Tag Archives: New York Times

A prospective experiment for you all to do at home

Here is a prospective journalistic experiment for you all to do in the privacy of your own home. Then it’s time for me to get back to the science.

The previous post (https://luysii.wordpress.com/2016/02/03/helping-hillary-along/) showed how the New York Times is working very hard to brand Rubio as a member of the Republican establishment and as their preferred candidate. Well, he might be just that, but if there ever was a candidate of the Democratic establishment it is Hillary Clinton.

So here’s the experiment for you to do. Pick a media outlet you follow (NPR, New York Times, Washington Post, any TV channel of your choice etc. etc.). Then count the number of times the term establishment is used in stories about Rubio and about Hillary. Since I read the NYT daily, I’ll choose them. I get the WSJ but never plow through the whole thing — just the first section.

There’s no point in being a scientific type if you don’t make predictions. Mine is that the word establishment will be used at least twice as often (if not more) in stories about Rubio than in stories about Hillary (this includes op-eds).

So pick your outlet and start tomorrow. Send your results here by writing a comment on this post.


Helping Hillary along

A friend of my son once said that all you needed was the first one or two measures of anything Bach wrote to know how the rest of the piece would go. So it is with the New York Times. The lead about the primary campaign 3 Feb ’16 contains the terms “Army, Attack, Dispatches” and the sublead contains the term “Establishment”.

Do you think this article is about Hillary?

Of course not. This is branding at its finest. Of whom? Of a viable Republican candidate (Rubio), so you’ll know just what to think about him without even reading the article.

Another article on the front page has a nice picture of Hillary. They mention that she won Iowa by the narrowest of margins, but nothing about how surprising this was given that she has the entire mainstream press and Democratic party establishment (term not used) on her side.

It’s why the mainstream press must be read the way the Russians (and the CIA) read Pravda during the cold war.

Addendum 4 Feb ’16 — When Barack Obama won the Iowa caucus in 2008, the press went bananas and noted that this was the first time a Black candidate won the Iowa caucus.

Have you read anything about the first Latino to win the Iowa caucus (Cruz) or that another came in third (Rubio) and that a Black candidate came in fourth (Carson), the three receiving an aggregate 60% of the vote in lily white Iowa?  I thought not.   That’s because the narrative that Republicans are racist must be upheld at all costs.

Second addendum 4 Feb ’16 — I should have looked at the editorial page of the Times before writing the above.  There is still nothing in the mainstream ‘news’ feeds about the Latino victory even now.  The Op-ed page contains “The Latino Political First We’re Ignoring”.  The victories of Rubio and Cruz are noted. The op-ed notes that “it is not being celebrated”.  So who is “we” and who is not celebrating?  “No less an arbiter than Jorge Ramos the Univision anchor” and La Opinion, the nation’s largest Spanish language newspaper.  One must ask who elected the arbiter and the editorial board of the La Opinion?  No one.  More media types holding forth in their echo chamber  Another example of self selected spokesmen being blindsided by events.

On the same opinion page we are told “The Republican establishment is thrilled”  about Rubio by Gail Collins.  This continues the meme on the front page yesterday of Rubio being the establishment.

I have no problem with Collins or the op-ed about Cruz and Rubio’s victory.  They are opinions and on the opinion page where they belong.  The problem was yesterday’s front page opinion piece masquerading as news.



Facilitated communication

Amidst the ads in the Sunday Magazine largely targeted to the 1% that the New York Times claims to hate is an article on facilitated communication. I had a clinical experience with it 30 years ago that you might be interested in.

As a neurologist I was asked to do an Independent Medical Evaluation (IME) on an unfortunate man who was electrocuted at work (he worked on high voltage transmission lines). He went into cardiac arrest and sustained severe brain damage. The issue was not fault, which the power company readily admitted, but whether in what appeared to be a vegetative state, with no visible response to verbal commands, he was in fact conscious but unable to respond. In the latter case the reward to the family would have been substantially larger (for pain and suffering in addition to loss of consortium, etc. etc.). It was claimed that facilitated communication showed that he was able to write the answer to simple calculations given verbally, not visually.

Reviewing the chart before seeing the man, showed that he and his wife were admirable individuals, adopting children that no one else wanted and raising them despite limited income. He was seen at the rehab facility, with attorneys for the insurer for the power compony and his family present. It was apparent that the people caring for him were quite devoted, both to him and his wife and were very sincere, especially one of his young therapists.

The neurologic exam showed that although he did react to deep pain (sternal compression), he did not follow simple commands (e.g. blink). He appeared to be in a coma. Following the neurologic examination the young therapist then demonstrated how when he held the man’s hand to which a pencil was attached, the man could actually perform calculations — add 2 and 2 produce a 4, etc. etc. Several such calculations were produced all with correct answer.

