Attempting to parse the often obtuse language in The New York Times has become an easier task than in the past due, in no small part, to the transparently hostile view of Republicans and the consistently admiring stance toward President Barack Obama.
Let me cite an interesting example from the Dec. 25 Jodi Kantor profile of Mitt Romney during his Harvard Business School years.
Kantor wrote: "And unlike Barack Obama, who attended Harvard Law School more than a decade later, Mr. Romney was not someone who fundamentally questioned how the world worked or talked much about social policy topics."
Several poignant questions emerge from this tendentious sentence: How can Ms. Kantor be sure that Barack Obama questioned how the world worked while a student at Harvard? How can she assert that Mitt Romney didn't discuss social policy topics? And what is meant by the word "fundamentally"?
In fact, Kantor cannot possibly answer any of these questions. No one can. Her assertions aren't based on fact, probably not even on hearsay; they are based entirely — I believe — on her confidence in what Obama may have written about himself.
The contrast she limns is precisely what she wants the reading audience to believe. And for many, it will be compatible with a deeply held impression. But is it true?
This was, after all, a front-page story designed to provide key insights into the character of a leading Republican candidate. As I see it, the article was a hatchet job that seemed to suggest Romney was an ambitious student without deep convictions, a pragmatist who did not immerse himself in deep introspective thoughts.
Of course, drawing on the experience of a man in his 20s to draw conclusions about his present convictions is faulty to begin with. However, despite two autobiographies, very little is known about Barack Obama at Occidental College, Columbia, and Harvard Law School.
His grades and transcript have not been revealed and despite having been the editor of the Harvard Law Review, he did not publish articles about his legal reasoning or judicial preferences. This period in his life may have been fraught with philosophical examination, but Kantor doesn't know that.
The throwaway sentence in a long piece about Romney is revealing. What it shows is clear and abiding bias and an undeviating effort to exalt the President and indirectly undermine the candidate.
It has been said by many before that The New York Times is the extension of the Democratic Party. It is less a newspaper and more a partisan organ. Keep in mind the use of the word "fundamentally." It is a weasel word designed to provide cover.
After all, Romney may have questioned how the world worked, but was it fundamental questioning? Since Kantor doesn't know, she merely assumes the case hiding behind the obscure word "fundamentally."
Moreover, apparently Kantor is sure that Obama questioned and talked and drank from the well of wisdom. (Those last six words are mine, but could easily be attributed to Kantor.)
Reading The New York Times with a jaded eye is fun. It allows you to see that the paper of record is a public relations operation for the president and has as much to do with news as an ad for Coke. Unlike Coca-Cola, however, that promises to slake your thirst, the New York Times makes one thirsty for the news.
Herbert London is president emeritus of Hudson Institute, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, and author of the book “Decline and Revival in Higher Education” (Transaction Books).
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