Kausfiles defends the NYT.

Kausfiles defends the NYT.

Kausfiles defends the NYT.

A mostly political Weblog.
Aug. 19 2002 4:37 PM

Will Only Kausfiles Defend the NYT?

Well, sort of ...

Did the New York Times, as charged by Charles Krauthammer and the Weekly Standard, inaccurately classify Henry Kissinger as one of those "warning [President Bush] against going to war with Iraq?" The answer is yes, at least judging from the Kissinger op-ed piece  cited by the Times--Kissinger'scrabbed, confusing article generally supports a pre-emptive war.  But the Times' critics themselves inaccurately describe Kissinger's position, because Kissinger adds more qualifications than they let on. It's not true, as the Standard claims, that "Kissinger's only qualm was how Bush sells his strategy to allies" -- or, as Krauthammer implies, that Kissinger's only note of dissent concerned "the difficulties and the importance of the post-war settlement."  Those are certainly two of Kissinger's caveats. But, more significantly, Kissinger also says the U.S. should seek a new international inspection system before resorting to military action, a war-delaying protocol the Bush administration has pooh-poohed.  The key Kissinger sentences:

It is necessary to propose a stringent inspection system that achieves substantial transparency of Iraqi institutions. Since the consequences of simply letting the diplomacy run into the ground are so serious, a time limit should be set. The case for military intervention will then have been made in the context of seeking a common approach.

It's also possible, as Todd Purdum and Patrick Tyler's initial NYT story argued, that those in the administration who oppose the war --e.g. at the State department -- have decided to make a fuss about the shape of a post-war settlement as a means of delaying the entire project (just the way those who oppose welfare reform make a fuss about lack of child-care funding!).  If that's true, then Kissinger was serving the anti-war cause more than it might seem on the surface. ... P.S.: Purdum and Tyler did at least seemingly try to present Kissinger's position in all its lugubrious complexity. They failed, lumping Kissinger with Brent Scowcroft as someone who says "that the administration has not shown that Iraq poses an urgent threat to the United States." That's more or less the opposite of what Kissinger says in his op-ed. But then the Times's editors can't be expected to demand too much precision -- they've got a war to stop (and a story to hype)! ... And, of course, Kissinger was crudely, without qualification, listed as an anti-war voice in subsequent NYT stories. . .. P.P.S.: Not that we should care all that much what Kissinger thinks! ... Piece now: Thanks to kf reader L.V.O. for that Kissinger piece link. How does the Houston Chronicle get to post it but not WaPo?. ... Backfill: John Judis, guest-blogging on Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo the day Kissinger's op-ed was published, interpreted it as so heavily qualified that it amounted to a dissent from Bush policy (couched in language designed to let Kissinger "remain a player in the Republican party"). But on Meet the Press on Sunday,  Kissinger basically said the same things he says in the op-ed -- qualified support for an Iraq strke, as weapons-control measure more than a "regime change" -- while giving less detail (e.g. no discussions of trying out a new inspection system first). He explicitly disagreed with Scowcroft's outright opposition to a war, making it very hard to justify the NYT's overall treatment. ... .   1:17 P.M.


Saturday, August 17, 2002

Where's the NYT editorial following up on Nina Bernstein's front-page scare story on the rise of "child-only" welfare cases? (See somewhat extended comments below.) Could it be that the NYT's editorial board, too, realizes how bogus the story was? ...  11:15 P.M.

Doesn't today's NYT scoop  -- revealing that U.S. advisers secretly helped Saddam Hussein more than we'd known in Iraq's 1981-88 war with Iran -- rather aggressively hide the difference between Iraq's use of chemical weapons against Iran's military, which arguably we knew about and then somewhat hypocritically condemned, and Iraq's gassing of civilians (its own civilians) at Halabja, which there's no evidence we knew about. While national security adviser Condoleezza Rice mentioned both  sorts of chemical attacks as grounds for pursuing "regime change" in Iraq, the civilian attacks would seem to be the more important part of that case. By lumping both uses together as "Iraq's use of gas" or "use of chemical weapons," the NYT's Patrick Tyler manages to obscure this distinction until a brief mention in the 17th graf -- thereby giving the impression that his story has undermined more of the case for "regime change" than it really has. ... Fence-straddling disclaimer: I'm not necessarily in favor of attacking Iraq. But I'm against the NYT distorting a story as part of what looks to almost everyone (not just kf) like a coordinated anti-war campaign. ... The American people need both the convenient and the inconvenient truths about Iraq from their newspapers, but it turns out there are powerful forces standing in their way! ... 10:59 P.M.

