Posts Tagged ‘new york times’
Further proof that hipsters didn’t invent being insufferable. This Manhattanite was into it before it was cool.
Dylan Byers, on how his anti-Jill Abramson article—the one in which Abramson was cast as icy, exacting, and alienating, while the male staffer who punched a wall in response to a meeting with her was portrayed sympathetically as frustrated—was totally not sexist not even a little:
I therefore did not see it as fitting to inject gender into a story that was, as I saw it, not about gender. (Aside from noting that she is the first female executive editor of the Times, the only reference to gender appears in a quote from Times managing editor Dean Baquet, who says ”the bitchy woman character … is a little bit of an unfair caricature.”)
Welp, we’re done here. It’s a longstanding journalism truth that until “bitch” is used twice in a story about a prominent female figure, you’re on non-gendered territory. And pay no attention to anybody suggesting that ignoring the role gender plays in a power structure is sexism. Those people are just “injecting” gender, and Politico‘s all out of needles.
This, kids, is why you pay for the New York Times: “The White House should have created a war room full of charts with the names of pols they had to capture, like they had in ‘The American President.’”
From the You’re Not Helping file:
Debra Aho Williamson, an advertising industry analyst and devoted coffee drinker, was intrigued by a promotion that popped up on her Facebook page recently. Sign up for a Starbucks loyalty card, it said, and get $5 off.
“When I saw that, I thought, I’m already a member of their loyalty club,” she said. “Why don’t they know that?”
Yeah, what is up with the subpar invasion of privacy to better tailor subliminal advertising, especially in order to further constrict spending habits to major corporations? This definitely warranted a complaint in the New York Times.
The New York Times gets the White House to admit that were it not for Romney’s tone deaf response to the killing of an American diplomat in Libya, the Obama administration would be on the defensive this week. Why?
The upheaval over an anti-Islam video has suddenly become Mr. Obama’s most serious foreign policy crisis of the election season, and a range of analysts say it presents questions about central tenets of his Middle East policy: Did he do enough during the Arab Spring to help the transition to democracy from autocracy? Has he drawn a hard enough line against Islamic extremists? Did his administration fail to address security concerns?
Good questions, I guess. But the first quoted of those “range” of analysts, who casts the Obama administration as naive and complacent, is a former Bush administration official. So is the second of that “range” of analysts that the New York Times quotes. But the second, Richard Haass, apparently didn’t get the memo:
“The reality is the Middle East is going to be turbulent for the foreseeable future and beyond that,” said Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations and a former State Department official in the Bush administration. “It’s going to present the United States with any number of difficult choices. It’s also going to be frustrating, because in most instances our interests are likely to be greater than our influence.”
Translation of that last line: there’s not all that much we—read: the West, read: Obama—can actually do to affect the events of the Middle East. Which answers all the questions that this “range” of analysts got the New York Times to helpfully ask for them.
Here’s the New York Times headline for the sentencing of Pussy Riot: “Anti-Putin Stunt Earns Punk Band Two Years In Jail.”
There’s a point at which a “stunt” earns its way into a protest, and I’d say it’s when three women are sentenced to two years in jail for the exercise of speech. I know the Times staff is busy not editing Tom Friedman columns, but I’m sure they could find a moment to consider the coding of their language when writing a headline about people whose very ability to use language is being criminalized to protect a regime.
In an unrelated but simultaneous article, the Times also managed to describe Seattle’s the Stranger as “an alternative newspaper,” as if a) no one had ever heard of it, and b) the writer was taking a used tissue to the trash can. Imagine if I were to go through this post and preface every mention of the Grey Lady with “Jayson Blair’s former rag,”* or “the paper that employed Judith Miller.” When put like that, don’t you kinda want your digital subscription money back?
Both of these instances strike me as examples of the Times either not noticing or not bothering to restrain its viewing of world events through the lens of its own assumptions of preeminence. But given that neither Pussy Riot nor the Stranger has accidentally enabled any Iraq wars that we know of, perhaps they deserve to be taken a little more seriously, and the Times a little less.
* Interesting factoid I discovered while looking up links for this article: Jayson Blair’s Wikipedia page describes him as “an American life coach and journalist formerly with The New York Times.” Wonder who wrote that headline.
