July 20, 2006

This is the most ridiculous article I've ever seen in the NYT.

Really, I can't get over them publishing this. It's really long too. Is David Mager someone they know or something? Even though I'm an older woman myself, and I love reading the NYT, I find myself frequently scoffing at the way so many of the articles seem designed to titillate older women. This thing seems like porn plots reprocessed for ladies who want but can't bring themselves to watch porn. And it's not just the sex. It's the real estate.

69 comments:

Doolesfan said...

$30,000 in work and you getting to bang the guy's girlfriend?
Law is the wrong business.

Doolesfan said...

Uh... "and you get."

I was truly distressed about how much money I pissed away in law school when I should've been a contractor. ;)

Tom Faranda said...

Read the first few paragraphs. It is totally moronic.

So why publicize it?

P. Froward said...

And on top of his girlfriend boinking the contractor, this idiot does an interview about it in the NYT? With photograph. What a freak.

Speaking of freaks, how's this for prose:

But what is the unconscious in the fixer-upper that is man but the cesspool?

It took me three tries to parse that garbage. Don't they have editors? Or are they having their offices redone and the editors are all, you know... busy?

Tibore said...

You got it in three? Wow... it took me more than twice the passes.

Tibore said...

Could this just be a New York or California thing? 'Cause I've seen the different contractors here who've worked on friends places and my mothers house, and I gotta tell you, not one of them is anyone's idea of a prize catch.

Johnny Nucleo said...

Good God that's hilarious. Four pages!

Some great quotes:

"Contractors and women at home, it’s shooting fish in a barrel."

"I remember saying, 'I’m not paying for the work,' meanwhile I’m feeling like I want to feel his face imploding on my fist." (For full effect, read this in a total dweeb voice.)

"It’s fast, sexy, hot, but it doesn’t mean a lot — it’s like sexual chocolate."

"Mr. Guido, too, has noticed how attractive the ability to do household repairs and construction is to women. "They say, 'That door was sticking 10 years. Why couldn’t my husband do that?'"

J said...

Wasn't "Sexual Chocolate" the name of Randy Watson's band in "Coming to America"? (you know him as Joe the policeman from the "What's Goin' Down" episode of "That's My Mama")

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Seven Machos said...

I think what is interesting about this article is the class-resentment subtext.

Dave said...

Two observations:

1) Real estate is porn, especially in NYC and its surrounding suburbs.

2) Two twenty-something women were talking about this story on the bus this morning.

Dave said...

You want to see a ridiculous NYT article?

Check this out.

The Times has become morally depraved.

tiggeril said...

HOT HOT BEERGUT ACTION!

charlotte said...

I've seen plenty of women clients and contractors/workers fantasize about the other, and their flirtations are cliche to the collar ties. I work with a lot of contractors and subs, and invariably one of them will make a pass, only to find I prefer making beautiful building together and would never cheapen the experience with a quick erection--

Still, when certain construction workers' shirts come off on steamy, sweaty, hot days, it would be unforgivably rude to avert the eyes. They love the appreciation.

KaneCitizen said...

It's really long too.

Heh -- That's what Mager's girlfriend said too.

altoids1306 said...

I can't believe this sap told his story on NYT, with a photo to boot (like a previous commentator said). Has he no shred of self-respect left?

As for the NYT, they continue their schizophrenia: upper-class "lifestyle" pieces in the real-estate/fashion/auto sections, and lamentations of the oppressed everywhere else.

Brent said...

Ann, Ann, Ann . . .

Ah, you are just now beginning to see the Times for what it is? The Times is: Irresponsible drivel. It seeks to become more and more like "The New Yorker", which is to say less and less relevant to the REAL world it's supposed to be reporting about.

Come over to the other side Ann.

As I've said on this blog before . .

My dream commercial (James Earl Jones voice-type):
. . . "You just can't trust (pause for effect)
. . . . the New York Times"

CCMCornell said...

The article does seem more like one of those sex stories you see in men's and womens' magazines than a paper.

P. Froward said...

Plumber's crack is the new tall-dark-and-handsome.

XWL said...

"Is David Mager someone they know or something?"

After some googling, I find that he works at Bion.

