Tuesday, September 28, 2021


I confess I didn't read past the headline last week when Joe Pompeo of Vanity Fair reported on a new project at The New York Times to increase subscriptions. My understanding was that the project was a Timesian same-old-same-old, as Will Bunch describes it:
Yo, Trump voters in rural Ohio diners! Wake up! It’s time to put your MAGA hats back on, grind some bitter coffee and wipe the layers of grease off that Formica countertop. The New York Times still desperately wants you, and they’re coming back your way! Like, for the umpteenth time.

That may sound over the top, but I don’t know what else to say after learning that America’s most influential newsroom — after more than four years of dozens of stories informing its largely left-leaning readers that Donald Trump voters still love Donald Trump — is doubling down on efforts to persuade media-bashing right-wingers to like them, and maybe even subscribe.
But because I didn't read the Vanity Fair piece, I missed specifics of the Times's sales pitch:
“The media in general and The New York Times in particular have taken a lot of shots in recent years, and every poll will tell you that the media is not trusted,” one [Times] source said. “How do we, in this era of so much distrust in the media, show the rigor we use in preparing our report to sort of win people over? The fact that we have a Supreme Court reporter who’s a lawyer, or that we have a medical doctor writing about COVID—we know that stuff, but how do we get that across?”
That's how the Times intends to win over heartland conservatives? Really? In 2021?

Has anyone at the Times been paying attention to ... oh, everything conservatives say nowadays? Election official after election official says that the 2020 election had few if any irregularities and was conducted fairly. The conservative response: How the hell would people whose job it is to run elections know anything about running elections? We trust only self-appointed lunatics!

Conservatives don't trust epidemiologists or the medical community when assessing the safety and efficacy of vaccines and treatments for COVID-19. Whom do they trust? Podcast hosts! Megachurch preachers! Randos in Facebook groups who peddle hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin! Surely they know the truth!

Conservatives' two favorite presidents are (1) an ex-movie actor with little political experience and (2) an ex-real estate mogul and reality-TV host with no political experience whatsoever. They don't trust career military officers, career foreign service officers, or career anything. Ignorance is wisdom.

If the Times wants to impress heartlanders, it should hire reporters and writers with no credentials at all. It should hire former UFC color commentators and people who sell pillows for a living. That might win them over.

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