In case you weren’t depressed enough
We start today with new research that provides yet “Another reason to lament decline of local news,” as Matthew Daly tweets. Published in the Journal of Communication, this study found that a steady loss of local newspapers and journalists across the country contributes to the nation’s political polarization, writes David Bauder of The Associated Press. One of the researchers, Johanna Dunaway, a communications professor at Texas A&M University, said voters in communities without newspapers are more likely to be influenced by national labels, making split-ticket voting less likely. She added that politicians “have to rely on party ‘brand names’ and are less about ‘how I can do best for my district.’” “Support local journalism for all of our sakes. Democracy depends upon it. #journalism #newspapers,” tweets Michael A. Fuoco.
Meanwhile, “In case you weren’t depressed enough,” Laura Davis directs you to Farhad Manjoo’s latest column for The New York Times, The BuzzFeed Layoffs as Democratic Emergency, with a lede that certainly gets our attention: “Working in digital media is like trying to build a fort out of marshmallows on a foundation made of marbles in a country ruled by capricious and tyrannical warring robots.” Jack Shafer offers a “Shorter @fmanjoo: Journalism is doomed.” But “On the strength of this @fmanjoo column, I have reupped my subscription to Farhad Manjoo’s Color Me Skeptical That the Billionaires Who Got Us Into This Mess Will Save Us Gazette,” tweets Jason Fagone. (Read the piece for more on that.)
For another angle on today’s media landscape, turn to Margaret Sullivan of The Washington Post, who asks, “How much does the media elevate (self-professed) centrists and #bothsides reporting? My column on Centripetal Journalism, that irresistible pull to the middle.” In her new column, she writes that the media feel safest in the middle lane. Just ask Jeff Flake, John Kasich and Howard Schultz. Atossa Araxia Abrahamian calls it a “Good column by @Sulliview on ‘middle lane’ (or is it middle LAME) journalism & punditry.” “Preach it,” says Karen Heller, and Jason Linkins warns, “don’t be surprised if I literally staple this @Sulliview column to some people's foreheads.”
Re: Howard Schultz and other billionaires
Jeff Stein of The Washington Post has the scoop that Bernie Sanders plans to propose a dramatic expansion in the estate tax on the richest Americans, including a 77 percent rate on billionaires. Tweets Matthew Yglesias, “Bernie proposes a big estate tax increase that sounds to me to be roughly equivalent to Warren’s wealth tax proposal.”
As for that billionaire who’s been making the talk show rounds lately, Danny Westneat of The Seattle Times noticed that Howard Schultz is above the political fray - so high above he often doesn’t vote. Since 2005, he’s voted in 11 of 38 elections, according to state and county election records. Not the worst, says Westneat, “[b]ut neither does it suggest someone actively involved in ballot-box democracy over the years.” Or as Chris Lehmann puts it, “Once again a self-proclaimed heroic disruptor isn't doing jack shit.”
But if you’re thinking about talking politics with your local barista while they misspell your name on your cup, it’s probably not worth the effort. Here’s What Starbucks Is Telling Employees To Say About Howard Schultz, according to what Maxwell Strachan of HuffPost has learned.
His compensation was, err, certainly unorthodox
And now, “From Japan, a primer in how to put a billionaire in jail,” tweets John Lauerman. For the new Bloomberg Businessweek cover, Matthew Campbell, Kae Inoue, Jie Ma and Ania Nussbaum take us Inside the Takedown That Put Renault-Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn in Jail. Tweets Duncan Robinson, “This is a wonderful piece on Carlos Ghosn. The Japanese justice system is wild and Ghosn's compensation was, err, certainly unorthodox.” Zachary Mider describes it as “The palace intrigue that landed the world's most Davos-y Davos Man in a 75-square foot jail cell,” and Joel Weber offers, “Thanks to @MattCampbell, Kae Inoue, Jie Ma, & @Newsbaum_ for the amazing story. This is the most definitive version yet—and it's even crazier than you can imagine!”
Here’s something you probably didn’t know. Scott Bixby of The Daily Beast reveals that, for years, the Department of Homeland Security has operated a fake university in the Detroit suburbs as part of an undercover operation to lure undocumented immigrants seeking to obtain student visas. Cas Mudde wonders, “How can this not be entrapment?” while Noah Hurowitz says, “This cartoon-villain shit is textbook entrapment.” Adam H. Johnson points out, “(A) This is cartoonishly cruel (B) worth noting this started under Obama. Trump took evil to a whole new level but immigrant-hating is a truly bipartisan affair.”
