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About those Detroit “Voting Irregularities. . . . ” (WaPo)

It’s obviously a fool’s errand to bother commenting on the hypocrisy of politicians, but it IS amusing some times. . . .

From The Washington Post and on-line at < >
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Detroit had more vote errors in 2016 when
Trump won Michigan by a narrow margin.
He didn’t object then.

Caption: Michigan voters lambast GOP officials at contentious Wayne County meeting

At a meeting of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers Nov. 17, Republicans were assailed by virtual attendees for initially refusing to certify election results. (Zach Purser Brown/The Washington Post)

By Kayla Ruble November 23, 2020 at 12:32 p.m. EST

DETROIT — Republican Party leaders who urged Michigan’s state canvassing board to hold off certifying the Nov. 3 election results before it met Monday cited what they described as “significant problems and irregularities” in Wayne County, home of Detroit.

The GOP officials pointed to the number of “unbalanced” precincts, where there were small discrepancies between the number of ballots cast and the number of voters logged by election workers in the poll books. Party officials unsuccessfully called on the board to conduct an audit before it certified President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the state with a 3-to-1 vote.

“To simply gloss over those irregularities now without a thorough audit would only foster feelings of distrust among Michigan’s electorate,” Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and state GOP Chair Laura Cox wrote in a letter Saturday.

But state and county election data shows that four years ago — when Donald Trump carried the state by a much narrower margin — twice as many Detroit precincts were out of balance.

At the time, the problems were widely condemned by Democratic leaders, including Garlin Gilchrist, now the state’s lieutenant governor, who called the city’s handling of the election “a complete catastrophe.”

But neither Trump nor the Republican Party questioned the validity of those election results — or demanded an audit to verify the vote tally.

In the fall of 2016, 392 Detroit precincts, or 59 percent of the total, had discrepancies of at least one ballot, accounting for at least 916 votes, the data shows.

This fall, 179 Detroit precincts, or 28 percent of the total, had discrepancies of at least one ballot, accounting for at least 433 votes.

Democrats say that the GOP’s focus now on Detroit’s voting errors is simply an effort to undermine Biden’s victory.

“All of this ruckus that they’re raising, none of these issues are in a worse state than they were in 2016 when Hillary Clinton lost by a much smaller margin,” said Jonathan Kinloch, a Democratic member of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers.

“From Day 1, it has been their intention to try to discredit and try to remove the Black vote from this election,” Kinloch added. “They know that removing the Black vote in this election would change the outcome.”

President Trump attacked the voting process in key states around the country as corrupt and rigged in an unprecedented attempt to overturn the results.

He and his legal advisers have fixated on the predominantly Black city of Detroit, where 94 percent of the roughly 250,000 votes went for Biden. “It changes the result of the election in Michigan if you take out Wayne County,” Rudolph W. Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, said last week at a news conference in Washington.

Anger builds in Black community over Trump’s claims of voter fraud in big cities

GOP consultant Stu Sandler, who serves as legal counsel to the Michigan state Republican Party, acknowledged that Republicans did not request an audit in 2016. But he said what is at issue is not whether the GOP complained in the past, but chronic problems with the management of Detroit’s elections.

“There is no clear evidence that things have improved,” Sandler said.

Out-of-balance precincts can occur for several reasons. A machine may fail to scan the name of a voter on an absentee ballot envelope. A voter can make a mistake on a ballot and request a new one or sign into the poll book but leave before casting a ballot.

After the high number of Detroit precincts that were out of balance in 2016, then-Republican Secretary of State Ruth Johnson and her Bureau of Elections conducted a post-election audit in the city of Detroit. The bureau concluded that almost half of the out-of-balance precincts could have been rectified if staff members had taken prompt actions to address the unbalanced numbers on election night or if the county canvassing board had been given more time to dig into the problems and reconcile the differences.

“[The Bureau of Elections] found no evidence of pervasive voter fraud, yet an abundance of human errors,” the bureau said in a 2017 report.

At the time, local officials, including Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan (D), acknowledged the need for improvements.

“We can’t have that happen again,” Duggan told the Detroit News at the time. “Everybody in the city knows it was terrible, and the good news was, Michigan didn’t decide the national election because it would have shown a real spotlight.”