Reading the bio blurb regarding him in this PDF, a few informative nuggets can be gleamed, "David Mager (52) became a consultant on a full time basis to Bion and Dairy in June 2003 . . . His role includes: 1) directing the BionSoil efforts, 2) liaison to the media, regulatory and environmental communities" But wait, there's more, "One of the organizers of the original Earth Day in 1970" and there's this, "He is concurrently a principal of Meadowbrook Lane Capital, LLC, which among other transactions represented Ben and Jerry's Homemade Ice Cream in their sale to Unilever"

So what conclusions might one infer?

That he's well connected to lefty environmental concerns, and part of his job description is to liaison with the media, chances are, he's also quite chummy with folks in the NYT with similar sympathies.

Also this "One of the organizers of the original Earth Day in 1970" bit, he was sixteen at the time, I'm not sure if that's admirable or pathetic that this factoid remains in his bio.

a.m. said...

I suppose articles in the NYT like this are simply supposed to encourage the "Desperate Housewives" syndrome that is sweeping the country: women with nothing bettre to do than to seduce the UPS man, gardener, and now the contractor. Sure, everyone's free to do what they want, but at the end of the day, sometimes the best part of a fantasy is that it might come true (doesn't mean it has to).

bill said...

XWL,

your reporting is more fascinating than the NY Times article. Great work!

SippicanCottage said...
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Michael said...

“I’m 6-foot-4 and I actually am very, very strong,” Mr. Mager said. “He’s a very small guy. At parties, when we were friends, I would pick him up and spin him around.”

Huh?

ChrisO said...

Sorry, but XWL's detective work is less than impressive, although it's nice to see that no NYT article is too mundane for the conspiracy theorists. Mager is a scientist who also does some work with the press. I've been in PR for 20 years. I can assure you that everyone who's job description incudes working with the press is not automatically "chummy" with NYT writers. But put Ben & Jerry's and New York Times together and the Times bashers rise to the bait. And if he has gotten to know Times reporters as part of his work, chances are they don't work for the Home & Garden section.

Of course it's possible he knows someone at the Times. What is just as possible is that the reporter used a service called ProfNet, in which a reporter posts a notice that she's working on an article on contractors having affairs with housewives. PR firms and professional all over the country subscribe to ProfNet. How do you think all of these kinds of articles include people from all over the country? Do you think the reporters just call their friends?

As for the guy being an idiot for doing the interview, it's been at least 12 years since it happened. How long is he supposed to feel humiliated?

Steven H. said...

altoids:

I don't see how it's schizophrenic for the Times to write (I first wrote "post" before remembering that there is in fact a print version of the paper!) "upper-class 'lifestyle' pieces in the real-estate/fashion/auto sections, and lamentations of the oppressed everywhere else" when their core audience is educated liberals, many of whom surely live upper-class lifestyles. If anything, you'd have a better argument that educated liberals were schizophrenic, though I'm not sure that's the best argument either.

As for articles like these, I've noticed an increasing trend (actually, I haven't lived long enough to know whether or not it's a trend) of fluffier, feature-y "lifestyle" articles both in the Times and in newspapers like the Guardian. My theory- it's one of the many ways in which newspapers are trying to deal with the Internet. They can't just publish news, because you can get that from the online wires.

(Another way newspapers are trying to deal with the Web is giving away free stuff, to my delight. While I was in England, I got three DVD movies, a cardboard DVD holder, and a wall poster "Sharks of the World" just by reading the Guardian. I've noticed the NY Post occasionally gives stuff away too. I like this strategy so much more than TimesSelect...)

Doug said...

I can see how easily this can happen. You have a trophy wife who lives with her rich, older, out of shape, work obsessed husband. A younger, healthier looking dude who has seen American Pie movies once too often, comes strolling in, and unlike her husband, he is there for 8 hours during the day.

Telecomedian said...

I have a friend who recently moved back to Northern Virginia because his fiance' started an affair with their contractor. It's not all California and New York.

And, my I worked with my uncle the building contractor for five years during high school and college. Both of us were in similar situations where we were propositioned by lonely housewives and divorced women. After years of shunning their advances, my uncle finally caved in, dated one woman, and the committed life-long bachelor has now been married for ten years.