John Podhoretz makes a good Vulgar Marxist point  about the Anybody But Gore movement:

It should be noted that political professionals have a profound personal interest in dislodging Gore. If there is a serious contest for the nomination in 2004, hundreds of millions of dollars will be spread around different consultants, pollsters, media buyers and the like.


I say let a hundred consultants bloom!... P.S.: It's becoming CW that Gore's populism can't have been all bad because (as Podhoretz puts it) "it was only when Gore seized on populism that his campaign began to surge in the summer of 2000," after the convention. My impression was that Gore's convention speeech helped him a lot-- but mainly because it was well-delivered, introducing Gore as a sane, vigorous successor to Clinton, and not because of its invocation of dark "powerful forces ... standing in your way."  ....2:30 P.M.


Friday, August 16, 2002

I join my fellow substance-starved bloggers in linking Virginia Postrel's useful counter  to bogus anti-globalization rhetoric about how the "gaps in income between the poorest and richest countries have continued to widen." Postrel notes that, if you look at individuals, not countries, inequality has gone down while prosperity has gone up. But it seems to me Postrel has missed the main rhetorical chance, which is to point out that, even on a country vs. country comparison (which is hardly illegitimate), developing countries like China and India have quite obviously closed the gap with the U.S. and Europe. ... The big problem, as Postrel points out, is the very "poorest" countries, which is to say African countries, whose economies have retrogressed because they haven't been able to participate effectively in globalization . ... P.S.:  Has Postrel also given away too much when she concedes that income inequality is growing within the "rapidly advancing" nations like China and India (even as their general standard of living rises)? It's pretty clear that free trade makes for money inequality in the developed world, as unskilled jobs go overseas. But what about the countries that get the unskilled jobs? Is the Chinese "Gini coefficient" really rising? More geeky stats, please! ...Update: Postrel says, yes, Chinese incomes are growing more unequal. The geeky stats are here, at least one that shows the income share of the top Chinese quintile rising and that of the bottom quintile falling. But India, which is also prospering but isn't starting from a Communist income distribution, doesn't show this inequality trend..  ... 1:51 A.M.

As alert reader D.D. suggests, the final item in the middle column of this edition of The Oniondoes bear an alarming resemblance to the questionable  prediction, by certain Microsoft-employed Web journalists, that the introduction of Windows XP would spark the U.S. economy's revival in October, 2001. [But the U.S. economy did revive in October, 2001--ed. Excellent point!] 1:30 A.M.


Krugman Errata Est: The NYT printed a correction  of an op-ed piece on Wednesday -- and not of a particularly clear-cut error either. So where's the correction of Paul Krugman's Bush/Ranger error? The answer can't be that (as some kf readers have suggested) the Times never prints corrections to op-ed pieces... P.S.: Oh yes -- the Krugman error was also defamatory, not just to inarguably "public" figures like Bush, but also to arguably non-public partners in the Ranger owners group. I'm not saying the NYT would lose a libel suit --I would hope they'd win on the "public figure" issue, for starters -- and I'm against lawsuits in this sort of situation in general. But they do sometimes provide rightly-aggrieved parties with useful leverage when demanding corrections.. ... P.P.S.: Krugman's column today is good. (His "comparative advantage" is as a sophisticated economist, not a sloppier version of Joe Conason!) But I can't believe that his checklist -- of the four reasons the U.S. economy might not be like Japan's -- is complete. What about the most obvious candidate --

5. We have an efficient banking sector, and are unencumbered by the corporate backscratching and error-hiding of Japanese "business groups" (keiretsu). ..

Omission of this factor would allow Krugman to paint the U.S. economy as in worse shape than it really is, making President Bush look worse than he really is. Is there some of the Bad Krugman even in the Good Krugman? ... Krugman, who knows a lot more about Japan than I do, may have a persuasive answer on this point; if so I'd love to hear it. ...1:06 A.M.

