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The NYT Edited an Article With the Biden Campaign In Mind
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tfan



Joined: 31 May 2010
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PostPosted: 04/17/20 9:31 am    ::: Reply Reply with quote

justintyme wrote:
tfan wrote:
Quote:
When you read that, you are sensing the awkwardness of the phrasing and are taking it to mean something


awkward:
1) causing difficulty; hard to do or deal with.
2) causing or feeling embarrassment or inconvenience.

Are you saying it caused discomfort for you and other readers, or that it caused discomfort for Joe Biden and his campaign workers? It didn't cause me any discomfort. There is video and pictures to back up the claims.


....

Seriously.

Did you seriously just equivocate while listing both definitions? I mean, at least I can give you credit for that, since most people just try and surreptitiously change the definition used from the one the original writer was using to the one that is most convenient for them.


Quote:
equivocate
use ambiguous language so as to conceal the truth or avoid committing oneself.


What was ambiguous about what I said? What concealed the truth and/or didn't I commit to?

I put up the definition because it appeared that you were using the wrong word and wanted you to either point out how you were using it or decide it was incorrect usage. My opinion on the matter didn't change. I think they bowed to the campaign, but it can't be determined either way due to the "motivation to lie" factor.


Quote:
The definition of awkward being used here is the first, "difficult to deal with". The way it was phrased gave the reader the impression the author was suggesting that Biden's hugging and such were examples of past sexual misconduct.


I don't see how "difficult to deal with" fits. The deleted part isn't vague. What is difficult to deal with by the New York Times readers (as opposed to Biden and those marketing Biden)? Sexual misconduct is an imprecise term and not one that is normally used. Sexual harassment is the term. Biden's actions fall under sexual misconduct in my book unless there are men who also say his touching, kissing and hugging made them feel uncomfortable. In that case I would, after verifying he wasn't bi-sexual, just say he is guilty of misconduct.

Quote:
But since the author doesn't feel that those are examples of sexual misconduct, that makes this passage's phrasing a problem since it becomes difficult for the reader to parse as they becomes confused about the author's position. Thus the phrasing is "awkward".


I think authors (both young women in their article headshot picture) feel that they are examples of sexual misconduct, just more benign than what the former aide accuses him of. It's possible that they used "sexual misconduct" instead of "sexual harassment" just so they could point out his history or getting too physical with women. And they may feel that if you are doing one, it makes it more likely you are doing the other.

Quote:
But the authors are saying that meaning was never their intent.


What meaning was not their intent? The deleted part is not vague and does not, as the campaign claimed, suggest that Biden was accused of "sexual harassment" by the other women, just that he got physical with them in a way that made them uncomfortable. Since they were specific in what he did, it isn't valid to claim they are saying he previously did what the aide is accusing Biden of. The campaign can only legitimately say that pointing out his more benign sexual misconduct may lead people to conclude that he is likely guilty of the more serious charge. As I mentioned, judges and defense attorneys will make that argument.

But the actual discussion between the campaign and the editor could easily have started with "Do you want four more years of Trump?" and been in the "you're not helping our chances to win" vein.

Quote:

As I said, we can discuss all day long whether or not the NYT has a messed up understanding of what should constitute "sexual misconduct" and whether the Creepy Biden meme should rise to that level. But the position of the editors and authors of this piece--without any input from the campaign--is that is doesn't.


It would be as easy to make the case the authors had no input on the matter as it would that they did. The editor said "I" as many times as he said "we". And because they cannot admit to cow towing to the campaign, what the editor says is meaningless since he will say the same thing in either case.

Quote:
So any phrasing within the piece that would give the impression that Biden does have a history of sexual misconduct would be unintentional, and it is this that was pointed out to them by the campaign. So they edited their wording to better represent their position on the issue and eliminate any ambiguity.


They spelled out what Biden has a history of. If that is not "sexual misconduct" then the deleted text would not give the impression that Biden has a history of "sexual misconduct". They didn't say something that would given a false impression such as, "but no other women have made formal public charges against Biden".

Quote:
But having an issue with their definition of sexual misconduct is not the same thing as a paper censoring itself on the behest of a campaign, which is what the Jezebel article was suggesting they were doing.