And, not all of us have beer guts!

Brent said...

The fact that Chris O, a frequent commenter on this blog with a decidedly leftist viewpoint, loves and defends the Times is example enough of the Times "left-wing in it's reporting" bias. Which of course makes the Times suspect to anyone wanting a balanced, let alone accurate, reporting of hard news.

Chris, please feel free to tell me if I'm correct or not.

Joe said...

Pretty disgusting article. I wonder how many husbands will be getting a queasy feeling reading it at work while the contractor is at their house today. And how many faithful wives will be unfairly suspected as a result of this. But I stopped reading the Times years ago, when they stopped pretending to be objective.

Simon Kenton said...

Dave said, You want to see a ridiculous New York Times article?

Man is weak. I did want to see one. Dave got it in one. This article contains a sentence written by the artist:

“I’d cut off my right arm,” he wrote, “to be able to hold my mother.”

Right. What would he hold her with? That's in there with "the fixer-upper that is man." Or the pimples Marilyn Monroe set to pumping.

It's just so Romantic (in the literary sense). The hapless reader longs for the author to show just a hint of an Inner Editor, but NO! That would be too Neo-classic for words. When the Most Precious Self is venting, whatever surfaces has to get dumped on the reader.

Goesh said...

I don't know what to say about this. My first thought was, 'affluent housewives screwing immigrant laborers?' It seems construction crews are filled with mexicans and white trash with bad teeth these days, I don't know. I suppose that means the Mrs. is screwing only the contractor which makes it white-collar on white-collar sex and less torrid somehow, but probably a bit more sanitary. The thought of some fancy heifer living in a 500K house humping an uneducated construction worker with bad teeth, fetid breath and body odor on the floor of the kitchen doesn't turn me on. Maybe I read this wrong, I don't know.

Faeless said...

What is just as possible is that the reporter used a service called ProfNet, in which a reporter posts a notice that she's working on an article on contractors having affairs with housewives. PR firms and professional all over the country subscribe to ProfNet. How do you think all of these kinds of articles include people from all over the country? Do you think the reporters just call their friends?

At one time I figured they did some actual, you know, reporting. But thanks for your illuminating comments. It's always good when people come straight out and point out the manufactured nature of the news business.

bearing said...

I wondered why there wasn't more about the contractor's wife. I mean, he was married, unlike Mr. Mager.

Ann, I thought you were being a little over-the-top until I actually clicked the link. I couldn't even finish reading the article.

Meade said...

Steven H. said...
(Another way newspapers are trying to deal with the Web is giving away free stuff, to my delight. While I was in England, I got three DVD movies, a cardboard DVD holder, and a wall poster "Sharks of the World" just by reading the Guardian

You call that free?

altoids1306 said...

Chris0:What is just as possible is that the reporter used a service called ProfNet, in which a reporter posts a notice that she's working on an article on contractors having affairs with housewives. PR firms and professional all over the country subscribe to ProfNet. How do you think all of these kinds of articles include people from all over the country?

Ah, that explains a lot - why articles are all ancedote and no facts these days. If you want to prove that a trend exists, ask for every instance of it on ProfNet, and voila, it exists. More bogus reporting I can safely ignore from now on.

steven h:[T]heir core audience is educated liberals, many of whom surely live upper-class lifestyles. [Y]ou'd have a better argument that educated liberals were schizophrenic, though I'm not sure that's the best argument either.

Good point. Money doesn't lie, and if their ads are for Burberry, the readership must be upper-class. But I do find something deeply contradictory about a paper that casually recommends 50 USD "tasting menus", yet sneers at Walmart organic food. Schizophrenia was charitable description - perhaps a more accurate one would be hypocrisy.

Bissage said...

Faeless: Years ago I met a guy who was going to law school who used to be a journalist. I was surprised so I asked him why he would give up so interesting a career for something so tedious. He said, "Most journalism is re-writing press releases."

tcd said...

