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E-Pluribus | August 11, 2021
Climate change is changing journalism, the American Booksellers Associates is apologizing... again, and trusting the American public to understand news.
A round up of the latest and best writing and musings on the rise of illiberalism in the public discourse:
Gerard Baker: Climate Change Has Consumed Journalistic Standards
At the Wall Street Journal, Gerard Baker bemoans the decline of just-the-facts journalism, largely blaming climate change for initiating the trend. One need not believe that some of the major issues of the day (climate, race, voting rights, Covid) are simply ginned up crises to object to the moralizing and preening that accompanies too much of the reporting on these subjects.
My concern is with the way these topics are now almost universally reported by the news media. “Reported” is a misnomer. They aren’t facts; they are sacred revealed truths, unchallengeable arguments invested with epistemic certainty and moral clarity.
Journalism is no longer about trying to tell us what happened; it’s about telling us what we must believe, on pain of moral peril. On every major topic—climate, Covid, race relations, electoral law—almost every story blares out at us with censorious didacticism, the journalist’s smug disdain for the unbelievers pouring through the prose.
News stories are not really covered in the old sense these days. The editors and reporters simply cull from the innumerable events around them those that fit the prevailing narrative and make sure they include a healthy dose of moral prescription.
Read it all.
Caroline Downey: American Booksellers Association Apologizes for Accidentally Promoting Candace Owens Book
Not long after an incident involving Abigail Shrier’s book Irreversible Damage (see item #1 under “Around Twitter” on July 15th), the American Booksellers Association is back at it. Caroline Downey reports at National Review about the “horrified” reaction of some at the ABA to seeing an image of the cover of Candace Owens’s recent book accidentally used in place of a book with the same name in a recent mailing. While the ABA is free to promote or ignore whatever books it wishes, the over-the-top reactions in both incidents by full grown adults is not a trivial matter.
Hill’s statement followed an official inquiry into the episode and an audit of all ABA procedures and programs in collaboration with the organization’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee.
“The employees are very apologetic and very committed to vigilance going forward. They have been held accountable and have agreed to training, both on procedures as well as on DEI, and we have added layers of checks and balances to this process,” she continued.
Coinciding with the time of the Blackout mistake was another event in which Abigail Shrier’s Irreversible Damage was included in a box mailing to 750 eligible bookstores, eliciting outrage from ABA leaders and members. In her Monday apology, Hill also clarified the details around that book’s shipment, which an earlier ABA statement called a “serious, violent incident.”
Hill said that many members expressed to her that they still value having autonomy over book choices, “despite being horrified by this book.” She added that the ABA Board of Directors may implement a new permanent policy to prevent the kind of injurious oversight that let Owens’s book slip through the cracks.
Read the whole thing.
Robby Soave: COVID-19 Is Probably 99% Survivable for Most Age Groups, but PolitiFact Rated This False
The past 18 months has surely seen its share of Covid misinformation, but Robby Soave of Reason writes that even accurate information is being tarred as false if self-appointed fact-checkers believe the public is not clever enough to interpret the way the information is presented.
[T]he suggestion that a person can't make any reasonable guesses about his own likelihood of surviving COVID-19 given his age group and health status is misleading. Just 300 Americans under the age of 18 have died from COVID-19. Young people can and should infer that they have a high degree of natural immunity against a severe coronavirus health outcome. Policy makers can and should use this information productively: i.e., by reopening schools this fall with minimum restrictions in place.
It often seems like the mainstream media reporters, federal health experts, and policy makers who form Team Blue are so concerned about people taking the pandemic insufficiently seriously that they resort to needless fearmongering. For another example of this, see a recent New York Times headline about long COVID-19 titled "This Is Really Scary," which makes the as-of-yet completely unsupported claim that even mild infections are causing very serious "mental, physical, and neurological symptoms" in "many" children.
Read it all.
Via Zaid Jilani and the Foundation Against Intolerance & Racism (FAIR), segregation makes a comeback at one Atlanta school:
A thread (click through for the whole thing) from Matthew Green (teaches cryptography at Johns Hopkins) about Apple’s recent announcement that they would begin preemptively scanning iPhones for child pronography:
Will Saletan on the need to stand against corruption regardless of the party or ideology of the perpetrator:
And finally, the fight over Critical Race Theory in education and the government’s role in determining classroom content hits a divided US Senate: