Does this presentation make sense: Every morning, the New York Times presents an array of riddles. As one example, did you understand yesterday's takedown of Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance?
The takedown came in an op-ed column, but the Times chose to publish the piece. Our question:
Do you understand the logic behind the highlighted presentation?
RICE (10/17/17): [D]espite lamenting racism in the criminal justice system, Mr. Vance perpetuates worrisome racial disparities. A 2014 Vera Institute of Justice study found that black and Latino defendants prosecuted by Mr. Vance’s office were more likely to be detained at booking, compared with similarly situated white defendants. And last year, 51 percent of marijuana cases involving black defendants in Manhattan ended in conviction, while only 23 percent involving whites did.Does Vance's office engage in discriminatory practices? We can't answer that question. Nor do we understand why the Times thought that highlighted presentation supported this serious charge.
According to this op-ed column, way more marijuana cases ended in convictions when the defendants were black. Do you understand why that would mean that Vance and/or his office were discriminating against blacks?
We ask that question because juries dole out convictions, not prosecutors, or at least they do on TV. And by the way:
If way more whites are escaping conviction, couldn't that possibly mean that Vance's office has been overcharging whites?
As presented, we'd have to say that passage didn't make obvious sense. But so what? The New York Times waved it into print anyhoo. Such confusions are routine in the Times.
Does the Vance office discriminate against blacks? If you click the relevant link in the column, you'll be taken to a source report where the logic of this charge at least becomes clear.
You still won't know if the charge is fair. But you'll at least be able to see why the logic of that presentation isn't completely screwy.
Unless you're actually Cyrus Vance, that was a relatively minor point of confusion. At the same time, Michelle Goldberg's op-ed column in yesterday's Times struck us as a walk down a familiar hall of mirrors, one which is very unhelpful. (Unless you're the type of "Janet Malcolm liberal" who mainly wants to feel good.)
Tribal liberals most likely won't see what we mean. But here—you can give it a try. We may revisit tomorrow.
Thoroughly bollixed this morning: On this morning's page A3 (not available on line), this was one of the the "Noteworthy Facts" in the persistently low-IQ feature, Of Interest:
"Last year George Soros, the hedge fund manager and major Democratic donor, lost about $1 billion betting that Donald J. Trump would lose the presidential election."We'll be honest—that struck us as a slightly weird-sounding claim. We decided to check the news report which was cited as the source of this "noteworthy fact."
You can check that report by clicking here. As you'll see, page A3 had omitted a potentially significant phrase from the original claim. (Page A3 does such things all the time.) But even after reading the source report, we still don't understand what Soros is said to have done.
This stuff lards the Times every day. It's the way our mainstream press corps rolls.
In part, this helps explain how Donald J. Trump ended up in the Oval. The evidence tells us again and again; our nation's upper-end mainstream press corps just isn't transplendently sharp.