Excellent Read: “Does Journalism Have A Future?”

I’m looking forward to reading Jill Abramson’s Merchants of Truth — I’d suggest it for a Balloon Juice Book Club post, except I doubt there’s room for such in the current era. A semi-review from historian Jill LePore, in the New Yorker:

By some measures, journalism entered a new, Trumpian, gold-plated age during the 2016 campaign, with the Trump bump, when news organizations found that the more they featured Trump the better their Chartbeat numbers, which, arguably, is a lot of what got him elected. The bump swelled into a lump and, later, a malignant tumor, a carcinoma the size of Cleveland. Within three weeks of the election, the Times added a hundred and thirty-two thousand new subscribers. (This effect hasn’t extended to local papers.) News organizations all over the world now advertise their services as the remedy to Trumpism, and to fake news; fighting Voldemort and his Dark Arts is a good way to rake in readers. And scrutiny of the Administration has produced excellent work, the very best of journalism. “How President Trump Is Saving Journalism,” a 2017 post on Forbes.com, marked Trump as the Nixon to today’s rising generation of Woodwards and Bernsteins. Superb investigative reporting is published every day, by news organizations both old and new, including BuzzFeed News.

By the what-doesn’t-kill-you line of argument, the more forcefully Trump attacks the press, the stronger the press becomes. Unfortunately, that’s not the full story. All kinds of editorial decisions are now outsourced to Facebook’s News Feed, Chartbeat, or other forms of editorial automation, while the hands of many flesh-and-blood editors are tied to so many algorithms. For one reason and another, including twenty-first-century journalism’s breakneck pace, stories now routinely appear that might not have been published a generation ago, prompting contention within the reportorial ranks. In 2016, when BuzzFeed News released the Steele dossier, many journalists disapproved, including CNN’s Jake Tapper, who got his start as a reporter for the Washington City Paper. “It is irresponsible to put uncorroborated information on the Internet,” Tapper said. “It’s why we did not publish it, and why we did not detail any specifics from it, because it was uncorroborated, and that’s not what we do.” The Times veered from its normal practices when it published an anonymous opinion essay by a senior official in the Trump Administration. And The New Yorker posted a story online about Brett Kavanaugh’s behavior when he was an undergraduate at Yale, which Republicans in the Senate pointed to as evidence of a liberal conspiracy against the nominee.

There’s plenty of room to argue over these matters of editorial judgment. Reasonable people disagree. Occasionally, those disagreements fall along a generational divide. Younger journalists often chafe against editorial restraint, not least because their cohort is far more likely than senior newsroom staff to include people from groups that have been explicitly and viciously targeted by Trump and the policies of his Administration, a long and growing list that includes people of color, women, immigrants, Muslims, members of the L.G.B.T.Q. community, and anyone with family in Haiti or any of the other countries Trump deems “shitholes.” Sometimes younger people are courageous and sometimes they are heedless and sometimes those two things are the same. “The more ‘woke’ staff thought that urgent times called for urgent measures,” Abramson writes, and that “the dangers of Trump’s presidency obviated the old standards.” Still, by no means is the divide always or even usually generational. Abramson, for instance, sided with BuzzFeed News about the Steele dossier, just as she approves of the use of the word “lie” to refer to Trump’s lies, which, by the Post’s reckoning, came at the rate of more than a dozen a day in 2018.
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Open Thread: Fake Wall, Real Suffering


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Monday Evening Open Thread: Ohio Trump Voters Rewarded


Just in time for the holidays CHRISTMAS!

And you know there will be a tweet from the Oval Office Occupant, blaming this on Sherrod Brown’s ‘lack of respect’…

Tim Ryan’s district. Maybe he should’ve paid more attention to his job, and less time trying to kneecap Nancy Pelosi?


 
Good news for the Thief-in-Chief’s actual base, though…

You knew he was a snake when you took him to your bosom…



The Dumbest Thing This Week

With Douthat and McCardle still breathing, there is a lot of competition for the stupidest thing in print (as Anne Laurie notes below), but this is still my favorite:

It’s not even worth my energy to flame this it’s so bad.



Enterprise Rental Car Can Eat a Salted Bag of Dicks and I Hope They Choke on Them and They Leave a Bad Aftertaste

I just spent 13 hours driving to Dobson, North Carolina and then back. Why, you ask? Because Enterprise Rental Cars is a bunch of parasitic motherfuckers who should spend eternity tossing Satan’s salad.

Last night, on the way home from Florida after their vacation, Gerald, Landrea, and the kids hit a coyote around there, and it rammed the radiator into the engine and basically killed the car. It could still move, but Gerald knows a thing or two about cars and knew it should not be driven more or it would do more damage. So he pulled over and called Enterprise, who promptly told him to fuck off.

You see, Gerald and Landrea did not have roadside assistance included in their package, which they did not include because they have roadside assistance through AAA, something I am sure many of you have also done as you have it through AAA or your personal insurance. Apparently, though, Enterprise Rental Cars reads that to mean “sucks to be you, not our problem.” BTW, this was at about 10 o’clock at night in the middle of bumfuck nowhere, and I say bumfuck nowhere as someone from a town of 350 in West Virginia and who damned well knows a bumfuck nowhere when he sees it.

Enterprise told them that they would send a tow truck, but they would only be able to fit two people in the cab of the truck, so three of the people would just have to walk to the next exit. The kindly NC State Trooper who was already on the scene didn’t even let Gerald tell Enterprise to go fuck themselves before interjecting “That’s not going to happen.” Although one would think it is common knowledge that you do not leave three kids on the side of a major highway in the dark, this is apparently news to the good folks at Enterprise, whose twitter handle is, ironically, @enterprisecares.

So the cop made Gerald limp the car down the road to the next exit, and they stayed at the Hampton Inn and spent the wee hours trying to get a new car from Enterprise, seeing as how the current one was exploded and they had paid for a rental car through the 17th of July and it was, according to my math, ONLY THE FUCKING 14th. Enterprise gave no fucks and told them to pound sand.

Here’s the thing. They didn’t need roadside assistance. They did not have a flat tire. They did not have a dead battery. They had not locked the keys in the car. They had a fully unfunctional car, and they needed a replacement. Enterprise informed them if they got to Charlotte airport, they might have one they could get.

I talked to Gerald this morning and he basically told me there are no buses, no cabs, no ubers, and no way for him to get to Charlotte, not to mention they didn’t even know if they would have a car. Enterprise’s helpline is so helpful they COULDN’T EVEN CHECK THEIR FUCKING INVENTORY. Maybe if they could confirm there would be a car there, he could have just fucking hitchhiked there or something. Or begged the minister next door at the church for a ride. All the local Enterprise places were closed on Sunday, although there was one in Greensboro, but they did not open until one o clock so it would be one before he would even know if they had a car for him to pick up. If they didn’t, then it would be 1:30-2:00 pm and the short day would almost be over and they would still be fucked. ENTERPRISE’S HELP LINE IS THIS FUCKING HELPFUL.

So I drove 370 fucking miles down there, we crammed all six of us and the luggage in the CRV, and came back. BECAUSE ENTERPRISE RENTAL CAR IS A FILTHY BUNCH OF CORPORATE SCUMBAGS.

On the upside, the boys now will have to cut my yard for the rest of their lives, so there is that.