THE PROBLEM IS US: Posers of the Times!


Part 1—Creating a new situation:
We hated the featured editorial in today’s New York Times.

In part, we hated it because we watched Tavis Smiley pretend to talk about public schools on yesterday’s In Depth program (on C-Span). To watch the full program, click here.

In part, we hated it because we’ve come to loathe the types of pseudo-liberal elites who put such piddle in print.

We’ve been writing this site for almost seventeen years now. In recent years, we’ve come to feel that our struggling culture just isn’t going to make it.

In part, that’s due to the ongoing propaganda of the plutocrats and their agents. But in part, it’s due to the fraudulence of the lazy elites who get accepted as the liberal world’s “intellectual leaders.”

What did we hate about that Times editorial? We hated the part where the posers who wrote it referred to “the needs of black students,” a topic the Times is too lazy, and too uncaring, to explore.

We’ll discuss that passage later this week along with Smiley’s posing. But as today's editorial started, bad faith was lurking in the wings, just waiting to appear.

The Times discussed “voting rights in Ferguson.” Hard-copy headline included:
NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL (1/5/15): Race and Voting Rights in Ferguson

For most people, Ferguson, Mo., will be remembered for one awful August afternoon, when a white police officer there shot and killed an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown.

But that incident was only a snapshot in the town’s long and complicated racial history—a history characterized by entrenched segregation and economic inequality, as well as by familiar and systemic obstacles that have kept black residents from holding positions of political power.
Have “systemic obstacles...kept black residents from holding positions of political power” in Ferguson?

In theory, that’s certainly possible! But alas! As the Times proceeded, it quickly offered a silly though pleasing con:
NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL (continuing directly): Ferguson’s population is two-thirds African-American, and yet its mayor, city manager and five of its six City Council members are white. So are its police chief and all but three officers on its 53-member police force.
If Ferguson is two-thirds black, why is its mayor white? Why is only one council member black? Why do Ferguson’s voters keep electing white officials?

As far as we know, the answer has nothing to do with “systemic obstacles” to participation in the political process; more on that later this week. But as the Times continued, the paper conflated this state of affairs with a different situation.

In the passage which follows, the Times is talking about school board elections for the Ferguson-Florissant School District, a large district which extends well beyond Ferguson’s boundaries. The situation described in this passage has nothing to with the fact that Ferguson voters keep electing white mayors:
NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL (continuing directly): The school board for the Ferguson-Florissant School District is much the same: More than three-quarters of the district’s 12,000 students are black, but the seven-member board includes only one African-American.

Last month the American Civil Liberties Union sued the school board under the Voting Rights Act, arguing that the way its members are elected blocks minority voters from fully participating in the political process.

The method is known as “at large” voting, and lets voters cast ballots for all candidates in the district, regardless of where the voters live. Since the district’s voting-age population is 50 percent white and 47 percent black, and since both groups there tend to vote along strict racial lines, the white voters’ candidates almost always win.
According to the Times:

In the sprawling Ferguson-Florissant School District, “the voting-age population is 50 percent white and 47 percent black.” According to the Times, white candidates almost always win school board elections because of this narrow, three-point difference in population.

On its face, that explanation sounds highly suspect. And alas! Even at this early point, conservative voters who read this editorial almost surely knew or suspected something quite basic:

Conservative readers knew or suspected that the New York Times editorial board had its thumb on the scale as it described the electoral situation (1) in Ferguson itself and (2) in the larger Ferguson-Florissant School District. Every conservative knew or suspected that the editorial board was playing fast and loose with some basic facts.

Here at THE HOWLER, we think the board actually was playing fast and loose with the facts. This creates an increasingly common situation—a situation which rarely obtained in 1998, when we started this site:

Alas! Given the way our pseudo-liberal “intellectual leaders” routinely function today, conservatives often know more than we liberals do about the basic facts of various matters!This situation rarely obtained in 1998; today, it’s increasingly common. And as we the liberals proceed this way, we help insure that our struggling culture just isn’t likely to make it.

Increasingly, we “liberals” are part of the problem now too! To us, it seems that we’re a larger part of the problem with each passing day.

