The Gossipy Grey Lady

Many bloggers have pointed out the New York Times often attributes motives to politicians, when it knows nothing about the actual motives. They do this to the point of obscuring facts in favor of spinning everything into a horse-race. Here are a couple of great examples.

In their news analysis yesterday, the New York Times shows why their critics are right. Here is the lead paragraph:

In calling for public war-crime trials at Guantánamo Bay, President Bush is calculating that with a critical election just nine weeks away, neither angry Democrats nor nervous Republicans will dare deny him the power to detain, interrogate and try suspects his way.

Well, maybe. Sure, it could be a cold calculation. Or maybe Bush feels that with the Hamdan decision going against him, he is in legal limbo, and needs to put his vision of the proposed law on the table to comply with the ruling. Maybe he actually, you know, wants to follow the law. There ain’t a lick of evidence either way. Yet, that was the first sentence of the article, and the tease blurb was virtually the same. News analysis should not be held to the same standard as more pure reporting pieces, but there is still some standard. And the meat of this article is not analysis, it’s fantasy.

Let’s dig into the first few paragraphs, shall we?
1) Bush is gonna manipulate everything to get his way
2) Why? He wants to challenge Congress’s authority. (Yes, he’s challenging them by asking them to pass his version of a bill… right!)
3) “..the gambit”
4) “…had more than one agenda at work..”
5) Such as revenge on the Supreme Court
6) Or trying to make people forget about Iraq

Guessing about motives — you know what happens when you assume, right?

(Actually, I have a different answer to that question, but I’ll save that for a “weird funny observation” post)

2 thoughts on “The Gossipy Grey Lady”

  1. Great point Grogs! If there’s big unexpected news (9/11, interest rate hike) then you might see a coherent story, otherwise it’s just statistics.

  2. This reminds me of an item on NPR recently, where they started with the observation that any time the market goes up or down, there is a spin put on why. “Market declines as investors await economic news.” “Market climbs based on strength of Dell’s quarterly earnings.” “Market reacts to new Bin Laden tape.” etc. How can anyone really know the motivation of the investing community as a whole? To prove their point, they went to a popular Wall St. watering hole after hours and asked several independent investors why the market did what it did that day. Four analysts, four different answers. And they all said that they were certain that was why investors acted the way they did on that particular day.

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