Supplemental: The New York Times submits to his threat!


O’Reilly gets a pass:
Here at THE HOWLER, we have a bit of a cultural soft spot for Bill O’Reilly.

(Full disclosure. Years ago, we chatted with Bill on the phone. He called us, of course.)

That said, O’Reilly has made a number of statements down through the years about his journalistic service in the Falklands War. This conflict was fought between two actual nations (Great Britain and Argentina) on and around the Falkland Islands, pretty much way out at sea.

O’Reilly was never in the Falkland Islands, or anywhere close. As everyone agrees, he covered demonstrations about the war—demonstrations which occurred in Buenos Aires, a thousand miles away.

The British navy wasn’t present. Neither was Margaret Thatcher.

Despite these stubborn geographical facts, Bill has occasionally misstated the location of his service in the most elementary way. As recently as 2013, he said this on The Factor:
O’REILLY (4/17/13): I was in a situation one time, in a war zone in Argentina, in the Falklands, where my photographer got run down and then hit his head and was bleeding from the ear on the concrete. And the army was chasing us. I had to make a decision. And I dragged him off, you know, but at the same time, I'm looking around and trying to do my job, but I figure I had to get this guy out of there because that was more important.
Perhaps this was a slip of the tongue, but it was a basic misstatement. Mr. O was never “in the Falklands!”

(To watch tape of Mr. O making this statement, you can just click here.)

Bill was never “in the Falklands.” But uh-oh! In his 2001 book, The No-Spin Zone, O’Reilly said this:
O’REILLY (page 110): You know that I am not easily shocked. I've reported on the ground in active war zones from El Salvador to the Falklands.
O’Reilly wasn’t really in an “active war zone” when he was in Buenos Aires. But he certainly wasn’t in any such zone in “the Falklands,” an impression anyone would have gotten from reading that published statement.

O’Reilly has made other statements through the years which gave the impression that he was actually in the Falklands. But how strange!

The New York Times has now published two lengthy reports about this ongoing flap. But as the Times has sifted Bill’s comments, they’ve never noted that O’Reilly has sometimes directly said that he was “in the Falklands.”

Which he never was!

These Times reports have not been brief. On Tuesday, Emily Steel and Ravi Somaiya devoted 1267 words to the flap about O’Reilly’s alleged misstatements. This morning, Jonathan Mahler joined Steel for a report on the same topic which covered 1674 words.

That’s almost 3000 words in all! But in these reports, the Times has never noted the fact that O’Reilly has said, and directly implied, that he was physically present “in the Falklands.”

Instead, the Timesmen have piddled around with other alleged misstatements which are harder to parse. This morning, the Times even said this early on:
MAHLER AND STEEL (2/26/15): David Corn, one of the authors of the Mother Jones article and a former Fox News contributor, said he received the tip about Mr. O’Reilly the day after NBC News announced its suspension of Mr. Williams for six months without pay. According to Mr. Corn’s source, Mr. O’Reilly had repeatedly made false claims about his experience covering the Falklands war as a young CBS News correspondent.
“His experience covering the Falklands war?”

That lazy construction may give the impression that he actually performed that service. Arguably, that’s already a stretch!

According to Steel, O’Reilly dropped a T-bomb on her when they spoke on the phone this week. This is the way the incident was originally reported:
STEEL AND SOMAIYA (2/24/15): Mr. O'Reilly's efforts to refute the claims by Mother Jones and some former CBS News colleagues occurred both on the air and off on Monday. During a phone conversation, he told a reporter for The New York Times that there would be repercussions if he felt any of the reporter's coverage was inappropriate. ''I am coming after you with everything I have,'' Mr. O'Reilly said. ''You can take it as a threat.''
Full disclosure: Bill was much more polite to us when we spoke on the phone.

Mr. Bill dropped a threat on Steel. After reading the subsequent Times reports, our analysts came to us with tears in their eyes.

“At the New York Times, threats seem to work,” the youngsters sadly said.

