Michelle Rhee Yes, The Real Facts No!

January 8, 2013   ·   2 Comments

Source: The Daily Howler

Motoko Rich-NYT

Above: Motoko Rich (Photo from NYT)

By Bob Somerby:

The Times continues to fawn: Who the Sam Hill is Motoko Rich? Until this very day, we had very little idea.

Rich moved to the New York Times education beat in June of last year. That said, it’s hard to find biographical info about major journalists.

We’re sure that Rich is a very nice person—and it seems she’s plenty smart. Luckily, the Times published a bit of a bio of Rich when she married Mark Topping in 2003.

We assume he’s a nice person too. In our experience, most people are:

Motoko Rich, Mark Topping

Motoko Rich and Mark Harrison Topping were married on Friday at the Municipal Building in Manhattan by Naomi Pacheco, the deputy chief of staff at the city clerk's office. Yesterday, Peter Kalb and Stephen Crocker, friends of the couple, led a celebration of the marriage at the Picnic House in Brooklyn.

Ms. Rich, 33, was a reporter at The Wall Street Journal until last week. Next month, she is to join The New York Times, also as a reporter. She graduated summa cum laude from Yale and received a master's degree in English from Cambridge University in England. She is the daughter of Junko and Peter Rich of Petaluma, Calif.

Mr. Topping, also 33, is a deputy commissioner for budgeting, information technology, human resources and strategic planning at the New York City Department of Buildings. He graduated from Oberlin College and received a master's degree in public administration from New York University. He is a son of Carol and John Topping of Mount Vernon, Ohio.

Just a question: Does that mean that Topping was a major Bloomberg official? There’s nothing wrong with that, of course.

But still.

Concerning Rich, Alexander Russo published this interview when she moved to the education beat. We would summarize it this way:

Rich had no background in education when she moved to the public schools beat. But so what? That didn’t stop New York Times editors Sifton and Lyman from penning this upbeat announcement:

SIFTON AND LYMAN: With the greatest of pleasure we are able to announce that Motoko Rich will be joining the National Desk as a national education correspondent. Her passion about the subject is clear to anyone who has followed her work; whether she was covering the national economy, real estate or book publishing, Motoko always found a way to work a school teacher, a classroom or a librarian into her stories. For evidence, just look back at her excellent "Future of Reading" series, one of many examples we could have cited.

She came to The Times after doing sterling work at the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal. As a national economics correspondent, the job she now holds, Motoko has proven especially adept at translating complicated notions and potentially dry data into compelling human stories.

And if you have never had the pleasure of listening to Motoko on the phone, stubbornly and methodically bearing down on some poor fool who thinks he’s going to be able to outwit her, it is one of the great pleasures of working at 620 Eighth Avenue. We may try to keep the cubicle next to her open just so people can stop by for a little listen now and then, whenever they need a quick pick-me-up.

—Sam and Rick

Rich had no background in education. But she did have passion! And no poor fool can outwit Rich! Unless that poor fool is Michelle Rhee, whose latest pronouncements Rich describes in today’s New York Times.

In today’s paper, Rich devotes 1050 words to Rhee’s latest gloomy pronouncements about the nation's public schools. By way of contrast:

In December, the nation's fourth-graders scored very high on a major international reading test. Rich’s largely incoherent report ran only 647 words—and it almost completely failed to say how well our public school students had done. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 12/11/12.

Is someone perhaps outwitting Rich? Is someone outwitting her editors? Or are they simply fawning to Rhee, one of Mayor Bloomberg’s favorites? In this case, Rhee’s gloomy opinions about public schools received much more coverage than some encouraging actual facts.

But so it has gone, among press elites, ever since the nation’s billionaires declared their preferences in this area.

Elsewhere in today’s New York Times, Mayor Bloomberg seems to compare the nation’s teachers unions to the NRA. Those teachers, with their infernal unions! Perhaps our loathing would have decreased if the New York Times, and Rich, had more fully reported those test scores!

For ourselves, we liked some of the attitudes Rhee brought to her job in DC. But Rhee has been a major dissembler about public schools, starting with her nonsensical claims about her own miraculous teaching career—claims which were later disproved.

Indeed, the Bloomberg gang—Rhee, Wendy Kopp and Joel Klein—are among the nation’s biggest dissemblers in any policy area. But so what! Kopp gets to tell her own crazy tales when she goes on Charlie Rose.

As it turns out, Rose’s long-time social companion is a Bloomberg department head! And Bloomberg has long financed Rose!

Is someone perhaps outwitting Rich? Does the relative weight afforded these stories reflect her lack of experience? Is it the doing of her editors? Whatever! We’ve now seen the balance of power:

A thousand words for Rhee’s opinions! Six hundred words for the facts!

So it goes in the modern press world. The liberal world will say nothing, as always. We’re much too involved in our new Civil War to give a flying fig about the nation’s black kids!

Once again, concerning Joel Klein: Richard Rothstein's report about Joel Klein was one of the most interesting long-form reports of 2012. Once again, just click here.


Readers Comments (2)

  1. Jared A. Ball says:

    What precisely is meant by, “For ourselves, we liked some of the attitudes Rhee brought to her job in DC”? Does anyone with knowledge or experience with DC schools agree?

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