The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

All the (other) things!

As I mentioned after lunch, a lot of other things crossed my desk today than just wasted sushi:

Finally, Taylor Swift fans have roundly rejected Ticketmaster's monopolistic gouging by flying to Europe to catch the Eras Tour, often saving so much money on tickets that it pays for their travel. I personally know one such Swiftie who took her honeymoon in Stockholm, where Swift played earlier this year. It turns out, Europe has stricter rules against the kind of parasitic behavior Ticketmaster perpetrates on Americans.

The Roscoe Squirrel Memorial is gone

The Chicago Dept of Transportation this morning removed and (they claim) preserved the "Chicago Rat Hole" on the 1900 West block of Roscoe St. in the North Center neighborhood. I admit, I never saw the Rat Hole in the flesh (so to speak), but I feel its absence all the same.

Moving on:

  • Three Republican Arizona state representatives voted with all 29 Democrats to repeal the state's 1864 abortion ban; the repeal now goes to the Arizona Senate.
  • Monica Hesse reminds people who say it's sexist to advocate for US Justice Sonia Sotomayor to retire before the end of President Biden's current term that advocates for former Justice Stephen Breyer to resign made much more noise.
  • Columbia University linguistics professor John McWhorter cautions student protestors that blaming Jews for the actions of the Israeli government is crossing a line. Bret Stephens concurs, describing attacks on Jewish students that belie the "peaceful" label of the pro-Palestinian protests.
  • NPR stops by historical markers at the side of the road, in all their raucous inaccuracy and frivolity. Like the 600 or so planted by the Daughters of the Confederacy, which offer even less accuracy and frivolity than most.
  • Meanwhile, the New York Times tunes into the "crisis" at NPR, which has lost nearly a third of its audience since 2020.
  • Four people and a horse needed medical treatment and several vehicles needed repairs in London this morning after five of the King's Household Cavalry mounts panicked and ran from a training exercise, making it from near Buckingham Palace all the way to St Paul's before the Met could corral them.

Finally, are you an extrovert, and introvert, and ambivert, an omnivert, or some other kind of green French thing? National Geographic explains the first four.

Uri Berliner resigns from NPR News

First, to get it out of the way, I'm a Leadership Circle member of my local NPR affiliate, WBEZ. I listen to Morning Edition every weekday, and Weekend Edition every weekend day. I have high confidence in the NPR News team. And though I do chuckle sometimes at their editorial choices, I think the network's only "skew" simply follows Krugman's Law: "Facts have a well-known liberal bias."

Apparently Senior Business Editor Uri Berliner, who resigned from the network yesterday, feels differently:

It’s true NPR has always had a liberal bent, but during most of my tenure here, an open-minded, curious culture prevailed. We were nerdy, but not knee-jerk, activist, or scolding.

In recent years, however, that has changed. Today, those who listen to NPR or read its coverage online find something different: the distilled worldview of a very small segment of the U.S. population.

Back in 2011, although NPR’s audience tilted a bit to the left, it still bore a resemblance to America at large. Twenty-six percent of listeners described themselves as conservative, 23 percent as middle of the road, and 37 percent as liberal.

By 2023, the picture was completely different: only 11 percent described themselves as very or somewhat conservative, 21 percent as middle of the road, and 67 percent of listeners said they were very or somewhat liberal. We weren’t just losing conservatives; we were also losing moderates and traditional liberals.

An open-minded spirit no longer exists within NPR, and now, predictably, we don’t have an audience that reflects America.

Yeah... I think NPR may have drifted a few millimeters to the left in the last 15 years while a large segment of America drifted off the right-wing precipice. But that rightward shift does create the perception, in some people, that moderate-left opinions have shifted left. They haven't.

Berliner's essay did what I'm absolutely certain he intended: it made him a pariah in the newsroom, and "proved" that his colleagues wanted to squash conservative voices, because what other reason would they have for getting pissed off at him? Other than, you know, doing unto NPR what he claimed NPR was doing unto him, as Steve Inskeep explained:

If Uri wanted to start a discussion about journalism at NPR, he succeeded, though maybe not in the way he intended. His colleagues have had a rich dialogue about his mistakes. The errors do make NPR look bad, because it’s embarrassing that an NPR journalist would make so many.