Final point, with one army in flight: In today’s report, the Times has even toned down what Mr. O is said to have said to Steel on the phone. An unpleasant word has been softened:
MAHLER AND STEEL (2/26/15): In the days after the Mother Jones article was published, Mr. O’Reilly mounted an aggressive campaign against the article and its authors on Fox, and aired a video clip and an interview with a former NBC journalist that he said supported his version of events. He also threatened a New York Times reporter that he would come after her “with everything I have” if he deemed her reporting unfair. “I don’t want you to get hurt,” he said. “This is as serious as it gets.”
In today’s report, his actual quote with the T-bomb has been disappeared. Again, this suggests a possibility:

At the New York Times, T-bombs may actually work!

WHO IS NICHOLAS KRISTOF: How should college kids describe him?


Interlude—Kristof does Port-au-Prince:
We’ve been happy to spread the good news in our recent reports:

Despite what Nicholas Kristof wrote in last Sunday’s New York Times, college kids almost never describe their female professors as “bossy!” The term appears in their reviews of female professors less than once for every million words of text.

Kristof’s column was grossly misleading concerning ascriptions of “bossy!” On the brighter side, his slippery writing made us liberals feel tribally good. Increasingly, it seems like that’s what the nation’s pseudo-journalism is all about.

For the record, Kristof was actually right in one of the claims in that column. College students do use the word “genius” disproportionately in reviews of their male professors. By a ratio of almost four-to-one, they use that flattering term more often in reviews of the men.

That said, the same is true of the word “jerk,” a fact Kristof failed to mention. For the record, the disproportion is much higher in the use of that unflattering term—a term which college kids almost never apply to female professors.

Whatever! Once again, Kristof jumped on the latest tribal bandwagon in his latest bungled column. Misusing a tricky new research tool, he spread the latest false and/or misleading claims around.

With that in mind, what words should college kids possibly use in their descriptions of Kristof? Based on his frequently horrible columns, they won’t likely go with “genius.”

Should college kids possibly go with “creepy?” Increasingly, the unflattering term pops into our heads when we see Kristof touring the world with his female movie star friends, helping us learn to admire his vast moral goodness.

Should they possibly go with “slippery?” Should they go with “international spokesman for a big industry which can be problematic?” We’ll explain that last point below.

How about a counterintuitive word? Should college kids consider describing Kristof as “unfeeling?”

For us, the unflattering word came to mind as we watched the exalted Timesman doing Port-au-Prince. The same word had popped into our heads when we read this recent column by Kristof, one of the strangest columns we have ever encountered.

At this point, does Nicholas Kristof understand the look and the feel of his interactions with the world’s children? To answer that question, we must review a column which is now fourteen months old.

The column was called “A Girl’s Escape.” It appeared on January 2, 2014—fourteen months ago.

Early in that column, Kristof introduced a 13-year-old Haitian girl named Marilaine. As he did, he defined a new term, “restavek:”
KRISTOF (1/2/14): Marilaine was one of 200,000 or more Haitian children called restaveks, typically serving as unpaid maids in strangers' homes, working for room and board. It is a vast system of child trafficking that is often characterized as a modern form of slavery. I followed Marilaine for a week in Haiti as she tried to flee, find her parents and start life over—and this is her story.

Marilaine grew up in a remote village where no family planning or public schooling is available, one of 12 children to impoverished parents
who later separated. As Marilaine tells the story, one day when she was 10 years old, she walked to her father's house to ask him to help pay her school fees. Instead, he dispatched her here to the capital to work as a restavek, a Creole term used to describe child laborers, without even telling her mother.

''My father didn't want to spend money on my school fees,'' Marilaine explained.

As is common for restaveks, Marilaine slept on the floor and woke up at 5 each morning to clean the house, fetch water and wash dishes. She says she was beaten daily with electrical cords.
“[T]he restavek system isn't always slavery,” Kristof wrote. “Sometimes the child gets more food and education than would have been the case in her own family.”

