NYT ombudsman on O'Keefe: I honestly don't understand how language works

analBigThe New York Times operates under the same twisted framework as a beloved, genius grandparent going senile.  Look: we all love the Times, we all know the Times has a lot of great information to pass along, but we also know that the Times — especially since the Iraq war — has given space in both its reporting and editorial sections to irresponsible writers with no journalistic standards.  With that in mind, let’s look at that paper’s latest embarrassment.

Clark Hoyt, the ombudsman for the Times, recently refused to admit an error so plainly obvious that had a first-year logic student attempted the same stunt, she’d rightly be kicked out of class.  Matt Yglesias writes:

The NYT ran a story which said James O’Keefe “made his biggest national splash last year when he dressed up as a pimp and trained his secret camera on counselors with the liberal community group Acorn.”

When it was pointed out to Hoyt that this is false, he replied—with emphasis in the original— that “The story says O’Keefe dressed up as a pimp and trained his hidden camera on Acorn counselors. It does not say he did those two things at the same time.”

Oh come the fuck on.  You must think we’re really stupid, eh Mr. Hoyt?  You think anybody who initially thought that O’Keefe dressed as a pimp and trained his camera on ACORN workers at the same time read your explanation and thought to themselves, WOW, I’m a dumb-dumb; those two events CLEARLY didn’t happen at the same time — why did I ever think that?

Brad Delong deems Hoyt the “Stupidest Man Alive Ever” contest winner — a title even more deserved because Hoyt’s very job is to keep his paper honest.  (And for all you word nerdos out there — I know I have a few of you reading this post — click the link above for a wonderful explanation of the error in logic of which Hoyt is guilty.)

Well, now that this post is done I’m going to get some coffee and take a shower.  No, I’m not going to shower with my coffee, you stupid reader!  I’m going to shower later.  Yeah, later on I’m going to shower and have a pint of beer.  Those two events actually will be happening simultaneously. 

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2 Responses to NYT ombudsman on O'Keefe: I honestly don't understand how language works

  1. gracenearing says:

    Hoyt really worked hard for that award. Clearly, the NYT intended just the meaning that readers took away from the story, ie, James O’Keefe “dressed up as a pimp.” Otherwise, the copy more likely would have read that O’Keefe “posed as a pimp.”

    The clear-headed among us looked at that video of the pimped out O’Keefe and thought: No way were those ACORN counselors looking straight faced at a gangly, pimpled-faced white guy dressed like Snoop Dogg/Huggy Bear in Starsky and Hutch.

  2. Pingback: NY Times ombudsman now understands how language works - John Knefel - Making a Mockery - True/Slant

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