Moral acuity too: Given its very famous brand, it's very hard for people to see the mental/moral dim-wittedness which is such a basic part of New York Times culture and practice.
That said, the politics wing of the New York Times tends to be very dim-witted. Let's consider three recent examples. Prepare to be depressed.
Chozick spots the SAT words: Last Friday. Amy Chozick was trying to discuss the latest bunch of hacked emails. Her piece appeared beneath a headline which was probably meant to be written in English:
Hacked Emails Reveal Image of Chelsea Clinton
We're not entirely sure what that means either. As far as we know, Chozick wouldn't have written the headline for this piece.
At any rate, Chozick was trying to tell us what Chelsea Clinton is like, based on the latest purloined emails. She fumbled around in stolen communications which had no apparent public interest. At one point, pathetically, the star reporter typed this:
CHOZICK (10/28/16): If the emails show Ms. Clinton getting a crash course on the cutthroat world on the periphery of the Clinton family, they also show a young woman deeply devoted to her parents and very much her mother's daughter.According to Chozick, Chelsea Clinton often "interspersed SAT words into [the] casual conversations" on which Chozick was eavesdropping. Apparently, this helps show that Chelsea's a lot like her mom.
Ms. Clinton often gravitated to weighty policy discussions and interspersed statistics and SAT words into casual conversations.
Let's not ask why this horrible person was discussing casual private communications between these family members. Let's not ask if "interspersed," in this context, might perhaps be an "SAT word."
Let's examine one of Chozick's examples. The observant scribe seemed to offer two examples of this annoying tendency on Chelsea Clinton's part. One example was this:
CHOZICK: In another email addressed to ''Dad, Mom,'' Ms. Clinton seemed apologetic, writing, ''I hope this mini-behemoth is not rife with grammatical errors or inadvertent gaps; I am sorry if either true.''Don't ask yourself why a slimy person like Chozick is fumbling around, in this manner, in pointless emails between family members. Instead, marvel at the fact that this Classic Times Flyweight thought that email should be singled out as one of (two) examples of the way Chelsea Clinton "often interspersed SAT words" into her casual emails.
Truly, Chozick's a monster. That said, this copy must have passed through the filters created by editors Elisabeth Bumiller and Carolyn Ryan. They're all part of a puzzling New York Times culture which seems to go far out of its way to dumb the discourse way down.
Headline writer identifies threat: Atop the front page of that same day's Times, Ashley Parker and Nick Corasaniti offered the kind of gruesome report which often results when Times reporters attempt to interview voters to spot some sort of a trend.
The day before, Kevin Drum had challenged the way the report was presented on line. According to Drum, it had originally appeared beneath this headline:
Some Trump Voters Call for Revolution if Clinton Wins
In fact, Drum said, none of the voters quoted in the piece had "called for revolution if Clinton wins." Subsequently, the on-line headline was apparently changed. But when the piece appeared the next day on the front page of our hard-copy Times, this banner headline ran across its continuation on page A14:
Trump Voters Threaten Revolution, 'by Any Means Necessary,' if Clinton Wins
We're looking at that frightening banner right now, as we type.
We'd be inclined to disagree, if only a tad, with Drum's assessment. We'd say that one voter quoted in the piece made veiled remarks which were dark enough to sound like a bit of a threat.
That voter had used the term "by any means necessary." But no one else had advanced the threat advertised in that banner headline.
We mention this because Parker and Corsaniti reported that they had interviewed "more than 50 Trump supporters at campaign events" for their front-page report. Out of more than 50 people, they seemed to have found exactly one, or possibly none, who issued the threat the Times was still announcing in banner form in Friday's hard-copy edition.
Presumably, Parker and Corsaniti didn't write the headlines. Presumably, one of the Times three million flyweights did. That said, the report's basic thrust was so imprecise that you could almost excuse the headline writer for what he or she may have thought he or she read.
The report itself was D-plus work. The headlines deserved a failing grade—and an explanation.
Chozick just couldn't help it: Yesterday, in a front-page report, Chozick couldn't help it.
James B. Comey's latest attack had given her a delicious excuse to write about Huma Abedin—and Chozick couldn't help herself. At one point, her piece became truly delish:
CHOZICK (10/30/16): Mrs. Clinton’s loyalty to Ms. Abedin (and vice versa) stems from the decades they have spent working closely together, beginning when Ms. Abedin was a 19-year-old intern to the first lady in the 1990s.Dearest darlings, it had everything! Even that "intern" cite!
At the State Department, Ms. Abedin served as deputy chief of staff to Mrs. Clinton. Emails released by the State Department captured the closeness of their relationship. A jet-lagged Mrs. Clinton once emailed Ms. Abedin at 12:21 a.m. to take her up on an offer to come over to Mrs. Clinton’s house for a chat. “Just knock on the door to the bedroom if it’s closed,” she wrote.
Innuendo is always denied. In this case, the innuendo was fairly straightforward, especially in a fly-infested world where right-wingers and crackpots have spent thirty years swearing that Candidate Clinton is the world's most gigantic and wholly appalling lesbo.
(Amy Chozick knows all about that. So do the people she writes for.)
Innuendo is always denied. In the pages of this pseudo-journalistic toxic waste site, it can also get pretty thick.
Times culture is built around slimy and dumb. It's hard for people to grasp this strange fact, but it's a fact nonetheless.
Milbank agonistes: Chozick's complaint about SAT words recalled Dana Milbank's agonies. In 2007, he had attended a speech by Al Gore, where he'd been subjected to this:
MILBANK (5/30/07): He spoke of Adam Smith and Thomas Jefferson and John Stuart Mill, only briefly mixing up his patriots: "James Madison wrote—no, Thomas Paine, I'm sorry." He gave a brief history of the printing press's spread through Northern Europe. He used social science phrases such as "the collective process" and the "marketplace of ideas" and the "exchange of goods and services" and "guided by the role of reason."Gore had referred to "the marketplace of ideas" and to "the exchange of goods and services!" To Dana Milbank, Yale Skull and Bones, those were SAT words too.
It was part of Milbank's larger complaint: Al Gore thinks he's smarter than us! Citizens, with examples like this, who the John Stuart Mill wouldn't?
You wonder why we ask if they're human. We've long wondered why you don't!