Trump, however, did not note the issue when he celebrated his win in the state.

“The Great State of Michigan was just certified as a Trump WIN giving all of our MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN supporters another victory,” he tweeted in late November 2016.

The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment about why he did not object to the vote certification at the time.

In the run-up to this fall’s election, Wayne County officials pledged to reduce the number of errors. After Election Day, county Elections Director Gregory Mahar said the number of votes that did not match the poll books amounted to 0.001 percent of the roughly 250,000 ballots cast in Detroit.

“Our canvassers really did a heck of a job,” Mahar said as he addressed the Wayne County Board of Canvassers meeting last week.

State officials agreed that the city’s error rate had improved.

“A review of data from the November 2020 Wayne County Canvass showed a substantial improvement in the percentage of [Detroit] precincts that were in balance and recountable as compared both to the August 2020 Primary and the November 2016 General Election,” the Michigan Bureau of Elections wrote in a memo on Friday.

For three hours, an obscure county board in Michigan was at the center of U.S. politics

However, Republican officials have continued to press the issue, focusing on an even narrower category: the percentage of unbalanced absentee counting boards — jurisdictions set up by the city election commission to count absentee ballots separately from Election Day precincts.

This month, 94 of those boards — 70 percent of the total — could not reconcile their numbers, affecting at least 263 votes. That is a similar rate found during the August primary, when 363 absentee counting boards — about 72 percent of the total — were unbalanced, affecting at least 914 votes.

The number of errors in the August primary drew bipartisan condemnation from state officials. “I find this whole thing appalling,” Julie Matuzak, a Democratic member of the state canvassing board said at a meeting after the primary.

Republican Senate candidate John James, who lost his challenge to Sen. Gary Peters (D) by more than 95,000 votes, cited the error rate at absentee counting boards in a letter he sent to the state board of canvassers last week requesting that they hold off certifying the vote for two weeks to conduct an audit.

“A 30% accuracy rate in any industry, whether its business, education, healthcare or manufacturing scores as failure,” James wrote. “While I don’t doubt that many of our poll workers and volunteers worked hard, we need to do better for our elections.”

Charles Spies, an attorney for the James campaign, said the absentee ballot board figures show Wayne County has not improved since August. He acknowledged, however, that the audit James is seeking would probably not change the results of either the Senate or presidential race. “That’s very unlikely,” he said.

Former Michigan GOP chair Jeff Timmer, who previously served as a member of the state canvassing board, said Republicans are failing to give an accurate picture of the election process — and Wayne County’s progress since 2016.

“They’re cherry-picking and feeding into a public-relations narrative, not exercising any analysis or judgment related to the conduct of elections,” said Timmer, who now serves as an adviser to the anti-Trump group the Lincoln Project.

Kinloch said the GOP is trying to “drive a false narrative that could jeopardize citizens’ faith in our elections.”

“They will not win in the end. Whether this election is certified on time or not, I know for sure that it will be certified,” he added. “We are a country of laws, and we’re governed by them, whether we like it or not, whether we win or whether we lose.”

Tom Hamburger in Detroit contributed to this report.
Updated November 23, 2020

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What Obama gets right — and very wrong — about the media – The Washington Post

Margaret Sullivan is right on about Obama’s harsh actions against US journalists covering his administration. She fails, however, to give full credit due to ERIC HOLDER, whose authoritarian impulses as prosecutor, going back to his work in DC, would be at home in William Barr’s Department of Justice.

Bruce Potter443-454-9044

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What Alternative Universe Have I Fallen Into???

From the invariably reliable David Brooks on NPR:

“President Trump just got a higher proportion of Non-White votes than ANY Republican in the past 60 YEARS!”

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And a separate measure passed in Oregon that would decriminalize all currently illicit drugs including heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine.

Keep those fires burning…..

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Commentary on a Donald Trump, Jr., Fox News Rant

From The Washington Post < >

Keep in mind this is opinion, not WaPo reporting.