In this case, “Marilaine says that she was fed properly and that she was also allowed to attend a free afternoon school,” Kristof wrote. But because she was being beaten, she tried to run away at one point.

Eventually, an international agency intervened. In this passage, Kristof told the rest of Marilaine’s story:
KRISTOF: An aid group called the Restavek Freedom Foundation helped Marilaine escape her home and find refuge in a safe house for restaveks. The mood was festive in the beautiful home as the dozen girls living there cheered Marilaine's arrival and hugged her.


A few days later, I drove for several hours with the police and the Restavek Freedom Foundation to Marilaine's village. When Marilaine stepped out of the car, family members and neighbors were stunned. They had assumed that she had died years ago.

Yet the reunion was a letdown. Marilaine's mom didn't seem at all thrilled to see her daughter again, and Marilaine quickly made it clear that she wanted to return to the safe house in the capital so that she could attend a good school. The police told Marilaine that she would have to stay in the village with her family, and she burst into tears.

The authorities will probably eventually let Marilaine return to the Restavek Freedom Foundation safe house,
but the episode was a reminder that helping people is a complex, uphill task—and that the underlying problem behind human trafficking is poverty.
Because Marilaine is an important person, this is an important story. Fourteen months ago, that’s the way Kristof told it.

When Kristof’s column appeared, Marilaine was back in her deeply impoverished rural village, a place without public schools. She hoped to return to Port-au-Prince “so that she could attend a good school.”

That’s the way the story was told in Kristof’s column, fourteen months ago. Earlier this month, these same events formed the basis for a thirty-minute segment in a three-part PBS series, A Path Appears.

The PBS series was hosted and narrated by Kristof; he starred in all its events. If you watched this PBS series, you saw the footage from the events he had described in that column.

Kristof is present in all the footage, accompanied by one of his endless posse of female movie star friends.

The PBS series showed you the footage from the events Kristof discussed in that column. But if you watched the PBS series, you saw a story which was quite different from the story he told in that piece.

On a purely journalistic basis, we’re surprised that PBS can get away with this sort of thing, or that it’s even willing to do so. How had the original story been changed?

In his column, Kristof said that Marilaine burst into tears when she was told, by the police, that she had to remain in her village. On the PBS show, you thought you saw Marilaine weeping because her mother had said that she couldn’t afford to keep her—in effect, because she couldn’t stay in the village.

In the column, we were told that Marilaine was forced to stay in the village. On the PBS show, you thought you saw Marilaine get into the Restavek Freedom Foundation’s big van and drive straight back to Port-au-Prince.

In the column, we were told that Marilaine had been cheered and hugged by a dozen girls on the night that she was freed from her abusive adoptive family.

On the PBS show, you saw her being welcomed and cheered as described. But you saw her being cheered that way after she'd been rejected by her mother—after the van ride back to Port-au-Prince, the van ride which didn’t occur.

According to Kristof’s original column, the story he showed us on PBS isn’t the story which actually happened. We’re surprised to think that PBS is willing to play it that way.

On a purely journalistic basis, we’re surprised that PBS is willing to do that. If Kristof’s original column was accurate, his PBS broadcast resembled “reality TV,” with basic events and chronologies changed to tell a better story.

PBS could almost sell the rejiggered footage to Bravo for airing as “Real Restaveks of Port-au-Prince!” But our problems with Kristof’s role on that PBS program go a bit deeper than that.

The presence of the movie stars is one “creepy” part of the problem. In the eight or nine segments on the three-part series, Kristof is accompanied by a different female star in each and every segment.

No male movie stars allowed! That said, Ronan Farrow was allowed to tag along with mom in Mia Farrow’s guest segment.

Should college kids call PBS “cynical” as they watch this unfold? Rather plainly, we’re being told that PBS viewers won’t watch a show about Haitian kids unless a female star is present on-screen to help them choke it down.

There is one “repulsive” scene in the Haiti segment where Kristof sits on a leafy terrace high above Port-au-Prince. He’s enjoying drinks with Alfre Woodward as they gaze, just a bit grandly, on the city below.