This article needed a better editor. I don’t know who, if anyone, edited Uri’s story, but they let him publish an article that discredited itself.

I discussed one example on stage in San Antonio. The article made headlines for Uri’s claim that he “looked at voter registration for our newsroom” in Washington, D.C., and found his “editorial” colleagues were unanimously registered Democrats—87 Democrats, 0 Republicans.

I am a prominent member of the newsroom in Washington. If Uri told the truth, then I could only be a registered Democrat. I held up a screenshot of my voter registration showing I am registered with “no party.” Some in the crowd gasped. Uri had misled them.

Is there a “larger point” that too many elite journalists share similar backgrounds, and think the same way in assigning and shaping stories? Yes, I think so, but it’s a subtle issue that has more to do with people’s educations, experiences and associations than with partisan registration. There’s less of a headline in that. And it’s an issue that NPR has tried to address with some of the people it has promoted, and by leaning more heavily on reports from our local stations across America.

The Post added further context, establishing links between Berliner and trolls like Chris Rufo, who spends a lot of time trying to get prominent women fired from their jobs:

On its face, [Berliner's essay] seemed to confirm the worst suspicions held by NPR’s critics on the right: that the legendary media organization had an ideological, progressive agenda that dictates its journalism. The Free Press is an online publication started by journalist Bari Weiss, whose own resignation from the New York Times in 2020 was used by conservative politicians as evidence that the Times stifled certain ideas and ideologies; Weiss accused the Times of catering to a rigid, politically left-leaning worldview and of refusing to defend her against online “bullies” when she expressed views to the contrary. Berliner’s essay was accompanied by several glossy portraits and a nearly hour-long podcast interview with Weiss. He also went on NewsNation, where the host Chris Cuomo — who had been cast out from CNN for crossing ethical lines to help his governor-brother — called Berliner a “whistleblower.”

NPR is known to have a very collegial culture, and the manner in which Berliner aired his criticism — perhaps even more than the substance of it — is what upset so many of his co-workers, according to one staffer.

This week conservative activist Christopher Rufo — who rose to fame for targeting “critical race theory,” and whose scrutiny of Harvard President Claudine Gay preceded her resignation — set his sights on Maher, surfacing old social media posts she wrote before she joined the news organization. In one 2020 tweet, she referred to Trump as a “deranged racist.” Others posts show her wearing a Biden hat, or wistfully daydreaming about hanging out with Kamala D. Harris. Rufo has called for Maher’s resignation.

What a schmendrick. I don't know what burr got into Berliner's boxers for him to air his grievances with his employer like this. It would have helped had he actually committed journalism in his essay instead.

Ninety years ago

Time is funny. On this day, 90 years ago, radio station WXYZ in Detroit began a serial called "The Lone Ranger," written by Fran Striker, who had probably never seen Texas or a Native American person in his life.

When I read that this morning, it struck me that the radio audience in Detroit had living memory of the closest historical analogue to the entirely-fictional Lone Ranger character. Deputy US Marshall Bass Reeves served from 1875 to 1907, retiring just 26 years before the radio show started. So to the radio audience, the period depicted in the show was only as far back as 1997 is to us. The Lone Ranger show, in other words, was as historical to the audience as Life On Mars was to its viewers in 2007, or NYPD Blue is to us today.

I remember growing up in the 1970s and thinking that the 1960s were this weird, long-forgotten time before my world existed. Kind of like my friends' kids think the 2000s were the same.

One other thing. In one of life's weird coincidences, 30 January 1933 also saw the appointment of a new German Chancellor who nearly destroyed Europe. The guy appointing him to the spot thought the grown-ups in the room could contain him. Glad we learned from that mistake.

Consequences

Man-shaped bag of feces Alex Jones may be "done saying I'm sorry," but a Connecticut jury suggests he should have tried just one more time:

The conspiracy theorist Alex Jones must pay $965 million to the families of eight Sandy Hook shooting victims and an FBI agent who responded to the attack for the suffering he caused them by spreading lies on his platforms about the 2012 massacre, a Connecticut jury found on Wednesday.

