Thank you for subscribing to the free version of this newsletter. Here's some of what you missed in the past week. If you'd like to purchase a subscription here's a nice little discount.
The national media is simply not up to the task of the moment and they will never ever learn any lessons.
Republicans are definitely going to establish a robust social safety net now. They always wanted to they were just uh waiting until now to do an about face on everything they believe in.
You might remember a very common racist lie from the right for decades has been that certain types of people (if you know what I mean) have too many babies specifically so they will get access to social services aka "free handouts." The main president they all love was pretty famous for talking about this!
Why does every reporter act like their editor just blindfolded them and spun them around ten times like a piñata game before they sit down to write? Someone better unionize the boys down at the wallet-inspector factory because they're working too many hours lately.
So this type of credulous reporting is ok – passing along blatant lies from right wing liars who are savvy enough to know they need to offer up some kind of bullshit to temper any blowback after overturning Roe v. Wade – but reporters with normal human emotions who might be rightfully aghast and hurt at the moment aren't allowed to express their opinions on the matter.
Check out a few of the news organizations that immediately told their employees to shut the fuck up after the Roe news. I particularly like this bit from Gannett instructing colleagues to snitch on each other for posting.
The Seattle Times sent out a similar memo.
As did the New York Times.
This bit from Axios was pretty cool too.
The idea of what counts as a political statement from reporters and what does not was the subject of this paid-only Hell World from last week.
It started like this:
Yesterday writer Emily Bazelon posted a lengthy thread on Twitter defending her work in a recent story for the New York Times Magazine. Thin-skinned Times writer unable to accept criticism from the left as colleagues circle the wagon isn't exactly news but nevertheless. The piece in question was an ostensibly neutral "deeply reported" look at what's framed as a hot new trend of transitioning among young people. It was the type of "just asking questions" shit that we've seen done over and over again the past few years in prestigious publications. Unsurprisingly it platformed a host of transphobic "gender critical" activists and laundered their bigotry for the Times' audience who are all to be sure very nice and concerned liberals that are just worried that perhaps it may be becoming too easy for children to transition.
And then goes on:
There has never been such a thing as a completely neutral journalist but it's even more apparent today. And yet many of them still don't seem to realize it or refuse to admit it. And for what? What are they holding on to besides their professional stature? They all think that if they confess that they believe in anything they’re violating their little fraternity's oath of objectivity. That entire standard is just made up! It's not real. Journalists are like you can’t say Macbeth in the theatre and we’re all supposed to buy into their delusion.
Wesley Lowery who is always good on this topic had a great thread the other day.
He and I had a great discussion about all of this a while back.
The first thing I said when I started this newsletter was that I promise not to hear both sides. Most stories are not gray. Life isn’t a prestige HBO drama. There are good guys and bad guys in every story. There are the powerful forces of capitalism, or the defenders of capitalism like the police on one side, and then there are those being ground up in the gears. I am much more concerned about the latter than the justifications for why the powerful people are hurting them. You couldn't walk into a newspaper for an interview and say that and get a job right?
Sure, but what I think that misses is that in a newsrooms there's a need for all different types of people, including a need for someone like you. In the world where I’m running a newsroom... I do think part of the role of the mainstream press is to make powerful people and institutions be confronted by less powerful people. To pose to them hard questions. To ask the senator something they would otherwise not be asked. We are supposed to be an equalizer of power, and to bring ideas and perspectives into places where they otherwise would not be. In our society that means confronting Jeff Bezos about how he treats his workers. In a world in which someone walks in and says I want to stand up for the little guy, the idea that that would ban them from working in respectable journalism, to me, I think is kind of [crazy].
But look, I don’t think we have to change our conversations about rigor, about standards. I think all that stuff is really important.
I agree. When I say that I am 100% biased in my writing that doesn’t mean I’m going to lie or make things up. You don’t need to exaggerate the details of corruption or worker abuse or whatever because they’re already bad enough. There's no need for fabulism.
I think about this all the time. If a story is that stunning or insane you can write it with the calmest language. If the facts themselves are ridiculous you don’t have to write it up at all. You can just list the true things.
Anyway subscribe now to read those ones plus yesterday's paid-only piece. It featured a furious reaction to the Roe news from Kath Krueger via Discourse Blog plus a dispatch from me sitting in the emergency room thinking I was going to die on the night the news came down.
It went a little like this:
I woke up Michelle and sheepishly asked her to take me to the emergency room and so there we were. Something kept telling me not to bother in part because of the potential cost and in part it's just kind of embarrassing to go to the emergency room to me unless you're like bleeding out or have a broken limb or something. Some kind of fucked up masculinity at play there perhaps. I don't think I've ever gone to one for myself before. I kept apologizing to her for waking her up. On this day of all days. This is absurd I'm so sorry I said about a hundred times and I meant it about both things happening.
So the nurse comes to get me and she has a wheelchair for me and I was like come on this is a bit much. I was standing there in my mask which wasn't helping with the whole breathing issue thing and I got into the chair anyway and she wheeled me literally like ten yards and it was a joke it was like a Monty Python sketch. She got me into the room there and she asked me to take off my shirt and started applying all these sticky little things to me to do an EKG all the while asking me about my tattoos like the nurses who draw my blood always do and telling me about ones she wants to get herself. Oh wow I said. I know they're just trying to talk about something to make it all seem less awkward but it never works on my end.
Then she tells me she's only nineteen for some reason and I thought to myself uh is that legal? To be that young. Not just in a hospital but anywhere. That's how old my mother was when she had her second child me I thought. She said she was in training actually and I said oh that makes me feel better and then she bent over to attach the wires to my heart and she had a big dangling golden cross necklace on so there was this fucking guy in my face yet again but literally in my face now and I thought about the two main things I got from my family which were this crippling indoctrination into Catholicism and a tendency to die young and how I never asked for either of them.
Ok see you in a week or so! Coming up soon we've got a dispatch from the Mexican state of Guerrero about a push for abortion rights by activists there plus a piece on the demoralizing practice of music venues forcing struggling touring bands to fork over a cut of their merch sales at every show.