Slate handles the Gates/French Gates divorce!

TUESDAY, MAY 18, 2021

Elementary blocking and tackling: Exactly as we were at one time, Sofia Andrade is a sophomore in college (Harvard, class of 2023).

For whatever reason, Slate assigned Andrade to provide a news report on the Gates/French Gates divorce. Andrade is listed an intern at the devolving and occasionally comical site.

Stating the obvious, there's nothing wrong with being young, or even youngish, until such time as there may be. That said, we were struck by the way Andrade (and her unnamed editors) handled the basic blocking and tackling of her news report.

First, a bit of disclosure. We don't know anything about the marriage in question, nor are we hugely interested.  But just as a matter of basic theory, if a news org is going to list the things we've learned about some topic, they probably ought to list various things we have actually learned.

That seems to be the promise that's made at the start of Andrade's report. Here it is, headline included:

The Key Details That Have Emerged About Bill Gates’ “Irretrievably Broken” Marriage

The announcement of Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates’ split after 27 years of marriage has left many shocked, in part due to their finely crafted image of marital stability and Gates’ image as a “nerdy do-gooder.” But since then, media outlets have turned the spotlight on Gates, opening up a slew of questions surrounding the Microsoft co-founder’s behavior during what French Gates, in her petition for divorce, called an “irretrievably broken” marriage. In case you haven’t yet had time to dig through the details of the reporting that emerged this past weekend, here are the highlights of what we’ve learned so far.

Here are the highlights of what we’ve learned, Slate says; these are "the key details." Immediately, though—continuing directly—Slate proceeds to tell us this.

Shortly after the announcement, People and the Daily Beast published reports on the yearslong relationship between Gates and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. The two men were first connected in 2011, three years after Epstein had been convicted for soliciting a minor for prostitution. According to the Daily Beast, Gates made dozens of visits to Epstein’s New York mansion, where they allegedly discussed how the Microsoft co-founder could end what he called a “toxic” marriage, as well as Epstein’s potential involvement in the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. “Going to Jeffrey’s was a respite from his marriage. It was a way of getting away from Melinda,” one source told the Daily Beast, a characterization that a representative for Gates disputed as “inaccurate.”

Are those among the things we've actually "learned?" According to that passage, we've "learned" that something allegedly was discussed, according to the Daily Beast. Also, we've learned that one (1) source told the Daily Beast something—something which was then disputed by a rep for Gates.

Does Slate understand the difference between things we've learned and things which have been alleged? We ask because this is extremely basic conceptual blocking and tackling, journalism-wise. 

The general problem doesn't necessarily stop at Slate. As we've read about this topic in the New York Times, we've been struck by the  flimsy way the paper has sourced the various elements of its reporting.

It isn't just that the Times isn't naming its sources, who seem to be fairly small in number. The Times seems to be making very little or no effort to indicate their affiliations in any way at all. 

This brings us to the sentence with which Andrade closes her Slate report: 

ANDRADE: French Gates allegedly opposed the relationship between Gates and Epstein from the beginning. That relationship, the Wall Street Journal reported, ultimately led French Gates to seek out divorce lawyers as early as October 2019, when the ties between Gates and Epstein became public. In the end, as Bill Gates’ reputation reels in the wake of this reporting, one takeaway feels undeniable: French Gates has handled the fallout impressively. As journalist Sarah Jones tweeted, “nothing but respect for Melinda Gates’s PR team.”

One takeaway feels undeniable, we're now reliably told. Except hmmm. Was Jones perhaps casting some shade with her possibly snarky reference to "[French] Gates's PR team?"

Inquiring minds have no idea. That said, quite a few of Jones' commenters seemed to perhaps and possibly maybe take it that way. Tweets about gossip can be like that in the streets of everyone's towns.

Why not stick with what Slate does best?: Why not stick with what Slate does best—the eye-catching "advice" column which makes readers wonder if the personal problem being addressed is actually a confection?