Getting toasty back East: Doris Kearns Goodwin's lawyer, Michael Nussbaum, quoted by Alex Beam  regarding the LAT's discovery of new Goodwin borrowings in a second book, responds in calm and lawyerly fashion by calling the Times story "junk journalism." Nussbaum adds:

Any time you put passages together side by side, yes, the inference will come forward that because the passages resemble one another there must be something wrong with the scholarship.


If this is all a smart lawyer like Nussbaum can come up with, then his client's case really is falling apart. Many of the passages don't just "resemble" on another -- they track on another, in structure and language, with only a handful of words changed. ... 12:48 A.M.

Punditry happens: Michael Barone notes that the Republicans cynical new Social Security gambit -- accusing Democrats of wanting to "privatize" Social Security if the Democrats in question had endorsed Clintonesque plans for collective government investment of some Social Security funds in stocks -- will backfire, because even if the trick works it salts the earth against the individual-account "privatization" schemes President Bush says he wants to pass. That's true -- but, as kf frequently argues, Bush's privatization plan is dead, dead, dead anyway. If Republicans are now tacitly admitting it, that's more significantly a sign of their deeper problem, which is that they are now a party with no compelling domestic agenda other than the defensive one of stopping Democrats from doing the misguided things Democrats tend to do when they are in power (like overspend, pander to seniors, placate teacher and government employee unions, and subsidize a debilitating culture of poverty with no-strings welfare checks!). The appeal of this defensive virtue -- powerful as it is for some of us! -- is doomed to fade as memories of the liberal disasters of the past fade. Meanwhile, Democrats at least promise to solve one of the great remaining unsolved problems of American government, the provision of universal health insurance. ... That's why I've always felt Democrats are destined to retake the House any year now. If it's not this year, that will only be because a) 9/11 has focused attention on foreign policy, b) gerrymandering has protected GOP incumbents or c) Republicans find some way to remind voters why they worry about the Democrats. ...I do think there's one obvious issue Republicans might use to  accomplish c). ... (Psst! elfare-way!) ... 12:36 A.M.


Thursday, August 15, 2002

I'm playing catch-up to the blogosphere here, but Brendan Nyhan of Spinsanity has said  the basic things about Media Whores Online that needed saying  -- namely that it reinforces a political tribalism ('never criticize your allies', 'you bashed me crudely so I'll bash you crudely,' etc.) that's bad for a) America b) the world and c) even the Democratic party, which ultimately will have to win over some people on the other side if it's going to break the nation's current 50/50 stalemate. ... Instapundit beat me to the money graf, so I won't quote it here. What struck me: I always knew MWO was dumb, and figured it had to be intentionally dumb. But I hadn't realized, before I read Nyhan's post, how openly and proudly and sophisticatedly dumb its founders are. They're like eggheads who decide they have to become mafiosi. They even defend the site as "part parody" -- the last refuge of post-modern scoundrels. .... And no, I will not rest until the voice of MWO is discredited! Mr. Scaife pays for results, not rhetoric! ... P.S.: I admit the photo of an Afghan hound they use to depict Ann Coulter is funny. ... 10:30 P.M.


O.K., sometimes corrections aren't so painless: Who was the guilty hack behind the highly embarrassing correction in the NYT today? The correction says:

An article on Aug. 8 about speeches by President Bush and Vice President Cheney defending the administration's stewardship of the economy referred incorrectly to the 2001 recession and to the direction of the stock market on Aug. 7. Economists agree that the recession has ended, not continued. The Dow Jones industrial average rose the day of the speeches, by 182 points; it did not decline.

Envelope please! The nominally-guilty hack is either ... Evelyn Nieves or Elisabeth Bumiller, whose names are on the Aug. 8 story. .... It turns out that the entire, impressively substantial correction was necessitated by just one of those short snarky asides, now familiar to NYT readers, that are designed to put the Bushies in their place:

[Cheney] credited the administration's tax cuts with helping the country to "climb out of the recession and to weather the terrible financial effects of Sept. 11," although the recession has not abated and the stock market today continued its decline. [Italics added.]