I don't think this is a class-ist phenomenon at all. I think the women in the article are just whores and their husbands are incompetent weinies. Because the men are white-collar professionals should not preclude them from handyman activities. My husband is a software engineer who not only earns a decent salary as a software engineer, he's pretty darn handy around the house. Screw the broken lightbulb! He can rewire the whole damn house if he had to or maybe just for fun. The man hasn't met a house project he couldn't handle.
Are men on the coasts so emasculated? Perhaps they left their balls at the manicurist's whilst getting a mani-pedi?

Ann Althouse said...

Joe said..."Pretty disgusting article. I wonder how many husbands will be getting a queasy feeling reading it at work while the contractor is at their house today. And how many faithful wives will be unfairly suspected as a result of this."

You left out: How many women working with contractors will worry this guy is thinking she's hired him because she wants him (and feel uncomfortable at home alone with him)?

Al Maviva said...

The thing I haven't heard anybody mention, is why she cheated. Sometimes, people cheat because they are scummy, but a lot of times it's because the relationship they are in is lousy. It sounds to me this Mager chap is a bit of a plucking banker, and I'm not sure all the blame rests with the former Mrs. Mager or her contractor.

FWIW, I was a contractor while attending undergrad and law school, mainly doing a lot of low-end semi-skilled jobs (Yeah, there's a class structure within the contracting world too). It would have been possible to get a lot of action, the number of times I was flashed or cornered in a kitchen...well, it wasn't that often but it happened here and there and my co-workers got the same thing, which was *kind of* flattering but not really. I had returned to school in my late 20s so I wasn't under any illusions about where I stood in the eyes of the ladies of the house - they'd have been slumming and I was getting paid to use power tools, not to sell my dignity. We used to joke around on the crew that if it was that bad for the ladies, we'd loan them the reciprocating saw for a couple hours, but we really needed to get some work done or our penalties clause would kick in. Yeah, we thought they were kind of trampy. Not much different from all the Victorian soft porn about the wives of gentility and minor nobility shagging the gardener... Oddly enough, of the guys on the small crew I usually worked with, two are now successful attorneys, and the other three run very successful mid-sized construction firms, a couple guys in HVAC and the other one is a structural engineer. So the class differences shoe is on the other foot. The irony drips from this the way sweat does from heaving bosoms on Wisteria Lane...

Freeman Hunt said...

The client has finally found that ideal — the heterosexual man who will go shopping with her.

Who are these women?

“I’m 6-foot-4 and I actually am very, very strong,” Mr. Mager said. “He’s a very small guy. At parties, when we were friends, I would pick him up and spin him around.”

Maybe his girlfriend wasn't interested in men who pick up other men and spin them around at parties.

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bissage said...

Al Maviva said: "Yeah, we thought they were kind of trampy."

Years ago I was in a training class for a job that required us young bucks to go door-to-door. One of the guys was joshing around and asked the trainer, "Are we going to get propositioned?" The trainer said, "Yeah, but not by anybody you'd ever say yes to."

He was right.

P.S. The quotes have been changed to protect the foul-mouthed.

Steven H. said...

Meade: "You call that free?"

That's a good point, as the Saturday Guardian is GBP 1.30 and the weekday editions are GBP 0.70 - that's an outlay of $10/week with the exchange rate. But of course, there was no difference in price between the 0.70 Monday paper that came with some Hitchcock movie and the 0.70 Thursday paper that came with nothing.

Unless you were referring to the price enacted by actually having to read the Guardian. I have to say I liked it, because every weekday issue came with the "G2" magazine - the equivalent of getting a mini-New York Times magazine every day. And as a cultural experience it was interesting to learn that British newspapers of all political stripes don't even try to sound objective.

Balfegor said...

and if their ads are for Burberry, the readership must be upper-class.

Or chavs!

Balfegor said...

Sorry, that should have been: "Or chavs!"

Simon Kenton said...

I did a stint as a moving man a few years ago. There was a different emotional dynamic. The women of the house didn't care much about our sexuality, they wanted therapy and reassurance. As I got ready to leave, "Wait. Do you think I'm going to be happy here?"

Or, "Did I pay too much? Is this place ME?"

The least forgettable of these was standing there in my sweaty uniform holding a woman in our local, most upper crust suburb as she wept and told me about trying to keep the family together, the children unterrified, and complete the move with her husband in the psychiatric ward, involuntarily committed as a danger to self and others.