The Plum Line
Donald Trump Jr.’s ugly rant on Fox makes a strong case against his father

Caption: Donald Trump Jr. during an interview on “The Ingraham Angle” on Thursday. (Screen shot via Twitter)

Opinion by Greg Sargent, Columnist
Oct. 30, 2020 at 10:23 a.m. EDT

Nearly 90,000 cases of coronavirus were reported in the United States on Thursday, a record. That’s the third time we have topped 80,000 cases in one day, all three in the past week. Cases are now surging in states all over the country. Hospitalizations have peaked in well over a dozen states. Around 228,000 Americans have died of the virus, including more than 1,000 on Thursday alone.

But Donald Trump Jr. has identified the real problem with our media discussion of this public health catastrophe: The press won’t level with you about how low the death rate truly is. Worse, media figures refuse to celebrate this towering achievement. After all, they’re all out to get his father.

The president’s son said on Fox News that death rates have dwindled to “almost nothing.” This is starting to attract attention. But his whole rant is worth enduring, because it’s a particularly vivid illustration of the true nature of the case his father is making for reelection, and why Americans should reject it.

Donald Trump Jr. said covid-19 deaths are at ‘almost nothing.’ The virus killed more than 1,000 Americans the same day.

“Why aren’t they talking about deaths?” Trump Jr. whined to Laura Ingraham about the media on Thursday night, before answering his own question: “Because the number is almost nothing. Because we’ve gotten control of this thing.”

The careful reader will note that, in addition to being dismissive about death numbers, he claimed the media is not discussing the “almost nothing” death levels precisely because it’s such an admirable accomplishment.

The president and his propagandists constantly insist the coronavirus is largely behind us, and that President Trump’s leadership deserves great credit for it. But this is regularly accompanied by another claim — that the media is falsely hyping the contrary case, to damage his reelection chances.

“The Fake News Media is riding COVID, COVID, COVID, all the way to the Election,” Trump raged the other day. “Losers!”

Phony victimization

On Fox, Trump Jr. positively oozed with this sort of phony, staged victimization. Media figures are hyping coronavirus as part of a broader effort to deliberately discourage Trump rallies, he and Ingraham agreed.

Ingraham posted video of CNN’s Sanjay Gupta advising that going to rallies, or any such “gathering of several hundred people,” risks exposing you to the virus. “These people are truly morons,” the president’s son scoffed. He nodded as Ingraham suggested this is all part of a media plot to “brand Trump rallies.”

The idea that elites — whether we’re talking about scientists, media figures, Democratic governors, what have you — are deliberately discouraging conservatives from associating with one another, that they are enemies of conservative community, is a mainstay of Trumpist propaganda.

In reality, all of us who practice social distancing are enduring the emotional hardships imposed by it. But in Trumpist mythology, only conservatives and Trump supporters are the victims of efforts to instill it. Public health measures can only be about disrupting the political association of Trump voters.

Trump cannot bring himself to speak to the nation as one people suffering through the same crisis, let alone urge us to make collective sacrifices in one another’s mutual interests. In reminding us of this, Trump’s son just illustrated one of the main strikes against reelecting him.

Don Jr. frames the stakes

Indeed, with this whole rant, the president’s son actually framed the stakes of this election quite usefully. He is telling us exactly what reelecting his father stands for: the proposition that the current level of viral spread, sickness, misery and death constitute an acceptable trade-off for resuming total normalcy and reaping the benefits of doing so, as if that were even possible amid pandemic conditions in the first place.

This is obviously not an argument that has broad public support. So the president’s son is forced to lie about the true nature of the current situation. “The rising case numbers are because they’re testing more,” he told Ingraham.

This is one of his father’s favorite lies. But testing alone does not account for the rise in cases. Claiming the deaths are down to “almost nothing” is part of a broader set of distortions.

Or maybe that’s best understood as the true Trumpist position, as Trump’s true reelection platform. Trump and his allies simply don’t think the current levels of cases and deaths are a big deal. If the spikes in cases are only due to testing, then nothing Trump is doing — or failing to do — can possibly explain them, or saddle him with responsibility for them, or (least of all) oblige a course correction.

Meanwhile, for Trump, the media’s real sin is spotlighting cases and deaths as if they do matter, when they shouldn’t:

This the choice we’re faced with in the election. As Ed Yong writes at the Atlantic, the current course guarantees that “more Americans will be sickened, disabled, and killed.” But it doesn’t have to be this way:

Many other nations have successfully controlled it, some more than once. Masks can stop people from transmitting the virus. Shutting down nonessential indoor venues and improving ventilation can limit the number of super-spreading events. Rapid tests and contact tracing can identify clusters of infection, which can be contained if people have the space and financial security to isolate themselves. Social interventions such as paid sick leave can give vulnerable people the option of protecting their lives without risking their livelihoods.

