PREVIEW/THE WORDS: A look at this morning's New York Times!


Cassandra fears four more years:
Every morning, the New York Times gives us a hard-copy feature, The Conversation, on its reimagined page A3. The feature lists the topics which most interest the newspaper's super-smart readers.

Will Donald J. Trump get re-elected next year? We don't know, but this is the way The Conversation starts in this morning's Times:
The Conversation

1) She Quit Her Job. He Got Night Goggles. They Searched 57 Days for Their Dog.
The extraordinary tale of the King family was Sunday's most read article...
As best we can tell, this moving chronicle never appeared in the hard-copy Times. On line, Times readers sniffed it out and made it the day's "most read article."

Not that there's anything wrong with it! On the other hand, this is the second article listed today as most read, shared and discussed:
2) Jonathan Van Ness of 'Queer Eye' Comes Out
This article, which details the struggles Jonathan Van Ness has faced on his rise to stardom on Netflix's "Queer Eye," was popular this weekend and shared widely on social media...
This profile deals with serious social issues, though it must be said that such issues may even afflict people who aren't the "stars" of pointless Netflix programs.

The fourth item on the "most read" list is this hard-hitting report: "Antonio Brown Says He Is Done With the N.F.L." As a way to nurture ourselves, let's just leave that right there!

One lost dog and two lost souls and the endless attention to "stardom!" As our society slides toward the sea, an observer of the Times' daily Conversation feature can occasionally feel that we the people are perhaps, in the old phrase, "too lightweight to be self-governing."

On the other hand, a fair-minded person might also consider the woeful leadership Times subscribers routinely get from the Times.

Today's newspaper is clogged with reports and opinion columns which may lead a Cassandra to suspect that Trump might end up getting re-elected next year:

We were struck by this somewhat puzzling front-page report about the alleged unfairness of high school football competition as currently handled in Iowa. Also, by this heavily bowdlerized account of the so-called "Stanford rape case."

Don't even ask! But our unimpressive liberal tribe has made an art form of such novelized narratives, starting with the shooting death of Trayvon Martin—and when we tell our treasured stories, we persistently invent or disappear basic facts, making the story more simple-minded from our tribe'e preferred point of view.

"Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings?" That may well be true! But every time we play this way, we're ringing up votes for Donald J. Trump, or so Cassandra suspects.

It was high school football on the Times' front page. The featured report in the International section involves the trend for teachers to get tattoos—in Tegucigalpa!

So it went with the news. Meanwhile, on the op-ed page, Leonhardt and Blow were displaying a form of tribal incomprehension which never ceases to amaze. This afternoon, we'll draw on a recent reported conversation to illustrate how this game really works.

Could Trump get re-elected next year? We'd have to say yes, he could! Persistently, we see the haplessness of our own tribe paving the way to that dread defeat—and nowhere is the tribal cluelessness more persistent than at the New York Times.

Tomorrow, we'll start an award-winning series, The Words, in which we review unhelpful changes in modern tribal language. In this case, we're going to start with a front-page report from the Washington Post!

Cassandra says we're paving the way to defeat when we behave in the ways we do. Her track record is very good though she could, of course, always be wrong.


  1. A guy coming out is a "lost soul"?

  2. Sexual assault by a member of the NFL is "lightweight"?

  3. Novelized narratives didn't start with Trayvon Martin. They have been going on since language was invented. Does Somerby think Homer was just reporting facts?

  4. If Trump wins reelection, it won't be because he involved foreign governments in manipulating the election. It will be all our fault, says Somerby.

    Today, he goes straight to that accusation, omitting examples of what he thinks we are doing wrong. Unless it is because readers are interested in human interest stories. But what is the evidence that it is liberals reading those stories, more than conservatives. Maybe Trump was elected because all those Republicans don't pay attention to stories about Trump's wrongdoing? Somerby doesn't consider that, or if he does, he doesn't talk about it.

  5. 'Could Trump get re-elected next year? We'd have to say yes, he could! Persistently, we see the haplessness of our own tribe paving the way to that dread defeat'

    But your tribe is the tribe of Trumptards Somerby, the 'useless idiots for Trump' banner. Keep on Concern Trolling.

  6. If Trump had read the article about the tattoos, he would understand that the teachers getting them are combating the influence of gangs, who formerly were the only people getting tattoos. Maybe Somerby thinks that Central American gangs are trivial, inconsequential, not worth thinking about? They are one of the reasons we have caravans approaching the Mexican border seeking asylum.

    His snarky reference to Tegucigalpa implies that he doesn't consider what happens in other parts of the world to be very important. It is typical of conservatives to not care about other people beyond their own families. Liberals tend to see us all as connected on this planet, so that what affects people in cities with odd sounding names is also important and worth knowing about.

    Somerby is behaving like an awful person. Yesterday he posted a letter writer's personal information when it had no relevance to her letter or anything else being discussed. Today he trivializes sexual violence (including the Stanford rape and the NFL expulsion of Brown), gay issues and social change in Central America. I don't consider him much of a liberal, or much of a human being, for that matter. He is letting his asshole flag fly.

  7. "Could Trump get re-elected next year? We'd have to say yes, he could!"

    Wait, does it mean the fascist takeover you've been promising all these years may have to be postponed again?

    And here we are, dear Bob, looking forward to it, and - alas! - disappointed again...

  8. The Stanford rape case illustrates the power of the "me-too". The highly judge in that case, a liberal Democrat named Aaron Persky, applied the appropriate sentence according to written standards. He did nothing wrong. Nevertheless, the me-too crowd got him recalled. (I contributed to his campaign to avoid recall.)

    Subsequently he got a job as a women's tennis coach at a high school. The me-too crowd just got him fired from that job, too.

    1. Persky was fired because the school didn't want the potentially intrusive media attention he was drawing to affect the players on the team (who after all did nothing to deserve such intrusion).

      Person gave Brock Turner a 6 months sentence with 3 years probation and he was released after 3 months. The maximum sentence for his crime is 14 years. Then Judge Persky feared the sentence might adversely affect his later life. Persky cared more about the impact on the perpetrator than he did about the victim and other women. Judge Persky was recalled in June 2018. That was the voice of the people speaking.

      When men who commit such crimes are not punished, it emboldens them to commit more and worse crimes, just as Trump feels it is OK to solicit election help from Ukraine, now that nothing has happened to him for his collusion with Russia in 2016.

      Persky let his identification with Brock Turner obscure his responsibilities toward the victim and his duty on the bench. That's what he did wrong.

  9. “Cassandra fears four more years:”

    It’s unclear if Somerby casts himself in the role of Cassandra.

    What is clear is that every liberal is concerned and understands that Trump has a chance of being re-elected. No one is complacent about 2020. And most real liberals understand that the New York Times isn’t their friend. We could use a blogger who is, though.

    1. The NYT may or may not be a friend. But Somerby is certainly a friend -- to the likes of Trump and Roy Moore, as befits the Trumptard that he is.

  10. “1) She Quit Her Job. He Got Night Goggles. They Searched 57 Days for Their Dog.
    The extraordinary tale of the King family was Sunday's most read article...“

    Will restore your faith in humanity. Generally our kind don’t deserve dogs.

    These folks do.

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