Clickbait And Switch

So, in the not-too-distant past the New York Times made space for long-read profiles of Joe Rogan and Curtis Sliwa, the latter someone whose existence I became aware of decades ago, in the pre-history of life-before-the-internet.

My LSU/Pentagon dorm room lacked air conditioning, but had cable TV (I provided the 12-inch diagonal B&W CRT).

Can only guess now, but think it was a CNN segment about Bernhard Goetz.

Anyway, Sliwa appeared opposite William Kunstler, and got the ball rolling by immediately calling Kunstler “mutant scum” and “slime” (my roommate and I used either/both for laughs for several weeks, though we got along well, probably due to a shared like of a variety of cheap intoxicants).

Rogan? Much later, I also recall seeing him on television.
It took me a while to remember the show name: Fear Factor. Kind of a Survivor knockoff, though maybe you know that already.

OK, whatever.

These days, Rogan is one of the more popular podcasters out there, and Sliwa is the Republican candidate for Mayor of New York.

So, to be fair, the Times certainly has an excuse to mention either/both. But…c’mon.

Long-read profiles, “too big to cancel,” “long shot candidate with controversial past [to say the least] and 16 rescue cats?”

The Gray Lady/Newspaper of Record sure is accentuating the positive.

Again, I’m not saying Rogan and Sliwa aren’t newsworthy (and, what the hell, they got me to point-and-click), but this is another example of the kind of framing only shrill bloggers notice.

The Rogan piece suggests he’s every bit the dudebro he would’ve been called back when I was still relevant (which they seem to consider a positive) ; Sliwa’s profiled as a scrappy-if-doomed-show-must-go-on-candidate who might nonetheless surprise everyone by exceeding expectations in a city that hasn’t had a Republican mayor in…wow…eight whole years.

Can hardly wait to see how they’ll headline the results.

Best guess (it’s the NY Times, after all): Sliwa Exceeds Expections (assuming he can pull in the high 30s or low 40s in a city that hasn’t had a Republican mayor in eight whole years).

But…if they merit coverage based on popularity or scrappiness, where are the other long-reads?

Last I checked, vaccine and mask mandates are at least as popular — or more popular — than dudebro or scrappy-doomed-loser.

So are laws guaranteeing voter rights.
And background checks for purchasing guns (so is gun control, generally speaking).

Ending the war in Afghanistan is popular.

Hell, even Hillary Clinton is or was popular, as is Joe Biden (or at least more popular than, ahem, Donald Trump).

And I’ll bet you can find some genuinely scrappy and not-particularly-controversial-at-all long shots working VERY hard in places like Texas, Mississippi, and elsewhere, to, I dunno, form a more perfect union by establishing justice, and so on.

Maybe those stories got lost in the endless copy about rural diners or other old standbys: Dems in disarray…or panic. Or emails.

Or whatever the cult of the savvy thinks generates clicks.

Too bad they don’t think serious reports about how one of the major political parties embracing a particularly USA style of fascism is particularly newsworthy or worthy of a long read…