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 $800,000Can 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!
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.
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."