The New York Times' sexual politics: It's the rare morning when we don't do it—when we don't wonder about the degree of cognition put on display within the upper-end press corps.
We had several such moments this morning, just scanning the New York Times Some questions:
Should "E for Effort" in a banner headline really be taken as a compliment? Should 40 percent of a population be described as "most?"
In fairness, the Times does tell us today that Donald J. Trump's Scottish resort is 25 miles away from that much-maligned Scottish airport. On September 6, Rachel and Brian each rattled off a different figure—they each said the distance was 50 miles, a figure they took, live and direct, from a report which Politico had apparently bungled.
This morning, we checked the 2018 study from which an opinion column in today's Times had taken that figure of 40 percent. Alas!
That study came from NPR and Harvard, but the cogitations within that study were enough to break human hearts. We'll cite just one example:
HARVARD/NPR (October 2018): Most rural Americans say that minority groups do not face discrimination in their local community, with the exception of three key groups: gays and lesbians, transgender people, and recent immigrants to the United States. Three in ten rural adults (30%) say that generally speaking, they think transgender people are discriminated against in their local community, while 29% of rural adults say they generally think recent immigrants to the U.S. are discriminated against. More than one-quarter (27%) of rural adults say that generally speaking, they think gays and lesbians are discriminated against in their local community.In that passage, journalistic and academic elites say that 27% is "most!" At such moments, we tend to think of Kevin Drum's reporting about the massive exposure to lead which was almost universal during the years when most current elites were children.
On line, that op-ed column in today's Times makes much more sense than it did in our print edition, where it seems to have suffered from ham-handed, slapdash editing. That said, hapless editing is standard at the Times, as we all learned this weekend in the case of the grotesquely bungled editing of the new Kavanaugh semi-accusation, in which an important disclaimer was removed during the editing process.
Make no mistake! We live in a world where 25 miles is actually 50 and 30% is most! We live in a world where some editor at the Times doesn't understand that "E for Effort" will sound like an insult to many people, not like an accolade.
More specifically, we enter that world when we peruse the puzzling work product of many people within our mainstream press. Our first such journey this morning occurred as we scanned the new contents at Slate. This entry appeared on that list:
CHRISTINA CAUTERUCCI / SEPT 18, 2019 / 8:18 PMSkillfully, we clicked. The report to which we were transported was headlined exactly like this:
"Go Home and Just Rest and Do Something Else”: Senior Citizens on Biden's Age
POLITICSWe were surprised to see that older voters were telling Biden to quit. As everyone knows, older voters have been Biden's strongest age cohort in primary polling to date.
“It’s Time for the Baby Boomers to Get Off the Stage”
People over 60 respond to concerns about Joe Biden’s age.
By CHRISTINA CAUTERUCCI
Personally, we think Biden is a terrible candidate within a field of terrible candidates. But if it's terrible you want, terrible is routinely present in the cogitations of those in our upper-end press.
In this case, the Slate report was a virtual parody of anything resembling serious journalistic practice. The analysts screamed and tore at their hair when they encountered this discourse on method:
CAUTERUCCI (9/18/19): With Biden, Trump, and Bernie Sanders all pushing back the outer limits of candidate age, and Elizabeth Warren not far behind them, I set out to ask people who have personally experienced the aging process what they thought about Biden, aging, and the presidency. I found some through Twitter and some hanging around tourist hotspots in D.C. All in all, I talked to more than a dozen Americans over 60, some of whom preferred to omit their last names while speaking frankly about politics.We didn't make that up! Indefatigably, Slate's scribe had spoken to more than a dozen people as she tried to learn what older people think about Biden's acuity. That struck us as a rather small (and rather imprecise) N.
Cauterucci had spoken to a comically small number of people. Some were concerned about Biden's age, others were not—but so what? Some editor selected the most negative quotes and placed them in Slate's two headlines. No one cared about the sheer absurdity of Cauterucci's basic method, a method we've persistently found in the New York Times during past elections.
So it goes when our journalistic elites attempt to create information.
