Friday’s New York Times obituary by Bruce Weber of radical lawyer Leonard Weinglass, described in the Times headline as a “Courtroom Defender Of Radicals and Renegades,” glossed over the radicalism of Weinglass’s notorious clients. The text box gushed: “A man one colleague called ‘our era’s Clarence Darrow.’”
Leonard I. Weinglass, perhaps the nation’s pre-eminent progressive defense lawyer, who represented political renegades, government opponents and notorious criminal defendants in a half century of controversial cases, including the Chicago Seven, the Pentagon Papers and the Hearst kidnapping, died on Wednesday. He was 77 and lived in Manhattan.
Weber applied the usual Times gloss to Weinglass's radical clients, referring to Angela Davis, a prominent Communist Party member who twice ran on the party’s presidential ticket, only as an “activist and educator.” Davis also received the Lenin “Peace Prize” from East Germany in 1979, when that country was a Communist police state.
Over the past 40 years, he represented many other prominent clients, including Angela Davis, the activist and educator who was acquitted of murder, conspiracy and kidnapping charges in the 1970 killing of a California judge, and Amy Carter, the daughter of President Carter, who along with others, including Abbie Hoffman, was arrested during a 1986 protest against the activities of the Central Intelligence Agency at the University of Massachusetts. She was acquitted of trespassing and disorderly conduct charges.
Liberal columnists who were reliably opposed to Republican presidents warring against Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein (see Bush I and II) often do an about-face and strike up a martial tune when it's a Democratic president dropping bombs. Ask former New York Times columnist and good liberal Anthony Lewis, who pushed the Clinton administration to intervene in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The reliably dovish Times columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote from Cairo on Thursday to take the pro-war side in Libya - “Hugs From Libyans” - announcing that (to coin a phrase) we’re being welcomed as liberators in Benghazi.
This may be a first for the Arab world: An American airman who bailed out over Libya was rescued from his hiding place in a sheep pen by villagers who hugged him, served him juice and thanked him effusively for bombing their country.
New York Times political blogger Michael Shear used loaded language to describe the Republican Party’s “assault” on Obama-care on the one-year anniversary of that “historic measure," in his Wednesday morning post “Boehner, McConnell Push Assault on Health Care Law”
A year after President Obama signed his health care law into effect, the two leading Republicans in Congress are making it clear that they do not intend to let up in their assault on thehistoric measure.
New York Times reporter Elisabeth Rosenthal has found another unlikely environmental menace: Cats, an invasive species that disturbs the natural order, like kudzu. That’s the takeaway from Monday’s report on the grave danger felines present to birds: “Tweety Was Right: Cats Are a Bird’s No. 1 Enemy.”
While public attention has focused on wind turbines as a menace to birds, a new study shows that a far greater threat may be posed by a more familiar antagonist: the pet house cat.
A new study in The Journal of Ornithology on the mortality of baby gray catbirds in the Washington suburbs found that cats were the No. 1 killer in the area, by a large margin.
Nearly 80 percent of the birds were killed by predators, and cats were responsible for 47 percent of those deaths, according to the researchers, from the Smithsonian Institution and Towson University in Maryland. Death rates were particularly high in neighborhoods with large cat populations.
Mr. Marra won’t make friends among cat-lovers with thoughts like these:
Conagra Foods, whose social cause is ending child hunger, is taking a new approach to raise the issue’s visibility. The company is starting its largest campaign ever, including a television special, to spur more grass-roots involvement to make sure no child goes hungry.
The Omaha-based ConAgra financed a 30-minute program, hosted by Al Roker of the “Today” show on NBC, to tell the stories of American families who, each day, face the question of whether they will have enough to eat. One 8-year-old boy says, “I eat less so my sisters can have another meal.”
“Child hunger is not a problem, it’s a crisis,” Mr. Roker said in an interview, referring to the 17.2 million children the Agriculture Department estimates are at risk of lacking food. In the special, Mr. Roker, along with an NBC correspondent, Natalie Morales, highlights the effects of hunger on children’s ability to learn and complete their education.
It may seem surprising that the job of taking back the House -- Democrats need 25 seats to do so -- has fallen not to a bloodthirsty partisan, but to the easygoing Mr. Israel: an unassuming centrist from Long Island who once voted with President George W. Bush nearly half of the time and has barely made a mark after a decade in Congress.
“Unassuming”? Perhaps. “Centrist”? No way. The American Conservative Union awarded Israel’s lifetime voting record (he's a 10-year veteran of Congress) a mere 11 points out of 100, including 0 out of 100 the last two years. Those numbers situate Rep. Israel well left of center.