Tomorrow: Concerning that law suit against the school district

Once again, the basic text: To peruse the whole editorial, just click here. Tomorrow, we’ll return to that text.

We think the Times is playing fast and loose with some basic facts in that rather deceptive piece.

At one time, this sort of thing mainly came from the right. Today, our side is doing it too! Increasingly, our own lazy, uncaring “intellectual leaders” are part of the problem too.


  1. Why does the race of a school board member matter? Don't all school board members favor effective education? If there had been more blacks on the school board, would Michael Brown not have tussled with a policeman and tried to grab his gun? By what mechanism would this have taken place?

    The Times wants to conduct elections so that black neighborhoods will elect black school board members. The US House of Representatives adopted this principle some time ago. Gerrymandered black voting districts were created. The result has been to elect a substantial number of blacks in Congress. However, the black Representatives have tended to be politically extreme and often with low technical competence. If would be a step backwards if the same thing happened to the Ferguson School Board.

    1. David in Cal seems to be demanding blacks majority districts perform to a higher standard than say, the voters in Tyler, Texas who gave the nation Congressman Louie Gohmert.

      What constitutes "often", DinC? What constitutes "politically extreme" IYHO?

    2. David,

      If you honestly believe that all school board members are equally concerned about the educational outcomes of the children in their district, regardless of race or ethnicity, I invite you to listen to this episode of "This American Life."

    3. Thank you for the link AnonymousJanuary 5, 2015 at 11:22 PM. That is a fascinating story.

  2. It seems there there are only two "liberal" publications worthy of note, the NY Times and Salon, and both have proven sorely disappointing to our interlocutor.

    So where does the liberal Mr. Somerby recommend one turn to find true facts? The NY Post? The Washington Times? Perhaps The Blaze, or Breitbart News Network, or National Review, or the Weekly Standard, or Town Hall, or Media Research Center, or Front Page Magazine, are the sources to which one should reliably refer?

    Here's a thought: the "liberal" world does not appear to be heeding Mr. Somberby's admonitions. Mayhaps some criticism of the other side, hard as it is to come by - conservatives being so enamoured of truth and logic and all that - would be more productive. At the least, it might assuage the doubts that some readers have begun to develop about this publication's coherence.

    1. Why should we have to find other sources? Why can't we expect these major sources to get the facts right and not deceive readers?

    2. Yes, all that reading is so much work.

    3. Anonymous @ 12:41. I think it is fair to say these major sources should get their facts right and not deceive voters.

      Quickly. What fact or facts did the NY Times get wrong wrong? How are readers deceived.

      If you can't answer the first question, is is possible the one doing the deceiving is the blooger?

    4. What's a blooger?

    5. A bolgger who types like @ 1:33 and yours trudly. .

    6. Somerby quotes from the article:

      "In the sprawling Ferguson-Florissant School District, “the voting-age population is 50 percent white and 47 percent black.” According to the Times, white candidates almost always win school board elections because of this narrow, three-point difference in population."

      I don't know what complaint Somerby will have or what he means about "thumb on the scales" but I do know that the voting age population is not the same as the actual voting population, which in turn is not the same as the registered voters (those eligible to vote). If the Times article did not talk about the proportions of black and white registered voters or those actually voting, instead of the voting age populations, it is deceiving readers into thinking that whites someone grab all the elections through nefarious means, rather than that blacks are not registering and voting in elections so that the proportions actually voting are different than those nearly equal numbers quoted in the article.

      Quick, how is the blooger deceiving all of us here?

    7. Alaa, @ 2:19 you did not answer a fairly simple question.

      You wrote: "Why can't we expect these major sources to get the facts right".

      So I asked: "What fact or facts did the NY Times get wrong...?

      Your response did not state a single one.

    8. eb53 is spot on.

    9. eb53,

      You look familiar. Have we met?

    10. Anonymous @ 1:33 asks:

      Quickly. What fact or facts did the NY Times get wrong wrong? How are readers deceived.

      It's not that the NY Times got its objective facts wrong, it's the misdirection. The Times goes along with the idea that it's a 50 to 47% white over black voting population advantage that is the main reason whites dominate the Ferguson-Florissant School District elections. There's a far more obvious reason determining the over-representation of whites on the school board even assuming voters overwhelmingly support candidates of their own race.