The ultimate business model
About this next one, Charles Ornstein says, “This is meta. Secret portions of a lawsuit allege that Purdue Pharma, controlled by the Sackler family, considered capitalizing on the addiction treatment boom — while going to extreme lengths to boost sales of its controversial opioid.” He links to the new report by David Armstrong of ProPublica, co-published with STAT, OxyContin Maker Explored Expansion Into “Attractive” Anti-Addiction Market. Nicholas Varchaver calls it “How Purdue Pharma pondered the ultimate business model: Make billions selling opioids...and then make more treating the people who get addicted to their product.”
We have to agree with Caroline Moss, who tweets, “Adulthood thus far is realizing the women who were painted as villains throughout my childhood (Monica Lewinsky, Tonya Harding, Lorena Bobbitt) were actually victims.” Amy Chozick spent some time with Lorena Bobbitt, and as she reveals in a new profile for The New York Times, You Know the Lorena Bobbitt Story. But Not All of It. Ricci Shryock notes, “When I think about how Lorena Bobbitt & Monica Lewinsky were covered by media in the 90s, the horrid jokes: ‘the actual story.. the 1 about a young immigrant who endured years of domestic violence, was raped by her husband ...& finally snapped.’” As Arielle Duhaime-Ross says, “Read this. It’s a powerful profile.”
Gabrielle Jackson shares, “This news fills me with joy and despair in equal parts. What a rich contribution the amazing @BehrouzBoochani could have made to Australia. Instead, we’ve imprisoned him.” At The Guardian, Calla Wahlquist reports that detained asylum seeker Behrouz Boochani has won Australia’s richest literary prize. The Kurdish Iranian writer’s debut book won both the $25,000 non-fiction prize at the Victorian premier’s literary awards and the $100,000 Victorian prize for literature. He has been detained on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea for almost six years. Tweets Nita Bhalla, “An incredible story. Boochani’s book ‘No Friend But the Mountains’ – composed one text message at a time from within the detention centre – has been recognised by a government from the same country that denied him access and locked him up.”
Whether you know about Bougie London Literary Woman or not, this is worth a read. At the New Statesman, Imogen West-Knights explains Why I created the parody Twitter account Bougie London Literary Woman (“Surprise!” she tweets), and Sophie Wilkinson is “So utterly grateful @BougieLitWoman never became a book and ended here with this lovely piece by @ImogenWK.” West-Knights reveals that she and a friend sometimes invent characters for fun, and one of those was based on the premise, What if the essence of the band Belle and Sebastian was incarnated into male human form, and what would it be like if that man was your boyfriend? “The answer is: awful, in short,” she writes. “He would do things like turn up an hour late to dinner with your parents because he was upset about seeing a dead bird, or claim to be learning Catalan.” Bougie London Literary Woman was this character’s best friend. Take it from Moya Crockett, “THIS IS SO GOOD.”
- Variety’s Nate Nickolai has the obituary for Dick Miller, the ‘Gremlins’ and ‘Terminator’ actor, who has died at 90. Aaron Carruthers shares, “A true cinema legend has passed away today if you love movies you'll know this man's face the great #dickmiller. My thoughts are with his friends and family at this time #RIP.”
- At The Guardian, Dearbhail McDonald writes that The backstop isn’t just about trade. Is that so hard to understand, Britain? John Crowley calls this “A must-read from @DearbhailDibs, who experienced the Troubles first-hand, on why Theresa May is wrong to prioritise party politics over the hard-won peace in Northern Ireland.”
- At TechCrunch, Zack Whittaker, Josh Constine and Ingrid Lunden reveal that it’s not just Facebook — Google has also been peddling a data collector through Apple’s back door. Whittaker tweets an update, “New: Google has said that its use of an enterprise certificate was a ‘mistake.’ But was it? Makes you wonder why Google's own support pages were so detailed, including noting how ‘sometimes iOS will block new downloads of an enterprise developer app.’”
- Betsy Woodruff of The Daily Beast got hold of a leaked email that shows NRA Heavyweight David Keene Wanted Access to Putin.
- “Half of the 481 unsolved homicides committed from 2013 through 2017 happened in 11 of the NYPD’s precincts. @coulterjones and @KannoYoungs did a fantastic job reporting and providing necessary context when NYPD continues to tout record low crime.” James Fanelli links to the story by Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Coulter Jones of The Wall Street Journal, New York City Has Record Low Crime, but in Some Neighborhoods Most Murders Go Unsolved.
- The headline for this one says it all: One Lawyer, 194 Felony Cases and No Time. In a New York Times interactive, Richard Oppel and Jugal Patel provide a detailed look at the workloads of public defenders and the impact on the poor who are relying on them for counsel. Tweets Dana DiFilippo, “There is no justice for defendants who are poor. This is a great story on the ridiculous caseloads many public defenders carry. Defendants consequently get a fraction of the legal defense they deserve, and that can have lifelong impact.”