The New York Times is a great newspaper, and just three weeks ago I was defending its prerogative to maintain the style, voice, and general approach that it has for many years. Even I’ve got to admit, though, that the Timesian habit of writing as if with pinky extended can verge on self-parody.

A case in point, from today’s story on the war of words between Kirsten Gillibrand and Harold Ford:

The tart comments from both sides suggest that a Democratic primary between the two would be quite a rumpus. It is highly unusual for a United States senator to directly attack a rival who is not even officially in the race, let alone with such personal edge.

Quite a rumpus, indeed.

If you'd like to get email from CJR writers and editors, add your email address to our newsletter roll and we'll be in touch.

Greg Marx is an adjunct lecturer at The Medill School and a facilitator with The OpEd Project. She served as an editorial board member, columnist, library director, and No. 2 in the features department of the Chicago Sun-Times.