I'm back in the office tomorrow, after taking a 7:15 am call with a colleague in India. So I won't spend a lot of time reading this stuff tonight:
OK, I need 3,700 steps before 10pm, and then I need to empty my dog and go to bed.
The Washington Post's Karen Attiah imagines how an American newspaper would cover the protests in Minnesota if it used the same tropes as typically found in Western articles on politics elsewhere:
The country has been rocked by several viral videos depicting extrajudicial executions of black ethnic minorities by state security forces. Uprisings erupted in the northern city of Minneapolis after a video circulated online of the killing of a black man, George Floyd, after being attacked by a security force agent. Trump took to Twitter, calling black protesters “THUGS”’ and threatening to send in military force. “When the looting starts, the shooting starts!” he declared.
Ethnic violence has plagued the country for generations, and decades ago it captured the attention of the world, but recently the news coverage and concern are waning as there seems to be no end in sight to the oppression.
Around the world, grass-roots organizations, celebrities, human rights activists and even students are doing what they can to raise money and awareness about the dire situation in America.
“It’s sad that the Americans don’t have a government that can get them coronavirus tests or even monthly checks to be able to feed their families,” said Charlotte Johnson, a 18-year-old Liberian student activist, who survived the Ebola pandemic. “100,000 people are dead, cities are burning, and the country hasn’t had a day of mourning? Lives don’t matter, especially not black lives. It’s like they’re living in a failing state.”
Meanwhile, opinion writers have ratcheted up the rhetoric as violence continues around the country.
As CNN reporter Omar Jimenez and his crew asked riot police where they would like them to move early this morning, the police abruptly arrested the group:
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz spoke with CNN president Jeffrey Zucker shortly after:
Mr. Walz told Mr. Zucker that the arrest was “inadvertent” and “unacceptable,” according to CNN’s account of the call. By about 6:30 a.m. local time, the crew had been released and was back on television.
“Everyone, to their credit, was pretty cordial,” Mr. Jimenez said of his interaction with the police officers after his arrest. “As far as the people that were leading me away, there was no animosity there. They weren’t violent with me. We were having a conversation about just how crazy this week has been for every single part of the city.”
At a news conference on Friday, Mr. Walz issued what he called “a very public apology” to CNN for the morning’s events, saying, “I take full responsibility; there is absolutely no reason something like this should happen.”
Christiane Amanpour, CNN’s chief international anchor, wrote on Twitter that “arresting journalists is the kind of thing that happens in dictatorships and authoritarian regimes. We live in a democracy.” Bret Baier of Fox News wrote that “this should never have happened. Period.”
The presumptive Democratic nominee for president, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., weighed in on the incident in a Twitter post on Friday. “This is not abstract: a black reporter was arrested while doing his job this morning, while the white police officer who killed George Floyd remains free,” Mr. Biden wrote. “I am glad swift action was taken, but this, to me, says everything.”
Exactly. I expect that someone in the Minnesota State Patrol will get fired over this, but probably not the person who ordered the arrest. I find it shocking that this happened in Minneapolis, one of the most progressive cities in the country.
But police killings have not declined despite years of attempted reforms. As Radley Balko wrote today, "White people can compartmentalize police brutality. Black people don't have the luxury."
I think today is Tuesday, the first day of my 10th week working from home. That would make today...March 80th? April 49th? Who knows.
It is, however, just past lunchtime, and today I had shawarma and mixed news:
Earlier, I mentioned that the state's unemployment office accidentally revealed thousands of records in an own goal. Turns out, Deloitte Consulting did the work, so I am no longer surprised. Note to anyone who needs software written: don't hire a big consulting firm. They don't attract the best developers because they use manager-driven development patterns that irritate the hell out of anyone with talent.
The President continues to fire anyone suspected of disloyalty despite the ongoing national emergency:
The president’s under-cover-of-darkness decision late the night before to fire Michael K. Atkinson, the intelligence community’s inspector general who insisted last year on forwarding a whistle-blower complaint to Congress, swept away one more official deemed insufficiently loyal as part of a larger purge that has already rid the administration of many key figures in the impeachment drama.
