The worst of Times

NYTSherlock Holmes knew the significance of dogs that don’t bark — a skill that would have seen him spot in an instant what is so wrong with the New York Times “fact check” of the candidates’ claims, counterclaims and tossed-off assertions during yesterday’s third presidential debate. As an example of an event viewed through the distorting prism of partisanship it is hard to beat. Consider the very first entry:

Mr. Trump said that health insurance premiums were “going up 60, 70, 80 percent,” and “next year, they’re going to go up over 100 percent.”

This was rated “overstated”, yet the Times‘ explanation actually agrees with Trump’s appraisal (emphasis added):

“Increases of 25 percent to 45 percent or more have been approved in some states. But increases of 80 percent or more are rare.”

Rare they may be, but evidently they do happen. So Trump was correct. More than that, the Times‘ “fact check” supports his contention that Obamacare is a disaster, yet makes no comment on increased premiums of between “25 percent to 45 percent”. Should Times reporters be afflicted with salary reductions of that size, one can imagine annoyance in the newsroom being widespread.

How could this be? How is it that a news organisation which purports to be America’s journal of record gets it so wrong?

Well, part of the explanation resides in the Times‘ opinion of itself, best summed up by a former editor who arrogantly quipped that “it hasn’t happened until the Times reports it.” So, if Hillary lies and the Times looks the other way, she’s blameless. If an upstart news organisation gets the wood on dirty tricks, as Steve Kates notes, those revelations won’t count for a hill of beans when the Times ignores them.

And there is one other factor to explain such selective blindness —  a factor the Times itself touched upon in a recent profile of Ben Rhodes, US deputy national security adviser and a lead architect of much of Obama’s foreign policy. Here it is:

“The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns. That’s a sea change. They literally know nothing.”

For what it is worth, the Times‘ fact-checking can be read via the link below. Oh, and do notice the biggest dog that didn’t bark: no examination of Trump’s assertion that Mrs Clinton’s operatives and Democrat associates are in the business of voter fraud, ballot-stuffing and making sure the dead vote early and often. It didn’t bark because the Times declined to let that matter out of its kennel in the first place.

— roger franklin

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