Why does this read like the type of interstitial zinger ('Take that, Cheney!') that would actually not have been written by either Nieves or Bumiller, but would have been stuck in by an otherwise-frustrated editor (who was then very proud of himself for doing it)? ... That sort of thing would never happen at kausfiles! ... If a NYT editor, or reporter, is so blinded by scorn of the Administration that he or she automatically believes these false things are true, what else do they automatically believe is true? ... ... 2:07 A.M.


Wednesday, August 14, 2002

It's fun, it's painless! The Web version of Jonathan Chait's anti-Delaware piece in The New Republic now features a prominent correction of his Delaware-has-no-gas-tax error. Good for The New Republic. ... Note to Paul Krugman: If Chait can do it, you can too! ... 11:09 P.M.

It's Even Worse Than I Thought, No. 23: I just got my paper copy of the NYT and saw the hed for Nina Bernstein's piece on page A-21. It is:

"Child-Only Welfare Cases Up as Hardship and Hunger Grow"

Again, as argued below, Bernstein offers no (zero) evidence that "hardship and hunger" are growing.  At best (and even this is a stretch) she gives a snapshot showing that child-only cases tend to be in relatively bad shape-- but they were in bad shape before! And it's not just that there's "no evidence" things are getting worse -- I really don't think things are getting worse. I think the small rise in "child only" cases is mainly an artifact of bureaucratic efforts to get around the work requirements of the 1996 reforms.(See Point (1) below.) I think Bernstein has taken this statistic and combined it in a confusing, horror-story jumble with some other carefully-selected numbers and "advocate" quotes in order to con the readers of the NYT into thinking that "hardship and hunger" are growing as parentless children are given $68 a month to live on  She certainly conned the Times' headline writer. ...[Thanks. We'll let you know if we want more on Bernstein.--ed2:00 P.M.

Today's Quickie Nina B. Talking Points: NinaBernstein, who is distrusted by experts on the left as well as the right, continues her front-page NYT campaign  to make a big deal about the rise in "child-only" welfare cases. (An earlier installment in the campaign can be found here.) If you don't read her stories carefully and skeptically, you get the impression that heartless welfare reform broke up families and left children living parentless and impoverished, trying to live on "as little as $68 each month." That's not what is going on. Here are a few reasons for intense skepticism about today's story, prepared by the kausfiles Nina Bernstein Rapid Response Team:

1) Classifying a case as "child only" is one of the time-tested techniques welfare bureaucrats use to get around work requirements -- if a case is classified "child only" then there is no parent there to require work from, is there?  The national rise in "child-only" cases, then, may not indicate that work requirements are biting too hard. It may indicate that work requirements are being successfully evaded. (The "child only" rise was, in fact, anticipated.by savvier welfare experts when the reform bill passed in 1996). Bernstein admits that in 46 percent of "child only" cases nationwide, the parent is still present. In other "child only" cases, children are cared for by a grandparent because, to pick a not-uncommon example, their mother is a crack addict.

2) How big has "the growth of such 'child only' welfare cases been? If you read Bernstein's piece carefully, you learn that there are many fewer of these cases now than in 1996, when welfare reform passed. (It's just that the number of other cases has fallen faster). In 1996 there were 978,000 child-only cases. By 1998 that number had dropped to 743,000 cases. Since 1998 it's risen to 782,000 cases. In other words, the whole "growth" has been 39,000 cases, out of a total caseload of (currently) about 2 million.

3) Bernstein repeatedly emphasizes that the child's welfare portion due to a "child-only" welfare family may be "as little as $68 a month in some states." But welfare payments even in regular mother-plus-child cases are as little as $120 a month in Southern states for a family of three. All the welfare payments in those states are very low. (In New York, we learn way down in the story, the child-only grant is not $68 but $352 a month.) More significantly, Bernstein notes that in many"of the child-only cases the caretaking parent gets Supplemental Security Income, a federal payment to the disabled of (typically) $545/month for singles and $817 a month for couples  such as the Ortiz family Bernstein describes at the end of her story. Yet Bernstein leaves out this SSI payment in comparing the $1,000/month foster parents get with New York's "child only" grant of  $352/month. In fact, for the disabled grandparents-on-SSI described in Bernstein's story, a family with no other income is eligible for at least the $352, plus $575-$817 in SSI, plus $256 -$366 in food stamps -- and Medicaid for at least the children. (It's entirely possible that SSI payments are too low, though practically anyone who has worked in the U.S. for a normal amount of time qualifiies for more generous Social Security disability payments. But SSI is still higher than welfare in most states -- so "child only" children who live with SSI mothers aren't being tossed to the wolves.)