What do you think I did next?

No peeking. Think about it.

I took the first sheet of paper away, placed a clean sheet under the man’s hand and asked for a repeat (this time with the therapist’s eyes closed).

This produced a bunch of random lines, nothing more.  When the therapist opened his eyes and saw the results, he was visibly shaken and close to tears.

Was he faking the whole time? At any time? I seriously doubt it. A faker could have produced a reasonable number with his eyes shut. Try it. He didn’t.

“You can’t con an honest man” — http://www.amazon.com/The-Sting-Man-Inside-Abscam/dp/0143125273

True, but you certainly can con yourself.

For another example, this time perpetrated by nurses, see how an 11 year old girl (Emily Rosa) put a definitive end to “Therapeutic Touch” and became the youngest co-author ever of an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association — http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=187390

Is a sea change taking place at the New York Times ?

The little kid started crying as I approached him with the syringe filled with yellow fluid. He knew that after he was held down and I injected him he would be violently sick and vomit repeatedly.

It was 1964 and this happened at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and the kid had acute lymphatic leukemia, and the syringe was full of methotrexate, the antifolate drug in use at the time. I was a third year med student. Although Stanley Milgram had begun his “Obedience to Authority” experiments in 1961 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment, I was hardly a happy or willing participant in the proceedings. I had nightmares about it.

Like all the kids with leukemia at CHOP, the little boy was part of a ‘study’ run by an oncologist, with an accent right out of Boris Karloff. I thought he was a monster. He was so happy that the kids in his branch of the study survived a horrible 21 months, vs. the previous record of 18. I thought that the kids were being kept alive and suffering when they shouldn’t have been, in order to set a new survival record. The study randomized the kids between the new regimen and the current regimen showing the best survival.

Well, I was terribly wrong, and the oncologist was a hero not a monster. Presently the cure rate (not survival) of childhood leukemia is over 90%. We now worry about the long term side effects of the drugs (and radiation) used to cure it — cognitive problems, fertility problems. It was precisely because the new treatment was compared to the best previous treatment that we are where we are today.

What in the world does this have to do with the New York Times?

Simply this, on Monday 21 April the front page of the New York Times contained an article title “50 Years Later, Hardship Hits Back, Poorest Counties Are Still Losing in War on Want”. They don’t call it the “War on Poverty” until the 5th paragraph. Nonetheless, the article (without explicitly saying so) documents just what a failure it has been. Nowhere in the article, is there any mention of why it failed, but it’s clear that only more of the same has been tried — more food stamps, more medicaid, more free school lunches, etc. etc. It is claimed in the article that this lifted tens of thousands above a subsistence standard of living, yet 15% of the populace is still living in poverty and 47/300 million of us are on food stamps.

At least the Times is no longer pretending that the War on Poverty (started in 1964 when I was pushing methotrexate) is a success.

Another sign of a sea change at the Times appeared the day before on the Op-Ed page in an article titled “From Rags to Riches to Rags” in which the notion of a static top 1% in income was debunked. A study of 44 years of longitudinal data of people from 25 to 60 showed that 12% of all of them would be in the top 1% of income for at least one year, and that 39% will be in the top 5% of income for at least 1 year.

A third appeared on the 22nd in a front page article concerning a near lynching by Blacks in Detroit of a white man who hit a child with his car.

In recent years, I’ve thought that I’ve had to read the Times much as the Russians read Pravda during cold war I (and perhaps today). A friend has called it ‘advocacy driven journalism’. Perhaps there will be a shift in orientation from left to right, but, even so, I’m not a fan of having articles #1 and #3 any place other than Op – Ed page. Advocacy journalism is advocacy journalism whether it agrees with your political orientation or not. The 3 articles cited really aren’t news. That’s what the opinion page is for — opinion and background.

80+ years ago my future parents discovered that one of the first things they had in common was that they both read the Times. I grew up with it, and hopefully it will become a great newspaper again.

The failure to try anything new against poverty is a manifestation of the arrogance of the intelligent, about which there will be another post.

The Silence of the Times

This just in — Ramallah occupied territories — Israeli Defense Forces killed 3 students protesting the occupation.

Don’t you think this would be on the front page of the New York Times, The Washington Post, all over CNN and MSNBC.

On 13 Feb the Times noted that 2 students protesting in Venezuela had been killed (3 actually). Absolutely nothing further about it, or the protests. Nothing to see here. Move on sayeth the NYT and the Boston Globe as far as I can tell.

