Update: Columbia Journalism Review Sees 'Galling Negligence' In NY Times Piece

January 19th, 2007 11:49 PM

(Big thanks and HT to reader Tony S.) Even the Columbia Journalism Review* was drawn to using the words "galling negligence" to describe the work on an incredibly misleading and flawed New York Times article from earlier this week. As we reported in this NewsBusters piece on Wednesday (1/17/07), the Times published a piece called, "51% of Women Are Now Living Without Spouse." We illustrated how the Times tinkered with the numbers to get their headline. Yesterday (Thu. 1/18/07), CJR Daily chimed in on what was so clearly a problematic article. (Emphasis mine:)

Leaving aside what struck us as strange methodology (like the fact that the survey counted anyone over the age of fifteen as a woman), there was something else disturbing about the piece. It had a tone of exuberance that spun the numbers as an unambiguously positive piece of progress for women. A quote from William H. Frey of the Brookings Institute captured the mood of it. The shift away from marriage, Frey said, represents "a clear tipping point, reflecting the culmination of post-1960 trends associated with greater independence and more flexible lifestyles for women." ... (snip) ...

[A]part from a tossed-off paragraph that reminds us that, buried within these statistics, seventy percent of African-American women are single, there is nothing to indicate how the epidemic of single parentage in the black community contributes to this statistic ... (snip) ...

Instead the rest of the article is completely about those middle class white women who insist they have chosen to be without ball and chain ... (snip) ...

Here's the closing paragraph. I think you'll really like it.

What's going on here? Maybe the Times, with CBS mindlessly following, is just pandering to its imagined audience, among whom middle-class white woman living in the East Village of Manhattan must make up a large share. But this doesn't explain the galling negligence. It's moments like these when the paranoia of the right wing who sees the hand of liberal bias everywhere becomes understandable. Not that there is a conspiracy at work. Only that, if in the part of America where reporters live, being free from marriage is an unequivocally positive thing, this shouldn't mean -- as this article leads us to believe -- that this is the case for every woman in the country. For some, what the Times is describing as freedom feels, one can imagine, like a curse.

Don't you just love it when you see the words "galling negligence" in an article about a New York Times article? Here's a rare "bravo" to CJR.

Finally, Michael Medved, who discussed the Times piece on his radio show on Wednesday, further shreds the study in his new column at townhall.com. Check it out: "Journalistic Malpractice in 'Marriage is Dead' Report."

* A major donor of The Columbia Journalism Review is The Ford Foundation, who is well known in supporting "progressive" causes. On its advisory board are folks like Alex Jones (from NPR, PBS, and Harvard), who was largely responsible for bringing Al Franken's Lies and the Lying Lairs book to the planet.