Judging on clarity, logic, sentence construction, proper use of metaphor, linearity of thought, and, oh let’s say wisdom, which of these two writers deserves to be a New York Times columnist?
1. I’m deeply sorry for the hurt and embarrassment I’ve caused to those close to me and everyone this has affected. This momentary indiscretion has jeopardized the most important thing in my life, the person I love and respect the most, Rob. I love him, I love him, I’m so sorry. (via)
2. You can’t go from Saddam to Switzerland without getting stuck in Hobbes — a war of all against all — unless you have a well-armed external midwife, whom everyone on the ground both fears and trusts to manage the transition. In Iraq, that was America. The kind of low-cost, remote-control, U.S./NATO midwifery that ousted Qaddafi and gave birth to a new Libya is not likely to be repeated in Syria [...] Without an external midwife or a Syrian Mandela, the fires of conflict could burn for a long time. (via)
Maybe they should switch bodies!
Bill Keller takes a break from his normal schedule of pointless, anodyne stupidity to craft a decent defense of health care. There’s still plenty of marshmallow in his article—still that sense that Keller is explaining the world slowly to a befuddled man he found wandering around in the Dean & Deluca downstairs—but it also contains lines like this, on the idea that Obamacare is a federal takeover of the health care system: “Let’s be blunt. The word for that is ‘lie.’” It’s like Keller remembered he used to run a major American newspaper or something. The befuddled will be thrilled.
Congratulations to Giant Marxist Vagina Chris Hayes. Nevermind a steady gig at the Nation or a weekend show on MSNBC: you know you’ve made it when David Brooks devotes a whole column to debunking you. From now on, Mr. Hayes drinks for free south of 14th St., in which I include most of the rest of the country where most of the rest of the plebes live.
Brooks no doubt could see this portion of the superstructure from his house, if he didn’t have such a bad habit of mistaking mirrors for windows:
Through most of the 19th and 20th centuries, the Protestant Establishment sat atop the American power structure. A relatively small network of white Protestant men dominated the universities, the world of finance, the local country clubs and even high government service.
Over the past half–century, a more diverse and meritocratic elite has replaced the Protestant Establishment. People are more likely to rise on the basis of grades, test scores, effort and performance.
Yet, as this meritocratic elite has taken over institutions, trust in them has plummeted. It’s not even clear that the brainy elite is doing a better job of running them than the old boys’ network. Would we say that Wall Street is working better now than it did 60 years ago? Or government? The system is more just, but the outcomes are mixed. The meritocracy has not fulfilled its promise.
That’s unobjectionable until you catch the false dilemma slipped in at the end: “The system is more just, but the outcomes are mixed.” Note how justice is cannily posed in direct opposition to success, as if society were a zero-sum competition between the two: a more just society, to Brooks, necessarily means a less functional one. Thus do we return to Brooks’s running theme, that world would work best if the people for whom it worked worst accepted their fate and got out of the way.
Would anybody like to pose a counterargument to that?
Christopher Hayes of MSNBC and The Nation believes that the problem is inherent in the nature of meritocracies. In his book, “Twilight of the Elites,” he argues that meritocratic elites may rise on the basis of grades, effort and merit, but, to preserve their status, they become corrupt. They create wildly unequal societies, and then they rig things so that few can climb the ladders behind them. Meritocracy leads to oligarchy.
Hayes points to his own elite training ground, Hunter College High School in New York City. You have to ace an entrance exam to get in, but affluent parents send their kids to rigorous test prep centers and now few poor black and Latino students can get in.
Baseball players get to the major leagues through merit, but then some take enhancement drugs to preserve their status. Financiers work hard to get jobs at the big banks, but then some rig the game for their own mutual benefit.
[...] Far from being the fairest of all systems, he concludes, the meritocracy promotes gigantic inequality and is fundamentally dysfunctional. No wonder institutional failure has been the leitmotif of our age.
Sounds right to me. If we agree, then why are we arguing?
It’s a challenging argument but wrong.