4) "Clearly the work-first approach is not relevant for them," says one of Bernstein's experts, referring to child-only cases. But the work-first approach is not being applied to them. Again, child-only cases get around work requirements. Bernstein notes in her fourth paragraph that 12,000 child-only cases in New York City are being transferred "to a new welfare center without work requirements." (Emphasis added.) That doesn't stop her from using the rise in child-only cases to somehow attack work requirements --although a) she doesn't come up with any caretakers in the child-only cases who have actually been required to work and b) the study she cites of "59 elderly Latino grandparents rearing grandchildren in New York City" -- not, apparently, families that are necessarily on welfare -- found that "[a] third had been required to work for benefits, before being found to be too old or disabled." (Emphasis added again.) In other words, the system properly exempted them.

5) Bernstein admits that the "leading welfare-related bills in Congress do not include" work requirements for the caretakers in child only cases. She cites only unnamed "critics" who want to apply such requirements to "able-bodied" caretakers (which would exclude the disabled caretakers Bernstein describes).

6) As the traditional "welfare families" -- a single mom plus one or two kids -- leave the rolls (which Bernstein notes is happening in New York even during the current downturn!), you would expect more troubled families (e.g. children taken care of by grandmothers because their mothers are crackheads) to make up a larger portion of the cases that remain. Are the children in these families worse off than they'd be with their natural parents (assuming their natural parents aren't still actually present)? Bernstein offers no evidence of this. Are the children in these families suffering unusual hardship? Bernstein relies heavily on a Mathematica study of New Jersey's child-only caseload. a) She suspiciously doesn't say if New Jersey's caseload is perhaps smaller and more troubled than New York's; b) Of those families, she says, one in four was headed by a disabled parent on SSI, and three in ten of this disabled-parent subgroup -- or 30% of 25% -- "went hungry," however that was defined by Mathematica. That means 3 of every 40, or about 8 percent. The 30 percent "hunger" rate within the subgroup is "double the rate "typical at their income level" (not necessarily double the rate of those at their income level who are on regular, parent-plus-child welfare). c) Why does she pick out the disabled parent subgroup? With Bernstein, the reason is usually that this subgroup gives her the results she wants. But what about the other subgroups that make up the other three-quarters of the child-only cases? She doesn't say. d) It's not surprising if these more troubled families (both the child-only cases, and subgroup of child-only cases with disabled parents) have a marginally higher "hunger" rate than other families -- and there's no evidence that this hardship has increased among this group, or is due to welfare reform.

(The only other "hardship" evidence cited by Bernstein is a study, not of child-only welfare cases, but of all "families headed by nonparent relatives" -- a much larger and different population. Bernstein doesn't say how many of these families have anything to do with welfare. She does say that "nearly" 30 percent have "trouble buying enough food," whatever that means.)

She's so slippery! I'd heard Bernstein was leaving the Times to move to Europe, which is one reason (the other is laziness) that I haven't produced the longer, better-researched critique she deserves -- a failing I hope to remedy soon. 3:08 A.M.

The mysterious-but-energetic "editor" of The Scrum is back. He (or is it she!) catches Joe Lieberman relaxing the decision deadline he's issued to Al Gore, and tracks down the bill on "legalización de inmigrantes" that Rep. Richard Gephardt promised the Council of La Raza he'd introduce in "two weeks" -- back on July 22. ... Gephardt's office says the Minority Leader still needs to "build support" for this measure, which is now to be introduced "this fall." ....Could Gephardt be trying to get Hispandering points with Latino interest groups without the grief that would surely come his way if he alerted the entire electorate by actually introducing such an unpopular bill? That's Scrum's guess. ... 12:45 A.M.


Tuesday, August 13, 2002

He'll be short: John Ellis, who has access to polling data, says Robert Reich is a "goner" in the Massachusetts Democratic gubernatorial primary. With a month to go, though, I wouldn't make a prediction myself. ... OK, I'll make one prediction: If Reich loses, he ain't going back to The American Prospect. ...What will he do? He can always write a memoir in which he wins! ... 11:50 P.M.