Jones had already been found liable by a judge after refusing to hand over critical evidence before the trial began, and this six-member jury was only asked to decide how much Jones should pay.

During closing arguments, Christopher Mattei, a lawyer for the families and agent, suggested that Jones should be ordered to pay at least $550 million, saying that the host's Sandy Hook content got an estimated 550 million views from 2012 to 2018.

“I’ve already said I’m sorry hundreds of times, and I’m done saying I’m sorry,” Jones said. 

A defiant Jones said he believed Sandy Hook was a hoax when he spread his lies. “I legitimately thought it might have been staged and I stand by that. I don’t apologize for it.”

News reports suggest he can afford it—barely. And of course, he'll just make up more vile shit that the MAGA folks will eat, because we're at that point in an historic cycle of stupidity. Maybe this means the cycle could end soon? I hope so.

Back to the Dog Beach

Cassie got almost 2 hours of walkies before 9am with a return trip to the Montrose  Beach Dog Friendly Area:

She also got a bath, because even though Lake Michigan supplies millions of people with fresh water, we don't drink it right out of the lake for very good reasons.

Also, I did not take 540 photos like last time. Maybe tomorrow...?

And if you're listening to "Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!" on NPR this morning (and tomorrow morning in some markets), I was there Thursday night:

Waiting for the cold front

It's mid-July today, at least until around 8pm, when late April should return. The Tribune reported this morning that our spring has had nearly three times the rain as last spring, but actually hasn't gotten much wetter than normal.

Meanwhile:

Finally, via The Onion, Google Maps now shows you shortcuts through people's houses when they're not home.

About as well as expected

NPR's Steve Inskeep worked for six years to land a 15-minute interview with the XPOTUS, and yet no one felt any shock or surprise when it ended abruptly:

Trump and his team have repeatedly declined interviews with NPR until Tuesday, when he called in from his home in Florida. It was scheduled for 15 minutes, but lasted just over nine.

After being pressed about his repeated lies about the 2020 presidential election, Trump abruptly ended the interview.

When pressed, it was excuse after excuse — it was "too early" to claim fraud, his attorney was no good, things just seem suspicious.

But it all comes back to the same place: He has no evidence of widespread fraud that caused him to lose the election.

The tone of the interview changed. Trump then hurried off the phone as he was starting to be asked about the attack on the Capitol, inspired by election lies.

Philip Bump rolls his eyes at "the eternal lure of reasoning with the irrational:"

Many or most of us like to consider ourselves rational, considering the evidence before us and reaching reasoned conclusions based on what we see. Presented with a refutation of a belief, we like to think, we would change our minds and acknowledge our errors. Ergo: Present Trump with refutations of his claims, and he’d crumble.

The problem, of course, is that this isn’t how it works. Humans are emotional more robustly than they are rational, and when a belief is rooted in emotion — desire, fear, anger — you can’t reason your way around it. Put succinctly, you can’t combat irrationality with reason.

This pattern repeated a few times. Inskeep would offer a rational, accurate, indisputable point about the election results, and Trump — uninterested in rationality or accuracy but very interested in disputes — would wave them away.

Why bother even trying to convince Trump of reality when it’s not going to make a dent?

The answer, I think, is in keeping with the spirit of this article. Emotionally, I and others in the media think it’s important to confront falsehoods with accurate information. Rationally, I know it won’t make a difference; rationally, I’m sure Steve Inskeep understood it was unlikely that Trump would suddenly cop to simply making things up. But the virtue of combating misinformation holds an appeal that rational consideration can’t uproot.

I refuse to believe that it’s unimportant to tell the emperor that he’s not wearing clothes, even if it doesn’t prompt him to put on pants.

I listened to the first few minutes of it this morning, and marveled at Inskeep's ability not to laugh in the XPOTUS's face. Inskeep, of course, is a professional, unlike the interviewee. And Bump has a good point: when arguing with a fantasist, there is no middle ground.