Should a person be forced to read the Post...


To understand what it says in the Times?
What follows doesn't exactly matter. That said, we were puzzled by the start of a news report in this morning's New York Times.

It sat atop page A17; beneath a banner headline. As such, it seemed like a fairly important report. But this is the way the report began, hard-copy headline included:
RAPPEPORT (10/6/17): Treasury Secretary's Use of Military Aircraft Cost Taxpayers $800,000

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has flown on military aircraft seven times since March at a cost of more than $800,000, including a $15,000 round-trip flight to New York to meet with President Trump at Trump Tower, according to the Treasury Department’s Office of Inspector General.
Can you see why we were puzzled? According to that opening paragraph, Mnuchin's seven flights totaled more than $800,000 in cost. But the flight the New York Times chose to feature cost only $15,000!

As they used to say down in Maine, you can't get there from here! And indeed, as the Times report rolled along, it cited five of the seven flights. Here's what those five flights cost:
Cost of the five specified flights:
By our reckoning, those five flights added up to a total cost of roughly $113,000. Can you get to more than $800,000 from there? And why in the world would the New York Times report omit the expensive flights?

While we have you, we're going to mention a couple of points you won't hear on cable TV:

According to reporter Alan Rappeport, "The Treasury report found no instances in which Mr. Mnuchin used military aircraft for private travel." And concerning that now-famous plane ride to Fort Knox, "The report found that 'there is no indication that the date was chosen to coincide with the solar eclipse.' ”

We're just saying! Meanwhile, back to our point of confusion:

Rappeport opened with the claim that Mnuchin has taken seven flights, which added up to more than 800 large. He specifically mentioned five of those flights, but together they totaled a little more than $100,000!

Why would a major newspaper publish such a report? We're not sure, but if you want to see how the story turns out, you can always try reading this on-line report by the Washington Post.

That's what we decided to do. Why should you kids have it easier?

Uh-oh! Spoiler alert:

After you read the Washington Post, you still won't know how Mnuchin's flights totaled more than $800,ooo—or actually, $811,000, according to the Post. But thanks to the Post's reporting, you'll be able to get $314,442 closer.

Almost half the money remains unaccounted for. That's how close you're able to get if you read both the Times and the Post!

Easy to be hard: You may recall what the Times said about that flight to Fort Knox.

The Post found it easier to be hard. Here's the full text of what the Post said:
REIN (10/5/17): And when Mnuchin, his wife, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other officials flew to Louisville and Fort Knox in Kentucky in August on an Air Force C-37B to visit the U.S. Mint and then view the solar eclipse, the government paid $26,900.
If memory serves, Paul Reiser once called it Goldberg's Law:

"The man with one watch always knows the time. The man with two watches is never quite sure."


  1. Yeah. As we can easily observe in the comment section here, to become overwhelmed with rage and hatred, people from your 'tribe' don't need any facts or compelling reasons. They are completely controlled by their 'lizard brains'. In this particular case, it's enough that Mr Mnuchin is associated with the Donald.

    1. Sure, Mr. Mao. Stand up for the plutocrats. Hooray for the oligarchy. Just as long as it's the RIGHT oligarchy.

    2. "'s enough that Mr Mnuchin is associated with the Donald."

      Pro tip for Mnuchin: Don't do the work until the check clears.

    3. I think you're replying to a different post, might want to check it...

  2. Why does the exact amount matter to anyone besides government auditors? The fact of the abuse is important. The dollar amount is not the point when you are in the hundreds of thousands range.

    People who read any newspaper are not hoping to be informed of the exact dollar amount of anyone's transgression. There are other kinds of facts that matter much more.

    Somerby seems unable to understand what the most important aspects of a story are. He doesn't grasp why readers care about a story and he doesn't grasp what information readers need to receive, as opposed to the details that flesh out a story.

    Reporters do not have the time or the means to nail down every detail but they should get the main outlines right, the substance of the story. They try to get the small points as correct as they can, but the turn around times for journalism are not the same as those for research or non-fiction writing.

    I cannot see what Somerby thinks should be done to correct the trivialities he complains about every day. More staff to do fact-checking would be nice but the economics don't permit that. So what should be done? Somerby never gives us answers. Just complaints about small stuff that is ultimately unimportant. The scale of the thievery is not in the rightmost columns of the addition, it is in the number of digits to the LEFT of the decimal place.

    1. Agreed. Somerby's complaint seems to be, not that Mnuchin took the trips at taxpayer expense, not that the trips weren't reported, but that the reports didn't list EVERY trip, thus Somerby can't add up the ones listed to $800,000. He can't see the forest for the trees these days. His transformation to irrelevant curmudgeon is almost complete.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. Which would make people like you what? Tiresome, bitter, and logic-chopping chroniclers of the perceived dotage of an irrelevant curmudgeon? If Bob's soon-to-be decades old blog, which has pioneered and continues to feature powerfully useful insights into the misdeeds of the media, can be accurately dismissed as "irrelevant," how unspeakably irrelevant, in turn, must your fault-finding be? What on earth could be the right metaphor? Maybe an indiscernibly small speck of fly excrement, randomly lodged in an impossibly small crevice of a piece of gum, stuck to the tirelessly slogging foot of political history, or is even that too honorific?

  3. Keep standing up for your chosen oligarchy, товарищ. YOU'RE an idiot if you think only one side is playing you for a fool. Or else you're a partisan hack hypocrite...or a troll. Take your pick.

  4. The media is again trying to make it look like Trump won the election for any reason except the obvious bigotry which turned out Trump voters.

  5. You are definitely right that bigotry inspired some Trump voters. But as, for instance, Bob has convincingly established many times, that is far from the only factor. And by implicitly (and sometimes overtly) insisting that bigotry singlehandedly explains Trump's win, you ironically help pave the way for him to win again in 2020.

  6. As usual 'Mao' rushes to defend his Kremlin paymasters.

  7. Unknown,
    Yes, Somerby uncovered that it's the "liberal-coastal elites", spending all their time ridiculing "flyover country". In other words, Somerby "uncovered" fake Conservative propaganda, and is now trying to pass off this nonsense as a reason for Trump voters.
    Bullshit! Like Hillary's ties to Wall Street (while Trump's appointing of Wall Streeters to his cabinet gets a shrug) or her use of a private server (which doesn't bother Trump voters when Ivanka and Kushner have done it), they are all just excuses, so the people of the nation don't have to feel bad about their white supremacy fetish.
    Sorry, I don't work for the corporate propagandists we call the mainstream media, so I don't have to make believe the bigotry isn't real.

  8. Hmm... something here smells foul, will watch for follow ups on this one...

  9. Here is ABC News Online...Note the first two items, please:

    "In total, the secretary has made nine requests for military aircraft. Seven were taken, one was withdrawn, and one is set for later this month.

    The report outlines the prices for each flight taken, including:

    $301,167.02 for a March 15-18 trip to London, Berlin and Baden-Baden, Germany. $314,442.04 for a May 11-14 trip to Bari, Italy $16,350 for a June 9, 2017 trip to Ottawa, Canada $43,725.50 for a June 15 trip to Miami $15,112.50 for an Aug. 15 trip to New York City $26,900.25 for an Aug. 21 trip to Kentucky $94,100.5 for an Aug. 28-29 trip to West Virginia and Las Vegas

    Grand total: $811,797.81"

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