(Should college kids be wondering what the plane fare must have been to jet the two stars in? Should they wonder if the same amount of cash could perhaps have opened a school in that forgotten village?)

The presence of the movie stars is a somewhat “creepy” element. That said, we were actively troubled by other aspects of the Haiti segment, at least until we learned that the segment didn’t show us what actually happened.

In the segment on the PBS show, we see tears streaming down Marilaine’s face after she has been taken back to her village. We think she’s crying because her mother has told her she isn’t wanted.

According to Kristof’s column, that isn’t why Marilaine was crying. But as we watched the show, we were appalled, for these reasons:

Why in the world had this lovely child been exposed to this torment? Why hadn’t adults from the foundation gone to the village without Marilaine to determine whether her family was willing and able to take her back?

Kristof never explained. Instead, the camera kept playing on his face so viewers in PBS land could see how concerned he was.

We had another question. Were Kristof and the foundation really planning to take Marilaine back to the western world’s worst rural poverty and just leave her there?

On TV, we got to enjoy a happy ending! Marilaine returns to Port-au-Prince, where she is greeted by those cheering girls.

That said, we were puzzled as we watched the show. Had Kristof really planned to take Marilaine back to that village and leave her? Despite the happy ending we got, we were puzzled, left a bit sickened, by the whole presentation.

On the PBS program, Kristof seemed to be too “unfeeling” to explain the puzzling events we saw unfolding. And by the way:

What had the legal basis been for the events we saw unfolding? At no point did Kristof, or his move star friend, explain this basic matter. Instead, we got lots of footage designed to make us appreciate Kristof’s greatness, intercut with the movie star shots which set our hearts at ease.

Only when we read the earlier column did we realize that these events had not occurred in the manner shown on PBS. Beyond that, the column suggests that Haitian law and Haitian legal authorities were involved in these events, a matter that went unexplained on Kristof’s reality show.

Increasingly, we don’t think much of Kristof. Rather, we wonder if college kids should think that something may have gone a tiny bit “wrong” in his head.

As his PBS program aired and re-aired, we watched the Haiti segment several times, trying to figure out what we were seeing. When we stumbled upon his earlier column, we realized that we had seen a rejiggered reality show which reshaped basic events.

We wondered what kind of person could have produced that segment without seeing that the events, as shown, would be puzzling and upsetting to decent viewers. It reminded us of the “unfeeling” column Kristof had written a few weeks before, in which he couldn’t seem to understand the horror of a story he told about the abandoned children of one of his high school friends.

Is Nicholas Kristof “unfeeling?” We've heard that it can happen to people with too many movie star friends! This brings us to the overall framework for his PBS series.

Forgive us, but the series almost seemed like an advertisement for a major industry—an industy you might describe as the philanthropic industrial complex. It wasn't just the female stars who accompanied Kristof in every segment. At the very start of the series, George Clooney and other stars appeared, assuring us of the general greatness and worth of what we were going to see.

Forgive us for saying what follows, but we see a problem with that.

We will assume, until we’re shown different, that the Restavek Freedom Foundation is run by good decent people (in Cincinnati) who are doing good work in Haiti. That said, there is an ongoing question about the value of various programs run by various such entities—programs in which a lot of money (from PBS viewers, for instance) may be changing hands.

In his somewhat self-serving PBS show, Kristof almost struck us as a bit of a tool for his rich and famous and powerful friends. The program seemed a bit like an infomercial for a set of organizations which may also need the services of normal journalistic scrutiny.

Watching a rather “creepy” man sipping drinks with his movie star friend—watching the PBS cameras instruct us in his obvious moral greatness—we thought back to the very strange column he wrote about the children his high school friend had failed or refused to support.

In that peculiar column, Kristof seemed unable to empathize with the abandoned children of his high school friend, who he praised to the skies. He didn't seem able to understand the tragedy of those children.

On his PBS show, he seemed to display the same problem. We thought we heard college kids call him “lacking in empathy” as he dragged Marilaine all around the countryside with his latest movie star friend.