We can’t be sure how successfully a President Joe Biden would manage the crisis. But we can be sure that he’ll try to scale up a much more robust federal effort, one that has so far been sorely missing. Biden has a detailed plan to contain the virus. He will attempt to implement it.

Biden won’t lie relentlessly to the country about what we’re facing. He won’t tell Americans not to listen to experts. He won’t heap sandbox-level ridicule on the basic health precautions we must take.

We already know how Trump will handle the virus, and what it means for our country. We’re living through it right now. His course can only get worse, perhaps much worse. And the president’s son just told us as clearly as we could ask for that if you reelect his father, nothing will change.

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Trump’s attacks on political adversaries are often followed by threats to their safety

One thing I REALLY hate is a bully . . . . .

From the front page of Thursday’s Post

National Security
Trump’s attacks on political adversaries are often followed by threats to their safety

President Trump speaks at a campaign rally Oct. 27 in Lansing, Mich.

President Trump speaks at a campaign rally Oct. 27 in Lansing, Mich. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

By Greg Miller and Isaac Stanley-Becker
Oct. 28, 2020 at 7:00 a.m. EDT

The CIA’s most endangered employee for much of the past year was not an operative on a mission abroad, but an analyst who faced a torrent of threats after filing a whistleblower report that led to the impeachment of President Trump.

The analyst spent months living in no-frills hotels under surveillance by CIA security, current and former U.S. officials said. He was driven to work by armed officers in an unmarked sedan. On the few occasions he was allowed to reenter his home to retrieve belongings, a security team had to sweep the apartment first to make sure it was safe.

The measures were imposed by the CIA’s Security Protective Service, which monitored thousands of threats across social media and Internet chat rooms. Over time, a pattern emerged: Violent messages surged each time the analyst was targeted in tweets or public remarks by the president.

“The president was tweeting, ‘Where’s the whistleblower? Where’s the whistleblower?’” said a former senior U.S. official involved in overseeing the protection of the analyst, whose name has not been disclosed by the government. The analyst was never in direct danger, the official said, but some threats were so serious that without security, “there is a strong possibility that grave harm would have come to him.”

The CIA declined to comment.

Trump amps up attacks on whistleblower as some Republicans call for more strategic response to impeachment

Over the past year, public servants across the country have faced similar ordeals. The targets encompass nearly every category of government service: mayors, governors and members of Congress, as well as officials Trump has turned against within his own administration.

The dynamic appears to be without precedent: government agencies taking extraordinary measures to protect their people from strains of seething hostility stoked by a sitting president.

In recent weeks, the danger has become more alarming and visible. The FBI disrupted an alleged plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D). Days later, Anthony S. Fauci, the U.S. immunologist leading the response to the coronavirus pandemic, revealed in an interview on “60 Minutes” that he requires near-constant security because of threats against him and his family.

It’s “sad,” Fauci said, that “a public health message to save lives triggers such venom and animosity that it results in real and credible threats to my life and my safety.”

A White House spokeswoman disputed that Trump has encouraged such threats with his verbal attacks on Fauci, Whitmer and others. “President Trump has never advocated for violence against those he disagrees with — unlike Democrats,” said spokeswoman Sarah Matthews.

She cited an instance in 2018 when Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) urged supporters to respond to the administration’s policy of separating migrant children from their families by confronting Trump officials in public. “You push back on them,” Waters said, “and you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere.”

The rise in such cases is part of a broader escalation in tension and violence across the United States, with clashes in major cities, shootings that have killed or wounded protesters and law enforcement officials, and dark murmurings of possible uprisings depending on the outcome of next week’s election.

The degree to which Trump is responsible for the spate of threats against public officials is difficult to determine. Politicians, including presidents, have always faced the worry of violence by angry constituents. The Internet and the country’s increasingly partisan climate are often cited as factors in the spread of threats and hateful rhetoric against officials across the political spectrum.

