Supplemental: The latest important report from the Times!


Jeb Bush’s sense of humor:
Given our broken press corps culture, how do our biggest, smartest newspapers cover our White House campaigns?

Consider the latest important report which appeared in the New York Times.

The important report appeared in Saturday’s hard-copy editions. It was written by Matt Flegenheimer, who’s four years out of college (Penn).

Flegenheimer’s important report appeared beneath this hard-copy headline: “Bush Camp Suggests (Very) Secret Weapon: Its Candidate Is Funny.” The report was accompanied by a large photograph of Candidate Bush striking a comical pose.

(On line, a caption says that the photograph shows Bush “performing a faux striptease.” Good solid enjoyable fun!)

Flegenheimer’s important report ran almost 1200 words. It started off like this:
FLEGENHEIMER (12/26/15): The hints of irreverence can be traced to a private meeting in Coral Gables, Fla., with the soon-to-be presidential candidate and his rapper acquaintance.

Jeb Bush had grown fond of Pitbull, the Miami performer gone global, who seemed to share his zeal for education policy. But Mr. Bush, a former Florida governor, had a question: Why the stage name? The artist replied that a friend had suggested it years ago while they were en route to a pit-bull fight.

“Well,” Mr. Bush replied at their meeting early this year, “good thing you weren’t on the way to a cockfight.”

As his campaign has struggled to rejuvenate a languishing bid, some close to him have suggested the existence of a (very) secret weapon: It is at least possible that Jeb Bush is funny.
Flegenheimer’s important report concerned Candidate Bush’s sense of humor on the campaign trail. Our young analysts screamed and wailed as we forced them to read the important report. Several of the youngsters writhed as they read this puzzling passage:
FLEGENHEIMER: As Mr. Bush’s poll numbers have lagged, the bids for laughs have proliferated.

He has tried physical comedy: “Are you doing a photo bomb there?” he asked in Raymond, N.H., striking a hammy pose when someone pointed at a camera. “You’re welcome.”

He has been whimsical with animals: “It’s a girl,” he said on Tuesday in Littleton, N.H., surprised to hear that a voter’s large dog was named Amy. “It looks like a boy for some reason.”
“It looks like a boy for some reason?” Why did Flegenheimer treat that remark as a “bid for laughs” at all?

Inquiring minds wanted to know. We didn’t know what to tell them.

In fairness, this utterly pointless important report can’t be blamed on the young scribe who wrote it. Presumably, some editor directed Flegenheimer to examine this utterly pointless topic. In its focus on silly human interest, this latest report captures the way our most famous newspaper covers our White House campaigns.

The reigning culture of the Times was on display in that piece. As we read it, a question popped into our heads.

Last week, the Tax Policy Center presented its analysis of Candidate Trump’s formal budget proposal. We couldn’t help wondering:

Has our nation’s most famous newspaper covered that topic at all?

Trump released his crazy budget proposal on September 28. At that time, did the Times report the analysis of the plan which came from the Tax Foundation, a conservative-leaning org? Has the Times reported last week’s analysis from the Tax Policy Center, a liberal-leaning entity?

All too often, we liberals have a hard time seeing how fatuous Times culture actually is. In various ways, the famous newspaper brands itself as the nation’s smartest newspaper. We consumers may tend to buy the branding. In the process, we tend to accept the implied compliment directed at us, the brilliant, discerning Times readers.

Last Saturday, Times readers suffered through 1200 words about Candidate Bush’s sense of humor. That said, Bush is practically out of the race at this point. Candidate Trump seems to be heading toward nomination.

Our question: How many words has the New York Times spent on Trump’s crazy budget proposal? Tomorrow, we’ll start to answer that question.

On Wednesday, we’ll be back on our sprawling campus, where we intend to finish last week’s award-winning report:

What are Trump voters actually like? Are they a bunch of dumb bigots?

Visit our incomparable archives: Last Wednesday, Christina Bellantoni suggested it’s basically silly to cover the Trump budget plan.

He probably won’t win, she told Lawrence O’Donnell. And if he wins, Congress probably won’t pass his budget plan. So really, why bother?

(Also, Governor Brown is in love with big taxes! For some reason, she threw that claim in.)

To see the way our “mainstream journalists” increasingly reason about such matters, see last Thursday’s post. In our view, Bellantoni’s presentation was surpassingly strange—strange and, alas, revealing.


  1. On the same day, the Times ran an article about Hillary Clinton's undercover work investigating school segregation by posing as a prospective parent at Houston Academy in Alabama. They took pains to point out that the whole project did no good, leaving the strong impression that Hillary was sneaky even then but also ineffective.

