Memo to NY Times editors: Cabals are important -- the e-mails don't lie

It is rare to have such concrete prima facie evidence of how New York Times editors are out of touch with the interests of their readers. Yet after burying a small article by Brian Knowlton titled "Former Powell Aide Says Bush Policy Is Run by 'Cabal'" on the bottom of page A15 on October 21st, the Times readers voted with their computers, making that story the most e-mailed story in the past 7 days. Thus, of the many hundreds of stories the Times has printed in the last 7 days, this was the story deemed most important to be shared with colleagues, family and friends -- a story the Times editors didn't even think was one of the 20 or more most important stories on October 21st.

Just in case no one e-mailed the story to you, Lawrence Wilkerson, who worked for Mr. Powell at the State Department from 2001 to early 2005, "... suggested in a speech at the New American Foundation that secrecy, arrogance and internal feuding had taken a heavy toll in the Bush administration, skewing its policies and undercutting its ability to handle crises."

Mr. Wilkerson, a retired Army colonel and former director of the Marine Corps War College suggested that "the dysfunction within the administration was so grave that 'if something comes along that is truly serious... you are going to see the ineptitude of this government in a way that will take you back to the Declaration of Independence.'"

The LA Times knows a hot story when it sees it. The paper gave Colonel Wilkerson op-ed space today, October 25th, to bring more colorful detail to his initial assertions.

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Imagine you've forgotten once again the difference between a gorilla and a chimpanzee, so you do a quick Google image search of “gorilla." But instead of finding images of adorable animals, photos of a Black couple pop up.

Is this just a glitch in the algorithm? Or, is Google an ad company, not an information company, that's replicating the discrimination of the world it operates in? How can this discrimination be addressed and who is accountable for it?

“These platforms are encoded with racism," says UCLA professor and best-selling author of Algorithms of Oppression, Dr. Safiya Noble. “The logic is racist and sexist because it would allow for these kinds of false, misleading, kinds of results to come to the fore…There are unfortunately thousands of examples now of harm that comes from algorithmic discrimination."

On At Liberty this week, Dr. Noble joined us to discuss what she calls “algorithmic oppression," and what needs to be done to end this kind of bias and dismantle systemic racism in software, predictive analytics, search platforms, surveillance systems, and other technologies.

What you can do:
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