Sunday, November 1, 2015

LOL Hey Don Graham, Welcome to the Walter Block Side of the Street

Donald Graham, who was an owner and 20-year publisher of the Washington Post before selling the paper to Jeff Bezos, is not to happy with the New York Times.

NYT has put out a distorted hit piece on the for-profit education sector. The piece takes a decidedly government/establishment propaganda perspective. You know, the type of perspective that WaPo took when Graham was the top dog at the paper.

The government/establishment view is, of course, that the for-profit education sector is bad. Who knows, it might even lead to independent thinking and questioning of the government/establishment power structure.

But now, Graham is on the other side of the street as a controlling owner of the for-profit Kaplan education organization.

He penned an op-ed in WSJ explaining  his fury at NYT. The piece included this:
On Oct. 13, I woke up to see this headline on the lead story in the New York Times: “For-Profit Colleges Fail Standards, but Get Billions.” The online headline used the word “fraud.” The story started with a college that had been investigated or sued by 12 states and the Justice Department; it went on to another one investigated or sued by 19 states, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Education Department. And then in the article, by God, there was Kaplan. We were lumped in with what the Times thought were the lousiest for-profit colleges—and I had no idea the story might run.

I checked everywhere at Kaplan. Had the reporter called? Nope. Had she visited a campus? The story certainly didn’t indicate that she had...

I can say based on a lifetime in journalism that it is quite unusual to write about a company in a story whose headline uses the word “fraud” and not even call to get our side of the story. And I find it equally unusual to put forward a thesis that a college should be closed, but never visit it.

The Times doesn’t ask the same question of traditional colleges being investigated for similar or graver offenses, like the University of North Carolina, which has been accused of creating phantom courses and awarding high grades to 3,100 students over the years—many of them athletes who thereby remained eligible to play..

I was angry enough to write a letter to the New York Times, which it declined to run. But I left out one of the strangest parts of this story: The reporter quotes a fellow named Ben Miller, senior director at the Center for American Progress, which she describes as “a liberal research and advocacy group.” A couple of paragraphs later she quotes some figures and says they were from “a detailed analysis by Mr. Miller for The New York Times.”

So the New York Times is now having its analyses performed by advocacy groups and—surprise!—the results support the conclusion of the advocacy group. The American Enterprise Institute would, I guarantee you, have reached a different conclusion. And this is how the Times conducts its research?

When the subject is for-profit education, journalistic standards fly out the window and are never seen again.

Hey Don, welcome to the Walter Block side of the street.


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