Press Rogue

Press Rogue — May 23, 2019, 2:59 pm

One Horse Town

“Twitter isn’t real life.” So declared New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg last week, writing on the budding Democratic presidential primary. In fact, as a source of information on the state of the party, the platform is “actively misleading,” she said, noting that Bernie Sanders has twice as many followers as Joe Biden, yet it’s Biden who’s leading in the polls. “Left-wing Twitter isn’t a microcosm of the Democratic Party,” she went on, “it’s just a small, noisy fraction of it.” A month earlier, Goldberg’s colleague Lisa Lerer had primed the pump by complaining that Twitter was “totally unrepresentative of …

Press Rogue — May 16, 2019, 4:00 pm

Playing With Fire

For folks on either coast, the story of climate change is also a story about extreme wealth disparity.

Press Rogue — May 9, 2019, 4:00 pm

Boys on the Bus

This week, the cover of Time magazine features Pete Buttigieg and his husband alongside the headline “First Family.” Looking like the definition of middle-American business casual, the pair stands amiably in front of their home, yellow tulips grazing the bottom of the portrait. It’s the first time this year that an individual Democratic presidential candidate other than Joe Biden has graced the most influential real estate in magazine journalism, and just the latest elevation of the South Bend mayor whom Vogue recently dubbed “the unicorn in this year’s Democratic field.” This framing echoes the gushing media that followed Beto O’Rourke’s …

Press Rogue — May 2, 2019, 3:41 pm

Correct the Record

Last week, President Trump distorted the truth for the ten thousandth time since taking office. That’s according to Glenn Kessler and his fact-checking team at the Washington Post, who have assumed the unenviable responsibility of scrupulously tracking the president’s every false and misleading assertion. In an article announcing the milestone, the Post’s fact-minders wrote that Trump has been averaging twenty-three disreputable claims a day since September, an eye-popping increase from the early months of his tenure, when a typical day saw no more than five fabulations. The Trump presidency has proved a boom time for fact-checkers. Since 2016, public-facing fact-checking—grounded in …

Press Rogue — April 25, 2019, 2:00 pm

Too Big to Cover

Finally, after months of speculation, Facebook announced on Wednesday that it is prepared to pay up to $5 billion to the Federal Trade Commission for violating an agreement to protect user data. Wired wrote that such a fine would be “big enough to hurt,” but The Verge was dismissive, arguing that the company is “too rich for it to matter.” Investors, it seems, agreed with the latter view: in after-hours trading on Wednesday, the company’s stock rose some 8 percent. That Facebook can treat a ten-figure fine as a slap on the wrist may explain why, when the Wall Street Journal …

Press Rogue — April 18, 2019, 3:00 pm

Crisis Mode

Until recently, the editorial boards of the nation’s leading newspapers agreed on one important fact: there was no crisis at the border. In March, when President Trump declared a national emergency, the New York Times said his reasoning ran “contrary to all evidence.” In February, the Washington Post declared that there was “no crisis at the southern border.” A week earlier, the Los Angeles Times had offered a similar analysis: “The nation faces many problems. A crisis at the border isn’t one of them.” Editorialists spent the early part of this year asserting that the president’s rhetoric on the border was …

Press Rogue — April 12, 2019, 3:18 pm

Grading on a Curve

Early this week, the media pounced on the latest installment of Operation Varsity Blues, the investigation into what federal prosecutors have called the largest college admissions scam in American history, bringing renewed focus to the two B-list actors who have been implicated in the scheme. As the headlines in one leading newspaper put it: “Felicity Huffman and 13 Others to Plead Guilty in College Admissions Scandal” and “Lori Loughlin and 15 Others Face New Charges in College Admissions Scandal.” From another news-gathering operation: “Felicity Huffman to Plead Guilty for College Cheating” and “Lori Loughlin and Hubby Just Indicted for Additional …

Press Rogue — April 5, 2019, 3:58 pm

Exit Left

The American press is obsessed with explaining Brexit. Just this week, the New York Times published four Brexit explainers. CNN has run at least eight since January, including a video that uses Legos to illustrate the United Kingdom’s customs relationship with the European Union. The Washington Post has demonstrated a similar fondness for the format, posting a glossary of Brexit terms, a pair of “What’s Next for Brexit?” videos, and a clip that promises an explanation for “confused Americans,” led by a “pop culture host.” “It’s not your fault if you don’t know what’s going on,” she says. “Because nobody …

Press Rogue — March 29, 2019, 2:34 pm

A Dark Cloud

After two years of speculation about the special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, the press can finally stop guessing. Last weekend, Attorney General William Barr sent Congress a summary of Robert Mueller’s findings, and in doing so, lifted “the darkest, most ominous cloud” over the Trump presidency, as the New York Times wrote. Other outlets were just as quick to style the finding of no collusion as a political victory. To a CNN analyst, the letter proved that Trump had “gone up against the greatest prosecutor of his generation, Mueller, the ultimate straight-arrow son of the establishment—and …

