Barro and Nuzzi examine the Post!

THURSDAY, JUNE 25, 2020

Yale grads pour it on:
Three cheers for New York magazine!

More specifically, three cheers for Josh Barro and Olivia Nuzzi, who have now published a detailed report about the way the Washington Post handled that utterly crucial, two-year-old, Halloween costume story.

Through its efforts, the Post managed to get a 54-year-old woman fired from her job in the private sector—all because, two years ago, she tried to mock Megyn Kelly for making unacceptable comments about blackface on Halloween.

To all appearances, the woman had tried to play on the side of those who were attacking Kelly for her unacceptable comments. Two years later, with everyone in the upper-end press corps now pretending to care about matters like this, the woman had to be thrown to the wolves, the ones who live under the bus.

Here's the good news from Barro and Nuzzi's report. It sounds like a lot of staffers at the Post found the their paper's report appalling. Today's report starts like this:
BARRO AND NUZZI (6/25/20): Last week, when Sue Schafer learned that the Washington Post planned to publish a story about one of the dumbest things she had ever done, she had the same question that many readers would have about the resulting 3,000-word article, “Blackface Incident at Post Cartoonist’s 2018 Halloween Party Resurfaces Amid Protests”: Why is this newsworthy?

Readers within the Post newsroom were asking the question, too. “No one I’ve spoken with at the Post can figure out why we published this story,” said one prominent reporter at the paper. “We blew up this woman’s life for no reason.”
Two years ago, Schaefer wore a costume—a costume people found offensive—to a Halloween party given by a Post cartoonist. To appearances, she was trying to play on the "liberal" side of the aisle when she made her fateful decision.

Even if you think the woman's choice of costume was offensive, it isn't clear what made the incident newsworthy. But these are revolutionary, Maoist times, and so the Post ran 3000 words on the topic, with the result that the woman is now out of a job.

The sheer stupidity of the Post's behavior is matched by the cowardly way it seems to have protected its own interests. Post reporters seem to agree:
BARRO AND NUZZI: In the hours after publication, the story started to receive widespread criticism from journalists on social media on the grounds that it got its subject fired while lacking news value...The article now has drawn over 2,000 web comments, which are overwhelmingly negative in nature. Yet aside from PR statements to outlets covering the Post’s coverage, the Post’s response to the criticism of this story has been silence. If this is a story with “nuance and sensitivity” that the Post felt “impelled” to run, why is a spirited defense of the Post’s journalism coming only from a non-journalist spokesperson for the paper? The answer we reached, after interviewing ten current Post journalists for this story, is that the paper’s staff generally does not consider the story to be defensible.

“My reaction, like everybody, was, What the hell? Why is this a story?” a feature writer at the Post told New York.
“My second reaction was, Why is this a 3,000-word feature?” The feature writer added, “This was not drawn up by the ‘Style’ section.”

Employees at “Style”—the paper’s premiere location for long-form storytelling—were confused and displeased to see the piece running on their turf, two Post employees with knowledge of the situation said.
In short, the impetus for this came from corporate, not from reporters themselves. Barro and Nuzzi even suggest the possibility that the report's lead writer didn't care for the assignment he had been handed by his senior editors.

All in all, it seems fairly clear that the Post was covering its big fat asp in the face of these revolutionary times. Idiotic as it might seem, the paper had to get out in front of this non-story story before the paper was frogmarched into the countryside for years of reeducation.

Repeat: Two years ago, a woman who didn't work for the Post attended a Halloween party at a cartoonists house. She appeared in a costume which was designed to mock Megyn Kelly for having made unacceptable comments about blackface at Halloween.

Two years later, that woman has been fired from her job. On the brighter side, the Post has displayed world-class performative virtue in support of its own bottom line. These are the pseudo-revolutionary times in which we're pretending to live.

One last comment:

Until New York magazine published, the Post's behavior had been widely criticized, but only by conservative publications. The people we liberals are trained to respect had been too afraid to speak.

The Post pretended that it cared about a two-year-old racist outrage. We'll suggest that, on balance, our modern journalistic elite knows and cares about virtually nothing.

They don't care about the lives of kids inside our low-income schools. They don't care about the mountains of missing money which are looted away from regular people as part of our health care "system."

They care about wardrobe, makeup and hair. They care about coloring inside the lines.

They care about whatever dumb thing Donald Trump said ten seconds ago. They care about script and repetition. This utterly stupid, self-serving incident makes such facts even more clear.

Concerning the Yale grads pouring it on, please see our next post. But Barro and Nuzzi got it right. Let's say that again.

36 comments:

  1. "This utterly stupid, self-serving incident makes such facts even more clear."

    Facts are a form of WHITE SUPREMACY!

    "But these are revolutionary, Maoist times..."

    If only, dear Bob. These are times of your liberal-nazi cult's agony.

    ...well, come to think of it, one great Maoist slogan does fit here:
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  2. "To all appearances, the woman had tried to play on the side of those who were attacking Kelly for her unacceptable comments."

    She said "I was mocking those who use blackface -- what's the matter, can't you take a joke?"