I just don't think it can be determined to a strong certainty one way or the other whether or not the New York Times retracted to appease or help the campaign since the motivation to lie is so high.


jammerbirdi



Joined: 23 Sep 2004
Posts: 20286



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PostPosted: 04/17/20 2:41 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

I just want to register (but with a lot less effort) that I disagree with the parsing and conclusions of both sides here but am much more in the camp of tfan in terms of most of his analysis. I do chuckle though at the idea that it can't be determined to a strong certainty that the Times bowed to the campaign, unless that was some heavy tfan sarcasm I'm missing.

Another thing I'm probably missing:

Quote:
But the authors are saying that meaning was never their intent.


Where did they say that, justintyme?



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justintyme



Joined: 08 Jul 2012
Posts: 8206
Location: Northfield, MN


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PostPosted: 04/17/20 3:18 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

jammerbirdi wrote:


Another thing I'm probably missing:

Quote:
But the authors are saying that meaning was never their intent.


Where did they say that, justintyme?


In the Q&A with the editor. He noted that they got feedback from the campaign that said the sentence as constructed made it seem like they were saying Biden had other cases of sexual misconduct in his past.

This seems like a reasonable critique from the Biden campaign, as it is clearly the way the sentence is being read here by you, tfan, Glenn, and others (it is also how I would read it without context). But the editor is pointing out that this isn't the way it was intended to be read.

The exact quote is:

Quote:
...[The sentence as written] made it look like there were other instances in which he had been accused of sexual misconduct. And that’s not what the sentence was intended to say.


Like I said, I'm not defending the conclusion that they reached as far as how one should classify sexual misconduct. My reason for jumping in was that I have a significant amount of experience dealing with the editing process and beta readers (which in this case is what the campaign would have been serving as), and how that process plays out in changes to your work. People seem to think that just because it is so clearly able to be read in one way, that the original authors and editors must have meant it to mean that. But in my experience, that isn't the case. Beta readers often point out things that in hindsight should have been obvious but that you just didn't see because your mind is locked into the meaning you did intend. Think of it like the old kissing faces/candlestick picture. You will typically only see one or the other and will never even consider an alternative, until someone who saw the other comes along and points it out. Only then do you have that "Ohhhhh" moment where things expand.

So if those involved are saying that reading wasn't their intent, I have no reason to not believe them.



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jammerbirdi



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PostPosted: 04/17/20 4:30 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

But where did the authors say that?



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Falsehood will fly on the wings of the wind, and carry its tales to every corner of the earth; whilst truth lags behind; her steps slow and solemn, she has neither the vigour nor activity to overtake her enemy. - Thomas Francklin
justintyme



Joined: 08 Jul 2012
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PostPosted: 04/17/20 5:12 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

jammerbirdi wrote:
But where did the authors say that?

The editor was referring to "we" as in conversations had between authors and editor. If he was speaking out of place for them, they have never said otherwise (and if an editor were to do that, it is their responsibility to speak up, otherwise their silence is tacit approval).



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jammerbirdi



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PostPosted: 04/17/20 5:30 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

justintyme wrote:
jammerbirdi wrote:
But where did the authors say that?

The editor was referring to "we" as in conversations had between authors and editor. If he was speaking out of place for them, they have never said otherwise (and if an editor were to do that, it is their responsibility to speak up, otherwise their silence is tacit approval).


My inclination is to let this go, but I don’t want it to come off as my tacit approval. I am so not where you are on what anything here means. We’ll just have to leave it at that.



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Falsehood will fly on the wings of the wind, and carry its tales to every corner of the earth; whilst truth lags behind; her steps slow and solemn, she has neither the vigour nor activity to overtake her enemy. - Thomas Francklin
justintyme



Joined: 08 Jul 2012
Posts: 8206
Location: Northfield, MN


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PostPosted: 04/17/20 5:51 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

jammerbirdi wrote:
justintyme wrote:
jammerbirdi wrote:
But where did the authors say that?

The editor was referring to "we" as in conversations had between authors and editor. If he was speaking out of place for them, they have never said otherwise (and if an editor were to do that, it is their responsibility to speak up, otherwise their silence is tacit approval).


My inclination is to let this go, but I don’t want it to come off as my tacit approval. I am so not where you are on what anything here means. We’ll just have to leave it at that.

Sounds good to me. Though you wouldn't need to worry about tacit approval unless you said nothing after your spokesperson claimed you did approve. Wink

(And yes, editors and publishers are spokespeople of authors, which is why we immediately correct them on the record when they speak out of turn).



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