Mr. Trump made no effort at a news briefing on Saturday to pretend that the dismissal was anything other than retribution for Mr. Atkinson’s action under a law requiring such complaints be disclosed to lawmakers. “I thought he did a terrible job, absolutely terrible,” Mr. Trump said. “He took a fake report and he brought it to Congress.” Capping a long, angry denunciation of the impeachment, he added, “The man is a disgrace to I.G.s. He’s a total disgrace.”
At his briefing on Saturday, Mr. Trump likewise endorsed the firing of Capt. Brett E. Crozier of the Navy, who was removed from command of the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt after sending his superiors a letter pleading for help for his virus-stricken crew. “He shouldn’t be talking that way in a letter,” the president said. “I thought it was terrible what he did.”
Note that acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly got his job after former Navy Secretary Richard Spencer got the sack after resisting Trump's interference in the Gallagher case. For more, even though it will make you so angry you might cry, I recommend George Packer's description of how Trump has almost destroyed the civic institutions our country depends on.
Meanwhile, Charlie Warzel makes the case that "what we pretend to know about the coronavirus could kill us."
It's a wonderful time to be alive.
I had a lot going on at work today, so all I have left is a lame-ass "read these later" post:
I'd say "back to the mines," but I believe I have a date with Kristen Bell presently.
Today in Chicago we have seen more sun than in the past several weeks, and yet here I toil in my cube. But a lot is going on outside it:
And we now return to our regular JSON debugging session, already in progress.
As I try to understand why a 3rd-party API accepts one JSON document but not another, nearly-identical one, who could fault me for taking a short break?
Back to JSON and my miserable cold.
It has become a lot more likely in the last two weeks that my party will nominate Elizabeth Warren for President. (Note: I am a financial contributor to the Warren campaign.) One way you can tell is that journalists have started writing misleading stories about her:
It is certainly true, as CBS noted, that some people have questioned Warren’s account [of being fired because she was pregnant in 1971]. A story in the Washington Free Beacon, a conservative publication, did so, as did a writer for Jacobin, a socialist publication. But to say that stories have raised questions is not the same thing as saying the questions are good ones.
Over the years, people have also “raised questions” about whether the earth rotates around the sun, the moon landing happened, Communism was fatally flawed, Elvis died and Barack Obama is an American. But I wouldn’t recommend putting any of those questions in a headline.
A good rule: Whenever you see the phrase “raises questions” in a story, you should be deeply skeptical of its assertions. The phrase is a crutch that journalists too often use to make implicit accusations they can’t support.
Regardless of who gets the nomination for either party, the next election (389 days away), we can all to to bed each night knowing the next day will have even worse coverage of the election than the day before. If Warren runs against President Trump, I can scarcely imagine the sexist and anti-intellectual campaigning and journalism we'll get.
Meanwhile, in the same newspaper, Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman puts into words something I've thought for years: we're actually lucky that Trump is an unstable moron.
James Fallows calls out the press for, once again, treating two different scandals as the same:
Under normal circumstances, the press’s strong preference is for procedural balance. The program’s supporters say this, its critics say that, so we’ll quote both sides of it to you, the public, to decide who is right.
This approach has the obvious virtue of seeming fair, as a judge is fair in letting the prosecution and defense each make its case. It has a less obvious but very important advantage for news organizations, that of sparing reporters the burden of having to say, “Actually, we think this particular side is right.” By definition, most reporters most of the time are covering subjects in which we’re not expert. Is the latest prime-rate move by the Fed a good idea? Or a bad one? I personally couldn’t tell you. So if I am covering the story, especially on a deadline, I’ll want to give you quotes from people “on both sides,” and leave it there.
As an Atlantic colleague puts it: Journalism is hard; criticizing journalism is easy. In this business we’re all doing our best, and we all make mistakes in real time. But the very difficulty of these calls is why it’s worth noting a similar, as-if-we’d-learned-nothing-from-2016 case of false equivalence, which is unfolding before our eyes. This is “the Ukraine problem.”
Patient Zero of the next false-equivalence epidemic has appeared this weekend. No one can be sure of the cure, but the time to recognize the symptoms, and their source, is now.
The "scandal" of whatever Hunter Biden might have done in Ukraine a few years ago is nothing compared to the illegality of having the president's personal lawyer demand of a foreign government that Biden be investigated.