The Times's Jamie Lorber also insisted Israel was a "moderate" and a "middle-of-the-road Democrat" in a November 19, 2010 story marking his ascent to head the DCCC.
New York Times reporter Andrea Elliott won a Pulitzer Prize in 2007 for a series of articles about Sheik Reda Shata, an imam in Brooklyn. In a speech to the Times newsroom after her victory, her editor lauded the series for helping to tear down "the wall of hatred” against Muslims in America.
Sunday’s similar, 8,400-word magazine cover profile, “A Marked Man In America,” featured Yale Ph.D. candidate Yasir Qadhi, a conservative Muslim trying to make the case for non-violence to resistant and radicalized younger Muslims. Even while Elliott engaged in soft-pedaling Islamic extremism, as she did in her 2007 piece, Steven Emerson’s Investigative Project commented that Elliott’s “exhaustive profile of an Islamic cleric....makes the depth and severity of radicalization among some young Muslim Americans very clear,” even if she didn’t necessarily set out to do so.
But this paragraph by Elliott is wildly overstated.
From a visit to this city’s most infamous slum to a national address amid the gilded elegance of a celebrated theater, President Obama on Sunday sought to underscore the shared histories and futures of the United States and Brazil, reaching out to the people of one of the most racially diverse countries in the Americas.
But Mr. Obama, on the second day of a five-day tour of Latin America, once again seemed to sidestep mentioning his own racial background in appearances here, even as Brazilians who gathered at a plaza trying to catch a glimpse of him said that he had inspired millions in this country because of his African heritage.
Chief New York Times “Caucus” blog contributor Michael Shear celebrated Bracket Obama in a Saturday morning post on the president's college basketball tournament pool picks --“Obama’s N.C.A.A. Bracket Is One of the Best.” The wins just keep piling up for the president, at least on the court, in Shear’s telling.
Being president is an ego trip. So you would have thought President Obama wouldn’t need to add to his bragging rights. But Mr. Obama’s N.C.A.A. men’s basketball bracket stands -- for the moment, anyway -- as one of the best out there.
Out of 32 games, Mr. Obama has accurately predicted all but three. As of Saturday morning, he ranks at No. 16 on The Times’s bracket site, tied with many others. Mr. Obama has a total of 166 out of 195 points possible.
Radical Chic: Times Relaunches Mag With Hagiography of Terrorist Helper
“Such an outpouring of rage at a 40-year-old woman, mother to a toddler, who was convicted in her mid-20s of abetting a terrorist plot that never took place, is a measure of the degree to which Peruvians are still traumatized by the violence that convulsed their country during the years when the Shining Path warred with the military and nearly 70,000 Peruvians were killed....The M.R.T.A. was a much smaller insurgent group than the dominant Shining Path, and historically less violent....” – From novelist Jennifer Egan’s sympathetic March 6 Sunday magazine cover profile of Lori Berenson, middle-class Manhattanite turned terror collaborator, paroled after being sentenced to life in prison in Peru in 1996 for housing Marxist terrorists of the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (M.R.T.A.).
“The New York Times Magazine is based on long-form narrative journalism, and this week’s cover article, by Jennifer Egan, is a prime example. It is about Lori Berenson, a New Yorker who moved to Latin America as a young adult, got mixed up in revolutionary politics in Peru and was promptly thrown in prison, where she spent the next 15 years before being paroled last year. Egan traveled to Lima, where Berenson must remain until 2015, and tells the story of a wounded but resilient woman struggling to sort out a place for herself in the world. It is in every way a classic Times Magazine story.” – From New York Times Magazine editor-in-chief Hugo Lindgren “Editor’s Letter” in the March 6 edition.
On Friday the New York Times broke its near-silence on its new digital subscription plan with a front-page story by media reporter Jeremy Peters. As of Monday, March 28, visitors to nytimes.com can read 20 stories a month for free. After that, readers get several pay options, one being a $15-a-month fee for full web access. Print subscribers are unaffected.
Peters encapsulated the concerns:
No American news organization as large as The Times has tried to put its content behind a pay wall after allowing unrestricted access. The move is being closely watched by anxious publishers, which have warily embraced the Web and struggled with how to turn online journalism into a profitable business.
Canada is the Times’s guinea pig, which I’m sure pleases them:
On Thursday the House voted 228-192 to end direct federal funding of NPR, but “Caucus” correspondent Michael Shear on Friday morning dismissed the move as a “distraction” in “NPR Vote One of Many Distractions to Come.”
