The Observer's Embarrassing Eric Schneiderman Takedown Attempt, by the Numbers
On Wednesday the New York Observer published a profile of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. The piece is long, and utterly embarrassing in its exasperated defense of Donald Trump, Observer publisher Jared Kushner's father-in-law and the target of an ongoing lawsuit by the Attorney General's office. Worse, it's an insult to the Observer's readers, who are way too media savvy for the shenanigans.
"The Politics and Power of A.G. Schneiderman," by the numbers:
Number of words: 7,247
Number of words spent quoting or defending Donald Trump: 3,498
Number of words in the highly unusual "reporting notes" detailing the pains the Observer took to ensure "fair, unbiased journalism throughout the reporting and editing of this story": 737
Number of months the Observer spent reporting the piece: Eight
Number of reporters who worked on the piece: Two, not including Observer editor Ken Kurson -- close, personal friend of Kushner's -- who the article's bylined author admits did much of the reporting. The first reporter, William Gifford, told BuzzFeed he passed on the assignment when it became clear the Observer "definitely meant to be negative on Schneiderman."
Conflicts of interest: Three. Jared Kushner, the Observer's publisher, his wife, Ivanka Trump, and his father-in-law Donald Trump. Kushner and Ivanka Trump both accuse Schneiderman of improperly soliciting political contributions from them, and Schneiderman is presently suing Donald Trump for scamming students out of $40 million dollars through a series of real estate seminars called Trump University.
Percent of Trump University students unhappy with their experiences, according to the Observer article: Two. "Nearly everybody attending the Trump seminars enjoyed the experience," the article's author writes, citing exit surveys collected on the Trump-sponsored website 98percentapproval.com.
Number of references to Schneiderman's eyelashes, which are thickened by eyedrops the Attorney General reportedly uses to treat his glaucoma: Four, including the article's Clockwork Orange-inspired artwork.
Number of sources for the piece: 25, according the reporting notes.
Number of on-the-record sources: Three, by our count: Stuart Shorenstein, Ken Fisher, Carol Kellermann.
Number of words in a single, anonymously-sourced quote: 257
The Voice reached out to Damien LaVera, communications director for the attorney general's office, who is quoted in the piece and who is the main subject of the article's strange and lengthy addendum, for his reaction. LaVera says, "It's a shame that a once great newspaper chose to use its front page to regurgitate a discredited complaint filed by the father in law of the paper's publisher. They should have saved themselves eight months of work and simply published Mr. Trump's complaint verbatim. It probably would have been shorter and easier to read."
For all its faults -- and, let's be honest, because of its many, many faults -- the piece has set our social media streams atwitter. Here is a sample of the reactions. (Want more? Help yourself.)
None of New York's veteran reporters seem to know anything about @mikecraigisamok, author of Schneiderman hit... which tells you something.— Dylan Byers (@DylanByers) February 25, 2014
graydon carter rolling in his grave— John Cook (@johnjcook) February 25, 2014
In the future rich oligarchs will wage PR wars vs each other with the press outlets they own just kidding that's now: http://t.co/YZD0X2Ceel— Adam Sternbergh (@sternbergh) February 25, 2014
Um this is not how a typical "how we reported this" works http://t.co/p5jfpm9RYQ— Maggie Haberman (@maggiepolitico) February 26, 2014
So Donald Trump is basically our NY version of Raymond Tusk from House of Cards, right?— Nick Reisman (@NickReisman) February 25, 2014
Yet another tendentious, anonymously sourced hit piece in the NY Observer, now a dark swamp of personal grievances. http://t.co/3VzPQpl9Tp— David Firestone (@fstonenyt) February 25, 2014
Just read the full Observer Trump/Schneiderman story. It is worse than I could have possibly imagined. Embarrassing. http://t.co/gpeyj8rZOl— Hunter Walker (@hunterw) February 26, 2014
And, most importantly,
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