Bless their hearts: The Times tries again!


Critiquing Perry’s ads/The sequel: Bless their hearts!

In this morning’s New York Times, the lovable losers try it again. Jeremy Peters pens the paper’s second attempt to critique a Rick Perry ad.

(For our review of the paper’s first effort, go ahead—just click here.)

As you may know, Timesmen are easily distracted. After posting the transcript of Perry’s new ad, Peters notes the candidate’s lack of a tie. After that, he checks out Perry’s teeth:
PETERS (11/1/11): ON THE SCREEN In the second of his ads to hit the Iowa airwaves, Mr. Perry loses his tie. The camera captures his face in a close-up against a gleaming white background, a match to his gleaming white teeth, which viewers see an awful lot of because he grins throughout the ad. There are no big graphics or action shots, just Mr. Perry looking into the camera for 30 seconds.
Yes, but what color is Perry’s shirt? Possibly blinded by Perry’s teeth, the Timesman forgets to say.

With these basic points out of the way, Peters turns to the “accuracy” of Candidate Perry’s ad.

In this ad, Perry once again boasts about his skill at creating jobs. And people! Your DAILY HOWLER keeps getting results! At our urging, the Times includes the unemployment rate in Texas! It now stands at 8.5 percent!

But bless his heart! Can you see something Peters forgot to include?
PETERS: ACCURACY Mr. Perry repeats what has become his central message to voters: that he is a capable economic steward with a proven record. The job creation statistic he cites is backed up by official numbers from the state and the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. There is some question about whether the more accurate measure compares Texas to the net change in jobs nationally or to the number of jobs created only in states with employment increases, but there is no doubt that Texas has been an engine of job growth.

Critics have noted that the unemployment rate in Texas was 7.7 percent in June 2009 yet now stands at 8.5 percent, the highest level since the late 1980s. The other figure in the ad—that the state cut $15 billion from its budget—is accurate. But like nearly all state budgets, there is some fudging. In May, state lawmakers approved a budget that reduced spending by making deep cuts to public education ($4 billion) and economic development ($2.7 billion), but also by reducing their estimates of the cost of Medicaid over the next two years. Some estimates put the possible shortfall at $4.8 billion.
There's a lot of gorilla dust in there. But is something missing?

So close! Peters includes the state’s unemployment rate; it stands at 8.5 percent. But how does that compare to other states? How does that compare to the national rate?

Once again, the Times has forgotten to say. And trust us: Many readers of the Times do not know the national rate.

Some of you will think the Times is shilling for Perry. Trust us—that isn’t it.

Perry has now aired two TV ads boasting his skill at creating jobs. Anyone with an ounce of sense would wonder how his state’s unemployment rate compares to the unemployment rates found in the rest of the nation.

But when Richard Oppel critiqued the first ad, he didn’t cite such data at all. Today, Peters cites the Texas rate. But if you don’t know the comparison data, he pretty much leaves you hanging.

Is the New York Times shilling for Perry? Most assuredly, no—this is just the way they work! In its political work, the Times is a second-rate, C-minus paper.

In fairness:

When it comes to books about puppies, the New York Times is clearly first-rate. Jill Abramson is executive editor of the great paper. Regarding her latest adorable puppy, she has written “a golden retriever of a memoir.”

For more information, click here. Each newspaper has its own strengths.

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