The vote by House Republicans Thursday to strip National Public Radio of much of its federal funding is an early example of the ways in which narrow issues are likely to repeatedly distract lawmakers during the upcoming 2012 election season.
Republicans have put more emphasis on spending cuts, while Democrats have put their focus on job creation, but leaders of both parties in both chambers of Congress have declared themselves committed to addressing the nation’s biggest economic challenges: reducing the spiraling deficits and debt, bringing down unemployment, addressing the long-term health of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
"My own idiosyncratic bent as a writer, no doubt a legacy of my years spent in the theater, is to look for a narrative in the many competing dramas unfolding on the national stage. I do have strong political views, but opinions are cheap. Anyone could be a critic of the Bush administration. The challenge as a writer was to try to figure out why it governed the way it did -- and how it got away with it for so long -- and, dare I say it, to have fun chronicling each new outrage."
He did admit the column-writing routine “can push you to have stronger opinions than you actually have, or contrived opinions about subjects you may not care deeply about, or to run roughshod over nuance to reach an unambiguous conclusion. Believe it or not, an opinion writer can sometimes get sick of his own voice.”
I must have missed the nuanced period of Rich’s column writing. Here’s just a smattering of Rich’s lowlights, both nonsensical and nasty, since the Times Watch project was launched in early 2003:
Thursday’s New York Times featured a puffball profile by Jeremy Peters of Jay Carney, the recently installed White House press secretary and former reporter for Time magazine undergoing a trial by fire in the wake of international crises. Carney left Time after the election to become communications director for Vice President Biden before getting his White House promotion.
His former colleagues at Time never knew which politicians he voted for. He complained privately that he felt the magazine’s coverage of the 2008 election -- the one that put his current boss in the White House -- was too lopsided toward Barack Obama.
The New York Times versus state spending cuts. Reporter Sabrina Tavernise went to the downtrodden town of Gallipollis, Ohio, and collected a grab bag of sympathetic liberal anecdotes about government workers threatened by a bill that would restrict public-sector unions, for Wednesday’s “Ohio Town Sees Public Job As Only Route To Middle Class.”
Tavernise focused solely on the plight of low-income workers, including unionized government workers, while failing to mention the state's $8 billion deficit (a number included only in an Associated Press sidebar story, "Governor's Budget Seeks To Limit Union Influence.")
Jodi and Ralph Taylor are public workers whose jobs as a janitor and a sewer manager cover life’s basics. They have moved out of a trailer into a house, do not have to rely on food stamps and sometimes even splurge for the spicy wing specials at the Courtside Bar and Grill.
While that might not seem like much, jobs like theirs, with benefits and higher-than-minimum wages, are considered plum in this depressed corner of southern Ohio. Decades of industrial decline have eroded private-sector jobs here, leaving a thin crust of low-paying service work that makes public-sector jobs look great in comparison.
Now, as Ohio’s legislature moves toward final approval of a bill that would chip away at public-sector unions, those workers say they see it as the opening bell in a race to the bottom. At stake, they say, is what little they have that makes them middle class.
I’ve given New York Times environmental reporter Elisabeth Rosenthal some grief for her ever-expanding damage list of events and patterns caused by global warming, so I’ll give her some credit for her Sunday Week in Review piece on the NIMBY phenomenon among liberal environmentalists: “Green Development? Not in My (Liberal) Backyard.”
Though Rosenthal doesn’t question the environmental necessity behind bike lanes and windmills, it’s refreshing to see a Times story on political hypocrisy that targets the left instead of the right.
Park Slope, Brooklyn. Cape Cod, Mass. Berkeley, Calif. Three famously progressive places, right? The yin to the Tea Party yang. But just try putting a bike lane or some wind turbines in their lines of sight. And the karma can get very different.
New York Times media reporter and columnist David Carr discussed the surprising recent audience gains of the newly controversial National Public Radio in “Gains For NPR Are Clouded,” featured on the front of Monday’s Business Day section.
Carr sometimes grasps the conservative point of view on media issues, but on Monday he joined his boss, Executive Editor Bill Keller, in chiding the journalism of News Corporation, the media consortium owned by Rupert Murdoch. (Carr also went after the purported conservative bias at Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal in a December 14, 2009 column, “Tilting Rightward at Journal.”
On Monday he described an NPR under siege while defending the necessity of publicly funded journalism against new calls for budget restraint.
