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SPORT OF THE GODS! Once again, the New York Times op-ed page supports an ancient notion: // link // print // previous // next //
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 24, 2009

Sport of the gods: “I wonder as I wander,” Langston Hughes mused. Here at THE HOWLER, we sometimes wonder if human life is just a vast practical joke—a joke played on us by the gods.

That’s what Homer seemed to believe. Through the millenia, his work has “had legs.”

Is it possible Homer was right?

We wondered this morning when we read Joanne Lipman’s op-ed piece in the New York Times. Much of her column is well worth considering—especially the paragraph comparing Glenn Beck to Keith Olbermann. But the column appeared in our nation’s most famous newspaper. And its author reasoned like this:

LIPMAN (10/24/09): And yet during the last few years, I couldn’t help but notice that the situation for women as a whole wasn’t improving, and was even getting worse.

Consider the facts: When I graduated from college in 1983, women earned only 64 cents for every dollar earned by a man.

Today? Women earn just 77 cents. By other measures, women’s gains have stalled: board seats and corporate officer posts have been flat—or declined in recent years.

More proof: According to the American Bar Association, women in 2008 made up almost half of all associates, but only 18.3 percent of partners. Only 15 women run Fortune 500 companies.

Lipman says that women’s situation hasn’t been improving in recent years—or has even been getting worse. Her evidence? Where women once earned 64 cents on the dollar, they now “earn just 77!”

In her next breath, she claims that the number of women’s board seats has declined in recent years. Her sentence defines this decline in seats as evidence that “women’s gains have stalled.” Meanwhile, the “proof” she presents in that last paragraph includes no evidence about whether things are getting better or worse. But then, none of the facts Lipman considers shows the situation getting worse—except her claim about board seats, which she doesn’t quantify or source.

Does the New York Times still employ editors? This puzzling passage appears on the op-ed page of our leading newspaper—perhaps the most valuable journalistic real estate in this nation.

On the same page, Charles Blow devotes his twice-monthly column to the question of Michelle Obama’s favorability ratings. On Hardball, Blow seems like a very nice guy. But what, the New York Times worry?

(By the way: Blow’s graphic actually shows a major drop in Michelle Obama’s favorability rating. To us, this drop would be surprising and sad, if real. But what, the New York Times worry? Blow ignores his gloomy graphic in his upbeat text.)

Is human life a joke of the gods? Often, when we consider the facts, evidence that we aren’t caught in a joke seems, at best, to have stalled.