Increasingly, we’re wary of Kristof’s heavily-pimped moral greatness. Tomorrow, we’ll return to his recent columns.

We’ll explain why you should possibly be just a bit skeptical too.

Tomorrow: “When Israeli Jews Just Don’t Get It”

WHO IS NICHOLAS KRISTOF: An embarrassment and a hack?


Part 3—In support of The Raleigh 43:
Where do “journalists” like Nicholas Kristof acquire their various “facts?”

For those who find such questions intriguing, the former Rhodes scholar’s most recent column constitutes a fecund case study. Let’s examine a few more “facts” the pundit advanced in that piece.


Do college students disproportionately describe their female professors as “nasty?” If they do, does this represent a situation in which female professors must overcome a stereotypical “unconscious bias?”

Plainly, Kristof advanced both ideas in last Sunday’s column. These are the statements in question:

“[T]he evidence is overwhelming that unconscious bias remains widespread in ways that systematically benefit both whites and men...Female professors are disproportionately described as ‘nasty,’ ‘ugly,’ ‘bossy’ or ‘disorganized.’ ”

The first idea we cite above seems to be factually accurate, based on the new research tool to which Kristof linked in his column.

(To access that tool, click here.)

It’s true! When college students rate their professors at, the word “nasty” appears more often in reviews of female professors. This fact advances a notion which pleases Kristof, so he types it for his readers.

(Quite possibly, he draws on the work of a “research assistant” even more clueless than he is.)

It’s true! In their reviews at, college students use the word “nasty” more often in reviews of female professors, by a ratio of roughly two-to-one.

Kristof looks on their work and is pleased, so he puts this fact in his column. Here’s what his column didn’t tell you:

College students also use the word “pleasant” more often in reviews of female professors. In that case, the ratio is closer to three-to-one—and the word “pleasant” is used two to three times as often as “nasty.”

(Neither term is used especially often. The word “nasty” appears in reviews of female professors about ten times in each million words of text.)

Why did Kristof tell you this: “Female professors are disproportionately described as “nasty?” The most likely answer would seem to be fairly clear.

The notion that female professors are disproportionately described as “nasty” (and “bossy”) fits a pleasing preconception. For that reason, Kristof presented those facts.

He didn’t give you other facts—facts which would have made his picture cloudy:

He didn’t tell you that female professors are almost never described as “bossy” in those reviews. (The word appears less than once in every million words of text.)

He didn’t tell you that male professors seem to be described as “blowhards” substantially more often than that. (Tthough still not especially often.)

This part of Kristof’s most recent column should go straight to the Smithsonian. It’s one of the best examples we’ve ever seen of the way a certain type of “journalist” will pick and choose the facts you are allowed to encounter.

This doesn’t mean that female professors don’t confront punishing stereotypes which could even harm their careers. Consider where Kristof’s column went next, after he finished pretending to discuss the words These Kids Today use.

Are female professors damaged by stereotypes? In our view, it’s certainly possible. Kristof continued his typing:
KRISTOF (2/22/15): Consider a huge interactive exploration of 14 million reviews on that recently suggested that male professors are disproportionately likely to be described as a “star” or “genius.” Female professors are disproportionately described as “nasty,” “ugly,” “bossy” or “disorganized.”

One reaction from men was: Well, maybe women professors are more disorganized!

But researchers at North Carolina State conducted an experiment in which they asked students to rate teachers of an online course (the students never saw the teachers). To some of the students, a male teacher claimed to be female and vice versa.

When students were taking the class from someone they believed to be male, they rated the teacher more highly. The very same teacher, when believed to be female, was rated significantly lower.

In the highlighted passages, Kristof describes a troubling situation. Students were asked to rate teachers of an on-line course. Ratings for the very same teachers were higher or lower depending on whether the students thought the unobserved teacher in question was actually female or male.

Is that really the way the world works? We don’t doubt the possibility!