The New York Times provided decent front-page coverage of the emerging scandal that took down top executives at National Public Radio, a hidden-camera sting that caught top fundraiser Ron Schiller making prejudicial remarks against Republicans in general and the Tea Party movement in particular. The backlash resulted in the resignation of Ron Schiller as well as NPR President and chief executive Vivian Schiller (no relation).
But Times media reporter Jeremy Peters took an incomplete look at the recent rash of hidden-camera hoaxes on Saturday under the strongly worded headline “Partisans Adopt Deceit As a Tactic for Reports.” Peters falsely implied that "gotcha" journalism had faded from view, ignoring two recent examples in the mainstream media, one from NPR itself.
Even as the Republican governor of Wisconsin was signing a bill Friday that all but ended collective bargaining for state employees, Democrats nationally had put out advertisements and letters to use his own success against him.
In a push to raise money for their candidates, Democrats hope Wisconsin will be for them what the health care overhaul was for Republicans in last year’s midterm elections: a galvanizing force for their base, and an example of overreaching that will win them crucial independent voters, not just in Wisconsin but also in Congressional races and the presidential election next year.
That’s not exactly how the Times covered the passage of Obama-care. Adam Nagourney’s front-page “political memo” of March 23, 2010, “For G.O.P., United Stand Has Drawbacks, Too,” strongly suggested Republicans could pay a political price for opposing Obama-care. (Oops.)
New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller’s latest sniping at Fox News garnered some unsympathetic media attention. Keller told a New York college audience March 3 that "I think if you're a regular viewer of Fox News, you're among the most cynical people on planet Earth. I cannot think of a more cynical slogan than 'Fair and Balanced'.”
The Daily Beast media reporter Howard Kurtz questioned Keller’s judgment, but also inaccurately stated that “The executive editor of The New York Times doesn't generally engage in trashing other news organizations. So Bill Keller caused quite a stir when he unloaded on Fox News.”
Friday’s New York Times off-lead story from Madison by Monica Davey and A.G. Sulzberger, in the aftermath of a defeat for public-sector unions in Wisconsin, spun the win by Republican Gov. Scott Walker as a long-term political victory for Democrats: “Wisconsin Curbs Public Unions, But Democrats Predict Backlash.” The online headline was even more blunt: “In Wisconsin Battle on Unions, State Democrats See a Big Gift.” Walker has evidently awoken “the sleeping giant” of labor unions (as if they had previously stayed out of politics).
By contrast, there was no such wishful thinking or hunt for the bright side for the losers in the aftermath of the fiercely contested passage of unpopular Obama-care last year. Adam Nagourney’s front-page “political memo” of March 23, 2010, “For G.O.P., United Stand Has Drawbacks, Too,” suggested Republicans could pay a political price for opposing Obama-care. (It didn’t quite work out that way.)
One member of Congress broke down and cried. Another was so incensed that she waved a pocket-size copy of the Constitution and declared, “This breathing document is in pain.” And there were so many angry charges of McCarthyism and countercharges of “political correctness” that it sometimes seemed that the topic at hand on Thursday in Washington was the radicalization of the House Homeland Security Committee, not American Muslims.
Why put “political correctness” in delegitimizing quotes but not “McCarthyism”?
Like most of the small landowners in Colombia’s lush mountainous Cauca region, Luis Garzón, 80, and his family have thrived for decades by supplying shade-grown, rainforest-friendly Arabica coffee for top foreign brands like Nespresso and Green Mountain. A sign in the center of a nearby town proclaims, “The coffee of Cauca is No. 1!”
But in the last few years, coffee yields have plummeted here and in many of Latin America’s other premier coffee regions as a result of rising temperatures and more intense and unpredictable rains, phenomena that many scientists link partly to global warming.
The increase in energy prices is beginning to resemble the rise in 2008. But this time, the American economy may be better prepared for higher fuel costs.
Gasoline prices have risen by nearly a third in the last year, and oil costs more than $100 a barrel for the first time in more than two years, driven by fears of extended Middle East supply disruptions and increased demand from an improving global economy.
While the latest surge in energy prices is likely to cause some pain and slow the recovery from the recession, economists say the spike is unlikely to derail the rebound unless prices rise a lot further.
On the front page of Thursday's New York Times, reporter Richard Perez-Pena again goes after Republican Gov. Chris Christie, making waves for his town hall appearances going after teachers unions and public pension plans, “Christie’s Talk Is Blunt, but Not Always Straight.”
