Kristof and Drum's assessments: Nicholas Kristof has written an interesting column today about the way nobody reads his columns.
Rather, no one reads certain types of columns. At one point, he offers this overview:
KRISTOF (12/20/18): A common thread, as you can see, is that international columns don’t get much of an audience, particularly if they aren’t about issues in the news and don’t relate to President Trump...Who cares what happens overseas? Unless it's connected to Trump!
Human rights and humanitarian topics often do particularly poorly by digital metrics, and this affects the decisions news organizations make about what to cover. Central African Republic is a humanitarian catastrophe, but one reason it doesn’t get much coverage is that it’s expensive and dangerous to cover—and then readers or viewers turn the page or switch the channel.
Our tribal obsession with Donald J. Trump has perhaps been harmful in the international arena. On the other hand, it may be that it has shed light on a type of disinterest which was always present.
Who cares what happens Over There? As he continued, Kristof offers a comment about The One True Channel:
KRISTOF (continuing directly): Fortunately, The Times is still committed to such stories, as are some other journalists and news organization. Bravo, for example, to the two Reuters journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who did extraordinary reporting on the killings of Rohingya in Myanmar—and as a result have now been imprisoned for more than a year. But these are tough stories to get an audience for. There’s a reason that CNN, MSNBC and Fox are not all over the Central African Republic crisis, Yemen starvation and global violence against women.Yemen does involve Donald J. Trump! Even then, our favorite stars at MSNBC don't care if tens of thousands of children die of starvation there.
Rather, their bosses, who pay them the giant salaries whose size we aren't allowed to know, don't want them covering such boring topics, and so our favorite stars don't. By way of contrast, The Chase after Trump is a true crime drama, with plenty of sizzle and action.
Our tribe's obsession with locking him up is turning some of our favorite shows into tribal porn. (We think of Morning Joe and Deadline: White House, daily tributes to undisguised tribal propaganda.)
This obsession may also affect the clarity of our assessments and statements. Consider a recent bomb by Kevin Drum—our favorite blogger, the person whose work on lead abatement is the most informative work we've encountered on line.
Drum wrote about the Trump Tower/Moscow letter of intent signed by Candidate Donald J. Trump. The letter was signed on September 28, 2015. That said, is this thunder accurate?
DRUM (12/19/18): This was signed four months into the Republican primary campaign, when Trump was insisting that he had no interests, no loans, no deals, no nothing going on with Russia. He was, obviously, lying, and this goes a long way toward explaining why he was being so obsequious toward Vladimir Putin at the time (“I’d get along great with him,” “He’s a leader,” “I’ve always had a good instinct about Putin,” etc.).Why has Trump deferred to Putin in the ways he has? In the end, the answer may be far more incriminating than anything connected to the Trump Tower/Moscow.
That said, was Trump "insisting that he had no interests, no loans, no deals, no nothing going on with Russia" at the time he signed that letter? Was he making such declarations throughout the campaign?
Here's a recent compilation by Meg Kelly at the Washington Post's Fact-Checker site. Pleasing though Drum's thunder may be, we'd say the answer to our questions is pretty much no.
(And no, we don't think Giuliani has nailed down when the pursuit of this project ended. As usual, our pundits settled on the most incriminating interpretation of his latest murky statement. We've seen no one attempt to execute a careful follow-up.)
On cable, our favorite stars have become more and more promiscuous when it comes to matters of fact. On our favorite shows, the pundit panels are selected to ensure that Everyone Will Say The Exact Same Things in The Exact Same Ways, except to the extent that they try to top each other. Chuck Rosenberg excepted!
Edges on the actual truth get sanded further every day. In such ways, Donald J. Trump has always had a bad effect on the various things he touches.
(Who eats but is not satisfied/Who hears but does not see
Who falls in love with wealth itself/And turns his back on me.)