On the other hand, we clicked the link from Kristof’s column to that experiment at North Carolina State. When we did, we found it was based on a very small “N” and seemed to have other possible methodological problems.

Can we trust the findings derived from The Raleigh 43? Especially given that very small N, no serious person would regard this “experiment” as settled science. When an account of the experiment was posted at the official “NC State News” site to which Kristof linked, commenters responded as shown below.

There weren’t a lot of comments. We can’t vouch for the apparent gender of the commenters:
Jill says: December 9, 2014 at 1:37 pm
Oh please.

Jane says: December 9, 2014 at 5:58 pm
How on earth did this get published? The methodological errors in this are dreadful! Sample sizes of 8-12 students and 2 professors are woefully small, for starters...Then, why weren’t the professors blinded to the gender they were presenting to the students? How do we know they didn’t (even subconsciously) bias the results in their interactions? It’s poor science like this that lets the rest of us in sociology down, and makes us look like poor scientists when compared with our colleagues…

Dan says: December 27, 2014 at 5:57 pm
So true, Jane. Ridiculous that the professors were fully aware of their “perceived gender” in each scenario.

Rebecca says: December 9, 2014 at 6:02 pm
Do you have something substantive to say, Jill?

NAG says: February 23, 2015 at 1:06 am
It’s been said above by Jane. This is a terrible example of “scholarly” work.

James Driscoll says: December 10, 2014 at 9:33 am
Serious scientists at respectable institutions would be embarrassed if they published conclusions based on such a small sample size. Do your homework. Readers must feel that you got the result that you wanted, so you stopped. We try to teach students to wait and publish only what is statistically meaningful, and there are mathematical rules that define meaningful.

Real Scientist says: December 18, 2014 at 7:18 pm
Yikes if I have an N of less than 1000 for this kind of loosy goosy study, I would be embarrassed to talk about it. Woah!

Morgan Leigh says: December 10, 2014 at 5:36 pm
I agree that this study is way too small a sample size to be useful on its own. However it does raise the important issue of teaching assessment in universities. In my institution, student feedback is the only measure of teaching performance. Hiring and firing decisions are based on it...
We agree with the view expressed by one additional commenter. She said the troubling outcome of this experiment suggests a strong need for further study.

That said, further study will rarely be sought when high-minded scribes of a certain type assemble their ten-minute columns. Their research assistants span the globe, looking for studies which seem to support pre-selected conclusions. The pundits jam these studies and “experiments” into their piece, thus providing their target audience with a pleasurable reading experience.

No concern will be expressed about an N which many be strikingly small. Although many small studies can’t be replicated, no questions will be raised about this well-known problem.

Quite routinely, Nicholas Kristof stitches his columns together in these ways. He then appends a haughty headline, fleshed out with a condescending framework which has been designed to flatter his tribal readers while driving wedges everywhere else.

Liberal commenters rush to thank him for his high ideals and his magnificent work. In these and similar ways, bogus facts become known by all and international brands get established.

There’s a great deal more a person can say about The Columns of Kristof County. We often think back on the pandering columns he wrote about the role of great teachers in our public schools—columns in which he pandered to conservative experts about a set of concerns he seems to know nothing about.

In recent months, Kristof seems to be flipping on a range of issues—although even now, he can’t bring himself to stop sliming public school teachers through his comments about their infernal unions.

As he flips, he talks down to us, his liberal readers. And we his readers love it:

(Last week, he told us that he has just realized, at age 55, that corporate tycoons can be greedy too. We liberals are so eager to accept tribal flattery that we rushed into comments to praise him for this obvious pap.)

In our view, Kristof’s columns in recent months have bordered on the journalistically obscene. In fairness, Sunday’s column did provide a wonderful study on where our “facts” may come from.

That said, we’ve been trying to move ahead to a discussion of Kristof’s recent PBS series, A Path Appears. We were puzzled by various things we saw in the segment from Port-au-Prince.

On a purely journalistic basis, how in the world can PBS get away with the story it told?

