Is This Really The Single Stupidest New York Times Sentence In 3 Decades?

By Dylan Comment

Slate‘s Timothy Noah says this sentence, in a story by Holli Chmela about the Kennedy Center Honors, is “the single stupidest to appear in that newspaper since I began reading it more than three decades ago”:

Mr. Lloyd Webber is often referred to as the Shakespeare of his time with musicals like Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Cats, and The Phantom of the Opera.

Noah says it is riddled by an “apples-and-oranges problem” (William Shakespeare being a playwright, Andrew Lloyd Webber a composer) and that Chmela’s “often” declaration proves troublesome for someone, like Noah, who knows his way around Lexis Nexis.

We’ll set aside our aesthetic differences with Noah’s piece (we would’ve gone with a less ambiguous headline than Breakdown at the New York Times) to focus on Noah’s “single stupidest in three decades” claim. Surely, Noah hasn’t read every sentence in those three decades — an assumption that Noah would’ve surely nailed Chmela for, too. And, based on our own Times skimming over the last decade, chances are the honor would’ve gone to the sports section.