I’d say today’s meritocratic elites achieve and preserve their status not mainly by being corrupt but mainly by being ambitious and disciplined. They raise their kids in organized families. They spend enormous amounts of money and time on enrichment. They work much longer hours than people down the income scale, driving their kids to piano lessons and then taking part in conference calls from the waiting room.
Hold on a damn second. Where on god’s big green dumb earth did people come up with this idea that poor people don’t work hard? Leaving aside the problems of correlation v. causation inherent in the structure of such an “argument”—wanting as they do to see poverty as a moral failing, conservatives can never agree whether people are poor because they don’t work hard, or don’t work hard because they’re poor, and often end up claiming both, a sort of “let them have their cake and eat it, too” avoidance of logic—it just isn’t true.
Poor people tend to work more than the wealthy; they just receive exponentially less in wages for it. The main structural challenge of being poor—at least up until our most recent White Protestant opposite-of-succeeded with our economy and eliminated the problem of work by eliminating available jobs altogether—is that no amount of work was enough to stimulate economic mobility in a structurally unequal system. When you must work your whole week to break even, there’s no time left over for study and no money left over for study aid (note how Brooks intentionally conflates discipline and money in the above examples), calcifying poverty over generations. Poor people aren’t choosing to watch Real Housewives of the Meritocracy as opposed to taking their children to piano recitals; often they don’t get to either, because they’re clocked in. Brooks wants this to be a moral failing, not a structural-economic one that might be addressed by these concepts of “justice” running around mucking everything up.
Phenomena like the test-prep industry are just the icing on the cake, giving some upper-middle-class applicants a slight edge over other upper-middle-class applicants. The real advantages are much deeper and more honest.
Ah. He must mean about how nobody’s being honest about how the ethos of self interest that was supposed to gird our economy instead destroyed it, and how we have used the acidic rhetoric of the free market to dissolve the social contract.
The problem is that today’s meritocratic elites cannot admit to themselves that they are elites.
Or that. That also makes sense.
Everybody thinks they are countercultural rebels, insurgents against the true establishment, which is always somewhere else. This attitude prevails in the Ivy League, in the corporate boardrooms and even at television studios where hosts from Harvard, Stanford and Brown rail against the establishment.
(That last is a shot at Hayes and Co.) No, what the wealthy have mastered is using the matrices of late capitalism to appropriate counterculture icons and turn them into found status symbols. Nobody’s pretending that they are counterculture, they’re pretending that counterculture is just like anything else—it has an exchange value, and can be purchased for capital. It’s sort of like when a New York Times columnist buys a ticket to a Springsteen concert.
As a result, today’s elite lacks the self-conscious leadership ethos that the racist, sexist and anti-Semitic old boys’ network did possess. If you went to Groton a century ago, you knew you were privileged.
No, you knew you were better. There’s a difference, and it’s a difference to which Brooks obviously wants to return:
The difference between the Hayes view and mine is a bit like the difference between the French Revolution and the American Revolution. He wants to upend the social order. I want to keep the current social order, but I want to give it a different ethos and institutions that are more consistent with its existing ideals.
That ethos would be the one “the racist, sexist and anti-Semitic old boys’ network did possess.” Brooks never quite says as much, but every sneaky syllogism of his article points to it. Since the introduction of “justice” to the structure of our society, the “outcomes” have been “mixed.” We lost the self-awareness of elitism that allowed elites prior to the introduction of “justice” to conceive of themselves as stewards of institutions. And it just so happened that said self-awareness corresponded with a white, anti-Semitic (and anti-everything else Other) group of men.
Could it be that their self-awareness was formed exactly because their group was exclusive? Elites of yesterday thought they were in charge of institutions not because they were moral captains, but because they thought the institutions should function only for them; what Brooks sees as upstanding men guiding institutions was in fact insular groups of men protecting them against encroachment from the non-white, non-male portions of society. They acted in self-interest, exactly how the bankers of five years ago were acting when they brought down the economy.
The opposite of this self interest, it turned out, was justice. David Brooks thinks it doesn’t work as well; turns out it just doesn’t work as well for his class. But when you think a mirror is window, your class appears to be everybody. If only somebody would write a column about what happens when people “cannot admit to themselves that they are elites.”