeed one must have one's screws sufficiently tightened to play the "implication" game in which deeper meaning can always be discovered.

      And this cuts both ways of course, depending on the narrative being sold.

      When Somerby' words are stupid, we must discern the deeper "implications," and there is always one of you two Bob fans handy to explain what he really, really meant as opposed to what he actually wrote in a post that would take an MIT student and entire semester to read, if could understand the translation from Norwegian by native speakers of Urdu.

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    5. "Kristof said women were called bossy more often than men, implying . . ."

      He implies nothing. You infer.

      It is like the story, perhaps apocryphal, of Dr. Samuel Johnson riding in a coach with the lady who tells him that he "smells."

      "On the contrary," he said. "You smell. I stink."

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    6. But to contrast, that story to the case at hand, Bob and his fans are free to infer any thing they want Kristof to imply, as lot as it fits the pleasing story he is selling.

      The poor lady had much more difficulty conjuring up a more pleasing odor to smell.

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    7. Disclaimer: For casually confused readers of this blog.

      For years I would wake up angry at what the mainstream media, coupled with silence from liberal leaders, did to poor Al Gore. They falsely said he claimed he invented the Internet and made fun of him for doing so. They falsely said he claimed the Love Story characters were based on he and his wife.

      Al Gore actually said he took the initiative in creating the internet. He really said the author of Love Story falsely told a pleasing story about him and Tipper to an unnamed reporter who wrote it up wrong and anyway he was just passing this along decades later.

      Thanks to Implication a new drug from Howler Pharmaceuticals, I know now how silly it was to be angry that this was shortened to "I invented the Internet." I no longer have to say I am sorry about Love Story anymore.

      You see "Implication" induces you into "a kind of reasoning that normal people engage in when reading." You see things the way others do, and without a care. That way words can mean whatever you want them to. Unless others want them to mean something they don't. For that there's
      TrollNoMore. TrollNoMore comes in suppository form for heavy Howler readers who have trouble with an oral bullshit depressant.

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    8. Warning: Do no use Troll No More without placing pet chimps in their cages at least 1 hour before regular dosage unless, of course, chimp is administering the suppository form of the drug. In the latter case be sure furnishings are covered in washable fabrics.

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    9. Inferences are limited by the meanings of words which are agreed upon by those within a culture. You cannot infer anything you want. When you speak, you do imply things. Inference is as much a part of communication as the words themselves. There are even Supreme Court rulings affirming that, as when Listerine was told it couldn't imply that it could cure colds and was liable for false advertising even though it didn't explicitly state it could prevent or cure colds.

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    10. Actually Sybil, "Al Gore actually said":

      During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet. I took the initiative in moving forward a whole range of initiatives that have proven to be important to our country's economic growth and environmental protection, improvements in our educational system."

      But I suppose you might also have summarized, for the sake of brevity of course, "Al Gore actually said 'to be important' in response to the question "Why should Democrats, looking at the Democratic nomination process, support you instead of Bill Bradley?"

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  3. Would you rather be called a genius or a nice, pleasant person? Which descriptor would get you more access to CEO positions? Which would get you hired as a secretary or waitress?

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    1. Being referred to as a genius in one out of a million words gets you a CEO position? LOL. Explain.

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    2. Ah progressives and their disdain for working class waitresses and secretaries rears its ugly head again.

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    3. Most of the words are "the," "and," "I," "a" and are the scaffolding for the nouns and verbs that convey the actual meaning. In your sentence above, the words genius and CEO are two out of 20. The % occurrence of genius among all descriptors (just the adjectives) would be much higher. Males get called genius 4 times more often than females. Since there are just 24 women CEOs in the top 500 corporations, not the 25% you'd expect from this analysis, clearly something other than the word genius is involved.

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    4. @2:06 You must be aware that women make up the preponderance of clerical workers and food service workers. Where was disdain indicated? It is a simple fact that women are disproportionately concentrated in lower paying occupations.

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    5. Which is why, @ 2:14 pseudo-liberals like Maddow and Obama deceive when they refer to the 77 cents on the dollar issue. They imply it is unequal pay for equal work. Clearly the salary of a captain of industry or a slippery New York Times columnist cannot be compared to a food service worker or clerk typist. That work is clearly not equal. As Somerby himself has demonstrated. columnists spend up to 10 minutes and sometimes work in very slippery conditions.

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    6. "It is a simple fact that women are disproportionately concentrated in lower paying occupations."

      Yes, but it may be a more complicated fact that female doctors on average earn less than male doctors, female attorneys earn less than male attorneys, female financiers earn less than male financiers, female PhDs earn less than male PhDs, as Patricia Arquette pointed out, female actresses earn less than male actresses, and as Lilly Ledbetter demonstrated, female Goodyear shift supervisors earn less than male Goodyear shift supervisors.