      Blacks don't seem to be able to win seats in Ferguson where they have an overwhelming potential voter (though, perhaps, not registered voter) advantage. And wouldn't you know it, in the case of the unfavorable outcomes for black candidates in Ferguson, the NY Times allowed an "assistant professor of urban policy" space to explain away those year after year results with brazen breeziness [my emphasis]:

      [QUOTE]But because blacks have reached the suburbs in significant numbers only over the past 15 years or so, fewer suburban black communities have deeply ingrained civic organizations.

      That helps explain why majority-black Ferguson has a virtually all-white power structure: a white mayor; a school board with six white members and one Hispanic, which recently suspended a highly regarded young black superintendent who then resigned; a City Council with just one black member; and a 6 percent black police force.
      [END QUOTE]

      Find the link to that ridiculous Jeff Smith excuse in my comment here [LINK] where I ended what I had to say with, "In other words, blacks have it horrendous in Ferguson, just not horrendous enough to get the polls even with what one would expect to be the help of a Jesse Jackson, an Al Sharpton and the other concerned folks at MSNBC, or with whatever organizational talents the Congressional Progressive Caucus or the national Democratic Party or the Missouri Democratic Party could bring to bear."

    11. Thanks, CMike for trying to supply an answer to a question asked of someone else based on an assertion they made.

      Commentary written by you months ago about op-eds written months ago have nothing to do with the editorial published today.

      But thanks for stating what the person who made the assertion was unwilling to state: "It's not that the NY Times got its objective facts wrong, it's the misdirection." In other words, there are no factual errors.

    12. CMike? Are you this boring in real life?

    13. Anonymous @ 4:19 PM,

      As in penetrating or tiresome? To the former no, I don't often get to the nub of the matter as I did in this case, to the latter, absolutely, it's a consequence I'm willing for you to suffer from the alternative I've chosen over eating healthy, "...I figure the more time I spend bored, the longer my life will seem."

    14. In the context of the shooting of Antonio Martin, news reports mentioned that Berkeley Missouri, which is 2 miles from Ferguson, has a black mayor and black police chief. Presumably they are all in the same school district. I think any explanation cannot rest solely on explanations about Ferguson, which may or may not be typical of largely black towns in that district. Why would black people vote in Berkeley but not in Ferguson?

    15. Berkeley and Ferguson are both in the Ferguson-Florissant School District.

      The demographics in Ferguson, 64.9 black, 30.6 white. In Berkeley, 81.4% black, 12.9 white

      They don't vote in Berkeley either. 17% in the last mayoral election. Although that's beats Ferguson's 12%. The reason Berkeley has a black mayor is that both candidates for the office were black. One reason that Ferguson has a white mayor is that the white candidate ran unopposed. In the previous election, he had two white opponents.

      Registration isn't the problem. Assuming age demos haven't changed between censuses, somewhat north of 2/3 of Ferguson is of voting age, giving the city an 85% registration rate. It's higher in Berkeley.

      In the last election for members of the Ferguson City Council, Ward 1 was decided by 55 votes; Ward 2 was uncontested; Ward 3, by 6 votes.

    16. CMike,

      I do believe so, but it was a longer time ago.

  3. Yes, Bob. By law, liberals are required to read the New York Times and only the New York Times. They are not permitted to read all those wonderful "conservative" sources, and thus are doomed to wander through life thoroughly misinformed.

    1. The only one advocating that people read conservative sources is you. Somerby only said they tend to have more facts these days. Their spin on those facts is ridiculous.

    2. In our view, @ 2:07, your comment is misleading, making you a part of the problem we increasingly face now.

  4. The cold truth is African-Americans have it harder than other ethnic groups in the USA. That is a fact. And anyone who denies it is not living in the real world.

    1. I'm not sure this is true. Native Americans aren't doing well either, on average.

      BTW - Is it a coincidence that the two ethnic groups doing the worst are the ones that got the most "help" from the government? Maybe they got the most help because they had the most need. Or, maybe government efforts to help have had adverse consequences.