Tomorrow: Puzzled, but also disgusted, by various things we saw

Where do “facts” come from: If you click the link Kristof provided, you’ll find the comments we posted above about that NC State “experiment.”

Sadly, you’ll also see this recent Pingback amid the comments:
Pingback: Students See Male Professors As Brilliant Geniuses, Female Professors As Bossy And Annoying—
Students see female professors as bossy! Thanks to the efforts of people like Kristof, this is becoming a “fact.”

Does reality “have a well-known liberal bias?” Steven Colbert offered that as a comment about phony pseudo-conservative claims.

Thanks to the efforts of people like Kristof, Brother Colbert’s comical world seems to be fading out fast.

WHO IS NICHOLAS KRISTOF: The Nike of pseudo-liberal journalism?


Part 2—Enabler and consort of hacks:
First question:

Do female professors sometimes confront unhelpful gender-based stereotypes?

Although we can’t really say that we know, we would assume that they do. We further assume that it’s the job of a serious journalist to clarify such matters.

Second question:

Do college students describe their female professors as “bossy” in their reviews at

Basically, no—they do not! Unless you’re reading Nicholas Kristof, who seems less and less like a serious journalist, more and more like a self-serving international brand.

In our view, Kristof is rapidly becoming the Nike of pseudo-liberal pseudo-journalism. We’ll guess that this process is good for Kristof, bad for everyone else.

More on that as the week proceeds. For now, let's return to that question:

Do college students describe their female professors as “bossy?” As we noted in yesterday’s report, that’s an impression Kristof peddled in his most recent column.

Rather plainly, he seemed to be cutting-and-pasting this pleasing impression—copying off the papers of other pseudo-journalists, including those who are many years younger than he is.

To read Kristof's column, click here.

Yesterday, we were happy to give you the news—college students almost never describe their female professors as “bossy!” According to the (problematic) research tool Kristof cited, the term appears less than once in every million words of text when students review their female professors.

Whatever they think about these professors, they don’t seem to think they’re “bossy!” Unless you’re reading Our Own Billy Sunday, or the many other hacks who have been pushing this pleasing new line.

As is becoming the norm, Kristof’s column this Sunday was full of poorly-examined claims and impressions. Tomorrow, we'll note another example. For today, let’s treat ourselves to a third question:

How bad can the hackistry get in the rapidly growing world of pseudo-liberal pseudo-journalism?

The hackistry can get very bad! Consider what happened when Professor Bartlett, a female professor, beat Kristof to the recent foolishness about

As we noted yesterday, the current foolishness got its start on or about February 6, with a hapless post on a New York Times blog. The copycats were soon out in force. By February 10, Professor Bartlett was checking in, at the new/improved site of the new New Republic.

Professor Bartlett is an associate professor in gender studies at the University of Western Australia. She too had been fiddling around with the (problematic) new research tool. This is part of what she had found:
BARTLETT (2/10/15): So we know what’s coming next. As this is a gender mapping, women professors are consistently more likely to be described as feisty, bossy, aggressive, shrill, condescending, rude. You get the picture. We are also ahead on that vanilla descriptor, nice.
Do female professors sometimes suffer from gender-based stereotypes? We would assume they do, although we can’t say we know.

In this instance, Professor Bartlett had been fiddling with the new research tool, and she had made some discoveries. Like the others who had preceded her, she said that female professors are “more likely to be described as bossy.”

Technically, that is accurate. Female professors are almost never described that way in the student reviews in question. But male professors seem to be described that way a tiny bit less often.

That said, Professor Bartlett forgot to tell you that this term is used in reviews of female professors less than one time in every million words of text. She also forgot to tell you this:

Male professors are much more likely than female professors to be described as “arrogant.” And this term is used about seventy times more often than “bossy” is!

Whatever! Reporting in from way down under, Professor Bartlett was on a roll. She seems to have tested a set of words which she finds stereotypically demeaning to women. She strung them out for us in that passage.

“You get the picture,” she said, and a lot of adepts presumably did. For ourselves, we got the picture of a pseudo-liberal hack who was making the liberal world dumber.

