At The Times, Making Up Facts To Fit The Narrative

No, I'm not talking about the RUSSIA!!!! narrative.  For now, I'm keeping my powder dry on that one.  My current working assumption is that Trump and Sessions are holding the most explosive revelations for maximum effect in the run-up to the 2018 mid-term elections.  It's going to be a lot of fun when everything comes out; but meanwhile, we wait.

For today's subject we turn away from the endless Trump obsession and towards one of the many pieces of the official progressive narrative supporting the notion that all problems of the world are your fault and you must therefore feel deep and extreme guilt.  Readers here know that recently the decades-long official narrative of evil affluent people "abandoning" the poor in the inner cities has now been replaced by a new official narrative where the same evil affluent people are "pushing the poor out" of wealthy inner Manhattan and Brooklyn and into the inconvenient far reaches of the outer boroughs.  See my post of November 30, "They Don't Give Any Advance Notice When They Change The Narrative."   

That November 30 post discussed a New York Times article of the prior day that presented the stories of a total of two sympathetic low-wage workers with long commutes between different points in the outer boroughs surrounding Manhattan.  The commutes were indeed difficult, involving multiple legs of the subway, buses, and, in one case, the Staten Island Ferry.  But a mere two instances is not a lot of evidence to support the new official narrative of progressive guilt.  So apparently someone at Pravda felt the need to beef up the new narrative by sending a reporter out to find an additional example or two to keep the drumbeat going.  And thus we have the next article in the series appearing in today's edition, headline "Living Far Between or Beyond Subway Stops, and Feeling Left Behind."

Unfortunately for the Times, getting around the outer boroughs of New York on the mass transportation system is something completely beyond the experience of any of their employees in the editorial departments.  To compound the problem, they have given the current assignment to one Sarah Maslin Nir, easily one of the most incompetent writers on the staff -- and that's saying a lot.  (Nir was previously best known for writing a multi-part series in the Times in 2015 on the nail salon industry that I called a "scam" and "journalistic drivel."  The series was completely eviscerated upon re-reporting by Jim Epstein of Reason.  After her fiasco with the nail salon story, it's quite incredible that Nir is still employed as a journalist, let alone at the Times; but there you go.)  Nir suffers from the problem -- not a small one for someone trying to be a journalist -- of not bothering to check what she writes to see if it makes any sense whatsoever.  And thus we have a total howler of a story.  Not that anyone at the Times could tell, or course.

So let's start out with a serious dose of guilt for you:

Few physical structures embody the divisions in the city as plainly as the subway system, where the haves and have-nots frequently correlate with which neighborhood has or does not have stops. Subway deserts stretch along the easternmost reaches of Queens, the North Bronx and across coastal Brooklyn to name a few places. The dearth of subways disproportionately affects residents of high-density, low-income neighborhoods, but also blue-collar bedroom communities in Queens. . . .  

Are you feeling guilty yet?  And now for our victim of the day, one Nazir Zahid.  Mr. Zahid lives in the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx and commutes to a store that he manages in another neighborhood of the Bronx called West Farms:

It takes four buses to ferry Mr. Zahid from his home in the Kingsbridge neighborhood in the Bronx to the women’s clothing boutique he manages in West Farms, another neighborhood in the same borough where the strands of the subway fray to nothing. It is a three-and-a-half-mile commute that takes Mr. Zahid one hour and 45 minutes — and that is only if all four buses show up on time. 

It's difficult to conceive of how someone could have made so many obvious factual errors in such a short paragraph.  I'll give you a few:

  • Is West Farms a "neighborhood . . . where the strands of the subway fray to nothing"?  Huh?  West Farms is right on the main trunk line of the subway through the middle of the Bronx, served by two express lines, one of which (#2) goes down the West Side of Manhattan, and the other of which (#5) goes down the East Side.  You can check the subway map here.  If you have ever been to West Farms Square, it would be impossible not to know of the access by the subway, which arrives at that point on a very high and dramatic elevated structure.
  • And how about Kingsbridge?  Yes, that is also served by the subway (#1 train).
  • Admittedly, the trip from Kingsbridge to West Farms by the #1 and #2 trains -- which involves going into Manhattan and then reversing directions -- is not terribly convenient, although it would take well less than the hour and 45 minutes reported by Mr. Zahid for his bus journey.  But doesn't the more direct alternative by bus take four buses, as Nir reports?  Completely wrong again.  New York's MTA actually runs a bus line, the Bx9, that directly connects the Kingsbridge and West Farms neighborhoods.  Here is the Bronx bus map.  
  • According to the schedule of the Bx9 bus, the time to get from Kingsbridge (Broadway and 225th Street) to West Farms Square is a little over half an hour, depending some on the time of day -- barely more than one-quarter of the hour forty-five that Ms. Nir claims on behalf of Mr. Zahid.  And this Bx9 bus has a schedule that would make any bus rider in the United States outside of New York City green with envy.  This is one of those 24 hour a day, 7 day a week buses that we have only in New York.  At rush hours it runs about every 5 minutes; during the day, never less than once every 10 minutes; and in the evenings, every 12 minutes all the way to midnight.

The fact is that the commute between Kingsbridge and West Farms in the Bronx is about as good as it is possible to make it with a mass transportation system of buses and subways.  A big improvement may be on the way with the coming of driverless cars that could be cost-competitive with the buses.  Meanwhile, it seems to me that the taxpayers of New York could use some gratitude for their generosity in providing a fabulously extensive transportation system.  Certainly, they have no reason to feel guilty.

UPDATE December 29:  I thought readers might like to see a picture of the West Farms Square subway station.  As you can see, if you have been there, you could not help but know that the subway is a major presence.

west farms subway station 2.jpg