Argentina, whether news is pointless, and the trouble with the long-term
Happy Black Friday! I hope you find discounts that bring joy to your life and help reduce the rate of inflation. But if you’re trying to get your holiday shopping done early, there’s really no better gift than the gift of content.
It’s a busy week with lots of travel, so I’m going to keep this intro short and sweet. Onward to the questions.
TheElasticStranger: I find the NYtimes to be irritatingly negative in their coverage of Biden. At the same time much of their other coverage and opinion could be viewed as annoyingly left-leaning.
I understand the structural reasons for this as you’ve laid out before, so I’ll just ask, If your aim was to stop Donald Trump from being elected, and your only instrument wasthe NYtimes, how would you change the coverage vs how it is presently structured for maximum impact? Obviously they could be more positive, but you don’t want to be obvious shills either, and it seems to me they could try broadening their audience to include more moderate voters as well.
Abstracting away a bit from the specifics of the New York Times, I think the key to building an optimal propaganda organ is you really want the content to be incredible normie and down-the-middle.
You want a publication that appeals, fundamentally, to moderate and center-right readers. That means really looking incredibly rigorously at your not-so-political content — movie and book reviews, cooking, science, etc. — to studiously excise any hint of bias or anything that would be off-putting to people with conservative sensibilities. Then you want to basically just ignore any story that is primarily about intra-Dem infighting and do a lot of coverage of any story that generates intra-GOP infighting. And in the specific context of the 2024 race, you want to have lots of articles about abortion rights and health care, with plenty of scrutiny of Trump’s policy positions. You’d want articles where frontline Republicans hand-wring about whether Trump’s legal problems will sink them. You’d want stories in which businessmen say “I’m a 100 percent Republican, but these tariffs will make inflation worse.”
Mainstream media tends to do roughly the opposite, letting demographic factors pull the broad tone of their coverage to the left in a way that alienates center-right readers, but keeping their actual coverage of American partisan politics studiously down the middle.
Just some guy: So uhh... Argentina. How do you see that all playing out?
I don’t really have a handle on Javier Milei, who keeps getting shorthanded in the media as a radical libertarian and also as an Argentinian Trump.
This is maybe my small-minded literalism, but whenever I think about this situation, my brain keeps tripping over the fact that these descriptions are wildly at odds with each other.