Remember New York Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger’s private meeting with Donald Trump in July, where he “implored” the president “to reconsider his broad attacks on journalists”? I wonder if he does.
At the meeting, Sulzberger said, he told Trump that the phrase fake news is “untrue and harmful,“ adding that the president’s anti-press rhetoric “was undermining the democratic ideals of our nation.”
You have to wonder whether Sulzberger read an item that ran in his paper yesterday under the headline “Nikki Haley’s view of New York is priceless. Her curtains? $52,701.” It’s a clumsy riff on an old MasterCard ad campaign, but the article has bigger problems than that. Take paragraphs 1 through 5.
The first paragraph introduces the topic sentence, while also injecting a little criticism of the Trump administration for its budget mismanagement and profligate spending:
The State Department spent $52,701 last year buying customized and mechanized curtains for the picture windows in Nikki R. Haley’s official residence as ambassador to the United Nations, just as the department was undergoing deep budget cuts and had frozen hiring.
The second paragraph notes that Haley is the first U.N. ambassador to live in this apartment, which, judging from the description in paragraph three, sounds like a space befitting $50,000 curtains. It is described as a full penthouse with “handsome hardwood floors” and a monthly rent of $58,000.
The Times author, Gardiner Harris, touches on but never goes into detail about the previous residence for U.N. ambassadors, which was a suite of rooms on the 42nd (penthouse) floor of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. He omits for example the inconvenient truth that the rent at Waldorf-Astoria was $135,000 a month, nearly two and a half times what the federal government will pay for the new residence.
But the purpose of the Times article is to fulfill an anti-Trump agenda, which falls apart entirely in paragraph six, where the reader learns:
A spokesman for Ms. Haley said plans to buy the curtains were made in 2016, during the Obama administration. Ms. Haley had no say in the purchase, he said.
*UPDATE*: The New York Times has changed the headline and focus of its story. The title now reads “State Department Spent $52,701 on Curtains for Residence of U.N. Envoy,” and an editors’ note has been appended that reads:
An earlier version of this article and headline created an unfair impression about who was responsible for the purchase in question. While Nikki R. Haley is the current ambassador to the United Nations, the decision on leasing the ambassador’s residence and purchasing the curtains was made during the Obama administration, according to current and former officials. The article should not have focused on Ms. Haley, nor should a picture of her have been used. The article and headline have now been edited to reflect those concerns, and the picture has been removed.