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In the Flailing New York Times: Recipe or Confession?

As the flailing New York Times loses print-edition advertisers, the publishers run an ever-increasing number  of “house ads” featuring their own offshoots and products. The back page of the July 23 Sunday Review section —very valuable “real estate,” as the business types say— was given over to a full-page ad promoting the Times’s cooking website. It revealed just how lightly the editors take their own allegations of collusion between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Russian government officials.

The alleged dangers of marijuana are also joked about by journalists who know that it’s relatively benign (and know that their readers know, too). Over the years we’ve remarked numerous puns in reference to marijuana. A few examples:

“Outgoing City Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden answered a burning question on Wednesday, coming out in favor of developing a synthetic marijuana spray to be used for medicinal purposes….”

“LAW PROF TO SUPREME COURT – FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, BUTT OUT OF MEDICAL MARIJUANA Randy Barnett last week stood before a panel of nine justices inside a replica of the U.S.  Supreme Court.  The simulation was staged at Georgetown University’s moot courtroom…”

” CANUCK BASES ARE LOADED” is how a wit at the Toronto Sun summarized Stephanie Rubec’s Nov. 14 story about marijuana being the drug of choice among Canadian military personnel. (Cocaine is a distant second.)

“CELLUCI IS JUST BLOWING SMOKE.” the head on a letter in the Nov. 11 Montreal Gazette… Paul Cellucci is the U.S. Ambassador who warned that if Canada decriminalized marijuana, inspections of vehicles at the border would become more frequent and thorough, drastically slowing traffic.

The light-hearted headlines, taken in aggregate, reveal a basic understanding: “POT IS NO BIG DEAL.” The unspoken message to the reader/viewer is, “We’re hip and we know you are, too.”  They never make light of meth or opiate addiction, although SPEED and SMACK have plenty of pun potential and would fit in headlines.

Whoever drafted and laid out and approved the Times’s full-page  joke about “collusion between eggs, milk and blackberries”  —and every editor who saw the ad prior to publication— must know, consciously or subconsciously, that there’s something ludicrous about the paper’s obsession with Trump and the Russkies.

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Fred Gardner is the managing editor of O’Shaughnessy’s. He can be reached at fred@plebesite.com

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