Part 3—The Washington Post relents: Inevitably, your DAILY HOWLER keeps cranking out those results.
We refer to the Washington Post's decision to change the headline we cited in yesterday's report. Below, you see the way the headline was, as compared to the way it is now:
The way it was:Will that be Donald J. Trump's lasting legacy? As opposed, let us say, to the role he may yet play in producing the end of the world?
White millennials are just as racist as their grandparents
The way it is today:
Trump’s lasting legacy is to embolden an entirely new generation of racists
We don't know how to answer your question! But that eye-catching, original headline was ushered to the memory hole just as soon as your DAILY HOWLER noted how gongy it was.
Briefly, let's be fair. From the standpoint of the catching of eyes, that headline had it all!
It not only dropped an R-bomb, which is sure to get juices flowing. It also tossed a generational claim around!
A fiery R-bomb, linked to a G-bomb! Presumably, nothing grabs eyeballs so well!
Don't misunderstand! Imaginably, there would imaginably be a way to determine if, on average, tens of millions of people in one generation might be "just as racist" as the tens of millions of people who are, on average, their grandparents.
Imaginably, our professors and journalists could imaginably make such a finding. But that didn't happen in the column written by Catherine Rampell.
Sad! For starters, that exciting, eye-catching headline was an embellishment of what Rampell had actualy said in the column so bannered.
In our view, Rampell's actual claim was unwise and dumb on its own. But that headline ratcheted what she said, presumably yielding more clicks.
Here's what Rampell actually said. This came near the end of her column:
RAMPELL (8/15/17): More significantly, the presumption that millennials are uniformly more progressive than earlier generations is false.These white millennials today! Rampell nuancedly said that they "exhibit about as much racial prejudice, as measured by explicit bias, as white Gen Xers and boomers." The reader was left to imagine what "racial prejudice, as measured by explicit bias," might actually mean or be.
Millennials overall are more racially tolerant than earlier generations—but that’s because young people today are less likely to be white. White millennials exhibit about as much racial prejudice, as measured by explicit bias, as white Gen Xers and boomers.
As written, Rampell's claim was rather murky. That said, the headline writer dropped all the qualifiers—and he or she turned "racial prejudice, as measured by explicit bias," into "racis[m]," the bomb that has launched a million clicks.
Yesterday, someone at the Washington Post decided to change that headline. For ourselves, we spent some time examining the data to which Rampell had semi-referred.
When we did, sad! Rampell's link took us tothis April 2015 report by the Post's Scott Clement. Just seven years out of Vanderbilt at the time, he was identified as "the polling manager at The Washington Post, specializing in public opinion about politics, election campaigns and public policy."
Appendix aside, Clement's actual piece had been fairly short. Especially in its appendix ("General Social Survey methodology and question wording"), it was at various times strikingly incoherent.
That said, Clement's piece from April 2015 still bears an eye-catching headline. Here's what that headline says:
Millennials are just about as racist as their parentsSeven years out of Vanderbilt, the Washington Post's polling director, not unlike Santa of old, knew who was naughty and who was nice in at least two generations.
"Surely not all millennials are racist," Clement magnanimously said near the start of his piece. He went on to offer evidence in support of the implied claim which was fairly accurately captured in the headline atop his report.
As has been clear for a good long time, R-bombs are very good for our liberal world's tribal soul. Presumably, they're also good for clicks at newspapers like the Post.
That said, alas! Again and again, R-bombs turn out to be good for something else. They're often help us see how weak one modern alliance is.
We refer to the often unholy alliance between These College Professors Today and These High-End Journalists. We might all be better off if these two groups were kept apart!
Due to events in Charlottesvile, we may terminate the report we planned for this week—at least, we may terminate it for now.
Those events from Virginia are much more pressing this week. That said, the Washington Post's bomb-laden headlines almost surely play a part in that larger story.
What made the Washington Post feel it could offer the eye-catching headline which topped that 2015 report? The eye-catching headline in which, like a god, some editor brandished a favorite bomb, spread across two generations?
In large part, the Post's polling director had been working from a particular question on "the General Social Survey conducted by NORC's 2010, 2012 and 2014 waves." He didn't bother explaining what that acronym meant, so we won't bother either.
For today, we'll only say this:
We think the use to which that question was put helps display the remarkable lack of skill which is often put on display by our professors and journalists, who often seem to be weaker together. Therein lies a ancillary tale:
We liberals! We tend to find it hard to believe that our professors are perhaps a bit weak in the head, especially when their deathless surveys lead to headlines which tickle our tribal scripts. Sadly, our willingness to bow to authority in this way makes us resemble, in ever so tiny a way. the long-derided ditto-headedness long declared Over There.
We've long ridiculed that trait when displayed by Those People. Over There, they've swallowed all manner of cant from Rush. We tend to get ours from our professors, especially as their work is channeled through columnists and "polling directors."
Had that youngish polling director really found a way to measure the "racism" of two generations? Yesterday, in an easy link, Rampell seemed to say that he had.
An exciting headline followed. Later, it was withdrawn.
We liberals have been highly skilled for many years at seeing how dumb The Others are. In truth, the pronouncements of Rush and Sean have routinely, though not always, been tremendously dumb.
But good God and holy smokes! The major pathetic unhelpful Big Dumb can also be found Over Here!
Today, the headline which sat atop Rampell's column is gone. Incomparably, your DAILY HOWLER keeps pounding out those results.
Elsewhere in today's Washington Post, superb reporting describes the complaints of some of the nation's least discerning young men—young men who are found Over There.
We'll stick to that work for the rest of the week. But the dumbness is also quite thick Over Here, and the stories are not unrelated.