They like to think of themselves as the fearless, investigative press.

The New York Times to the Rescue

New York Times, we have a problem.

This is the New York Times, say again please.

New York Times, a former governor was caught with his pants down once again, and the mayor-elect’s daughter admitted that she’s a boozer and a druggie.

That’s terrible! What can we do to help?

Both Democrats, both endorsed by the NYT. The Daily News and the Post are sure to make a big deal of it

Any suggestions?

In times of past liberal agenda stress, you used to trot out an article about Nixon, a reliable old villain if there ever was one. But that was so long ago that even the thirtysomethings don’t know who he is.

Well, we can bury those stories in the New York section. Spitzer is basically old news, as he’s done this so many times. The daughter merits a bigger story. We can always write about how brave she is, coming out and all, during the lead.

We still need a villain.

The tea party won’t do, they’re more a collection of the disgruntled than a single figure.

How about Christie?

Christie? What’s he done?

Well, nothing actually. But our people don’t like him, and there still might be a few Democrats over there to say how terrible he is.

Dunno, he won big, and in a very Blue state. He might even run for President in ’16. A negative article about him would be useful to the cause.

And so it came to pass on Christmas Day Anno Domini 2013 that Spitzer’s divorce got 6 column inches of coverage on page 19. The daughter’s story got thirty-nine column inches and two photos on pages 17 and 19. On the front page, the New York Times ran the following headline: “Stories Add Up As Bully Image Trails Christie,” devoting thirty-six column inches and a photograph to it.

They still call themselves a newspaper.

The New York Times does it again


This is a link to an interview with Bill Ayers, former weatherman and terrorist which appeared 11 September 2001. In it he says He says he ”I don’t regret setting bombs. I feel we didn’t do enough.” I think the interview was on the bottom left corner of the front page (at least the edition available in Syracuse that day).

Today (15 April ’13) they have an article by a prisoner in Guantanamo on the opinion page saying it’s killing him.

Tomorrow, expect stories about Muslims cowering in fear. Next week — Islam is a religion of peace.

Res ispa loquitur

Narratives of the Times

Before I get started, let me say that one of the first things my late parents found they had in common 75+ years ago was reading the New York Times.  I grew up reading it and still do.  That’s what’s so appalling about what it’s become;  editorials masquerading as news, and even those slanted to keep the (presumably) liberal readership undisturbed.

On 4 August the front page carried a story titled “Police Stops in New York Drop by 34%”.  The article goes on for 24 paragraphs and occupies a full third of an inside page.  In it we find that the number of police stops, questioning, and frisks dropped by 34% in the second quarter of 2012.  The first 3 months  had some 203,500, the second 3 had 133,934, which was 25% lower than the same quarter a year ago.  Only half the stops resulted in frisks.

We are told that some unnamed civil rights groups and City Council members don’t like stop and frisk, as 85% involve Blacks and Hispanics.  We are told that the ACLU sued the Philly police department about them, and got the cops to put in ‘safeguards’.

There is an interview with Mr. Kelly the police commissioner.

What aren’t we told?  This is practically a lab experiment on the effect of stop and (possibly) frisk on crime rates.  The Times is silent.  The two reporters were certainly not cramped for space.

The same day the New York Post ran an article on the subject (not sure where it appeared).  The headline was rather different “Crime way up after stop and frisk drop.” Here’s the data the Times didn’t give you.  There were 24,751 major crimes reported in the first 3 months of the year and 27,832 in the second quarter, a 12% increase in crime associated with the 34% decline in stop and frisk.  The number of guns seized dropped from 881 to 732.

Most readers of this blog are interested in the science presented and have a scientific background.  So for them, I have a question.  What did the New York Post leave out that you’d want to know?

I think you’d want the number of major crimes reported for each 3 months for 2010 and 2011.  Otherwise what looks like cause and effect could just be statistical fluctuation.  It is my understanding that crime rates go up in the warm months, so the 12% rise might just be a seasonal fluctuation.  We don’t know and we aren’t told.  We should be. The data is clearly available.

The Post’s transgression is relatively minor.  The Times’ is not.  It’s an attempt to keep one of their favorite narratives going.  If this were some brief note on the inside of the paper, it would be one thing.  But this is front page news (except that it isn’t news but a thinly disguised editorial).  Why is the article an editorial?  Because it chooses to ignore facts that don’t suit the acticle’s thrust.  This is perfectly acceptable in an editorial, but not in one masquerading as news.

It is very sad to see this happening in what was  formerly a great paper.  Granted that there has been a decline in readership, advertising and profitability in all print media largely due to the rise of the internet, but these wounds are self-inflicted.