    2. I am sorry you are not living in the real world.

    3. David, the two groups doing worst are also the ones who were on the receiving end of the most vicious treatment, not solely by the government but also by individuals.

      You say you are an actuary. When are you going to stop treating correlation as causation?

    4. Drama critic to Mary Todd Lincoln, the night of the the President's assassination: "Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, did you enjoy the play?"

    5. M.T. Lincoln to drama critic: "It ended with a bang."

    6. The mistreatment includes interference with the transmission of literacy skills.

    7. DinC is spot on. European Jews and Gypsies killed in the Holocaust "have it harder than other ethnic groups in the USA. That is a fact. And anyone who denies it is not living in the real world." Of course neither are they.

    8. Yes, David, but Hitler meant well.

    9. AnonymousJanuary 5, 2015 at 3:10 PM -- you have gotten my point, perhaps inadvertently. Yes, there are no executed Jews or Gypsies alive today. Similarly, there are no slaves and very few blacks who lived under Jim Crow who are alive today.

    10. It wouldn't matter if they were. You'd still be waving off their concerns, just as you do with the fact black males are 21 times more likely to be killed by the police than non-black males.
      And if you go there, explain how Bundy's pals pointing weapons at government officers were spared but unarmed Michael Brown was not.
      It's not about race, because it can never be about race.

    11. D in C, you are repaeatedly obtuse and shallow. You act as if history doesn't exist. And as for your first comment, i don't know where you picked that idea up about Afrcian-American congressmen - some Ku Klux Klan website? Are you aware about all the gerrymandering in these red states, leading to Congress now teeming with so many looney tune tea partiers?

    12. 7:50, Just curious as to where the 21 times number is from. Raw numbers that I have seen, both "official", and good faith estimates would make that number unlikely. It would be interesting to see the methodology.

    13. AC/MA,

      Where does DAinCA get his ideas about black Congressmen? Where he gets all his ideas -- out of his ass. There have been about 40 black members of the House for over 15 years. There are probably that number of birthers in the House of Representatives, none of whom is in the Black Caucus. As far as I know, none of them is a climate-change denier or a vaccine alarmist either, but I guess "extreme" is in the eye of the beholder.

    14. But deadrat, conservatives often know more than we liberals do about the basic facts of various matters

    15. Where do I get my ideas about black Congressmen? From Huffington Post, among others.

      After debating the exact size of Guam for a full minute with a military commander before concluding that it is "a small island," U.S. Representative Hank Johnson reveals his fear: that more U.S. troops will cause Guam to "tip over" and sink into the ocean.

      The best part of hearing Johnson say, "My fear is that the whole island will become so overly populated that it will tip over and capsize," is hearing the commander try to explain why it's probably -- no, definitely -- not going to happen.

      Then there was Cynthia McKinney.

      McKinney's...controversial profile, which included support for Arab causes and a suggestion that Bush knew in advance of the Sept. 11 attacks. An inflammatory remark by her father on an Atlanta TV broadcast Monday may have been the final blow. State Rep. Billy McKinney said his daughter's tough fight was because "Jews have bought everybody. Jews. J-e-w-s.""[5]

      ...In Congress, she advocated unsealing records pertaining to the CIA's role in assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the murder of Tupac Shakur... She supported anti-war legislation and introduced articles of impeachment against President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

    16. If there are sealed CIA records pertaining to the MLK assassination they should be unsealed, especially given the truely disgraceful conduct of Hoover and the FBI. Support for anti-war legislation and the impeachment and prosecution of Bush and that gang was and is the correct moral and patriotic position.

    17. D in C, that's 2, not a representative sample or a valid basis for your conclusion. You didn't respond to my other point about gerrymandering districts so that elections are no longer competitive, and so many radical right wingers being elected. You enjoy this site, because TDH, as a liberal (not all agree on this but he is) criticizes the so-called liberal media. I wonder if there is a comparable conservative site?

    18. AC/MA you are correct that two are not enough to fully prove my assertion. I think it could be demonstrated by searching thru positions ya ken by the group as a whole, but I do not intend to do that chore.