As we've noted in the past, Slate columnists sometimes wonder whether they're getting played by their advice-seeking correspondents. Dan Kois didn't do so in this report, so we had to wonder for him:

Help! My Daughter Is Determined to Move Out Even if She Ends Up Homeless
BY DAN KOIS /  MAY 17, 2021 / 3:07 PM

The communication to which Kois was responding sounded perhaps a bit phony to us. That of course is part of the fun of what's left of Slate. 

College sophomores, gullible vets? Is this journalistic life in decline here in the streets of Our Town?


37 comments:

  1. "Stating the obvious, there's nothing wrong with being young, or even youngish, until such time as there may be. "

    Stating the obvious, if someone is a bad writer or journalist, it isn't necessarily because they are young. Jack London published his first short story at age 17. Immediately after high school, Ernest Hemingway worked as a reporter for the Kansas City Star, making him the same age as this Slate writer. There is no inherent reason why someone would be a bad writer simply because they are young.

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  2. "Are those among the things we've actually "learned?"

    In the context of this article, which is explicitly describing the reporting elsewhere in the media, we have "learned" that those other papers said certain things. This is obvious from the context in which the word "learned" is used and from the fact that this is not original reporting but a summary of the things reported elsewhere.

    Somerby is manufacturing a grievance here. Normal people do not read words in isolation but in the context of the sentences and paragraphs in which they are embedded.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Melinda Gates is in a position where she can stick it to him all day long and the media will eat it like ice cream.

    It’s going to be very hard for him to dish it back without everyone knowing it came straight from him and so seeming like a billion dollar bully.

    Whatever she wants (it’s not money), short of his nads on a pole, he should give it her.

    It’s still going to hard for her to keep from morphing into the beneficent rich ex-wife figure without him.

    I don’t know it she’ll be able to stave off being primarily the former Mrs. Gates no matter what sort of place she keeps at the Gates Foundation, but she’s sure making it known that she wants more power. Even the status quo won’t work.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You obviously know nothing whatsoever about Melinda Gates' philanthropic activities and independent life. You seem to see her as some kind of leech or appendage of Bill Gates and that is incorrect.

      Delete
    2. That would be an utterly incorrect summation of her and if my opinion of her, but it’s easily assumed about wives of rich men, especially of ex-wives.

      She knows it and she’s playing hardball. The Epstein stuff is a blow to the throat. Especially, when you that they have kids.

      Delete
    3. He has admitted to having affairs with other women. That is worse than talking about his foundation with Epstein. She doesn't have to manufacture bad PR about Gates -- it is there and obvious to all since his removal from the Microsoft board.

      Delete
    4. So you think stories of Bill Gates messing around with women is more potent than linking him with Jeffrey Epstein.

      I don’t know if she’s manufactured that info or if it’s gospel, I do know that it’s a bomb that she’s thrown despite Gates being her kids’ father and I know you’re an idiot for not seeing that she’s not some kewpie doll liberal heroine-victim for a bunch of brittle and none too bright Anonymices.

      Delete
    5. How on earth do you know that she is the one who "threw" that bomb? Like any number of other people, Gates is in photos and records interacting with Epstein, but that doesn't make him a pedophile. Epstein had a lot of money and was being chased by various charities and foundations. It doesn't make them all guilty of the same crimes as Epstein. The infidelities with Microsoft staff are documented and admitted by Gates.

      It seems to me that YOU are more motivated to condemn Gates as a child molester than Melinda Gates is, and that is part of the right wing attempt to smear someone who funds Democratic causes, never mind the good his Foundation has done in the world.

      I would prefer that you not pollute these comments with that right-wing shit, but its a free country and Somerby's blog. Just don't pretend you have a corner on any truth here.

      Delete
    6. You think I’m throwing mud at Mr. Gates and the Anonymouse thinks I’m throwing it at his Mrs.

      Both of you have the insight of gnats.

      Delete
    7. No, I think you are throwing mud at his Mrs too. Gates himself looms large among the Q-Anon crowd. Melinda funds women's issues, which are not big with right wing kooks either and apparently making her a target despite her husband's actions.