But more than any predecessor, Trump has fomented mob-like anger at perceived adversaries throughout his presidency. Though his exhortations generally stop short of explicitly promoting violence, his words have been echoed in hundreds of menacing online messages. And he has consistently resisted entreaties to disavow or discourage violence.

Elizabeth Neumann, a Trump appointee who left her post in April as the Department of Homeland Security’s assistant secretary for counterterrorism and threat prevention, said the president continues to use inflammatory rhetoric despite warnings about dangerous repercussions.

“A healthy leader, when confronted with such facts, would say, ‘Oh my gosh, I had no idea and that was not my intent. Let me clear the air to make it clear I do not support these causes,’ ” Neumann said in an interview. “He does the opposite. He doubles down. He cannot admit that his language is having this horrible effect, because he knows it’s motivating to his supporters.”

In the most striking recent case, Trump lashed out at Whitmer and her pandemic policies at an Oct. 17 campaign rally just days after the plot against her was exposed. As the president’s supporters broke out in “Lock her up!” chants, he responded approvingly.

“Lock them all up,” he said.

Within hours, new ripples of hostility on social media reached Whitmer and her subordinates.

“I am the Governor’s Deputy Digital Director,” Tori Saylor said in a plaintive posting to Twitter. “I see everything that is said about and to her online. Every single time the president does this at a rally, the violent rhetoric towards her immediately escalates on social media.”

“It has to stop,” Saylor said. “It just has to.”

Nine days earlier, unsealed FBI documents revealed that a group of men had spent months planning to abduct the governor in retaliation for restrictions she had imposed on state residents to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The FBI picked up on online discussions about the scheme soon after those restrictions were implemented, according to an Oct. 6 criminal complaint. But the plotting appears to have accelerated after Trump began publicly taunting Whitmer and tweeted “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” in mid-April.

The FBI complaint does not name Trump or indicate that he inspired the conspiracy. An FBI agent who testified in the case said he was unaware whether Trump’s tweets were discussed among the alleged plotters.

But there are other indications that those arrested were reacting to Trump’s rhetoric. The president had issued a similar call to “liberate” Virginia, whose governor, Ralph Northam (D), was also considered a possible target by the alleged plotters.

Whitmer said when the arrests were announced that she saw Trump as “complicit” because of how he has encouraged hate groups. “When our leaders speak, their words matter,” she said. “They carry weight.”

Self-identified members of extremist groups often repeat Trump’s rhetoric, down to “the same pieces of wording” in online channels, said Kevin Grisham, associate director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University at San Bernardino.

Criticism and conspiracy theories aimed by Trump at Fauci, philanthropist George Soros and other frequent targets course through messaging apps, including Telegram, as well as Parler, a relatively new platform that members of Trump’s campaign have promoted as unfettered by the constraints increasingly imposed by Facebook and other mainstream services.

Regardless of whether the president “really intends to incite violence,” Gri­sham said, “the evidence points to a strong correlation.”

The volatility in the country’s political life has put enormous pressure on federal, state and local government entities responsible for officials’ security. The FBI and the U.S. Capitol Police, which is responsible for protecting members of Congress, are now routinely engaged in investigations of threats against public officials attacked publicly by the president, according to U.S. officials.

Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), who presented the impeachment case against Trump in the Senate, faced so many threats during that trial that he required round-the-clock security, officials said. The attacks from Trump have yet to stop.

“When Trump suggests darkly that ‘something should happen’ to his political opponents, as he did to me last week at a rally, or calls someone a traitor or urges that they be locked up, it goes beyond political rhetoric and borders on incitement,” Schiff said in a written statement to The Washington Post. “The truth is Donald Trump knows exactly what he’s doing with these statements and that some of his supporters will take him seriously and literally. We must not ignore the danger he is creating.”

Those who testified at impeachment hearings faced an almost immediate avalanche of online attacks. Among them was Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a decorated Army officer who worked at the White House. At one point, Vindman was urged by Army officials to move his family to a military base for better security, Vindman said in an interview. He opted against doing so only after other measures were adopted, including regular police patrols past his house.

Lawmakers from both parties have endured increased threats to their safety. In 2017, a left-wing activist from Illinois opened fire on Republican House members at a baseball practice, gravely injuring House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.).

