Dear New York Times: It's Not That Hard To Understand
March 9, 2015

Today in the NY Times, we learn that Hillary Clinton's record as an advocate for the rights of women and girls is "under attack." (We get 10 paragraphs down before we find her attackers are ... Carly "Let Me Do For The Country What I Did for HP" Fiorina and... the RNC. Oh, and Richard Painter, a Rand Paul booster.)

We are so concerned:

Even her most strident critics could not have predicted that Mrs. Clinton would prove vulnerable on the subject.

But the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation has accepted tens of millions of dollars in donations from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Algeria and Brunei — all of which the State Department has faulted over their records on sex discrimination and other human-rights issues.

So the storyline is that critics are attacking Clinton, but she's also done good things for women. So.... what?

Jesus. I don't even know if I like Hillary Clinton enough to put this much work into critiquing every half-assed story that comes down the pike. I mean, there's so much lazy journalism, and so little time.

But it really isn't about Clinton. It's about the media as the right wing's Pavlovian dog, salivating whenever they hear the bell. Trying to be "balanced." The view from nowhere.

(If you want to write stories about Clinton, don't manufacture them. Write about her term as Secretary of State, and talk to real experts about her policies, people without axes to grind -- not Republican whack jobs. I'd read those stories! I'd like to know those things from a relatively unbiased source!)

All I wanted to do when I started blogging 12 years ago was this: Teach people how to read the newspaper. How to read between the lines, question sources, understand strategic omissions. And this story has a big one.

Look: Taking money from discriminatory regimes to work on behalf of women's and girls' rights is smart. Countries have power structures, traditions, and cultures that work against any progress in women's rights. For those leaders, supporting the Clinton Foundation programs is a way to bring change to their own countries without taking the political hit! Duh.

This is so obvious to me, you'd think whoever edited this story would think to answer the very question the story raises: "For what reason would leaders in such backwards countries give money to the Clinton foundation?"

Many leaders, especially the younger ones, went to school in Western countries. A lot of them would love to drag their countries into the 21st century (or even the 20th). But they have a lot working against them. The New York Times might have talked to one or two of those progressive leaders, even anonymously. Because this kind of information adds context, yes?

The kind of context Times readers might even appreciate!

But maybe the Times wanted you to think there was some other nefarious reason. After all, a power-hungry woman who'd use her own email account is capable of almost anything.

Can you help us out?

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