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Ed Driscoll

The New York Times’ Epic Fail

October 22nd, 2011 - 7:16 pm

Yes, I realize you could fill whole books with the subject of that headline, but let’s look at one story in particular. I started to get slightly huffy over this passage on Occupy Wall Street in the New York Times

There is a through-the-looking glass element to some of the criticism. The Daily Caller reported that based on photographs, the Occupy forces were almost exclusively white (numerous studies and polls have shown the Tea Party, too, has proportionately few members of minority groups).

The Tea Party, too, was vague about its frustrations in its early days, or contradictory, as in the sign at one rally that was cited as evidence that the Tea Party itself was uneducated and uninformed: “Keep Your Government Hands Off My Medicare.”

At Tea Party protests you could find the kind of one-off cranks that conservatives have found at Occupy rallies — Tea Party organizers would explain them as fringe-y interlopers. (Those Obama-as-Hitler posters, they noted, were the work of Lyndon LaRouche supporters, not Tea Party activists.)…

Conservatives are trying to define the Occupy protesters before the protesters define themselves.

Ed Morrissey, writing in The Week, insisted that the Occupy movement wants “seizures and redistributions, which necessarily means more bureaucracies, higher spending, and many more opportunities for collusion between authorities and moneyed interests in one way or another.”

…And then I realized it was by Kate Zernike, who presumably is still smarting from being called out (“pwned” as the kids on the Interwebs are wont to say) by Andrew Breitbart at CPAC in February of 2010 after her attempt to smear conservative journalist Jason Mattera* and the rest of the CPAC attendees as racists:

Kate Zernike of the New York Times, are you in the room? Are you in the room? You’re despicable. You’re a despicable human being. You’re the New York Times.  What is your headline here? You came to CPAC to get your prey and here’s your prey, Jason Mattera from HotAir and also from Young America’s Foundation. This is the headline: CPAC Speaker Bashes Obama, comma, in Racial Tones.

And also by Glenn Reynolds a few months later:

OBSCURANTISM:

Kate Zernike of the New York Times describes how tea-party activists explore “dusty bookshelves for long-dormant ideas” and study “once-obscure texts” by “long-dead authors.” She is of course referring to Friedrich Hayek, whose book The Road to Serfdom was excerpted in Reader’s Digest and never has been out of print, whose Nobel Prize for economics in 1972 celebrated the importance and mainstream acceptance of his thinking, and whose death in 1992 isn’t exactly ancient history.

If they didn’t learn it in college, it’s “obscure.” Which, alas, merely highlights the inadequacy of their educations. (I, on the other hand, took a semester-long seminar on Hayek in college.) At any rate, the “obscure” Road to Serfdom is currently #56 on Amazon.

Related: Stuart Schneiderman: Who’s Smarter Now?

UPDATE: Reader Michael Costello writes: “How long has Karl Marx been dead? And Friedrich Hayek outlived Saul Alinsky by 20 years.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: OUCH:

If I had said a day ago that your typical New York Times reporter doesn’t have the vaguest sense of what the rule of law means, I would have heard from all sorts of earnest liberal readers — and probably some conservative ones too – about how I was setting up a straw man. But now we know it’s true. It’s not just that she doesn’t know what it is, it’s that even after (presumably) looking it up, she still couldn’t describe it and none of her editors raised an eyebrow when she buttered it.

The claims of superior intellect on the part of the legacy media seem unfounded.

Regarding Zernike’s story on OWS, I love this notion of conservatives “trying to define the Occupy protesters before the protesters define themselves.” How does a movement not define itself before it starts? The Tea Partiers were very specific: stop spending, stop the bailouts, and once ObamaCare began to metastasize, stop that as well. Protests in the 1960s were highly specific as well: more civil rights for black Americans, let South Vietnam get clobbered by the North end the Vietnam War. How is it that Occupy Wall Street couldn’t articulate a similarly straightforward message?

But as far as actually defining the Occupy protesters, sorry, but the MSM established the baseline in early 2009. A CNN anchorman told his viewers that “It’s hard to talk when your teabagging.” One of his colleagues — holding herself out as an objective, in the field journalist — interjected herself into the story, arguing with the protestors about their motives. A prominent General Electric spokesman questioned the racial makeup of the Tea Party, and then refused an invitation to attend himself proffered by numerous minority tea partiers. The MSM set the baseline; they shouldn’t be surprised that the conservative Blogosphere returns the volley. And while the left sees OWS, the difference between two movements spotlight why there’s been so much bad press this time around: Tea Partiers general gathered in a single area, listened to speeches — and then went home to their jobs and families. For OWS, whether it’s NYT-approved trust fund babies or 38-year old moms who’ve chucked their lives to camp out in a park, spending 24/7 in squalor will only increase the odds that somebody will meltdown and do something stupid — particularly given the ubiquity of social media (which the left championed as a key tool during the 2006 elections.)

As Jonah Goldberg wrote in 2005, while gathering the material that would become Liberal Fascism:

Liberals are geniuses at unleashing social panics because A) it never occurs to them that their motives are anything but pure and B) because they are almost exclusively focused on short term tactics. And yet they are invariably shocked when these moral frenzies come back to bite them. McCarthyism was a direct consequence of both the Red Scare and the Brown Scare. And when the tactics they mastered were turned on them, they acted as if they came from nowhere.

Which brings us back to the beginning of our post.

* Who unlike Zernike punches above his institution’s weight.

Related: “I confess, I haven’t been to any tea-party rallies so you’ll have to tell me: Are there a lot of ‘here’s what to do if you’re raped today’ fliers circulating at those too?”

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