Chait crime: Sneaking Suspicions  catches New Republic's Jonathan Chait in a pretty basic error. Chait's anti-Delaware cover story argues that the state relies heavily on annoying tolls because

... Delaware has no gas tax, presumably because if it did it would force Delawareans themselves to pay for most of the upkeep of their roads.

But Delaware does have a gas tax. It's higher than New Jersey's and raises more than the I-95 toll plaza of which Chait complains. Suspicions (a blogger who says he happens to represent the Delaware Department of Transportation) has chapter and verse. ...

Meanwhile, the world is still waiting for Paul Krugman to correct his Texas Rangers error, which he admits on his Web site, in the same NYT space he first broadcast it in. ...P.S.: Doesn't Gail Collins, as editor of the NYT editorial page, have the power to make Krugman correct his errors in his column? Presumably the NYT has some sort of policy about corrections, and it's not "columnists have no responsibility." .... 2:08 P.M.


Monday, August 12, 2002

The Note nails Elisabeth Bumiller's NYT Waco economic conference scene-setter, which was a small masterpiece of contentless Conventional Wisdom amplifiication:

... Bumiller distills in one paragraph the Al-and-Judy-and-all-who-sup-at-their-table view of The Team: "Mitchell E. Daniels Jr., the White House budget director, has alienated many in Congress. Lawrence B. Lindsey, the president's chief economic adviser, is not thought to have the presence or political skills for the job. Donald L. Evans, the secretary of commerce, is personally close to the president, but business leaders say that he does not have the stature or the portfolio to be the economic voice of the administration."

Al and Judy would be Al Hunt and Judy Woodruff, who are to the Washington CW roughly what Mauna Loa is to the island of Hawaii. ... Bumiller also follows what The Note calls the "'when in doubt, call Ray LaHood or Chuck Hagel' rule." ... For much of the piece, Bumiller criticizes Bush on the grounds that the stock market has gone down after someof his public statements. (After his antifraud bill-signing, "stocks still seesawed," she writes.) Then she praises Clinton's "team" for stopping him from doing things (like ringing the opening bell of the N.Y. Stock Exchange)  which might have resulted in him being blamed if the market "went down that day."  Wouldn't it have been better for Bumiller to have noted that lots of factors move the market at any particular moment other than the President's utterances, so it's unfair to blame either Clinton or Bush for the Dow's daily movements? As it is, her piece argues, essentially, "Clinton's team had 'political skills' because they didn't give reporters like me an opening to take the dumb cheap shots I just took at Bush." ... 6:30 P.M.

If Doris Kearns Goodwin falls in a forest ... Either nobody reads the Los Angeles Times, or it's summer and nobody reads anything, or people are sick of the Doris Kearns Goodwin plagiarism story -- but for some reason attention hasn't been paid to a fairly damning front-page Times piece  that knocks one of the remaining props out from under Goodwin's defense.

As I understand the prior state of the controversy,  Goodwin had constructed a defensive perimeter around her 1995 Pulitzer-winning Roosevelt book, No Ordinary Time. Sure, her earlier Kennedy book might have had a "mistake" or two due to a "mechanical breakdown." But it was just "these mechanical problems on this one book." The Roosevelt book was clean. "Under the auspices of the law firm of Ropes & Gray, 'No Ordinary Time' has been reviewed and checked," her attorney, Michael Nussbaum told the New York Times."Everything is fully credited and attributed."

But the L.A. Times looked at the Roosevelt book -- and at a few of its sources -- and found

nearly three dozen instances where phrases and sentences in Goodwin's book resembled the words of other authors.

The LAT's Peter King gives five examples, presumably the best ones. They're all ham-handed paraphrases of the "if I change three words I'll get away with it" variety. In two,Goodwin actually names in her text the person (e.g. "Grace Tullly recalled") she's filching the rest of the paragraph from. Two others are almost defensible. But one bald, paragraph-long crib -- from  Joseph Lash -- isn't. After King's piece, we can still have a debate over how awful this sort of plagiarism is. But it's hard for Goodwin to deny her M.O.. (The wording changes in the borrowed sentences are so uninspired they do raise one question: Did Goodwin herself even do the paraphrasing? Or is she stealing credit from the real thieves -- her assistants, maybe?)