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    7. Come on 3:30. Now you sound like what Rachel Maddow was saying when she really meant what Bob implied her to have said.

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    8. Yes indeed, When Rachel Maddow points out that women attorneys are paid less than men attorneys, she is obviously implying that secretaries should make as much as major league first basemen.

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    9. She is perhaps implying that more women should have the opportunity to play first base for big bucks. I would be.

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  4. What bothered me about the segment was that Kristof says several times that maybe it is OK for her to be beaten as long as she is being fed and going to school. He says repeatedly that these issues are complex. I don't see how he can justify human trafficking and slavery by saying that at least the slaves are being well fed. It would be unacceptable to say that about US slavery and I don't see why it is any more justified to say it about Haitian girls. They, after all, do not get to choose beatings over schooling -- when they run away, they are hauled back to their slave owning families.

    Poverty does not automatically result in slavery. It may explain why families abandon their children (75% of whom are female) but it does not explain why slave owners are willing to abuse those children for their own comfort or convenience. This is evil and Kristof should have said so, instead of mumbling at various points about how complex such issues are.

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    1. All kinds of things can be reasonably said and justified if the two options available are bad ones.

      Delete
    2. Did Kristof really say it was "OK"?

      My interpretation was that the living hell she came from drove her to the living hell she is in now.

      But that's not the Somerby Way, is it? Nope. Bob and his fans must jump to "It's OK for her to be beaten" because that supports Somerby's long-standing theme that "liberals" like Kristof don't really care about children.

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  5. Every day Somerby hurls a hot potato at the trolls. Today's such potato is "PBS and Kristof's column contradict each other."
    Trolls have not touched the hot potato 7 comments later. Please hurry.

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    1. Well A. Perez, here are some pleasant thoughts about the reconstituted dried tater flakes Somerby is serving which you call a hot potato.

      The one alleging the versions contradict is Somerby, and what he claims is contradictory is based on "what you thought you saw on PBS" he repeatedly says.

      I didn't see on PBS what Somerby tells me I thought I saw. I don't need some ancient blogger at his Baltimore keyboard seeing or thinking for me.

      I am also pleased that I predicted Bob Somerby would wait until long after the PBS video was taken off line to attack it. What I thought would happen happened. What you thought you read that I said is verifiable. What Somerby writes you were thinking about seeing is not.

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    2. I'm not sure that a few weeks is "long after," if the show was ever put up online. Most of the Independent Lens stuff appears to be up for a at least few months after it is shown, though that isn't the case with "A Path Appears" for some reason (you can buy the DVD for $25, so that might be the reason. It is also on iTunes for $3 an episode). Given Kristof's issues with Somaly Mam and Dylan Farrow, I think anything he writes should be given close scrutiny.

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    3. I watched the video and I read Kristof's article and they do conflict. In one the girl is returned to her village and greets her mother, who seems indifferent to dismayed by her appearance. For one thing, she never smiles at her and does not return her hugs. She appears confused even. The audience is told that she cannot stay in the village and that she must return to town. The girl cries profusely and it is not clear why, never adequately explained why she is crying. We are told she wished to be reunited with her mother, but then it seems like she is crying because her mother is cold to her. The narration is not very helpful about this. Then she is shown being brought to the group home and greeted by happy girls. We are told everything will be all right because they will be her family. As Somerby correctly notes, the chronology can be different than what is presented by PBS for all we know. The story told by Kristof in his earlier article is entirely different. Somerby is presenting a narrative that assume Kristof is correct and PBS has rearranged things. It seems jarring because most of us would be more likely to trust PBS than Kristof's original article. We don't really know which version is right. Since Kristof is involved in both, he is responsible for the discrepancy, no matter what happened.

      Alfre Woodward, to her credit, keeps saying she doesn't know why she is there or how to help. She does seem like a spare wheel. Perhaps she was a chaperone.

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    4. The comment @ 6:34 is interesting to say the least.

      "I watched the video and I read Kristof's article and they do conflict. In one the girl is returned to her village and greets her mother, who seems indifferent to dismayed by her appearance. For one thing, she never smiles at her and does not return her hugs. She appears confused even."

      Here our commenter never makes clear whether she is referring to the video or the column or what the conflict between the two is. Our commenter may be referring to the video version since there are references to the mother never smiling, never returning hugs, and her confused appearance.
      This comports with what I saw in the video. It also is in total conformance with what Kristof wrote:

      "Yet the reunion was a letdown. Marilaine’s mom didn’t seem at all thrilled to see her daughter again...."

