The New York Times makes it look very hard!


Three plus three still equals six: This morning’s hard-copy New York Times is an edition for the ages.

The paper spills with puddles of piffle about Obama, penned by Chozick, Baker and Dowd. The Chozick piece is especially rich. For that reason, we’ll save it for later.

(Our best guess: My Weekly Reader rejected the piece as too simple for third graders. From there, it jumped to the Times.)

Trip Gabriel struggles with a news report about Mitt Romney’s latest apparently bogus claim. In fairness, next-day reporting is hard—but Gabriel makes it look harder.

Then too, there’s the latest survey of voters. This time, the survey covers three swing states. We were struck by two minor points:

How many years of tax returns should White House candidates release? Inquiring minds wanted to know what voters think about this.

The question is very timely, of course—but we thought the selection offered to voters was odd. This was the survey question:
Do you think presidential candidates should release several years of tax returns, or is releasing only one or two years of tax returns necessary, or don’t you think it is necessary for presidential candidates to release any of their tax returns?
Should candidates release several years, or just one or two? We have no idea why you’d frame the choice that way.

Our second point is very trivial. That’s why it’s so puzzling:

In sum, Obama is running slightly ahead of Romney in the three states under review. (Obama leads by a bit in Virginia and Wisconsin, trails by a bit in Colorado.) To accompany the report in the hard-copy Times, the paper includes color photographs of six voters, along with their capsule statements about their choice of candidate.

Half of six voters turns out to be three. We have no idea why a newspaper wouldn’t include three voters who favor Obama, along with three who favor Romney.

That isn’t what the New York Times did. For unknown reasons, they included four voters who favor Romney, only two for Obama.

Four plus two is also six. But why would you do it that way?

Why in the world would a newspaper do that? The six voters made rather mundane observations. Rather plainly, they weren’t selected for their weird or unusual insights.

Nothing turns on this matter, of course. That's what makes it so puzzling.

The New York Times is our strangest newspaper. This has been so for some time.


  1. Does Somerby have an e-mail account anymore?

    This is an interesting top ten waring signs on corruption in the media inspired by Chris Hayes' non-answer to Glenn Greenwald's question about Hayes diligence in defending himself from "cognitive capture"-selling out to maintain status in the media elite.

    1. Probably the first compromise will take the form of a rationalization. You’ll be pressured to do something you know isn’t quite right. But you’ll be scared not to do it — if you don’t, you’ll alienate someone powerful, your career will suffer a setback, your ambitious goals will suddenly seem farther away. At this point, your lesser self, driven by fear, greed, status-seeking, and other selfish emotions, will offer up a rationalization, and your greater self will grasp at it eagerly.

    2. As the compromises accumulate, you’ll need a larger, more all-purpose rationalization to explain them away.

    3. As your career progresses, you can usefully ask yourself if you can name a compromise of which you’re not proud. If you can’t… bad sign.

    4. And: have you ever publicly copped to that compromise? If not… bad sign (see: “You’re only as sick as your secrets”).

    5. Can you identify compromises you think have been made by any of your compatriots? If not… bad sign. It means you’re not even capable of projection.

    6. Do you find yourself identifying more with the public figures you’re supposed to hold to account than with the readers and viewers you’re supposed to serve?

    7. Can you identify a personal or career cost to any of your decisions? If not… bad sign. Who will you be offending, and what retribution are you likely to suffer? Who has the power to reward and punish you, and what are you willing to do to risk losing those rewards and incurring that punishment?

    8. Here’s one you wouldn’t think a journalist should even need to ask (but you’d be wrong): are there any public figures you refuse to honestly, objectively, publicly criticize? If yes… it’s worse than bad. You’re already suborned. You’re not even a journalist.

    9. Can you identify any scenarios, any potential compromises, that you would not make under any circumstances, that you would resign over before ever embracing? If not… bad sign.

    10. Can you put yourself in the shoes of the organization/establishment/oligarchy and imagine how you would go about suborning yourself to get past your defenses?

  2. Easy question to answer about the pix. The pix editor chose them. End of story.

  3. Bob. Here's your story for tomorrow.

    Head: "How many names do YOU have?"

    Subhead: " Slate wants to know why so many murderers have three names".

  4. Sophisticated Times readers know that it isn't what's written, it's the context.

    Obviously, twice as many people prefer Romney.

    Newspaper of record, ya understand...