Why hasn't Goodwin been destroyed by King's piece? I blame his editors, who buried their scoop under dozens of inches of calm, fair profiling (and under a stupefyingly tedious headline). If you're Bob Woodward, readers might hunt through your wordy prose looking for the dirt. You can't count on that if your paper is the fourth or fifth read of the East Coast elites.  ... This sort of failure -- blowing the story even when you've got the goods -- has to be demoralizing to LAT reporters. .. [Conflict disclosure: Nussbaum once did me a big favor -- recommending a Virginia lawyer who copped me a great plea on a speeding ticket.] 

Update --Bonus tracks: I hadn't noticed two additional suspicious similarities included in a sidebar to King's text. Of the two, one seems defensible. In the other, Goodwin actually puts a phrase of Lillian Rogers Parks in quotes before ripping off a second, non-banal Parks phrase word-for-word. That's how you  throw 'em off the scent! ...  2:45 A.M.

Gretchen Morgenson's revealing glimpse of life at Salomon Smith Barney shows how a newspaper story can be blatantly biased -- her first sentence clearly takes sides -- and still be terrific. What struck me: There's a dispute over whether sacked analyst Kenneth Boss was improperly pressured to boost a Salomon client's stock. (I'm with John Ellis on that.) But everyone seems to accept the need for a peculiar form of P.R.

[S]pring was the busy marketing season, when analysts spend all their time trying to increase their Institutional Investor ranking by visiting clients who are polled by the magazine.

Why is schmoozing clients so important? Isn't "stock analyst" one of those professions where skill can be judged fairly objectively, by how well your recommendations actually do in the market? Shouldn't analysts be spending their time, you know, analyzing? I obviously don't understand Wall Street. ....1:00 A.M.

Cheap Shots Too Good to Pass Up Dept.: An old enemy,Harper's publisher Rick MacArthur, says he feels "bad for the masses of low-wage retail workers, the exhausted types described in Barbara Ehrenreich's book Nickel and Dimed" -- but his biggest beef with the "service economy" seems to be that he got bounced from his reservation at Jean-Luc. MacArthur writes:

With government regulation (not to mention basic civility) on the wane, the relaxation of antitrust laws by Presidents Reagan, Bush and Clinton has eliminated the last corrective for most bad service—competition.

Jean-Luc has no competition? ... Break him up! ...  12:15 A.M.



Drudge Report--80 % true. Close enough! Instapundit--All-powerful hit king. Joshua Marshall--Escapee from American Prospect. Salon--Better click fast! Andrew Sullivan--He asks, he tells. He sells! Washington Monthly--Includes "Tilting at Windmills" Lucianne.com--Stirs the drink. Virginia Postrel--Friend of the future! Peggy Noonan--Gold in every column. Matt Miller--Savvy rad-centrism. WaPo--Waking from post-Bradlee snooze. The Liberal Death Star--Registration required.  NY Observer--Read it before the good writers are all hired away. New Republic--Left on welfare, right on warfare!  Jim Pinkerton--Quality ideas come from quantity ideas. Tom Tomorrow--Everyone's favorite leftish cartoonists' blog.  Ann "Too Far" Coulter--Sometimes it's just far enough. Bull Moose--National Greatness Central. John Ellis--Forget that Florida business! The cuz knows politics, and he has, ah, sources. "The Note"--How the pros start their day. Romenesko's MediaNews--O.K. they actually start it here. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities--Money Liberal Central.. Steve Chapman--Ornery-but-lovable libertarian. Rich Galen--Sophisticated GOP insider. Man Without Qualities--Seems to know a lot about white collar crime. Hmmm. Overlawyered.com--Daily horror stories. Eugene Volokh --Smart, packin' prof, and not Instapundit! Eve Tushnet--Queer, Catholic, conservative and not Andrew Sullivan! WSJ's Best of the Web--James Taranto's excellent obsessions. Walter Shapiro--Politics and (don't laugh) neoliberal humor! Eric Alterman -- Always annoying, occasionally right. Joe Conason -- Bush-bashing, free most days.  Nonzero--Bob Wright explains it all. [More tk.]