The younger moving men had no experience of this, but some of the older had encountered it more than once.

amba said...

People will do ANYTHING for their fifteen minutes of fame, including humiliate themselves. There was even a game show in Japan where people allowed themselves to be humiliated in various ways -- that was the whole point of the show, like "Fear Factor," except it was "Shame Factor."

I really think we don't believe we're real unless our existence is witnessed and transubstantiaed by a TV camera. (Newspapers are just a means to that end.) Whatever sore thumb of the psyche people can wave to get attention, they'll use. It would be possible to write a novel about someone who committed murder just to be noticed. Probably an unsuccessful writer.

(Considering that In New York people get more turned on by real estate than by sex, it's a natural for a hot new genre.)

jeff said...

Call it the "Ty Pennington Effect."

Although admittedly this was a long time before that.

CCMCornell said...

“I’d cut off my right arm,” he wrote, “to be able to hold my mother.”

Right. What would he hold her with? That's in there with "the fixer-upper that is man." Or the pimples Marilyn Monroe set to pumping.


You know: that would have made total sense if it had been said by Yogi Berra.

ChrisO said...

It's amazing the lengths people will go to to torture the facts of a story to fit their preconceived notions. For starters, I don't "love" the Times. I don't read the Times, other than the occasional copy laying in a coffee shop, or articles that are linked to on sites like this. XWL made a ridiculous logical leap based on the barest of facts and a heavy dollop of prejudice. I pointed out that, despite the "XWL1, NYT 0" comment, XWL had actually not established anything at all. So of course the logical extension of that is that I "love" the NY Times. Because I'm a liberal, and of course we all read the same paper. How else would we get our marching orders? Oh, right, from Kos.

As far as the use of ProfNet, it's not manufactured news. They don't post notices asking for people who have been involved in atrocities in Iraq. These are feature stories, which are different from news stories. If you were a reporter writing about a trend and wanted to find people willing to be interviewed about it, how would you go about finding sources in Hatfield, Mass., Woodstock, NY, Palo Alto, Calif. and Manhattan Beach, Calif., as this reporter did? I suppose you could just ask around. That would be much more efficient. And I fail to see how it's manufactured if the sources are actually telling the truth.

The main reason I commented at all is because the NY Times bashing gets more than a little silly, and this thread is a perfect example. Ann says it's a ridiculous article; perfectly legitimate criticism. But it's interesting how the NY Times has somehow gone in so many of your eyes from being the most respected paper in the US to being a paper that can't write an accurate House & Garden piece.

Meade said...

Good point about Yogi, CCMCornell. Come to think about it, my brother lost his left arm in a traffic accident four years ago and it doesn't keep him from holding his granddaughter.

nicky said...

Iowahawk was all over this story years ago. It's Naomi's fault.

nicky said...

trying again

Faeless said...

It's manufactured in the sense, that we have seen in the past, the NYTs and other media pick up these ridiculous notions, "stores out of duct tape", which become common memes, which the NYTs then trolls around for supportive ancedotes and viola! a story. It's art in a way. One ancedote from a single person, a bunch of passive creations, "some say...", "experts agree...", "George Harleigh" and you've created something from nothing.

It's not so much any political bias, it's the simple incompetence of modern journalism.

Joe said...

Nicky, thanks! I knew I had seen this story before! The peerless Iowahawk.

ChrisO said...

Fealess

You seem to have ignored every point I made. "Stores out of duct tape" is news, not a feature. The editor in chief of House Beautiful agrees that its a trend. Assuming this trend actually exists, exactly how much investigative reporting would the Times have to conduct to meet your rigorous standards? And more importantly, which newspapers or other news outlets are meeting those standards for you now?

And if the "simple bias of modern journalism" has indeed affected every single news source, who met your standards before modern journalism came along and ruined everything?

altoids1306 said...

ChrisO:

Just in case it matters to you (I suspect not), I don't agree with xml, and just because very cynical view of the NYT, does not mean I automatically agree with the opinions of all people who share my view of the NYT. This should all be obvious stuff, but the internet is quite amazing sometimes.

With regards to ProfNet, it sounds like automated cherry-picking to me. You only get responses that support your pre-conceived view. What if the number of contractors hooking up with housewives has decreased? What if the "allure of the tool belt" has in fact dropped? This laughable research method only finds what you want to find.

