A day in the life of the Times: It’s very hard for people to see the New York Times as it is.
A very strange culture exists at the Times. From today’s editions, we offer three more examples:
A correction concerning Fort Lee: On Monday, the Times ran a 2800-word front page report which summarized, or pretended to summarize, the Fort Lee matter to date.
Most weirdly, the front-page report failed to note a rather significant fact. In its opening paragraphs, the report quoted Mayor Sokolich changing his story as to whether he was asked to endorse Governor Christie last year.
Suddenly, Sokolich was saying he had been asked to endorse, though he still wouldn’t say by whom. Last week, Sokolich had made a point out of saying he hadn’t been asked.
In its report, the Times didn’t note the fact that Sokolich has changed his story. It simply recorded his new account as if no change had occurred.
Let’s move to our new point:
On Monday, we noted several factual errors scattered through the Times’ long front-page report. As of today, the Times has “corrected” one of these errors—without acknowledging that it has corrected an error, of course.
The correction is buried in paragraphs 18 and 19 of a report in the New York section.
Back in December, did Governor Christie telephone Governor Cuomo to complain about the way New York officials were reacting to the lunacy in Fort Lee? In this passage, the Times erases its previous error:
KAPLAN (1/15/14): Later that day [on December 12], The [Wall Street] Journal reported that Mr. Christie had complained to Mr. Cuomo in a telephone conversation that Mr. Foye was pressing too hard for information about the lane closures.Even there, the Times inserts a weasel phrase (“in a carefully worded statement”) designed to cast doubt on what Cuomo said. But as we noted back in December, Cuomo supported what Christie said about that telephone call.
Mr. Christie denied that he had complained; Mr. Cuomo’s office, in a carefully worded statement, backed up Mr. Christie’s denial.
As recently as this Monday, the Times was still misreporting this fact. The paper is grossly incompetent.
The attempt to report skool newz: In a report from today’s front page, Javier Hernandez profiles Carmen Farina, Mayor de Blasio’s choice to head the New York City schools.
In the following passage, Hernandez describes a promotion Farina received after she was identified as an outstanding teacher:
HERNANDEZ (1/15/14): Ms. Fariña’s results had caught the attention of top New York education officials, who in 1991 offered her one of the most difficult jobs in the school system: principal of P.S. 6, a 900-student school in the heart of one of the country’s wealthiest ZIP codes.Already, we’re puzzled. As described, it’s hard to imagine how P.S. 6 could have been “one of the most difficult jobs in the [New York City] school system.”
The elementary school had long been synonymous with prestige and academic excellence; it counted former Mayor Robert F. Wagner, the rock star Lenny Kravitz and the actor Chevy Chase among its graduates. The challenge was bringing P.S. 6 to an even higher level of performance without alienating a demanding group of parents: doctors, lawyers and building superintendents among them.
That said, the report only becomes more puzzling as Hernandez labors on. Eventually, he writes this:
HERNANDEZ: P.S. 6 blossomed under Ms. Fariña, surging to become one of the city’s top 10 schools in reading and math scores, which Mr. de Blasio trumpeted in announcing her appointment as chancellor. But it is difficult to say how much she contributed to its renaissance.Do you understand that story? We don’t! If the school was so good when Farina was assigned there, why did it need a “renaissance” or an “upward swing?” If Farina was tasked with bringing the school “to an even higher level of performance,” why did it need to “blossom?”
The school’s upward swing began before Ms. Fariña arrived, city testing data shows. During her tenure, there was also an influx of wealthier families and a simultaneous decline in the number of poor children.
In 2001, the year Ms. Fariña left the school, 7 percent of students came from impoverished backgrounds, compared with 12 percent a decade earlier. And the proportion of white students had grown to 80 percent, from 72 percent.
Presumably, no deadline pressure afflicted this piece. Hernandez’s writing just doesn’t make sense. Editors at the New York Times routinely miss such problems.
Crackpot pundit’s greatest hits/Dowd meets Boxcar Willie: If Boxcar Willie can offer his greatest hits, why can’t Maureen Dowd do the same? Today’s column reads like a compilation of her (many) craziest moments.
Hear Dowd yodel her own greatest hits! George Bush 41 requests a splash of coffee! Sargent Shriver drinks a Courvoisier!
John Kerry orders the wrong kind of cheese! And of course, her time-honored classic:
The intern delivers the pizza to Clinton during the shutdown!
The famous hits are all there today, except for the destructive cult favorite, A Lactating Boy Named Gore. They always leave one out!
Meanwhile, the column is built around Dowd’s greatest theme: Democratic men are really all women! These ruminations stem from the way Mayor de Blasio recently ate some pizza:
DOWD (1/15/14): The photos looked way too ladylike for the 6-foot-5 mayor. It seemed more like the prissy move of Warren Wilhelm Jr. of Cambridge—his original name which he changed because of his estrangement from his alcoholic father—than the paesano Bill de Blasio of Brooklyn.As you can see, Dowd included the alcoholic father and the squirrelly name change. That was a flashback to Gary Hart, who also made Sunday’s column.
David Letterman’s Top Ten “Odd Habits of Mayor Bill de Blasio” on Monday featured this one: “Refers to himself as ‘Her Majesty.’ ”
De Blasio sounded alarmingly like Zosia Mamet’s mega-rambling character, fellow Brooklynite Shoshanna Shapiro, on a recent “Girls”...
Dowd has been visibly crazy for years. Today’s column is the work of a rather visible lunatic.
At the Times, the swells have never been able to see this. Neither can most Times readers.
The Times is our most famous newspaper. Its relentless awful performance helps us see who we actually are.
Our intellectual culture is broken. Our rotted-out values leave us just this side of insane.
This breakdown is so widespread it can’t be seen by many observers, even though it suffuses the Times. Meanwhile, the people who write their piddle for pay know that, by tenets of Hard Pundit Law, they must never say this.
Boxcar Willie is no longer with us. Dowd is merely insane.