But only Democrats have faced cycles of threats that surge and subside in sync with the president’s rhetoric. Among the most frequent targets is Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), one of four female minority members Trump declared should “go back” to their countries last year, even though all four are U.S. citizens, and three — including Ocasio-Cortez — were born in the United States.

Trump’s attacks on Ocasio-Cortez are part of a broader campaign of criticism fueled by right-wing media. Lauren Hitt, communications director for Ocasio-Cortez, said the congresswoman’s office routinely fields between two and eight “serious threats” each week, meaning communications that mention violence.

These are only the most worrisome messages among dozens more that come in each week that are deemed merely “harassing” because they don’t mention physical harm to the congresswoman. “We had one harassing caller last week leave 40 voice mails overnight,” Hitt said.

The threatening calls create burdens for staff and law enforcement agencies. Because of long-standing House rules, security resources are distributed largely based on seniority, meaning new arrivals to Capitol Hill have less to spend on protection even when they face more threats than higher-ranking counterparts.

Ocasio-Cortez has “had to make very expensive upgrades to our district office to ensure security,” Hitt said. That money, she said, “is coming out of a very limited freshman budget” that might otherwise be used to serve constituents.

Officials at the FBI and the U.S. Capitol Police declined to discuss security issues in detail, citing concern with disclosing measures they use to ensure officials’ safety. Only a small percentage of threats lead to arrests, and there is little if any available data on how often investigations connect threats to the words of the president.

Asked whether the number of threats to Ocasio-Cortez has risen after attacks by Trump or his surrogates in politics or in right-wing media, Hitt said, “We have seen spikes in all of those scenarios.”

Even mayors of cities far from Washington have experienced similar threats. As Portland, Ore., Mayor Ted Wheeler became the target of hostile Trump tweets this summer, his office received a series of unnerving messages. One, from a sender using an email address identifying himself as a Trump supporter, said: “You guys should be dragged out of your offices and hung by your necks and left there till dead.”

In early September, after Trump launched 15 tweets in a single day assailing Wheeler, more messages arrived. “I was hoping someone would crack your skull open,” one said, according to communications reviewed by The Post. “I hope someone assassinates mayor Wheeler,” said another.

Wheeler also came under attack from the left. In September, he moved out of his condo after protesters broke windows and hurled burning items into the building.

U.S. officials said threats against the CIA whistleblower soared not only when Trump lashed out against him on Twitter but when the president’s allies sought to expose the analyst’s identity to the public.

The analyst’s name and details about his position have been withheld under laws designed to protect whistleblowers. But right-wing news organizations have repeatedly speculated about his identity.

Threats against the whistleblower subsided after Trump’s Senate acquittal, officials said. And although some security measures have been scaled back, officials said that the analyst continues to be a target of online attacks, and that some protective measures are likely to remain in place indefinitely.

Julie Tate contributed to this report.
Greg Miller
Greg Miller is a national security correspondent for The Washington Post and a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize. He is the author of “The Apprentice,” a book on Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential race and the fallout under the Trump administration.
Isaac Stanley-Becker
Isaac Stanley-Becker is a national political reporter.

Bruce Potter

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NYU Journalism Award for 2010 — 2019 — column by Margaret Sullivan


Here’s a list of the 10 greatest works of journalism of the past 10 years.
Care to argue about it?

Margaret Sullivan
Media columnist
Oct. 14, 2020 at 2:45 p.m. EDT

With so much news slamming us at every moment, it’s hard to see any of it as having enduring value. Who can even remember what happened last week?

But not everything is ephemeral. Some journalism really does last.

Years ago, when New York University faculty ranked the best journalism of the 20th century, they came up with some selections whose classic nature is unarguable. The list was led by John Hersey’s “Hiroshima,” a feat of reportage that used novelistic techniques to tell the stories of six survivors of the atomic bomb; it took up an entire issue of the New Yorker magazine in 1946. Second place went to Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring,” the prescient warning about man-made damage to the planet. The Washington Post’s Watergate reporting made the list, too.

Now there’s a new ranking from the university’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute that looks at this past decade, 2010 to 2019, and is intended to “honor really great work that has already stood the test of time,” according to the project’s organizer, journalism professor Mitchell Stephens.