Suppose I wanted to create a story that had the exact opposite conclusion. "Women put on the tool belt." - because of the gradual erosion of gender roles, there are more female contractors, and more independent women, living alone, doing house repairs on their own. The tool belt, the article will argue, is desexualized and androgenous. Put out a request on ProfNet, and fill the article with ancedotes from women contractors, and women homeowners who don't need a man to build kitchen counters for them. Finish with some sufficently corny quote - "As Ms. Fisher cleaned the grease between her fingers, she remarked, 'When I see a tool belt, I don't see a man, I see myself.'"

altoids1306 said...

Typo from previous post:

...and just because very cynical view of the NYT, does not mean I automatically agree with the opinions of all people who share my view of the NYT.

It should be "and just because I hold a very cynical view".

I still believe the NYT is very good at the craft of journalism. I also read it everyday. But I no longer consider them a neutral actor. While outright lies are still thankfully rare, relevant facts are deliberately omitted, and this has occured far too many times to be accidental. I wish this wasn't the case, but I read the NYT with default hostility.

And as to "liberal marching orders", yes, there is some irony to that. I've found that if I have effective counterarguments against the NYT, then I can effectively defend myself in the daily friendly sparring with liberal friends (I live in MA). The intent isn't to convert them, but to present an alternative view to all our non-aligned friends, who silently tolerate our jibber-jabber.

ChrisO said...

I guess I haven't been clear. ProfNet is not a "laughable research method." It isn't used to research whether a trend is taking place. If a reporter is writing about a topic or trend, ProfNet provides them with a method of reaching sources who can speak on the topic. If a reporter posts a ProfNet notice looking for people who live in blended families, it's not to determine whether there's a lot of blended families, it's to talk with someone who can provide a little color and first person commentary.

The reason I'm beating this to death is because I get a little tired of reading knee jerk responses about the NY Times that are often on the level of barstool ravings, along with blaming "the politicians" or "kids today."

I'm no knee jerk defender of the Times. A lot of lberals have very serious issues with the paper. Many conservatives seem to only be able to look at issues like the banking story through the prism that the Times is fulfilling its agenda to "get Bush." It's impossible to comprehend that perhaps they thought it was a story that should be told, and that they are in the business of getting scoops and being the first to report a story.

Ann Althouse said...

ChrisO: "The main reason I commented at all is because the NY Times bashing gets more than a little silly..."

Did it ever occur to you that most of the people who work at the NYT might agree with me that the article is ridiculous? And how am I a NYT basher when I continually link to the NYT and talk about how I read it every day and even said I love reading it in this post... not to mention the fact that I've written for the NYT four times in the past year?!

ChrisO said...

Ann

I wasn't referring to your original post as being Times-bashing. I actually didn't think the article was particularly better or worse than hundreds of similar fluff pieces. But my comments were prompted by statements like "The Times has become morally depraved" and "The Times is: Irresponsible drivel" and "You just can't trust . . . the New York Times" and "Which of course makes the Times suspect to anyone wanting a balanced, let alone accurate, reporting of hard news." These kind of blanket statements are just kind of intellectually lazy.

somross said...

The only thing that bothered me about this exchange is that you referred to yourself, Ann, as older. Can we please be older later?

AJ Lynch said...

Chris O:
Ann is right - she loves the NYT and links to it rather compulsively. I can only guess it acts as a kinda digital version of the story's tool belt.

But I had never heard of this Profnet. If the MSM truly uses it much, that is oh so troubling (as the minority leaders are fond of saying). But I think I may be able to have some fun with Profnet.

altoids1306 said...

It isn't used to research whether a trend is taking place. If a reporter is writing about a topic or trend, ProfNet provides them with a method of reaching sources who can speak on the topic.

I agree that this should be the correct way to use it, but given the total absence of statistical data in the article, I suspect it is used in the manner I described - to justify any fool idea a reporter might come up with.

Many conservatives seem to only be able to look at issues like the banking story through the prism that the Times is fulfilling its agenda to "get Bush." It's impossible to comprehend that perhaps they thought it was a story that should be told, and that they are in the business of getting scoops and being the first to report a story.

