The uncomprising journalistic standards of The New York Times

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

Am I the only one who finds this Bill-Clinton-has-black-cred story in today’s New York Times ridiculous?

While the blogosphere and commentariat rang this weekend with angry declarations that he had crossed a line in his criticism of Barack Obama, many in Harlem seemed to mull it over, shrug their shoulders and say they understood, even if they didn’t quite agree.

“What Bill Clinton said — well, his wife is running for office,” said Tonya Burnett, who was waiting outside the building to visit a city housing office. “He’s got to represent just like she represented when he was running. I don’t think it’s such a big deal.”

To be sure, interviews conducted on a single day, in front of a single building, are apt to produce a narrow point of view. Yet the building, at 55 West 125th Street, is an important piece of real estate in Mr. Clinton’s world.

To be sure, interviewing a handful of people is largely meaningless, but we’ll still go with the headline blaring “In Harlem, Backing Up Bill Clinton.”

Just in case the story was too subtle, and you didn’t quite get the Bill-Clinton-is-blacker-than-Obama subtext, they chose to end the story on this note, emphasis mine:

Bruce Gordon, 47, had visited a notary inside the building. He said the criticisms might even sharpen Mr. Obama.

“These questions have to come up. If Obama gets the nomination, folks will ask, ‘So who are you?’ So far, he’s a nice white middle-class guy,” said Mr. Gordon, acknowledging the cheekiness of his remark with a cagey little smile. “You try to pull a black thing on Bill Clinton, he’s going to say, ‘Now wait a minute now.’ ”

The blackness olympics are on!

It’s almost as bad as the story earlier this month in the Times about how Latinos won’t vote for a black man. Cause you know, Latino and black are mutually exclusive categories. Not like there are any black Latinos, or anything.

Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez brilliantly broke down exactly what was wrong with that story:

The article quotes a random 20-year-old woman on the streets of Los Angeles as their only legitimate source for the headline screaming about Obama’s lack of support among Latinos, ostensibly because of his “blackness.” This is your source? Natasha Carrillo of East Los Angeles? Holy crap. Are you joking? Is this the best you can find? Why not go the CUNY, and talk to the Dominican and Puerto Rican studies experts there? Why send reporters to a freakin’ taco stand in East Los Angeles? I’ll tell you why: The story was written in the minds of the editors before it was reported; that’s why it WAS NEVER reported. It was made up. And because it was on the front of the NY Times, you are going to have pundits from coast to coast quoting it as the gospel truth, all because Natasha Carrillo, 20, of East Los Angeles, said so.

About This Blog

Racialicious is a blog about the intersection of race and pop culture. Check out our daily updates on the latest celebrity gaffes, our no-holds-barred critique of questionable media representations, and of course, the inevitable Keanu Reeves John Cho newsflashes.

Latoya Peterson (DC) is the Owner and Editor (not the Founder!) of Racialicious, Arturo García (San Diego) is the Managing Editor, Andrea Plaid (NYC) is the Associate Editor. You can email us at team@racialicious.com.

The founders of Racialicious are Carmen Sognonvi and Jen Chau. They are no longer with the blog. Carmen now runs Urban Martial Arts with her husband and blogs about local business. Jen can still be found at Swirl or on her personal blog. Please do not send them emails here, they are no longer affiliated with this blog.

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