    The refrain of anyone caught making sexist, racist or other kinds of offensive jokes at someone else's expense.

    She was fired for her bad judgment. Just like I would fire Somerby for his supposed sense of humor.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There's something really discouraging about you (Corby?) - TDH is right. No one should have a 3000 word article written about them in the WAPO because they went to a Halloween party wearing blackface, with no intent to be offensive. You seem to have the sense of humor of a Stalinist KGB agent. Your seem hearless, and stupid.

      Delete
    2. No, not Corby.

      Delete
    3. Intent doesn't matter. Effect matters.

      Delete
    4. That would turn every accidental death into a crime. I doubt even Corby would want to live in a world in which everyone's feelings dictated everyone else's culpability.

      Delete
    5. Isn't manslaughter a crime? What about negligent homicide? I'm not Corby and neither are you.

      Delete
    6. Isn't manslaughter a crime? What about negligent homicide?

      Definitions vary by state. Manslaughter is generally reckless homicide, i.e., killing without intent but with such disregard for the life of another that the act becomes criminal.

      Not every carelessness is negligent. If you kill someone with your car because your brakes failed, you might lose a lawsuit for wrongful death if you hadn't properly serviced your car, but you'd wouldn't be indicted for homicide of any kind.

      But what's your point? If effect was all that mattered, the punishment for killing someone would be at least life in prison. In my state, if intent is considered, a killer might get 2 years for manslaughter or no prison time at all for wrongful death.

      What legal world do you want to live in?

      I'm not Corby

      It's easy not to be mistaken for Corby: don't post ridiculous comments as Anonymous.

      and neither are you.

      Thank goodness.

      Delete
    7. In other words, @9:59 was right and you were wrong.

      Delete
    8. How do you figure? I said that in world that disregards intent and only takes effect into account, any accidental death would be a crime. Any.

      @9:59 pointed out that causing some accidental deaths, namely those involving recklessness, is still criminal. I pointed out that even for those our system takes lack of intent into account by lessening the penalty.

      But still, other accidental deaths, namely those involving neither intent or recklessness, aren't criminal.

      Are you feeling all right?

      Delete
  3. "everyone in the upper-end press corps now pretending to care about matters like this"

    Everyone in the upper-end press corps now includes a few black people and I assure Somerby that they are not pretending to care about this.

    Sensitivity to racial issues exists to promote inclusiveness. That means that what offends Somerby or doesn't offend Somerby, is not the standard by which offensiveness is judged. As someone throwing a party or planning an event, you take care not to offend your guests as a simple matter of courtesy and hospitality.

    Somerby appears devoid of that understanding. Maybe too much time sitting in the yard gazing at his pear tree and thinking about how nice it would be to live as a hermit.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The host wasn't the one in blackface. He was the one who refused the emotional blackmail.

      Delete
    2. Did I really need to say that guests also should try not to offend other partygoers? That is how civil people behave and you learn it when you are 7.

      Delete
    3. Are you talking about the woman who screamed at the partygoer in blackface, and not content with the latter's immediate departure nursed a grudge for two years, then demanded the partygoer's name from the host, refused the offer of a face-to-face apology, and disparaged the host for his refusal? Is that how civil people behave, and how old do you have to be before you learn not to behave that way?

      Delete
    4. That's how upset, insulted people behave. You and Somerby think no one cares about this. That example proves you wrong.

      Delete
    5. This story serves to show how upset people can behave when they take offense. The screamer in the story wasn't offered an insult; she just chose to take insult anyway and nurse it for two years.

      Clearly, some people care a great deal about how other persons express themselves. This is not a point of dispute. As evidence, you only have to read some of the responses in this comment section.

      The question is how far can one can go in being justifiably upset.

      Delete
  4. "Why is this newsworthy?"

    I would put it in the Style section and use it as an example of changing mores. As we become a more multicultural society, ideas about acceptable behavior are going to change even more than in the past two years.

    Has Somerby thought about whether it was OK to mock Megyn Kelly for expressing an opinion? I think the woman should have lost her job and I don't believe the Post is being "performative".

    Since this event happened two years ago, does that mean that no one cared about black kids education two years ago or has the public become unconcerned just recently? Inquiring minds want to know.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. History shows that any opinion that Megyn Kelly expresses is OK to mock. Nay, mandatory.

      A story about a two-year old grudge about a private lapse in judgment with no malintent? Practically the poster child for performative.

      Per TDH, no one has cared about black kids' education for going on 25 years.

      Delete
    2. "Per TDH, no one has cared about black kids' education for going on 25 years."

      Somerby should stop judging other people by himself.

      Delete
    3. I suppose you're one of the people who disparage Somerby for leaving his teaching job in Baltimore after nine years. When you've completed your nine-year stint teaching in inner-city schools, then you can tell Somerby to withhold his judgments.

      Delete
    4. I disparage Somerby for being undertrained and unprepared to teach (as all Teach for American volunteers were). I disparage him for quitting and then blaming everyone else for failing those kids. I disparage him for telling others that they don't care, when many of us who read this blog are still working in education.