      Our commenter then admits a great deal of confusion, but notes:

      "As Somerby correctly notes, the chronology can be different than what is presented by PBS for all we know. The story told by Kristof in his earlier article is entirely different."

      The confusion could be caused by Somerby, not Kristof or PBS. Bob, who attacked Kristof all week for words he left out and word counts he didn't mention, leaves out a fundamental part of Kristof's telling of this story 14 months ago. The story wasn't finished when Kristof wrote his column. It was still in process:

      "The authorities will probably eventually let Marilaine return to the Restavek Freedom Foundation safe house...." Kristof wrote.

      Presumably the story of her return to the safe house to stay was based in part on decisions made after Kristof's column appeared, during that year or so before the documentary was finished and edited.

      I love how Somerby readers seem to revel at his critiques of what other leave out, what others don't say, in the space allotted to them for a short column or even a half hour documentary segment. He has the luxury afforded to him of no limitations of fault he can find after the fact. Kristof can't tell the whole story in 750 words. And Kristof co-wrote the book on which the documentary is in part based. But he did not get credit for the script. He did not produce, direct, or edit the film. And when Bob Somerby omits a crucial piece of chronology when attacking inconsistencies between a column and a film, and one of the inconsistencies he attacks is chronology, you have to throw your hands up in absolute amazement at both the gall of the blogger and the gullibility of his readers.

      Kristof, Somerby says, is a cruel creepy man who doesn't care about kids. Somerby, his fans boast, is the truth teller, fighting the plutocrats and those who greedily do their bidding. Bullshit.

      Krtistof is no prize. But Somerby has become a complete crackpot.

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    5. Kristof doesn't make any attempt to tell the whole story in 750 words or lament that he doesn't have more. The word limits are his friend, because it enables him to mischaracterize in order to sell his argument, which is almost always that "Nicholas Kristof is a deeply caring, compassionate man."

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    6. The chronology in Kristof's column, which I read myself, is incompatible with the PBS version even if Kristof's column was incomplete or unfinished. It tells a different story.

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  6. The ratio of male to female geniuses is 8 to 1.

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    1. In the immortal words of Emo Phillips: "Yes, but look who is telling you that."

      What would the ratio be with a level playing field?

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    2. Women tend to lie more to the middle of the Bell Curve, while men tend to have more outliers, on both ends.

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    3. This is a discredited statistic that emerged from a study in the early 20th century. It is an artifact of the tendency for men to be institutionalized when mentally deficient while women are kept in the home. This is partly because mentally disabled men are more difficult to care for at home and partly because mentally disabled women can still do housework and be useful at home. When you adjust for this, the number of male outliers decreases and the shapes of the distributions are more similar.

      The existence of more males at the high end is partly due to bias in testing (past tests did not exclude items that were biased) and partly due to differential encouragement and reinforcement for males to be taught and exposed to play that will encourage certain kinds of mental abilities that tend to be on such tests. The early developers of IQ tests all assumed women were inferior and they biased their test items toward things men do better. Male advantage on most cognitive tasks (including spatial abilities) disappear with minor adjustments to instructions or stimuli. Female advantage on cognitive tasks, especially language related, would disadvantage males if they were more frequently made part of IQ tests. But doing that would decrease the number of male geniuses, so it didn't happen.

      Women now outperform men academically, including at the high end, especially in countries that don't have the same built-in gender biases as the USA. If this were biological, you would see the performance of women vary with culture like that.

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    4. sorry for typo -- should say "wouldn't see the performance vary with culture" in last sentence

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    5. Women "outperform" in the classroom. Men consistently score significanlty higher on the LSAT, objective testing of logic, analytical reasoning and reading comprehension, and the higher the bracket, the greater the disparity.

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    6. Smart women know better than to become lawyers. You are talking about a self-selected sample. Why would women choose to enter a field that only rewards aggressiveness, something trained out of them well before college?

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    7. Also the MCAT and GMAT. Only dumb women take those too?

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    8. Cite a source for the difference in MCAT scores please. GMAT is business which is hostile to women. Why not GRE? Too equal? Smart women take paths of less resistance. That's why they go into biology instead of physics when math talented. See the Johns Hopkins studies of math-talented youth.

      Delete
    9. Men score better on GRE too.

      http://www.ets.org/s/gre/pdf/snapshot.pdf

      Delete
    10. Got a source for the MCAT?

      Delete
  7. I am glad Bob got the date of Kristof's column about Haiti right this time. He seemed to be off a year and a day the first time around.

    It is a minor point, but you can always count on Bob to take the time needed to get facts straight and correct errors or even misimpressions.
    He is like Rachel in that way. But he doesn't make a big deal about it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Bob is now delving into 14-month old Kristof columns for more ammo as this Month of Williams and Kristof draws to a close.

