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Saturday, October 26, 2019

To Be Sure Jennifer Senior

I just read an op-ed by Jennifer Senior. I am not 100% satisfied. To be sure, she denounces the Republican Party in no uncertain terms. The op-ed is not completely Ballanced. However, old habits die hard. The op-ed contains a good bit of nonsense. Some of it is there to give the essay a beginning a middle and an end. More of it is a bit of reflexive bothsidesing.

First it begins "It’s that time of the campaign season when some Democrats are starting to feel — as President Jimmy Carter might have put it — malaise." This is a reference to anectdotal evidence. It is not supported by polls of voter interest and enthusiasm or data on the number of campaign contributions. Basically, it is Senior arguing that Democrats need her advice (the pundit's fallacy). Mainly it is a link to another op-ed by Jonathan Martin which begins " When a half-dozen Democratic donors gathered at the Whitby Hotel in Manhattan last week, " so the sample size is 6. Also the "Democrats" in question are rich Democrats. Senior does not mention the possibility that rich people are out of touch with the forgotten man.

Is it the New York Times' official postion that 6 rich people in Manhatten deserve more attention than say the 940,000 people who donated to Warren or the 1.4 million people who donated to Sanders in the third quarter (of the year *before* election year). If that is malaise, I don't think I could handle enthusiasm. I guess the idea is that 6 rich people in New York are more sophisticated than the small donors, because the 6 rich people are pragmatists who consider the pulse of the nation not their enthusiasm and so are more in touch with ordinary voters than regular people are.

Then "They’re staring at their 2020 lineup and wondering whether it’s a guaranteed recipe for buyer’s remorse. Joe Biden is too old, Pete Buttigieg is too young, Kamala Harris is too uncertain, Bernie Sanders too unpalatable, Elizabeth Warren too unelectable." Warren unelectable as shown by the polls all of which show her leading Trump. Or the rising enthusiasm for her campaign (she does better with people who have paid more attention -- that's hard data -- a lot of people won't pay much atttention over the next year and a month but they will pay more than they have -- people who put their money where their mouth is bet that she is electable). This is nonsense. The New York Times is in touch with rich Democrats who are ambivalent about Sanders and Warren, because they don't want to pay higher taxes. I don't like writing like a vulgar Marxist, but sometimes you people make it hard not to.

Then some concessions that both sides have their faults and conservatives are not wrong about everything. Quickly on Republicans vs Democrats, their is a definite assertion of wrong doing followed by a statement that Senior doesn't have any evidence "Of course Democratic politicians — all politicians — distort, gerrymander evidence, even lie and apply their greasy thumbs to the scales. (What was Bill Clinton doing on that plane with Loretta Lynch in 2016?)" or to summarize "Of course ... ?" I trust any reader can see the problem, when one is stating the obvious, one does not need to end one's sentence with a question mark. Also Clinton derangement syndrome.

Then some real Ballance. Senior argues that Fox news is different in kind from the New York Times (correct). Then to be sures. She demonstrates an amazing lack of critical facility when discussing her employer

And you have partisan news outlets with zero interest in reporting the basic facts of Trump’s corruption or the catastrophic consequences of his impulses. We’ve gone from Pax Americana to Fox Americana in the blink of an eye.

Whereas the more traditional news media, whatever their unconscious biases, do try to hold Democrats to account. Sure, let’s stipulate that there are more liberals than conservatives at these organizations. Maybe even a lot more. But it was mainstream newspapers that broke the Whitewater story, which led to an independent investigation of Bill Clinton. It was mainstream newspapers that kept Hillary Clinton’s emails on the front page in the run-up to the 2016 election. This newspaper covered Hunter Biden’s business dealings in Ukraine too — in May. These pages also ran an editorial about it. That was in 2015.

The lady dost protest too little. Even when asserting imbalance, she assumes that there must be some weight in each pan. She argues that the New York Times isn't as far biased left as Fox is biased right. She doesn't even consider the possibility that, afraid of "unconcious bias" they over compensate. Let's go down her list.

"Whitewater" including omission of the critical fact that the Whitewater Development Corporatino is older than the Morgan Guarantee S&L (something I learned in the 21st century). Deliberate deception of readers by omission of a critical fact used to create the appearance of a scandal. Yes the tried to hold Clinton to some sort of "account". They also cooked the books. The episode was disgraceful. But not as damaging as keeping "Hillary Clinton’s emails on the front page in the run-up to the 2016 election." and reporting the final conclusion of no wrong doing on the 16th. A catastrophic failure of editorial judgment based on the terror of conservatives accusing them of liberal bias and the problem that the facts had an overwhelming liberal bias. Then Hunter Biden's business dealings, because private citizen Hunter Biden is so important. Joe Biden's exemplary devotion to the public interest even when it conflicted with his son's interests was not mentioned in the appalling article in which the focus was not on Trump's impeachable conduct but on the hint of a possibility of alleged wrongdoing by Biden.

If Senior's aim was to show how the New York Times has sacrificed its journalistic standards in a hopeless effort to please conservatives, the paragraph would make sense. But the repeated disgraceul betrayals of journalism are presented as exculpatory evidence.

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