Thursday’s Headlines: More Garbage from the Car-Loving NY Times Edition
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“Women belong in the home.” “20,679 physicians say, ‘Luckies are less irritating.'” “Driving is the sine qua non of adulthood and the American experience.”
All three statements betray an impossibly antique, retrograde (indeed, offensive) sensibility, but only one enjoys the current imprimatur of the New York Times editorial page — which is why we habitually refer to the Gray Lady as “the car-loving New York Times.”
The latest example of the Times’s misplaced affection for cars came in the form of Ross Douthat’s column yesterday, “What Driving Means for America” (also played on the homepage as “If You Don’t Drive, How Else Do You Belong to America?”) — which actually argues that we are not driving enough and laments that “anxious, hopeless” Gen Z is “retreating from car culture, refusing or delaying the licenses that their parents and grandparents so eagerly obtained.”
Our beef (at least right now) isn’t with Douthat, but his employer. As we’ve said many times, the Times mutes its intelligence with genuflection before the automobile because the Paper of Record sucks the car teat: Like the cigarette ad above, which once upon a time polluted major newspapers, car companies’ advertising pays media companies’ bills, no matter the media company’s political skew (which is why MSNBC watchers must sit through numbing hours of SUV ads).
So, even as the front pages feature story after story about our burning planet, the editors think nothing of columnists’ asking such absurd and insulting rhetorical questions as: “If you do not drive your neighborhood or region, what form of adult mastery and knowledge are you seeking in its place?” and “If you do not drive your country’s highways and byways, what path do you have to a nonvirtual experience of the America beyond your class and tribe and bubble?”
Aren’t conservatives supposed to uphold virtues that existed before the automobile? And, Ross, have you ever taken the Chinatown bus? Believe us, lots of tribes and classes are mingling there.
The column reads like it’s written from a parallel Earth where anyone with power in America is threatening the supremacy of cars, even as it worries that President Biden seeks billions from taxpayers to subsidize EVs.
I actually feel like I know *more* because I don’t drive—by walking, cycling or using transit, I have to know directions, ask neighbors, learn landmarks, and understand my neighborhood (or region) in hyper-localized ways that cars are unable to. https://t.co/V0fDkKLN1u
— John Surico (@JohnSurico) July 20, 2022
The Times has company in its abjection. As we noted recently, as storied an outlet as The New Yorker made similar points in an issue devoted to “Adventures.” But the art direction of the Douthat column trowels on the car-as-freedom myth: It opens with a picture of a snow-capped mountain framed in the side-view mirror of a car … a car that is hastening the demise of the very snow in that picture!
Douthat does nod toward the idea that driving produces road deaths and pollution. But his cross-country trip reading was Matthew Crawford’s “Why We Drive: Toward a Philosophy of the Open Road.” Instead of a pro-car tome, Douthat should stick his nose into Jessie Singer’s excellent “There Are No Accidents” or Angie Schmitt’s “Right of Way: Race, Class and the Silent Epidemic of Pedestrian Deaths in America.” Those might open up new vistas — ones that won’t need to be illustrated with a “before” photo of our soon-to-be-destroyed world.
In other news:
- The pedestrian mowed down by a hit-and-run driver on the Rock on July 7 is recalled as a loving dad. (SILive)
- Crain’s has the letter that so-called Bronx business leaders sent to the DOT commissioner, calling the idea of a Fordham Road busway “an existential threat.”
- It happened in Jersey (allegedly): A drunk cop ran over and killed a pedestrian, and his dad (also a cop) helped cover it up. Now the law has something to say about it. (NBCNews)
- Cops busted the man who ran over a pedestrian in Brooklyn on Memorial Day, charging him with manslaughter. (NYPost)
- Why is this so hard for mayors to do? Didn’t Bloomberg do it a few times? (Via Twitter)
The Mayor won’t hesitate to ask New Yorkers not to drive when there’s a snow storm. Why should it be any different on poor air quality days like today? pic.twitter.com/1maXENJOt6
— Philip Miatkowski (@miatkowski) July 20, 2022
- A driver struck and killed a woman who exited her distressed vehicle on the Bruckner early Wednesday. (ABC7)
- The Atlantic enumerates post-Manchin strategies on climate. Charles Komanoff had a good take. (Via Twitter)
"Mayors & governors must encourage car alternatives as quickly as possible: Congress’s failure has left them w/ no other choice. Protected bike lanes, more reliable & rapid bus service, and congestion pricing must come to more cities than just the few biggest one on the coasts." https://t.co/zwWrfuM3EI
— Charles Komanoff (@Komanoff) July 20, 2022
- Hat tip to Hell Gate, which gained its very own Times profile.
- The Brooklyn Paper beat us to the punch on the story of the Baby Apolline lawsuit. Our story is here. The News also covered.
- TransAlt’s report on the Boogie Down got another airing in amNY.
- “Rain, rain go away!”: The MTA’s Inspector General faults the transit agency’s approach to flooding. (amNY, NYPost)
- SEE IT: Washington Square phone thief uses Citi Bike. (Village Sun)
- As long as we are discussing trips, the MTA tweeted a helpful vacation hint:
Headed to the beach to the beat the heat?
Stay safe, stay cool and take the train! https://t.co/xzzgIBcm3C
— LIRR. Wear a Mask. (@LIRR) July 20, 2022