      Can't wait for him to launch into his defense of O'Reilly and Giuliani against the highly paid savages of the pseudo-liberal media.

      He did so much to save Christie and Ultrasound.

      Delete
  8. For those of you keeping score at home, this post contains 2,409 words.

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    Replies
    1. I can't begin to tell you how many words Bob doesn't mention that Kristof never told you are rarely used. Just imply you read them and. for PBS's sake, imagine you saw something that was more or less close to the same thing.

      If you do, we'll send you a tote bag. Unless you are a heterosexual white male. Then we will send you a shoulder holster with a universal remote so you can change the channel to NASCAR or something that appeals to manly guys who play with their deflated balls.

      Delete
    2. Those of us at home probably aren't keeping a score on Somerby. Unless we need to waste time at home the same way we do at work. Well, I'll say good bye. Time to log off and waste time in traffic.

      Delete
  9. "Kristof seemed unable to empathize with the abandoned children of his high school friend, who he praised to the skies. He didn't seem able to understand the tragedy of those children."

    This is about as disgusting and dishonest a statement as you will ever see. Kristof describes the tragedy of a downward spiral of his childhood friend, including the fact that it has damaged his children, and Somerby the Liar translates that into Kristof not caring about the lives of those children.That is simply a false statement about Kristof's column. Why does Somerby have to lie like this to make a point he has already determined before he even reads what Kristof has written?

    Harsh? Not at all. The degeneration of what was once a valuable blog is stunning and sad.

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    Replies
    1. And with nothing left to beat as he approached 2,409 words, Somerby finds the dead horse.

      Delete
    2. The only thing worthwhile here is in the comments.

      Delete
    3. "Why does Somerby have to lie like this to make a point"

      Delete
    4. Do you really think Kristof cared more about his friend's kids than he did about his friend? I read the article. I don't see much caring about the difficulties of his friend's children. More than that, I watched Kristof react to those kids in Haiti. I heard him seriously proposing that it was OK if they were being beaten, as long as they were getting fed. He didn't impress me as someone with much empathy for kids.

      Delete
    5. Kristof glossed over the friend's kids' tragedy and played down questions about the friend's own culpability in his own life.

      Delete
    6. Played down questions? What questions? Better yet, whose questions? The ones written by an obscure blogger after his columns were written? The ones raised by a blogger whose favorite cry is to accuse someone he is attacking of not caring about kids? The ones raised by the blogger who has no kids?

      He played down those questions?

      Delete
  10. I believe Counterpunch has been on Kristof for so long it's hard to find toe earliest attack on him I remember reading years ago; but it was very much along the lines Bob continues today. I think The Daily Howler even did a post once praising Counterpunch. You know I once saw Alfie Woodard in a night of one acts Robert Altman directed in N.Y. Weeknight, only about ten people in the house. Always thought She was great, so I kinda feel let down on that score. Beyond that, can we PLEASE move on?

    ReplyDelete
  11. A Grandstander. Recently when he addressed the topic of unions and labor he made it all about him and his grand "revelation". Despite his dislike and distrust of unions it had suddenly dawned on him, in his 50's no less, of the potential risk that corporate bosses could possibly/maybe become motivated by greed and thus exploitative, therefore, bad as they are, unions should be tolerated. A regular Mr. Magnanimous.

    I'm humble enough to understand that it is possible to learn something or other from virtually anyone, everyone has a unique story, in Kristof's case it's just too much bullshit.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So tell me, when did you come to "grand revelation" that Kristof wasn't worth reading? Before, during or after Somerby's multi-part, multi-series with him?

      If it was before, then Somerby told you nothing you didn't already know, but it is sure fun reading opinions you already hold, isn't it?

      If it was during, specifically Somerby's criticism of the "union" column, did you need Somerby to tell you it was bullshit?

      Delete
    2. All I needed to do was link to the article and turn on my bullshit detector.

      Delete
    3. Nicky K's revelation that corporate bosses might become greedy and exploitative was truely enlightening. I can't wait for Kristof's future column where he experiences the epiphany of diacovering that there is a difference between his ass and a hole in the ground.

      Delete
    4. "All I needed to do was link to the article and turn on my bullshit detector."

      So you didn't need Somerby's take at all. In fact, the only "service" he provided was a link to a "bullshit" column.

      And I am certain that both Kristof and the NYT are pleased with whatever Web traffic Somerby provides. Even if it's only from his 150 or so remaining daily readers.

      Delete
    5. Nope, didn't need Somerby's take to detect the bullshit eminating from Kristof's columm.

      Delete