      Yes, there are radical and/or ignorant conservatives in Congress such as the Birchers.

      My favorite conservative site is Instapundit. He criticizes liberal a lot, but he also criticizes conservatives. The same is true of Powerline. I know of no conservative site that devotes the bulk of its criticism against conservative media.

  5. Just remember, ACORN was run out of business for giving more people the opportunity to participate in a representative democracy.


    1. I thought they were run out of business because Given the way our pseudo-liberal “intellectual leaders” routinely function today, conservatives often know more than we liberals do about the basic facts of various matters!

  6. We hated the featured post in today’s Daily Howler.

    In part, we hated it because we read Bob Somerby pretend to talk about public schools all last year.

    In part, we hated it because we’ve come to loathe the types of pseudo-liberal elites who pontificate and prevariacate about their own progressivism.

    We’ve been reading this site for almost seventeen years now. In recent years, we’ve come to feel that this struggling blog just isn’t going to make it.

    In part, that’s due to the repetitive propaganda of the blogger. But in part, it’s due to the fraudulence of the lazy readers who accept as fact piles and piles of piddle.

    What did we hate about this Howler post? We hated the part where the poser who wrote it implies he cares about “the needs of black students,” more than others do.

    We’ll discuss that implication later this week, and compare who Somerby cares less about, blacks or women whose careers are more successful than his. But as today's post started, bad faith was lurking throughout.

    1. It would be so nice if you weren't here.

    2. It is fairly nice that you barely are.

    3. Mr. S does seem to be full of hate today.

    4. This morning, before Bob offered this post, David in Cal posted a comment to Bob's final post of 2014.
      He wrote:

      "Bob hopes to see the "chronic outrage" replaced by Dr. King’s unembarrassed “love ethic,” which he hailed long ago. I second his hope."

      With this post and its "We hate..we hate..we hate" message, Bob didn't keep his New Year's resolution very long. His chronic outrage boiled right back up.

    5. Get real. This is media criticism in an age when people love their cars and breakfast cereal and hate to be kept waiting for a train. If you confuse hating the way a column is written with hate in a stronger sense, you do not belong here. Most of what is written will go over your head.

    6. @ 10:35 Proof of the old saying, if you got lazy reader fraudulence you might as well flatulate it.

  7. Today the Republicans took over both houses of Congress. In the last couple of months two basic stories the National Media has centered on for several years quietly ended. The Obama White House was found by the Republican lead investigating bodies to have done nothing wrong in the matters of Benghezi and the I.R.S.
    Night after night on the national news, these Republican campaigns where handed what amounted to free campaign advertising by these obviously trumped up scandals. Often it was hard to reckon a response because there was nothing to it some asshat blathering in front of the cameras. They kept it up through the election, and then these matters were quietly dumped. In the case of the I.R.S, I saw nothing, not even a mention, on the nightly news. This all smacked of the bad old days of Whitewater. Inept Democratic response? Perhaps, that's not much of an excuse for this cress manipulation and it never was.
    Bob was kinda sorta on this stuff back in the day but now he's back to some fairly rudimentary overstatement by the Times. As he says, any conservative can see through it. Is anyone interested in how something as smelly as the I.R.S. scandal came to be? What was the real story with that women and her dubious apology? The Republicans are in, and no questions are being asking..... And we slide back to the bad old days of Whitewater, we don't seem to get much help here, if only Bob had gone to school with someone in the Obama White House.....

    1. i agree, TDH was on the beam and at his best e.g., on the Benghazi charade . . . some of the stuff he focuses on now seems relatively minor. Why doesn't he turn his eye on the IRS thing? I will say that the reliance by the left.liberals on finding racism under every stone, a lot of times imaginery or unproven, while largely ignoring the much more significant issue - the concerted effort to transfer more and more and more wealth into the hands of less andless people

    2. Come to think of it Somerby posted excellent information regarding Benghazi n real time. Imagine that an obscure blogger getting the scoop on our befuddled millionaire corporate liberal media personalities.

    3. I'm afraid his overall take on Benghazi would be "see, those nice Republicans did the right thing in the end." He had some stuff on the IRS too, Same thing.

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