Within this puzzling cognitive realm, an important new project has been announced. We refer to The 1619 Project, in which the same newspaper which massively bungled last Sunday's Kavanaugh report is going to reinvent the whole of American history.
We'll discuss the advisability of that undertaking tomorrow. For today, we'll only say this:
People who think that 40 percent is most; people who are inclined to tweet that “having a penis thrust in your face at a drunken dorm party may seem like harmless fun;"
People who let their best-known columnist write about Obambi's finicky eating habits all through Campaign 2008; people who go out and hire the fatuous Wall Street Journal writer who wrote an endless analysis piece questioning whether Candidate Obama was too skinny to be president:
People whose rather shaky cognition tends to lead them in such directions should perhaps be less self-assured as they undertake to intervene in so sweeping a way concerning so crucial a topic. On balance, the Times is not an impressive group. People who think Maureen Dowd is a genius might even do the world the favor of leaving such projects alone.
We'll assess that history project tomorrow. For today, we only want to call your attention to another mission on which this very strange upper-class newspaper seems to have embarked.
To us, this other project seems to be present each Sunday morning now. We find it in the Sunday Review, generally with a pair of essays which open like this trio of essays, all of which appeared on Sunday July 21:
The Ridiculous Fantasy of a ‘No Drama’ Relationship"Opinion columns" of this type have become a staple at the Sunday Review. With apologies, they make us think of the throwback sexual politics the New York Times has persistently put on display during the era of Dowd.
Online, that’s what men say they want from women. Do they know nothing about life?
By Laura Hilgers
Ms. Hilgers writes about addiction, love and other topics.
I was recently on the dating app Bumble when I came across the profile of an attractive middle-aged man, a few years younger than I am. He was born on the East Coast and had a big dog, which I liked. But then I read that he was “100 percent drama-free” and demanded that any dates be the same way. I thought, “Here’s somebody who probably won’t listen if I’m having a bad day” and swiped left to indicate my lack of interest...
FaceApp and the Savage Shock of Aging
In the mirror is someone we never thought we’d become.
By Nicci Gerrard
Ms. Gerrard is the author of the forthcoming book “The Last Ocean: A Journey Through Memory and Forgetting.”
Several years ago I was in a department store, frazzled and running late, looking for things I couldn’t find. As I was hastening along an aisle, a woman came toward me. She was quite a bit older than I was, and in a state of substantial disarray. As I drew closer I saw her shirt was wrongly buttoned. I put up a hand to prevent her bumping into me, and she put up a hand as well. I stopped. She stopped. We stared at each other with a kind of pity. And with a sudden rush of mortification, I understood that I was looking at myself in a mirror. Was I that tired and shambolic? Was I that old?...
Is there anything "wrong" with first-person, "human interest" submissions of this type, submissions which, in the Sunday Review, exclusively come from women? We'll agree that there's nothing evil about such submissions, but as American society slides toward the sea, we can't help wondering about a guild which continues with musings like this in its highest profile weekly ideas and analysis section:
In Praise of Online DatingThat return to the problems of online dating appeared on August 11. One Sunday later, on August 18, these ruminations appeared:
Yes, it can be demoralizing. It can also enlarge your world.
By Katharine Smyth
Ms. Smyth is a writer.
When I was in my early 30s, my husband of four years, partner of nine, left abruptly in the middle of the night. In the surreal weeks and months that followed, I grew increasingly apprehensive about the idea of online dating. I hadn’t been single in nearly a decade; I didn’t even have Facebook, let alone a stockpile of profile pictures or an irrepressible texting game...
Finding Myself in My Mother’s Calendars"I’m 57. Am I Grown Up?" Again and again, then again and again, this is the way this throwback newspaper has pictured the capability and agency of the people they think of as women.
We tend to think they are about keeping track of time. They are about much more.
By Carol J. Adams
Ms. Adams is an activist and author.
Among my mother’s legacies are four decades of yearly calendars. At the beginning of this year—a decade after her death—I resolved to read all 40. Could these appointment calendars, which she kept from 1965 through 2003, offer a window through which to glimpse my mother in the midst of living her life? Curious, I hoped that something as ordinary as her datebook might surprise me...
