Ballance at the New York Times

“Ballance” as defined by Chris Cillizza consists of choosing a metric such that it gives a balanced conclusion. The ur-example was his own corruption scorecard which assessed whether Republicans or Democrats were ahead in the corruption game. He defined rules for scoring which included only alleged corruption of current office holders counts. An editor (whose anonymity he protected) added the case of then (and now) former congressman Jack Ballance to achieve “balance”. After kicking myself for not thinking of the pun, I adopted it.

Yes I am part of the Krugman me too chorus.

Ballance seems to have migrated to the New York Times. In an article about Rick Perlstein’s “The Invisible Bridge” Alexandra Alter notes that it is controversial (no shocker). Someone who was cited 125 times sued claiming he wasn’t cited enough. Also although ” The book, the third volume in Mr. Perlstein’s expansive history of American politics in the 1960s and 1970s, was greeted with largely laudatory reviews from The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal”, “In a sharply critical review on the website Open Letters Monthly, its managing editor, Steve Donoghue, wrote, “Almost everywhere you look, you find Perlstein neatening and shortening and simplifying and exaggerating.” Also Alter forecasts that a forthcoming review will be critical.

OK so “Open Letters Monthly” Ballances “The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal”. I had never heard of Open Letters Monthly before. I am reasonably confident that I could find it googling “Perlstein” “The Invisible Bridge” and some standard terms used to criticize books e.g. “exaggerating” — it’s fourth and the Alter article is second so it probably would have come up 3rd were one to google for Ballance before that article was published. I do not speculate on whether Alter googled in such a way to get some Ballance, but note that, in the abstract, google makes Ballancing acts extremely easy.

I note that “Open Letters Monthly” is rated 352,421th worldwide and 138,639th in the USA by Alexa (the site I got binging [website traffic statistics] ). This humble blog is rated 860,144th worldwide and 270,594 in the USA.

This post isn’t really up to Angrybear standards, but I can’t put it on my personal blog which is rated 12,217,434th. Ouch.

I think that kneejerk contrarianism is often criticized, but, fellow AngryBears we are going to have to be more contrarian if we want to be cited in the New York Times.

Chocolate tastes aweful and Nickleback is the greatest band ever.

update: I am feeling bad about this post. For one thing, I read somewhere on the web that the article I criticized is the first written by Alter for the New York Times. What’s worse a huge number of people also criticized it. The latest is the public editor of the New York Times who concluded “The standard has to be higher.” Ouch — over at the Grey Lady them’s fighting words.

My criticism was at least original (everyone else focused on the guy who was quoted accusing plagiarism in spite of being cited 125 times).