    Working overtime, the reporter didn't bother to explain why Houston Academy now has 10% minority enrollment, if civil rights efforts did nothing. The reporter confused the leverage (threat to tax exempt status) for the end goal (dismantling of segregated schools) and laid blame on the project itself, instead of a Republican president's refusal to act on the evidence collected. But mostly it implied that Clinton was somehow both sneaky and wasting her time while wearing bell-bottoms and dating Bill (noting twice that she was living with him before they were married).

    I love how fair and balanced coverage is in the New York Times. Jeb is funny but Hillary is sneaky and ineffective. Love the NY Times!

    1. Thanks for the link, 10:53. I thought the article presented Hillary in a positive light. I think better of her because of her actions as described therein.

      BTW the school's black enrollment is still tiny -- just 8 out of 537. The rest of the 10% minorities are Indians, Latinos and Asian, according to the article.

    2. Any % of minority enrollment is different than a policy of only admitting whites, which is why those segregated academies were originally founded.

      If you didn't already know that Clinton has devoted her entire life to bettering the lives of women and children, in particular, and people in general, the NY Times has failed you.

      You would do a lot better by voting for her than any of the Republican creeps running for office.

  2. The worry isn't that such silliness appears in the media at all, but what percentage of overall column inches or air time is taken up with it compared with serious informative news one can use. If such data had been supplied along with the complaint about the one silly story, then a case would have made with evidence in support.

    Perhaps the promise will be kept and tomorrow another example of a silly story will be presented. Even then, a mere pair of examples have traditionally been dismissed as coincidence, not enemy action.

    For now, however, we are asked to take on faith the suggestion that the serious-to-silly ratio at the Times is tilting perilously toward the silly side. Pardon me while I go check out the funnies and try to solve the Daily Jumble in ink.

    You know, a good dog story once in a while would really brighten up this page.

    1. I'm not sure a newspaper needs to have any percentage of silly stories or fluff. In this case, they are doing Bush's campaign work by trying to portray him sympathetically. Should a newspaper be doing that?

      I didn't see Somerby saying anything about a silly-to-serious ratio. I see him complaining about the silly because it is not news of any sort. And I agree with him about that.

      If people want to read dog stories, there are lots of them on the internet. If the NY Times wants to repurpose itself as entertainment, it should abandon its claim to be the newspaper of record.

  3. After seeing the "The Big Short" I went back and found some clips of Bill O berating Krugman,

    So bare in mind when Bob berates The Times for it's lack of accountability on serious fiscal matters that he GAVE O'REILLY a pass, ACROSS THE BOARD.
    A pass which pretty much extends to Fox News as well. Go watch those clips and then see if you feel like listening to Bob's lectures on how liberals "just take it."

    1. How many posts per day would Somerby have to write to fully address all the garbage spewed by O'Reilly and Fox?

      The NY Times and our liberal pundits are more of a danger to liberal causes than the right because (1) people don't recognize them as right-wing, and (2) people believe they are reliable sources of information. When outlets perceived to be liberal do not serve liberal interests they are more capable of misleading and misinforming liberals, because liberals are the ones reading and trusting them. Few liberals read or trust anything O'Reilly and Fox say. The same is not true for MSNBC's hosts and the NY Times.

      Liberals need to protect liberals media and protest when it is corrupted or coopted to serve non-liberal interests. That is the point of this blog -- not pointing out the O'Reilly is a jerk.

    2. The only people that don't know the corporate-owned media (including the NY Times) is right-wing are the morons who still bleat about the "liberal" media.

    3. Anon at 11:22.
      No one is asking him to fully address. I am pointing out that he virtually ignores the most followed news source in the country, and gives out a PASS to it's highest profile damage doer.
      The notion that only liberals do real damage is a pretty shopworn piece of progressive claptrap, but nobody votes for progressives anyway so i suppose is shouldn't bother me.
      But in viewing Somersby's attacks on Krugman and pass for O"Reilly, you can't escape that Bob is, morally speaking, a deeply confused guy.

    4. Then why read his blog? Don't you have anywhere else to be?

    5. If you are admitting I'm correct, why are YOU reading it?

    6. I'm obviously not agreeing with you. I like this blog. You don't. No one is forcing you to read it. Why not spend your time criticizing O'Reilly, since you consider that so essential? You are wasting your time here.

  4. Then why read his blog?

    Someone has to point out schtick.

  5. Yo! Greg! Bob don't care bout The Right Wing Crazy. Bob's mission is pointing out the Left Wing Crazy M$M Too! Sometimes crazier.

  6. Yo! Greg! Bob don't care bout The Right Wing Crazy. Bob's mission is pointing out the Left Wing Crazy M$M Too! Sometimes crazier.

    1. Yo! Gary! Bob would rather jump off the Trump Tower than castigate those who follow the right wing crazy.

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