It’s “the most precious kind of journalism,” he said, “because it changes how we think and how we look at the world.” The group considered nonfiction books, daily reporting, documentaries, podcasts and more.

Here, then, is the ranked list, which was officially announced Wednesday at an online celebration for the authors:

1. Ta-Nehisi Coates, “The Case for Reparations,” the Atlantic.

The judges, 14 outside judges and 24 NYU faculty members, called it “the most powerful essay of its time.” Published in 2014, “it influenced the public conversation so much that it became a necessary topic in the presidential debate.” (Coates is a writer in residence at NYU; he did not participate in the judging.)

2. Isabel Wilkerson, “The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration.”

The judges called this 2010 book “a masterwork by one of our greatest writers and most diligent reporters. . . . essential reading to understand America.”

3. Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, “She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement.”

Based on the duo’s groundbreaking #MeToo reporting for the New York Times in 2017, it’s a “pitch-perfect primer on how to take a hot-button-chasing by-the-minutes breaking story and investigate it with the best and most honorable journalistic practices.”

4. Katherine Boo, “Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity.”

The New Yorker writer’s moving portrait of a place and its people, published in 2012, is “unbelievably well written and well reported,” said a judge.

5. Michelle Alexander, “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.”

The 2010 book by the civil rights litigator, now a New York Times columnist, “demonstrates the ways in which the War on Drugs, and its resulting incarceration policies and processes, operate against people of color.” One judge called it “crucial as an engine toward transforming the criminality of our ‘justice’ system.”

6. Julie K. Brown, “How a Future Trump Cabinet Member Gave a Serial Sex Abuser the Deal of a Lifetime,” Miami Herald.

The veteran reporter “essentially picked up a cold case,” note the judges, and without her dogged reporting, Jeffrey Epstein’s crimes and prosecutors’ dereliction might have slipped away. One judge astutely observed that Brown managed this “amid the economic collapse of a great regional paper.”

7. Sheri Fink, “Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital.”

This narrative medical journalism, written in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina by the Pro Publica and New York Times correspondent who is also a physician, is “compelling, compassionate, and unsettling.” The 2013 book expands on her reporting based on the 2005 disaster in New Orleans.

8. The 1619 Project, New York Times Magazine.

These essays, published in 2019, together have ignited a culture war in America, as they explore the beginning of American slavery. The project, said the judges, “reframes the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.”

9. David A. Fahrenthold, a series investigating candidate Donald Trump’s claims of generous charitable giving , The Washington Post.

The judges: “By contacting hundreds of charities — interactions recorded on what became a well-known legal pad — Fahrenthold [in 2016] proved that Trump had never given what he claimed to have given or much at all, despite, in one instance, having sat on the stage as if he had.”

10. Staff of The Washington Post, Police shootings database 2015 to present.

The judges called this the “definitive journalistic exploration and documentation of fatal police shootings in America.” In the wake of the infamous police shooting of an unarmed Black man in Ferguson, Mo., in 2014, the ambitious effort “set a new standard for real-time, data journalism and was a vital resource during a still-raging national debate.”

For those who might want to argue with these rankings — in the grand tradition of music fans getting outraged over Rolling Stone magazine’s list of, say, the 500 greatest albums of all time — they may find fodder in the larger list of more than 120 nominees. (“What?! Where’s Jane Mayer’s Fox News exposé in the New Yorker? What about “In the Dark,” the investigative podcast that helped free a Mississippi man once held on death row?”) Or they may have some other ideas altogether.

Whether you agree with the list, it might make you stop to think about some of the essential reporting that’s whizzing by you right now as you doomscroll the news endlessly into the nights. Will some of it endure and earn status as classic journalism? Ed Yong’s work this year on the coronavirus pandemic in the Atlantic comes to mind as a possibility. So does the New York Times’s reporting on Trump’s tax returns.

But it’s ever so early in this crazily tumultuous decade. It’s sure to look quite different from the vantage of 2030.

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Kinda scary

from Science Magazine, Oct. 2020.

Two-thirds of lefties trust science, only one-in-five right-wingers.

So to the folks running the country, and most of the states, most of the scientific discoveries of the last generation or so is either fantasy or a left-wing political conspiracy.


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Horrible Migrant Die-Off in SW US

from The Guardian, via High Country News < >

Southwest experiences mass bird die-off

‘To see this many individuals and species dying is a national tragedy.’

