Tomatoes continue their reign at the Post!

SUNDAY, APRIL 17, 2022

Joined now by White House contenders: How dumb does our upper-end discourse get?

It gets amazingly dumb! If you aren't able to grasp that fact, you can't see the world we all live in.

How dumb does it get at the top of the pile? Consider the MOST READ article in the entire, sprawling online universe of the Washington Post. 

The article was posted online yesterday morning, at precisely 6 A.M. And at 9 A.M. this very day, it was listed by the Washington Post as the newspaper's MOST READ article.

What article had shot to the top in this way? It's listed as an "Analysis" piece, and it carries this mind-numbing headline:

The top 10 Democratic presidential candidates for 2024, ranked

That dumb! And yes, that article was listed as MOST READ—most read of the endless selection of filler and drivel on display at the online Post.

Full disclosure! The election to which the analysis piece refers will take place in November 2024—thirty-one months from now! At this point, it's sheer insanity to be listing the top ten possibilities for nomination on the Democratic side.

You really have to be out of your mind to mainline "horserace" journalistic culture to such an addictive extent. And please note:

Aaron Blake didn't restrict himself to the top ten possibilities, with Joseph R. Biden ranked at #1 and AOC #10. 

Apparently, ten wasn't enough. Blake added these eight more:

Others worth mentioning: Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, Stacey Abrams, Mitch Landrieu, Rep. Ro Khanna (Calif.)

You really have to be nuts! But there it was, listed as the MOST READ article in the whole of the online Post. Post readers were wolfing it down.

Meanwhile, riddle yourself this:

A few days ago, we mentioned the peculiar disconnect which obtains between the rather traditional print edition of the Washington Post and the Post's much dumber, much more extensive online edition.

The front page of the online Post goes on and on and on. No inanity gets left behind—for example, the report about the many tomatoes which grew on the vine.

That's right! This morning marks the eleventh consecutive day on which this "Inspired Life" report has appeared on the front page of the online Washington Post:

He grew 1,269 tomatoes on a single stem and broke his own world record

Way back when, Harold Hill had his 76 trombones. Today, the online Washington Post can't quit those twelve hundred tomatoes.

Meanwhile, consider the following oddness:

The tomato report is featured again on the front page of the online Post. It has been there for eleven straight days.

Meanwhile, consider the five articles which appear on the front page (page A1) of this morning's print edition, along with the three article which appear on the front page (page B1) of today's once-a-week Outlook section.

Those eight articles have been granted the highest visibility in the print edition of this morning's Washington Post. But only five of those articles appear on the front page of the online edition at all.

Twelve hundred tomatoes are still found there; three of those eight front-page print articles are not! It's almost like the online Post is a different publication—different and defiantly dumber.

Anthropologists are telling us this:

On balance, it turns out that we're a very dumb people at this point in time. This is nowhere more true, these experts insist, than at the very top of our upper-end mainstream press, where—to borrow from Lake Wobegon—the children have all attended the finest schools and their work is all below average.

Online, the Post can't quit those tomatoes. Major front-page reports don't appear!


  1. "Full disclosure! The election to which the analysis piece refers will take place in November 2024—thirty-one months from now! At this point, it's sheer insanity to be listing the top ten possibilities for nomination on the Democratic side."

    I disagree with this statement. If a candidate is not on people's radar now, they will have little chance to becoming the nominee in 2023, which is NOT thirty-one months from now. If someone is planning to run for president, they need to be securing a team, laying groundwork for fund-raising, considering their advance work and planning for a campaign NOW, not at the last minute. Identifying key staff and making statements about current issues and obtaining publicity and ensuring visibility is all happening NOW. That's why this report will show prospects where they stand, how effective these early activities have been. If they are not on this list, they aren't doing the right things NOW.

    Somerby should know this. Why is he pretending that this report and the ancillary activities of those interested in the presidency are premature, unimportant (because the election seems far away)? Is he trying to discourage interest in the 2024 race or is he merely trying to make Democrats look silly?

    On the Republican side, DeSantis has been running hard since Trump left office. Ted Cruz has been keeping his name in the news. Note that Trump himself formed his committee and began running from his inauguration date in 2017. Somerby appears very foolish when he writes this stuff.

    1. NO, it's a dumb gimmick to publish something.

    2. And yet lots of people found it interesting. Go figure! If you said Wordle was a dumb gimmick to publish something, I might agree.