It’s true! The terms “feisty” and “shrill” are applied more often to female professors in the RateMyProfessor reviews. But the terms are almost never used in those student reviews.

Each term is used one time in roughly two million words of text! Female professors are almost never described in these ways.

Is the term “aggressive” disproportionately used in student reviews of women? Yes, it is. But the term is used almost as often in student reviews of male professors, and it appears less than five times in each million words of text.

(By the way, are “aggressive” and “feisty” necessarily terms of denigration? Not necessarily, no.)

The term “condescending” appears disproportionately in reviews of female professors; the margin is roughly 45 uses to 35 uses per million words of text. That said, the words “understanding” and “helpful” also appear more often in reviews of female professors, and those words are used many times more often than “condescending.”

Crackers, can we talk? The term “helpful” appears disproportionately in reviews of female professors. In those reviews, the flattering term appears about 1500 times per million words of text.

Although these data are problematic, college students seem to regard their female professors as helpful. But so what? Hacks like Bartlett prefer to zero in on terms which are almost never used by these students—words which help them paint a troubling, preconceived portrait.

It’s hard to avoid a basic conclusion here. Perhaps due to an unconscious bias, Professor Bartlett seemed to have her thumb on the scale as she penned her piece in the New Republic. She seemed to have hunted around, looking for words which would produce a preferred preconceived conclusion.

Was the professor picking and choosing her terms? This seems especially clear in her treatment of the dueling words “rude” and “nice.”

It’s true! The term “rude” is used more often in reviews of female professors. The term appears about 200 times per million words of text in reviews of female professors, only about 150 times per million words in reviews of their male counterparts.

Professor Bartlett wanted us to be upset about that. She then derided the fact that the word “nice” appears more often in students' reviews of their female professors.

The word “nice” appears roughly 1400 times per million words in reviews of female professors. The word “helpful” appears roughly 1500 times.

In each case, the words are used much more often than the word “rude.” In each case, the flattering terms appear more often in reviews of the female professors.

Professor Bartlett offers a derisive reaction to that fact. We’re supposed to get upset when female professors are described as “rude.” But when they’re disproportionately described as “helpful” or “nice,” we are supposed to roll our eyes.

“Nice” is such a tapioca term! A wag might even call it Vanilla Nice!

Can we talk? This research tool is highly problematic. It can tell us which words appear in the student reviews. It can provide rough ratios concerning the frequency with which the words are used in reviews of female professors, as opposed to the review of their male counterparts.

It can’t provide the contexts in which these words are used. The word “nice” can be used this way, for instance:

“Professor Jane Smith isn’t very nice to her students.”

Here’s an extremely significant point—this research tool is completely useless if partisans like Bartlett and Kristof completely ignore the frequency with which various words appear.

As the research tool makes clear, the term “bossy” is almost never used when students review their professors! But Bartlett blew right past this fact, as did the copy-cat Kristof.

In fact, we’ve seen no one make use of this type of information as a parade of pseudo-liberals have spread the latest gospel around. Here’s what happened instead:

Our tribunes created the latest horror story for pseudo-liberal consumption. They shrieked and yelled and tore their hair about the disproportionate use of words like “bossy” and “feisty.”

They failed to say that these words are almost never used in these student reviews. Meanwhile, they ignored an array of flattering terms which are disproportionately used in reviews of women—words which, in some cases, are used hundreds of times more often than the terms which have our tribunes upset.

In this way, we pseudo-liberals get even dumber and even more pseudo than we were before. Eventually, along comes Kristof! Rather plainly, he copied the work of his predecessors in this latest pseudo parade.

Increasingly, we think Kristof is an anti-journalistic joke. We see him as an international brand, as the founder of Kristof Inc.

Whatever he’s doing, it doesn’t much seem to be journalism. We’ll guess what he’s doing is good for him, bad for everyone else.

Tomorrow: Sipping drinks with a star on a sun-splashed terrace, Kristof does Port-au-Prince