Press Rogue — March 22, 2019, 3:04 pm

Rain Check

When a bomb cyclone hit the Great Plains last Wednesday, the national media responded, predictably, with a few weather reports. The Washington Post told of the cyclone’s heavy winds, the “blizzard conditions” it had engendered in Colorado, and how a combination of rain and melting snow in “the transition zone between the warm and cold sectors of the storm” could pose “a flooding threat in eastern Nebraska and Minnesota, southeast South Dakota, Iowa, Wisconsin and northern Michigan.” Just one person, a National Weather Service meteorologist, was quoted in the story. Only once a biblical two inches of rain had run …

Press Rogue — March 15, 2019, 3:17 pm

Clique Bait

The Atlantic dropped a whale of a think piece this week, a David Frum immigration special that was posted online first thing Monday morning, drumming up condemnation, hand-wringing, and #NeverTrump praise. The article, which graces the cover of the magazine’s April issue with the eminently reasonable, “just asking!” headline “How Much Immigration Is Too Much?” appeared online with the rather more incendiary headline, “If Liberals Won’t Enforce Borders, Fascists Will,” framing Frum’s proposal to cut legal immigration as a commonsense approach that splits the difference between Trump’s deplorable xenophobia and the left’s refusal to consider any restrictions whatsoever. Frum begins …

Press Rogue — March 8, 2019, 2:19 pm

A Million Turning Points

At the moment the Trump Administration reaches the point of no return, when the president’s erstwhile Republican allies join arm in arm with their Democratic brethren in Congress to remove him from office in a paroxysm of bipartisanship, at that precise moment, it is a sure bet that a New York Times reporter will be sitting in some diner in North Carolina or Nevada, asking a sample of Trump voters whether they still stand with him. We can be sure such man-on-the-street reactions will be integral to the Times’ coverage of the righteous future so frequently slavered after by its …

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When I caught up with the Gilets Jaunes on March 2, near the Jardin du Ranelagh, they were moving in such a mass through the streets that all traffic had come to a halt. The residents of Passy, one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Paris, stood agape and apart and afraid. Many of the shops and businesses along the route of the march, which that day crossed seven and a half miles of the city, were shuttered for the occasion, the proprietors fearful of the volatile crowd, who mostly hailed from outside Paris and were considered a rabble of invaders.

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The Great Kurultáj, an event held annually outside the town of Bugac, Hungary, is billed as both the “Tribal Assembly of the Hun-­Turkic Nations” and “Europe’s Largest Equestrian Event.” When I arrived last August, I was fittingly greeted by a variety of riders on horseback: some dressed as Huns, others as Parthian cavalrymen, Scythian archers, Magyar warriors, csikós cowboys, and betyár bandits. In total there were representatives from twenty-­seven “tribes,” all members of the “Hun-­Turkic” fraternity. The festival’s entrance was marked by a sixty-­foot-­tall portrait of Attila himself, wielding an immense broadsword and standing in front of what was either a bonfire or a sky illuminated by the baleful glow of war. He sported a goatee in the style of Steven Seagal and, shorn of his war braids and helmet, might have been someone you could find in a Budapest cellar bar. A slight smirk suggested that great mirth and great violence together mingled in his soul.

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Celebrity sightings are a familiar feature of the modern N.B.A., but this year’s playoffs included an appearance unusual even by the standards of America’s most star-­friendly sports league. A few minutes into the first game of the Western Conference semifinals, between the Golden State Warriors and the Houston ­Rockets—the season’s hottest ticket, featuring the reigning M.V.P. on one side and the reigning league champions on the other—­President Paul Kagame of Rwanda arrived with an entourage of about a dozen people, creating what the sports website The Undefeated called “a scene reminiscent of the fashionably late arrivals of Prince, Jay-­Z, Beyoncé and Rihanna.”

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A Toyota HiAce with piebald paneling, singing suspension, and a reg from the last millennium rolled into the parking lot of the Swinford Gaels football club late on a Friday evening. The HiAce belonged to Rory Hughes, the eldest of the three brothers known as the Alps, and the Alps traveled everywhere together in it. The three stepped out and with a decisive slam of the van’s side door moved off across the moonscape of the parking lot in the order of their conceptions, Rory on point, the middle brother, Eustace, close behind, and the youngest, ­Bimbo, in dawdling tow.

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There has been a proliferation of plazas in the past twenty years, here in New York City but also elsewhere in America, even in Minnesota, where I’m from. Maybe in the zoning laws there is provision for the apportionment of sunshine, or maybe it’s just leftover space waiting to be developed, but here it is, an open ­plaza where people can mingle freely, enjoy face-­to-­face encounters, take a break from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram—­the national unconscious with its fevers of conspiracy and ancient hatreds and malignity—­and walk out into the fresh air of democracy, where the general looseness—­no security personnel, no ropes, no questions—­testifies to the inherent good manners of one’s fellow citizens. There is no sign reading: your consideration of your neighbors is appreciated. thank you for not engaging in abusive talk or elaborate paranoia. People just behave without being told, as if their mothers were watching them.

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A recent earthquake in Chile was found to have shifted the city of Concepción ten feet to the west, shortened Earth’s days by 1.26 microseconds, and shifted the planet’s axis by nearly three inches.

“What’s the point?” said Senator Tim Scott, who is paid at least $174,000 per year as an elected official, when asked whether he had read the Mueller report.

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