    3. So in 2018, what were the Republican candidates for 2020 doing? Undermining Trump's presidential plans was not acceptable in the Republican party then, so why would you think it appropriate for individual Democrats to seek the spotlight now? That strategy would be ridiculous. "Ted Cruz has been keeping his name in the news.": was there ever a time when Ted Cruz wasn't finding a way to draw attention to himself? He is a petulant child whose commentaries abetted an insurrection, is unelectable, and so is a bad example anyway. DeSantis is on as long a leash as Trump allows him to be, engaging in completely unnecessary culture wars to endear himself to the far right base in the news cycle. Granted, he may have a better chance than Cruz, but only at the permission of Trump. His schtick is to flail away at Fox News straw men on a weekly basis and many will turn out to vote against him, as occurred with Trump in 2020. His best chance will be with voters who don't know him well. Neither DeSantis nor Cruz benefit from prolonged exposure, being far right wing Trump base candidates.

  2. "This morning marks the eleventh consecutive day on which this "Inspired Life" report has appeared on the front page of the online Washington Post..."

    The Washington Post can capture information about its clicks on this particular article. Why should they take it down if it is still getting viewed? Content costs money.

    Somerby apparently assumes that his reading habits are those of everyone else. If someone did read the Washington Post daily and they were tired of that article, it would be no longer attracting attention and would be replaced by something else. Apparently it is not.

    Similarly, The Hill has been running an article on Manchin's successful blocking of the BBB and the inability of Biden to get that legislation passed. It has been there longer than this tomato article. Why? I speculate that it is because the Hill is owned by a conservative who likes to insert anti-liberal articles but wants to be a bit subtle about it, in order to retain the Hill's reputation as a somewhat balanced news source. It tends to confine conservative knocks on Democrats to its opinion pieces, but leaving up some bad news for Democrats will look like just a slow replacement of an old piece, not an active effort at partisan propagandizing.

    I doubt there is anything similar afoot with this tomato article, unless the Post is being paid to promote the tomato industry and this is an ad disguised as news.

  3. Somerby complains because the print and online editions of the Post are different. Does he not understand that the economics of these two different mediums differ too, and that these are what drive content? The print Post is sold different than the online version. Online, there is infinite space and no extra cost for more content, whereas in print, each page costs extra money and there must be a balance between ads and copy (other content). Further, the staff needed to supply new content for an online paper that can have infinite size is different than that needed to write a print paper. The interests of online readers no doubt vary too. Someone may buy a print paper for its up-to-date coverage of hard news whereas someone may read the online version for the entertainment value.

    If Somerby were to be of any value to his readers, he might investigate and find out how such media differences influence content, but he instead just carps and gripes endlessly, repeating the same whiny objections over and over. The lack of new ideas combined with the lack of effort suggest that Somerby is being paid by the word to push certain points, and the rest of what he writes here is pure noise, intended to make this look like a blog when that function disappeared long ago. Not even Somerby cares why those tomatoes are still being mentioned. If he did, he might call and ask someone affiliated with the Post.

  4. "On balance, it turns out that we're a very dumb people at this point in time."

    Why? We didn't write the tomato article or the list of Democratic candidates. We probably didn't even read the tomato article (more than once). Why are we dumb? We didn't even write Somerby's article -- a very dumb piece indeed.

  5. Does Somerby have no eggs to hunt?

  6. "But there it was, listed as the MOST READ article in the whole of the online Post. Post readers were wolfing it down."

    "readers", dear Bob? You think it's plural? Meh.

    "The election to which the analysis piece refers will take place in November 2024—thirty-one months from now! "

    Do you believe there's going to be November 2024? Meh.

    What about November 2022? Will your liberal tribe's shamans allow November 2022? Nah, we doubt it very much, dear Bob.

  7. "the children have all attended the finest schools and their work is all below average"

    Aww, I'll bet that tomato story is right up there among the all-time greatest tomato stories!

    Why would anyone buy the Washington Post in print if they could get the same news online, cheapter?

    Somerby might as well be asking why any car manufacturer bothers to design and sell different models of their cars. How dumb are people for thinking that a Forester and an Outback are different cars? How dumb is Somerby for not understanding how capitalism works? That's what happens when you study philosophy at college, instead of marketing.

  8. 1. Somerby need not ready every article.
    2. If he doesn't like the Post, there are other papers.
    3. Shame on the Post for insufficiently catering to Somerby!
    4. And on Easter too!!!

  9. This is what Somerby should be talking about, if he cares about poor children:

    But he won't, because the article talks about a successful policy that Biden implemented, that reduced child poverty by 25%. A policy the Republicans have opposed and that is no longer in place because of their obstruction.

    1. This contradicts David in Cal's comment about Biden. I think Biden's response to covid, his infrastructure bill, his covid relief bill and his response to Putin and Ukraine all show his strong ability. I am glad I voted for him. A strong president doesn't achieve by himself. I don't know what Buttigieg or Harris have been doing, but I assume their efforts are contributing to Biden's success, even in the face of Republican obstruction.

