MONDAY, APRIL 17, 2023
Could Biden lose next year? Sarah Weinman is a widely-acclaimed journalist and author. As a general matter, she writes about "true crime."
Weinman is highly accomplished and highly regarded. That said, her column in Sunday's New York Times struck us as a bit odd.
In Weinman's view, it seems that "true crime" writing is becoming less true! Ironic headline included, here's how her column started:
Truth Is Drifting Away From True Crime
During the end credits of the recent film “Boston Strangler,” ...there’s a notation that addresses the fate of a convicted murderer named George Nassar who, the movie states, is “still in prison in Massachusetts.” I’ve long been fascinated with the Strangler case and Mr. Nassar’s connection to it, so this detail caught my attention—since I was pretty sure I recalled an interview from a few years back in which he announced that he had terminal prostate cancer. As it turns out, Mr. Nassar, who told authorities that his cellmate had confessed to being the Strangler, died in 2018 at a prison hospital in Jamaica Plain.
As a writer and editor of true crime, I might be more sensitive to these sorts of factual errors than most people. But they are part of a troubling trend. Errors like the one in “Boston Strangler” threaten the integrity of true crime, which as a genre has grappled with whether the stories it tells about crimes are, in fact, true.
In Weinman's view, factual errors like the one she cites "threaten the integrity of true crime."
Indeed, such errors "are part of a troubling trend" within the true crime genre. In Weinman's view, the true crime genre "has grappled with whether the stories it tells about crimes are, in fact, true"—irony plainly intended.
Weinman is a highly accomplished journalist and author. On the other hand, we're inclined to wonder where she's been over the past thirty years.
As she started her column, Weinman focused on a factual error about a relatively minor character in a recent, "true crime" Hulu film which has been little noted and won't be long remembered.
True crime is ceasing to be true, she suggests. We'd be inclined to add this point:
True crime, join the club!
Officially, Weinman is "the crime and mystery columnist for [the Times'] Book Review." As such, she works for a newspaper which plays a key role in the American national discourse.
Readers, can we talk? Even within the realm of high-end American journalism, that discourse has been drifting away from the presentation of carefully selected true facts for at least the past thirty years. Instead, the discourse has moved toward the embellished, misleading and bogus tales which emerge from Storyline.
True crime films are becoming less true? Welcome to Neverland!
As Al Pacino might have ranted, this whole American discourse is becoming less true! Having advanced that claim, let's move on to this second point:
Last Thursday, in that same New York Times, Charles Blow raised a possible point of concern about next year's White House election. The column ran beneath this slightly frightening headline:
What Are Biden’s 2024 Chances? I Asked These Democratic Campaign Veterans.
BLOW (4/13/23): [James Carville] raised perhaps the most interesting concern, one I wasn’t expecting: “The biggest story in my mind out of 2022 is abysmally low Black turnout.” Specifically, he said, “it’s a problem with younger Black voters.”
In the most recent midterm elections, even in places where Democrats fielded strong Black candidates against flawed Republican opponents, Carville considered Black turnout underwhelming. But he isn’t sure what’s causing this problem, or how to fix it.
I talked to Terrance Woodbury, a founding partner at the consultancy HIT Strategies, which researches Black voter sentiment. A January survey found that three-quarters of Black voters don’t believe their lives have improved since Biden became president, despite his administration’s “initiating or completing” a majority of the Black agenda, Woodbury said.
Woodbury underscored what can only be described as a glaring communications failure, particularly when it comes to young people. As he said, “It’s not that we haven’t made progress,” it’s that younger Black voters “don’t know about the progress.”
According to James Carville, a decline in turnout among younger black voters may put next year's election at risk.
Blow didn't present any statistical evidence in support of Carville's presentation, but he and Terrence Woodbury both seemed to feel that Carville's concern has merit.
Is something undermining the interest of "younger Black voters" in turning out to vote? More specifically, is something undermining the likelihood that "younger Black voters" will turn out to re-elect Biden next year?
Is that a realistic point of concern? We have no obvious way of knowing, but we'll go ahead and say again what we've said before:
When we read that passage in Blow's column, we thought about Angel Reese, an All-American basketball player at LSU. A few weeks ago, Reese went viral, and she has pretty much stayed there.
We also thought about a prevailing tendency, over perhaps the past dozen years, within blue tribe and mainstream press corps Storyline.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but Storyline tends to rule human cogitation. According to experts, we humans tend to adopt a preferred view of the world. We tend to adjust our facts, and torture logic, to adhere to that preferred view.
Within the mainstream press corps, a certain Storyline began to emerge all the way back in early 1992.
Our blue tribe slumbered and snored as its tales took hold. It ended up sending Donald J. Trump to the White House some twenty-five years later.
As of 2012, a new and important Storyline had begun to emerge. This Storyline has taken hold within the major organs of the upper-end press corps, but also within the sprawling network of entities which advance contemporary Blue Tribe Thought
That Storyline has been all around us for, let's say, the past dozen years. We thought of that prevailing Storyline as we read Blow's column—and we also thought of Angel Reese, who is twenty years old.
The wages of sin is death, or at least so it says in a very old, famous book. Based upon what Blow has written, we find ourselves posing the following question:
Is it even possible? Could the wages of (blue tribe) Storyline be Joe Biden's defeat?
Tomorrow: We have a great many points to explain. Also, more from Weinman's column?