Phoebe Weston Sept. 18, 2020 Like Tweet Email Print

NMSU professor Martha Desmond, biologist in the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Ecology is trying to find out why hundreds of thousands of migratory birds have been found dead across the state.
Allison Salas/New Mexico State University

This story was originally published by the Guardian and is republished here through the Climate Desk partnership.

Thousands of migrating birds have inexplicably died in southwestern U.S. in what ornithologists have described as a national tragedy that is likely to be related to the climate crisis.

Flycatchers, swallows and warblers are among the species “falling out of the sky” as part of a mass die-off across New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, Arizona and farther north into Nebraska, with growing concerns there could be hundreds of thousands dead already, said Martha Desmond, a professor in the biology department at New Mexico State University (NMSU). Many carcasses have little remaining fat reserves or muscle mass, with some appearing to have nose-dived into the ground mid-flight.

“I collected over a dozen in just a two-mile stretch in front of my house,” said Desmond. “To see this and to be picking up these carcasses and realizing how widespread this is, is personally devastating. To see this many individuals and species dying is a national tragedy.”

Long-distance migrants flying south from tundra landscapes in Alaska and Canada pass over America’s southwest to reach winter grounds in Central and South America. During this migration it is crucial they land every few days to refuel before continuing their journey.

Historic wildfires across the Western states of the U.S. could mean they had to re-route their migration away from resource-rich coastal areas and move inland over the Chihuahuan desert, where food and water are scarce, essentially meaning they starved to death. “They’re literally just feathers and bones,” Allison Salas, a graduate student at NMSU who has been collecting carcasses, wrote in a Twitter thread about the die-off. “Almost as if they have been flying until they just couldn’t fly any more.”

The southwestern states of the U.S. have experienced extremely dry conditions – believed to be related to the climate crisis – meaning there could be fewer insects, the main food source for migrating birds. A cold snap locally between September 9 and 10 could have also worsened conditions for the birds.

Any of these weather events may have triggered birds to start their migration early, having not built up sufficient fat reserves. Another theory is that the smoke from the wildfires may have damaged their lungs. “It could be a combination of things. It could be something that’s still completely unknown to us,” said Salas.

“The volume of carcasses that we have found has literally given me chills.”

“The fact that we’re finding hundreds of these birds dying, just kind of falling out of the sky is extremely alarming … The volume of carcasses that we have found has literally given me chills.”

The first deaths were reported on August 20 on White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. Initially, incidents were thought to be unrelated, but thanks to online forums, ornithologists noticed that they were happening all across the region. Resident bird species such as curve-billed thrashers, great-tailed grackles and white-winged doves do not appear to have been affected.

Reports suggest some birds have been displaying unusual behavior before dying – becoming lethargic, approachable and congregating in groups. Species that normally rest in trees and shrubs have been seen hopping around on the ground looking for insects, said Desmond.

Large avian mortalities during migration are rare and few have been as large as this one. Records – which go back to the 1800s – show these events are always associated with extreme weather events such as a drop in temperature, snowstorm or hailstorm. The largest event on record in the region was a snowstorm in Minnesota and Iowa in March 1904 that killed 1.5 million birds.

The climate crisis is also changing the tundra landscape where many of these birds breed, while the destruction of rainforests in Central and South America is damaging their winter habitats. Since 1970, three billion birds have been lost in the U.S. and Canada. Mass die-offs such as this can have an effect on populations of both common and sensitive species. Salas said: “We’re kind of coming at them from all sides … if we don’t do anything to protect their habitat we’re going to lose large numbers of the populations of several species.

Carcasses are being sent to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service forensics laboratory in Oregon and National Wildlife Health Center in Wisconsin for testing, which is expected to take at least two weeks. Scientists are urging people in the area to log any sightings of dead birds on the citizen science website inaturalist.

Tristanna Bickford, the communications director at New Mexico department of Game and Fish, said it was a possibility that the climate crisis had affected the migration. “Until we get the actual reports back from the National Wildlife Health Center, we can’t say what is happening or is not happening,” she added.

Phoebe Weston is a biodiversity writer for the Guardian. Email High Country News at editor or submit a letter to the editor.

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