The Times has escalated its anti-Christie sniping, and some of Perez-Pena’s “inaccuracies” are pretty pro forma and nit-picky for a front-page story and would probably have been passed over without comment by the Times if rendered by Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign, judging by the many Obama flubs the paper dismissed.
New Jersey’s public-sector unions routinely pressure the State Legislature to give them what they fail to win in contract talks. Most government workers pay nothing for health insurance. Concessions by school employees would have prevented any cuts in school programs last year.
Statements like those are at the core of Gov. Chris Christie’s campaign to cut state spending by getting tougher on unions. They are not, however, accurate.
Florida’s new Republican Gov. Rick Scott is moving to cut state bureaucracy, reduce regulation and make the state a more business-friendly environment, and is meeting resistance among the old political guard in Florida. But instead of hailing the governor’s fresh blood and independence (as it had done previously with liberal Republican Gov. Charlie Crist of Florida), the New York Times does its best to paint him as an ideologue in over his head.
Bowing to reality, President Obama has officially reneged on a campaign promise to his base, reversing a previous decision on detainees at Guantanamo Bay that will keep the prison camp for terrorists open indefinitely. It made the front page of Tuesday’s Washington Post but was buried near the back of the New York Times that day, on page 19: “Obama, in Reversal, Clears Way for Guantanamo Trials to Resume.”
Reporters Scott Shane and Mark Landler rounded up some suspiciously sympathetic quotes from left-wing figures, or as the Times calls them, “civil rights advocates," either cutting Obama some slack or even finding bright spots in the decision.
Monday’s New York Times obituary by Victoria Burnett celebrated the traveling companion of the guerilla leader and Communist murderer turned t-shirt icon Che Guevara in “Alberto Granado, 88, Friend of Che, Dies," and skipped over the facts about Guevara's violent life as a left-wing "revolutionary."
Alberto Granado Jiménez, the Argentine biochemist who accompanied the young Che Guevara on his formative odyssey across South America, died here on Saturday. He was 88.
Mr. Granado, who settled in Cuba in 1961, died of natural causes, according to Cuban state television. His ashes were to be scattered in Argentina, Cuba and Venezuela, a state newscast said.
Mr. Granado was born in the Argentine town of Hernando on Aug. 8, 1922. One of three sons of a Spanish émigré and railroad clerk, he studied biochemistry and pharmacology at the University of Córdoba.
It was in that city that he met Ernesto Guevara, an asthmatic teenager who was determined to play rugby with Mr. Granado’s team. They became close friends, sharing an intellectual curiosity, a mischievous sense of humor and a restive desire to explore theircontinent.
The New York Times's weekly “Sunday Routine” feature is billed as “Prominent New Yorkers recount their weekend rituals.” This Sunday it featured Al Sharpton being interviewed by David Halbfinger. Halbfinger’s introduction gave no hint of why Sharpton is considered by non-Times readers as a controversial figure.
Unmistakable and formidable, if a physically reduced version of the man he once was, the Rev. Al Sharpton, 56, uses Sundays as his “half-down day.” It’s a workday, for sure -- including two hourlong radio broadcasts -- but it also offers chances for decompression, companionship, exercise, sending texts and posting on Twitter. A Brooklyn native, Mr. Sharpton lives in a two-bedroom apartment in the West 70s in Manhattan.
That bias by omission permeates the paper’s historical coverage of Sharpton, which has consistently labeled him a “civil rights advocate,” while ignoring his (literally) racially incendiary past: the racially charged Tawana Brawley rape hoax; his ranting against “diamond merchants” (Jews) in 1991; the Harlem protest against what he called a “white interloper," during which a fellow protester burst into the store, shot four employees and set the store on fire, where seven died.
New York Times religion reporter Laurie Goodstein made Tuesday’s front page with an attack on Brigitte Gabriel, an activist who warns against the dangers of radical Islam in the United States: “Drawing U.S. Crowds With Anti-Islam Message.”
Interestingly, the piece is datelined Fort Worth, Texas, suggesting much of the relevant reporting was done last fall – Gabriel spoke to a Tea Party event in Fort Worth in September 2010, and Goodstein’s story includes a photo of Gabriel speaking at “a Tea Party event in September.”
Did some of this story come out of the freezer? It was surely released today to intersect with Rep. Peter King’s hearings on Islamic radicalism which begin on Thursday, but which the Times already bashed in its lead editorial today. The editors pointed an accusing finger at King: “Not much spreads fear and bigotry faster than a public official intent on playing the politics of division.”