      Delete
    8. Right. It’s Slate, the Daily Beast, and QAnon.

      Delete
    9. They didn't say the same things you did Cecelia.

      Delete
    10. No, they reported accusations made in a divorce case with immediate ad-bait clicking pretend credulousness, rather than the being (whether accurate or not) strategy behind a famous billionaire couple involved in divorce suit along with teams of millionaire attorneys.

      I don’t have to see them as being either saints or sinners. That’s the stuff of salespeople and naive ideologues.

      Delete
    11. No, they reported accusations made in a divorce case with immediate ad-bait clicking pretend credulousness, rather than the being (whether accurate or not) strategy behind a famous billionaire couple involved in divorce suit along with teams of millionaire attorneys.

      I don’t have to see them as being either saints or sinners. That’s the stuff of salespeople and naive ideologues.

      Delete
    12. Your comments are no more convincing because they are repeated twice.

      Delete
    13. Digby today has an article describing a study that found that Trump supporters share Trump's narcissism and indifference to the wellbeing of others. Those are their defining traits. Cecelia fits that to a T. She doesn't care at all that she annoys other people and she is gleeful over posting the same shit twice, because it gets her double the attention. We would recognize her for a Trump supporter without even reading what she writes -- by her selfish and self-involved behavior. Trump writ small.

      Delete
    14. Anonymouse 9:13pm, you say the same things and worse about the guy who owns the blog where you squat. I’m in good company.

      There’s no end to the Mengele style studies that Anonymices love so well.

      Delete
    15. Cecelia,
      You mean Right-wing nut job, Bob Somerby's blog, correct?

      Delete
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  4. "Was Jones perhaps casting some shade with her possibly snarky reference to "[French] Gates's PR team?"

    I don't see any shade and Somerby claims to know nothing about this situation, but that doesn't stop him from alleging shade, does it? Why would a beginning reporter who is summarizing the reporting elsewhere take it upon herself to cast shade on anyone involved?

    But Somerby doesn't like young female reporters much, especially when they attend top universities, so he has to make up some reason to cast his own shade on an innocuous story.

    Somerby allegedly is unaware that Gates has been removed from the Microsoft board for his affairs with staff, another likely cause of this breakup. This isn't alleged but is substantiated and admitted, which is why the board took action to remove him. Somerby sticks to the Epstein angle and calls all this gossip, even though the breakup of a philanthropic power couple of enormous wealth has repercussions way beyond social concerns.

    And Somerby always refers to the letters outside his personal experience as phony. He is a man of limited empathy.

    ReplyDelete
  5. "gullible vets?"

    Somerby apparently doesn't need to have his suspicions confirmed before he starts calling reporters names.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Meanwhile, there is this:

    https://www.theroot.com/save-black-children-child-welfare-foster-care-and-the-1846911381?utm_source=theroot_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=2021-05-18

    ReplyDelete
  7. 'Stating the obvious, there's nothing wrong with being young, or even youngish, '

    Stating the even more obvious, there is something horribly wrong with being a devoted Trumptard and a defender of Roy Moore, Ron Johnson, Devin Nunes, Matt Gaetz the way Somerby is.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Palmer Reports says: "Tom Cotton is now accusing the Associated Press of conspiring with terrorists. The republicans are just going to keep waging war against every American institution until they have no allies left."

    Somerby is part of the Republican war being waged against the press, an American institution essential to maintaining our democracy.

    Notice how Somerby, unique among so-called liberals, never calls out the wrongdoing of the right. He only challenges liberals and the institutions of our government, never the people trying to undermine our country, never the white supremacist right, never the Trump right, never even the criminals who looted our country under Trump's protection.

    And today Somerby hides behind specious criticisms of Bertrand Russell and Slate, as if there were nothing more important to talk about than esoterica and pop culture. He has a lot to answer for and it is hard to understand why he writes this underhanded nonsense day-in and day-out.

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  9. Just for the record, aren’t there still children drowning over there in Europe? Eye on the ball, Bobbie!

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