Friday, October 26, 2012

The Tasteless New York Times

Content warning:  Mindless violence

This is not the time to write about the way the Old Gray Lady put her pearl-covered dainty slipper into her mouth, not right after a horrible, horrible killing of small children, apparently by their nanny.

But then this is the time to point out that the New York Times has carried out in a truly tasteless fashion, by turning the tragedy into a debate about whether parents should employ nannies or not.

The double homicide, on a well-to-do block near Central Park, elevated every parent’s worry to a new level. It especially unsettled those who rely on hired caregivers, strangers who become intimate members of their household and their children’s lives.
Few parents hand their children over to nannies lightly. It is a complex relationship, fraught with expectations and anxiety: Will they read enough or resort to TV? Are they on the phone too much? Do they substitute fries for carrots when parents are at work?
Those concerns seemed trite last night, as details emerged about the gruesome killings. A mother returned home around dinnertime to find two of her three children, ages 2 and 6, stabbed in the bathtub. The nanny lay nearby, gripping a bloody knife, having slit her own throat. Neighbors recounted hearing bloodcurdling screams, not of the children, but of the mother discovering what no parent could ever imagine. The nanny was arrested and taken to NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, where she was in critical but stable condition Thursday night.
Horror immediately swept through online forums for parents. Urban Baby, a chat site with a heavy following among affluent Manhattan and Brooklyn mothers, lit up with comments and stinging criticism, with some questioning why some stay-at-home mothers need nannies and others arguing that mothers who choose to work are asking for trouble.
One mother who was contemplating getting a nanny announced she would now stay at home until her children were in kindergarten.
Others wondered why so many mothers were up fretting about something so unlikely. Wasn’t the likelihood of cancer, or a car accident, far greater?

After reading all that you might assume that the utterly bereaved mother in this story has no partner.  But she does.   Neither is it clear whether she is in the labor force or not.  The same New York Times tells us, in a different article:

Ms. Krim had worked in California for a wholesaler of powders made from exotic fruits, like acai berries and pomegranates, according to her LinkedIn profile.
A neighbor said that in New York, Ms. Krim largely devoted her time to her children. This past year she taught a weekly early-childhood art class at the Hippo Playground Parkhouse on 91st Street.

Is this crucial information while reporting on a murder case? 

Other newspapers tell us that there is also an utterly  bereaved father who was away on a business trip.  Imagine what the NYT would have written had it been the mother who was far away.

Now I feel dirty and mean-spirited.  The true tragedy is about the dead children and the unimaginable grief of their parents and other family members.  But none of the other newspapers I consulted this morning chose the disgusting path the Times did.