I’m 57. Am I Grown Up?
I’m childless, still trekking the path to self-realization, and always the first one on the dance floor.
By Erin Aubry Kaplan
Contributing Opinion Writer
Am I grown up? I have been asking myself this question for 40 years, since I was 17. At that very young age the question was mostly rhetorical—of course I was grown up: I had graduated from high school and was headed to a big university; I had a driver’s license and could navigate Los Angeles freeways; I wore makeup and high heels with regularity and reasonable sophistication; I had finally ditched the wash-and-set hairstyle preferred by my mother and let my hair curl at will. I was doing me by degrees, and every degree was thrilling, all I imagined grown up would be...
To us, these musings seem to come straight from the old "women's pages" of newspapers from the past mid-century, or perhaps from the pages of the Redbook of some era. There's nothing "evil" about these musings, but no similar musings are published by men, and the musings seem to create a somewhat peculiar picture of the capabilities of women.
By August 25, we'd actually proceeded to "Dating While Dying/I found myself terminally ill and unexpectedly single at 40." Last Sunday, we were asked to muse about this:
How My Boyfriend Made Me Fall in Love With GamingIs the modern subscriber permitted to ask if these regular Sunday submissions might not constitute a new form of Standardized New York Times All-Around Dumbness? Just so you'll know, the Times appended this pathetic "human interest" request to the end of last Sunday's column:
It became a form of bonding for us, not a source of strain.
By Eve Peyser
Ms. Peyser writes about culture and politics.
When my boyfriend moved into my shoe-box one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn, he brought along three uninvited friends: his Xbox 360, his PlayStation 4 and the Nintendo Wii. Within a week, he insisted on buying a second television in order to game at his leisure, and avoid badgering from me. In fairness, I was the stereotypical video game-phobic girlfriend.
Growing up in an all-female household, I never owned a gaming console and never yearned for one. Whenever I did play a console game, always at the house of a male friend, I would quickly grow frustrated because I didn’t know how to use the controller...
Did a loved one help you appreciate video games? Do you think being a gamer is worthwhile or problematic? Let us know in the comments.
How far is it from that silly request to yesterday's "Here to Help" feature, in which a very young woman told us that, in recent months, she has queued up a routine with a few simple, inexpensive ways to nurture herself in as little as 15 minutes a day, so that she can feel steady even during life’s droughts and downpours?
Alas! Among the ways this young woman said she now nurtures herself, she didn't fail to list this:
Effortless toothbrushingShe has also started going to therapy, because although she finds these self-nurturing tools helpful, they can’t replace professional medical help.
I sometimes yearn to skip this step in my nightly routine so I can just get to bed already. Since getting an electric toothbrush, though, I’ve found that persuading myself to brush is easier.
Needless to say, that young woman deserves all the help she can get; we'd suggest a one-way ticket away from the Times. That said, who will save us from the throwback culture so persistent at that peculiar newspaper?
Dating from the ascension of Dowd and the full-blown investment in "Creeping Dowdism," the Times has persistently projected a very strange picture of the capabilities of women. Without attempting to denigrate the young women who wrote it, yesterday's Here to Help feature—and those now routine, two-per-week Sunday "human interest" submissions—seem to have taken us back to the time when people socially defined as women need the constant assistance of stronger people just to get through the day, then to jump into bed at night with teeth successfully brushed.
Can this still be the way anyone pictures the world of women? Apparently, yes it can, at the persistently fatuous Times.
Like other upper-class institutions, the New York Times is almost impossibly daft on a regular basis. It's stunning to think that a flyweight gang like this has decided that they should be the ones who "finally" craft The One Absolute Truth about American history.
WE'll start tomorrow with Biden's cognition, move on to that of the Times. But we often think of Kevin Drum when we peruse the upper-end press, and major expert anthropologists just won't stop telling us this:
You simply can't be this stupid this long without ending up with a Trump.
Tomorrow: What was Biden talking about? The Times meets American history