I assume you're alluding to the bevy of leaks - leaking Valerie Plame is bad, but leaking CIA prisons/SWIFT is good, etc etc...but that's an argument for another day. Definitely not for a Friday.

All I'll say is the press is burning through its store of good will very quickly, and it will be hard for the public to muster much outrage if and when the government really decides to crack down on free speech.

As to "Bush-bashing", well, I think many conservatives forget how harsh the media was to Clinton. But even at its height, Clinton-bashing wasn't something fashionable - movie reviews wouldn't slip gratuitous jabs at Clinton. Not so for Bush. Sometimes when I read lifestyle articles, I'll do a Ctrl-F search for "Bush". You'd be surprised how many times Bush makes a cameo appearance for a ritual bashing.

Coco said...

"But even at its height, Clinton-bashing wasn't something fashionable - movie reviews wouldn't slip gratuitous jabs at Clinton."

Nope....neither would Jay Leno or David Letterman...on a nightly basis....nope, gratuitous Clinton bashing, that was a minor thing....matter of fact, I can't recall a single gratutitous reference in print to cigars or blue dresses or anything like that.....

Not that he didn't deserve it...but this is pretty selective memory.

Sorry - I don't mean to sound snarky, plus I was a gratuitous Clinton basher myself and proud of it, but it was pretty widespread.

Coco said...

By the way, that was a truly ridiculous article....just plain weird. Normally though, I enjoy the Homes section of the Times - they do a pretty good job...stellar in fact compared to the other weekly homes section in the other papers I read - the Chicago Tribune and Sun Times - wanna talk about a waste of newsprint...try reading the Homes sections of those papers. (Although the Tribune does have a nice practical Q&A section for home repairs..but I think its syndicated like much of the paper's features).

Which is why I'm amused by the NYT bashers on this site - what are you comparing them to??? While its perfectly appropriate to bash a stupid story as Ann is doing, asserting that the paper is trash is just nuts. For one example, the weekly Science section is unparalled for a daily general newspaper. And so is the depth coverage of international news - at least for an American paper. The Washington Post is the only other paper that even comes close.

Ann Althouse said...

Coco: Yes, the Science section! It's the best thing. I love the crossword a lot too. And I love various random articles about all sorts of things, such as pop culture in some foreign country or a new intellectual trend. Well, you can see by what I link to what I like. Occasionally, I do a link like this one to say it's bad, but mostly I'm just pointing to something that intrigued me one way or another and gave me something to talk about.

Now, my local papers, those are rags! I was appalled when I moved here to see what ordinary papers are like. I'd been living in NYC for the previous 10 years, reading the NYT. Fortunately, I was able to get the Times here, and I've been very grateful for that for the last two decades. You people who would just like to see the Times go under... I just don't think you're thinking straight!

Balfegor said...

The Washington Post is the only other paper that even comes close.

I think the Washington Post is actually rather better than the NYT now. Over the past five years, we've seen all kinds of scandals at the NYT, but in that period, the WaPo has managed to avoid public humiliation (no Jaysons Blair, no Howells Raine, no Judiths Miller, etc. -- no Sulzberger in charge probably helps too) and managed to report in a generally even-handed manner. WaPo is staffed primarily by urban liberals, so of course it has something of a bias there, just as it would if you staffed it entirely with Mormons from Salt Lake City, but they (and their bosses) don't give off a sense that they're engaging in agenda-driven journalism.

The NYT is better in certain respects, outside of straight reporting. Their science section, as mentioned, is very good. And in the past few years, they've been bringing in actual economists to comment directly on the economy, rather than filtering their opinions through journalists. Bringing in real expertise like that is a welcome development.

But the scandals over the past few years have had a nontrivial effect on the NYT's prestige. And those scandals have almost all related directly to the NYT's ability/willingness to report news fairly and accurately. They can have great science stories, or contractor-porn for older women, but at root, they're a newspaper, and their business is reporting the news. Obviously, the worst of this is back in the past (Raines left in what, 2003?), but unease still remains (e.g. the Sulzberger scion). And the Miller affair has kept the NYT and its reporting in the papers.