TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2022
The Dumbnification, it burns: We lost a chunk of time this morning. We thought we'd show you what the Washington Post looked like when we returned to our sprawling campus at roughly 10:45 A.M.
We refer to the online Washington Post. At the top of the site's front page, three news reports were bannered. Those news reports bore these headlines:
How McCarthy’s political machine worked to sway GOP field for midterms
Ian makes landfall in Cuba as Category 3 hurricane; Fla. on alert
Meet the National Zoo’s new arrivals, from a Komodo dragon to a sand cat
It seemed to us that the Post was directing us to those new arrivals at the zoo in rather short order.
Two more news report got bannered billing. These were the headlines they carried:
Mississippi’s welfare scandal goes much deeper than Brett Favre
She was an only child. Now she has 101 great-grandchildren.
Celebrity was selling that first report. (In today's print editions, it appears below the fold of the first page of the Post's SPORTS section. Online, it's one of the day five most important items.)
The second report was being sold by the great-grand 101!
At any rate, within the newspaper's top five reports, we had the dragon and the cat—and we had the 101 great-grandchildren! There followed two reports from the WELL + BEING section:
Ultra-processed foods linked to early death, disease, weight gain
Five covid questions scientists still can’t answer—and why it matters
Not that such things may not matter! But after that, we were offered these four articles from the section called ADVICE:
Carolyn Hax: Husband ‘really upset’ that he can’t pick out spouse’s new car
Ask Elaine: I’m turning 30. Are my best days behind me?
Miss Manners: How do I pass co-workers chatting across the hallway?
Ask Amy: My neighbor’s daycare kids play outside unsupervised
Soon, we were offered these additional reports from the WELL + BEING section:
Syphilis cases are surging. Should I be worried?
Short menstrual cycle could be linked to early menopause
Ask a Doctor: Why do I get sleepy in the afternoon after eating lunch?
Struggling with mental health, I began to shoplift
Normal marital hatred is real. Here’s what to do about it.
Yesterday, some of this very same dreck was featured. Not that there's anything wrong with it—until such time as there is.
By now, we'd been offered links to quite a few reports—but few of them seemed to fit traditional notions of actual "front-page news."
At last, we hit a hard-news section: CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT. But then it was back to a pair of non-traditional sections—HELP DESK, followed by LIFESTYLE.
Just so you'll know, the LIFESTYLE section offered these five reports:
Renovation with a purpose: A D.C. home gets a big eco-friendly overhaul
Iman makes the case for fashion’s humanity
Woke is now a dog whistle for Black. What’s next?
Most don’t read the fine print. Here’s what to look for before buying.
Ghent is Belgium’s unsung capital of cool
At this point, it finally happened! We hit the section marked NATIONAL—the section the online Post reserves for national news.
Our view? In its online edition, the Washington Post seems to be publishing the quiet part out loud. The discourse is being overtly dumbnified, with no real attempt to hide it.
As a nation, we've never had anything resembling a genius national discourse. That said, to borrow from Joyce:
The dumbnification is increasingly general across the great tribal divide.
On the brighter side, and in various manifestations, this dumbnification seems to be good for the various bottom lines.
Today's discussion question: Do you believe that former Republican hitman Tim Miller is Stephanie Ruhle's "dear friend?"
That's what the cable star called him last night. Should viewers believe such words?