FRIDAY, JULY 8, 2022
We'd say the errors were general: Even at the age of 46, Ben Smith has had a long career in and around the upper-end mainstream press corps.
According to the leading authority on the subject, he recently left the New York Times for the following reason:
In early January 2022, [Ben] Smith announced he would be leaving The New York Times to start a global news venture aimed at the 200 million college educated English readers. Justin B. Smith would lead the business side of the new venture and Ben would be the top editor. The news site claims to break news and supplant complex news stories. In a memo that Justin Smith sent to “close confidants,” he described a new company that would “reimagine quality global journalism” aimed at what he said was an "English-speaking, college-educated, professional class" that had "lost trust in all sources of news and information." The name of the new venture, Semafor, was announced in March 2022.
For a New York Times report on the Semafor site, you can just click here.
Yesterday morning, Semafor began its institutional roll-out with a two-hour series of interviews. You can watch the whole event just by clicking this.
In the final interview of the day, Ben Smith spoke with (or at) Tucker Carlson for roughly twenty minutes. At the start of the session, Smith said this to Carlson:
"I’m just hoping you’ll let me ask questions and not steamroll me, because you’re a professional and I’m not.”
It's true! As it turns out, Smith isn't a professional interviewer. We thought that fact became abundantly clear during the twenty-minute session.
With respect to that interview, we'd say the errors were general on both sides. We mainly despaired about Smith.
At present, we'd love to see a skillful interview with that same Tucker Carlson. At present, much of his program seems to emerge from a resentment so deep, and from a journalism so unkempt, that it makes each evening's program instantly unwatchable.
On occasion, Carlson's program doesn't strike us like that. On such occasions, Carlson seems to flirt with making sense, though even then he will tend to proceed so far over the top that we can't help wondering where all the thrashing comes from.
Early in yesterday's interview, Smith said he wasn't a professional at the interview game. During yesterday's twenty minutes, he demonstrated that fact with his constant interruptions of Carlson, and with some of the painfully childish ways he tried to establish and defend certain basic claims.
Does our nation have the skill to find its way out of our current situation? We're inclined to say that the answer is no, and it has looked that way for years.
Most evenings, Carlson strikes us as derangement-adjacent. Yesterday, Smith struck us as stunningly incompetent. Also, as deeply connected to deeply unhelpful tribalized thinking-points.
So it goes as we slide toward the sea. At this site, we may try again next week.
To watch the interview: To watch the interview, just click this. Move ahead to the 1:26:00 mark.
The exchanges run twenty minutes. It's an embarrassing, failed attempt at human interaction.