  10. Washington Post is behind a pay wall. If Somerby were supportive of liberals, he might have listed the top 10. Instead, those of us who might be curious can go hang in the yard.

  11. The actual list shows how weak the Democratic field is. IMO WaPo's top three -- Biden, Buttigieg, and Harris -- don't have the combination of background and ability for the job. that is, Biden and Harris show us every day that they don't have the ability. Buttigieg doesn't have sufficient background. Nor has his performance as Transportation Secretary demonstrated a high level of ability.

    1. Is Diane Feinstein on the list?

    2. Sarcasm is a cheap way to make a point.

    3. I am not name calling. David is a very polite warped wingnut troll who regularly comes by when he's bored to drop a freshly pinched turd in the punch bowl for his amusement. Love having him troll by to politely drop his turds.

    4. The field of Dems couldn't be more weak. The party is a total mess.

    5. Yes, this is what Somerby said in 2020, right before Biden beat Trump.

    6. Trump was a mess too. Our whole political system is horrendous broken mess.

    7. Lets all throw dishtowels over our heads and run out into the street screaming!

      Actually, they looked pretty closely at our voting system and found next to zero fraud and the only regularities were a few Republicans, mostly living in the Villages in Florida, who voted twice for Trump. Not too bad considering. Or you could go live in Russia and vote for a manly guy like Putin, along with everyone else. That my idea of a horrendous broken mess.

      And despite the deliberate obstruction, Biden got covid relief passed and a new infrastructure bill. Not too shabby in my opinion. And a new Supreme Court Justice -- and that's with the Republicans dragging their feet the whole way! And that just doesn't spell "broken mess" to me. And don't bother looking at economic indicators because even inflation is coming down, unemployment is low, jobs are high, the market is fine. So our political system is obviously doing something right.

      So, who pays you to drive by and write these comments designed to suppress the liberal vote?

    8. David's response illustrates the reason for the
      painfully obvious point Bob put away Easter to
      Such articles appear for a reason. The fact
      that our political discourse is in large part
      reduced to a childish game of gotcha and
      one-upmanship with forever diminishing
      David is an adult child who has been told
      his whole life that partisanship is bad but
      his partisanship is good. The political press
      is a for profit entity, and they have to sell
      product to people like David.
      If you would have asked David in, say,
      2012 if he would have been writing off the
      things Donald Trump has done, he would have
      taken it as an insult, or at least pretended
      to. But now he wants to get back to his
      belief that all this has the same impact as
      rooting for his own High School Football
      team in the big game, even if it's 31
      months away.

  12. Every other news article today is speculation and gossip.

  13. There are <>ninety-seven<> articles on the official main page of the Washington Post. Here are some of them:

    Ukraine’s foreign minister says Mariupol situation ‘dire militarily’

    U.S., allies plan for long-term isolation of Russia

    Ukrainian Easter eggs as an art of resistance

    In Lviv, displaced artists create antiwar work to tell the story of Ukraine

    How one Ukrainian village survived the terror of Russian occupation

    What is genocide, and is Russia carrying it out in Ukraine?

    Elon Musk’s bid for Twitter underscores the risks of social media ownership

    Censorship battles’ new frontier: Your public library

    Sarah Palin is running for Congress. Many Alaskans are skeptical of her.

    Shooting at large party in Airbnb leaves 2 dead,  8 injured in Pittsburgh, authorities say

    The IRS urgently needs more money and staff

    The Trumpified RNC strikes another blow against democracy

    Will the media let Sen. Mike Lee go unquestioned?

    This religious season reminds us of faith’s liberating promise

    Beware, party bosses, the rise of the unaffiliateds is coming for you

    Republicans are on track to regain power. They should decide what to do with it.

    No-knock raids have led to fatal encounters and small drug seizures

    Selma is tired of being just a symbol — it wants change

    The war next door: Conflict in Mexico is displacing thousands

    U.S. hunt for Russian oligarchs’ huge fortunes faces barriers offshore
    Etc, etc. ..

    Somerby picks out the tomato story and implies it is characteristic of their news stories. What an asshole.

    1. Bob does always suggest that there is nothing else in the paper, and rarely gives credit to good work.
      His general point here is pretty sound, though. Endless meaningless handicapping, and attention to poles, is part of the general junk jurno landscape.

  14. The “most read” change quickly. Here they are as of a few minutes ago:


    Censorship battles’ new frontier: Your public library


    Florida rejects math books with ‘references’ to critical race theory


    Container ship stuck in Chesapeake Bay for more than a month is free


    Russia-Ukraine war live updates: No sign of surrender in Mariupol after Russian ultimatum


    Nor’easter to paste Appalachians and interior New England with snow

    Screw Bob Somerby.