      And I disparage you for being so confident in your insults without knowing thing one about who you are talking to.

      Somerby quit to pursue a career as a stand-up comedian. That is his right, but he doesn't get to tell anyone else they don't care when he abandoned teaching.

      And your knee-jerk defense of Somerby is pathetic. I can't figure out if you are his father or his lover, but I know you are not a teacher. Every time Somerby disparages education and the public for not caring, he insults the very large number of hard working people who care very much and are doing their best to help young people create better lives.

      You should be ashamed of yourself, but I doubt you can feel shame.

      Delete
    5. “History shows that any opinion that Megyn Kelly expresses is OK to mock. Nay, mandatory.”

      Some of us put Somerby in that same category.

      Delete
    6. Some of us put Somerby in that same category.

      Yes, you do. And the fact that you can't tell the difference between Bob and Megyn isn't something you should make public.

      Delete
    7. I disparage Somerby for being undertrained and unprepared to teach (as all Teach for American volunteers were).

      Why would you do that? Assuming he was "undertrained and unprepared," was that his fault? And even if that were so, you have no idea whether he was a good teacher or not.

      I disparage him for quitting and then blaming everyone else for failing those kids.

      He says he taught for nine years. Why would you disparage him for that effort? And why couldn't his experience inform his criticism of the system? And he doesn't blame everyone, just politicians and those in the reporting business. And, of course, liberals.

      I disparage him for telling others that they don't care, when many of us who read this blog are still working in education.

      And a heckuva job you've done for inner city students. Your ire seems misplaced and, if you don't mind me saying, a little overdetermined.

      And I disparage you for being so confident in your insults without knowing thing one about who you are talking to.

      As is your right. But I don't insult you for who you are. If I did, you'd have a point since I don't know you. I insult what you write, and for that I have plenty of basis for my insults.

      Somerby quit to pursue a career as a stand-up comedian. That is his right, but he doesn't get to tell anyone else they don't care when he abandoned teaching.

      I don't see how Somerby's career choice removes his right to criticize others based on the results he sees.

      And your knee-jerk defense of Somerby is pathetic.

      Now that's just not true. I defend his blog entries from unfair comments, but I'm the first to say his essays on math and science are based on willful ignorance, and that his general condemnations of the media are often based on too narrow a sample.

      I can't figure out if you are his father or his lover

      Ooh, professor. Work this out in therapy. Father and lover are the only categories that came to mind? Tell me more about your childhood.

      but I know you are not a teacher.

      I've done my share of teaching, but in industry, not the public schools.

      Every time Somerby disparages education and the public for not caring, he insults the very large number of hard working people who care very much and are doing their best to help young people create better lives.

      TDH doesn't criticize education or the public. He criticizes reporters and liberals. But let's say that you're a liberal who claims to care about education. I can see why you'd be insulted, but TDH's point is that if you and your cohort really cared, things wouldn't be as bad as they are.

      You should be ashamed of yourself, but I doubt you can feel shame.

      And you should be ashamed to post the nonsense you do, but I hold out hope that not only can you feel shame, but that your shame will eventually motivate you to improve.

      Call me a cockeyed optimist.

      Delete
    8. If cockeyed optimist means thin-skinned narcissistic douchebag, consider it done.

      Delete
    9. Well, no. Being a cockeyed optimist means that even given your egregious history of commenting, I still hold out hope that you'll some day be able to post sensible things.

      But thin-skinned? It is to laugh. You think anything you (or anybody else) says here upsets me? In your business, isn't that what they call projection, professor? I can assure you of two things -- one, there are people who can hurt my feelings, and two, none of them comments here.

      As for narcissistic douchebag, fair play to you. I won't argue with you there. But no response to the substance of my comment then?

      Delete
  5. “Until New York magazine published, the Post's behavior had been widely criticized, but only by conservative publications.”

    He later complains that
    “They [our modern journalistic elite] care about script and repetition.”

    Are the “conservative publications” part of our modern journalistic elite that he is attacking? Not likely, since his targets are “mainstream” publications.

    He describes the Post story as a “non-story story.”

    And yet, those conservative publications felt that it was important enough to criticize. Did Somerby agree with their critiques? In general, conservative critiques of this kind of story focus on the behavior of liberals and their identity politics or “political correctness” as represented by the substance of the story, and it is vitally important to them to mock liberals for this at every opportunity.

    Somerby seems to agree with this sentiment, even if he says it is about the journalistic elite (by which he does not mean conservative journalists).

    It’s doubtful that this is truly trivial or unimportant, else those conservative publications wouldn’t go out of their way to mount responses to it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. mh, your not reasoning very well. That 'conservative' publications are picking up this is not because the subject of the woman going to the Halloween party with a forbidden type of costume, but because the long article outing her, and then her being fired shows woke liberals as being stupid cancel culture prigs.

      Delete
    2. It’s doubtful that this is truly trivial or unimportant, else those conservative publications wouldn’t go out of their way to mount responses to it.

      Remember how important all those stories were about Obama being Kenyan or employing all those "czars"?

      Me neither.

      Delete
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