Editors’ Blog

A Proposal for Saving Some Publications that are Worth Saving

Today I got an email from a publication you know the name of telling me that they’re very excited to announce that they’re starting a membership program. They’ve already been taking contributions for a number of years despite being owned by two megacorporations and having a history as an aggressively funded VC start up. This isn’t a publication I tend to read often, but it’s one many people do. And they employ lots of first-rate journalists.

(They addressed me as a former contributor, which I’m pretty much certain isn’t accurate. Which suggests some of the slapdashedness of the pivot to membership and doesn’t bode well for the corporate overlords’ patience with this new direction.)

But it suggested to me a small policy idea that could be a part of the solution to some current woes of the journalism industry. It’s no silver bullet. And there other policy ideas people are backing. But here’s mine.

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A Very Important Poll Detail Prime Badge
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I want to commend to your attention this article from Nate Cohn at the Times. It looks at the weak point for the NYT-Siena poll, and, indeed, many other polls this election cycle. In short, Donald Trump’s current lead is heavily focused on people who didn’t vote in 2020 and tend not to vote in general. They tend not to follow politics closely or pay much attention to traditional news sources. This isn’t new to our discussion. It’s sort of the internal anatomy of the gap between polls of registered voters and likely voters.

This is a fairly big deal. It has always struck me as inherently unlikely that what many suspect will be a relatively low turnout election (relative to recent cycles) will be determined by voters who tend not to vote and didn’t vote in 2020 — voters who, in this election, are supporting Trump in greater numbers. It’s not impossible. But it’s hard to figure. And this is what Trump’s current lead in most polls is based on. To be clear, this isn’t some hidden defect in the NYT-Siena poll or Cohn’s earlier logic. He’s discussed this issue throughout. And this article today focuses on it.

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First Arrest in UCLA Overnight Encampment Attack

We have our first arrest tied to the vigilante attacks on the UCLA Gaza encampment on April 30th. In some ways it illustrates how slow and incremental the process has been. The arrestee is an 18-year-old high schooler named Edan On. He appears to be either Israeli or Israeli-American. I base this in part on his name but more on the fact that his identity was originally uncovered in part by his mother’s boasting about his role in the attack in Hebrew on Facebook. (Many American Jews know some Hebrew, or even a lot of Hebrew. But they don’t tend to use it as a casual posting language on social media unless they’re from Israel or have a family background in Israel.)

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They’ve Got a Plan?

Below I noted that one obvious way to steal the election for Republicans, if we have a 270-268 Biden win, is to reallocated Biden’s (probable) Nebraska elector to Trump. But TPM Readers ED and JP noted that when Republicans tried to change the law in advance, Maine Democrats made clear they’d do the same to even the score. I didn’t realize they’d been so public about it. But it’s very good that they did. Changing the law in advance is very different from illegally doing it after the fact. But this gives me some confidence that if Nebraska Republicans tried this and got SCOTUS to say it was okay then Maine would say “count us in too.” As they should. Still worth keeping an eye on. But this gives me a bit more peace of mind.

Okay, This Is Worth Worrying About Prime Badge
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I’ve had various readers tell me that I’m saying people shouldn’t be worried about the presidential election. That’s not true at all. I want people to have a realistic sense of the situation and I want people, for lack of a better word, to worry productively. But along these lines, I wanted to mention something that legit worries me. I think we all know that there’s a high likelihood of post-election shenanigans and potentially things much worse than shenanigans, especially if Joe Biden wins but wins narrowly. But there’s one scenario that particularly has my attention.

Let me walk you through it.

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Cricket’s Poll Numbers Surge in South Dakota as Voters Give Noem Big Thumbs Down

Gov. Kristi Noem has reacted to most of the criticism she’s received for executing her dog Cricket and lying about a meeting with North Korea’s paramount leader Kim Jung Un by saying city folk just don’t know the rural folkways of South Dakota. But it turns out Noem’s dog murdering ways are taking a toll on her support in South Dakota too. A new poll shows her job approval has dipped significantly since the Cricket imbroglio, now only just over 50% (52.2%). That’s down from an April poll which had her at 59%. And her favorability rating — which looks at personal qualities rather than job performance — is clearly in negative territory. 48% unfavorable and only 38.6% favorable.

And then there’s the big question: Was Noem justified in shooting cricket in the face just because the dog was a bit of a spaz and didn’t turn in a good performance on her first hunting outing?

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Durbin Having a Caffeinated Beverage? Possibly?

Press release just out from Durbin’s office tonight …


Durbin also called for the passage of the SCERT Act, legislation that requires Supreme Court justices to adopt a binding code of ethics

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Will Google Eat Everything?

You may have noticed that we have a series of new controversies or set pieces in the ongoing public conversation about AI. One of them has to do with Google search. Google recently rolled out, or in some regions is in the process of rolling out, a new AI-enabled version of search. You may have seen it already without noticing it was something new. On some searches you’ll now see that the top of your search has text under a small rubric that says “AI Overview.” This is potentially a very big deal for search and the whole ecosystem of the web.

Search, which has been dominated by Google for more than 20 years, has long been ruled by a mutually beneficial exchange between Google and websites. Google makes huge profits by running ads against its search results. It also copies small portions of other sites’ text and photographs under its theory of fair use. The justification for the profit and its use of sites’ content is that Google makes the web navigable, and it can send massive audiences to the sites that make up the web. In the first years of this century, various rights holders contested aspects of Google’s fair use policies. But they tended to lose those challenges and it became largely accepted that search, very much part of the open web, was actually good for the indexed websites.

In principle, at least, this understanding came to undergird the successful fair use arguments. Broadly, fair use says you can reproduce limited portions of a rights holder’s content if you don’t damage their ability to make money from it.

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Clarifying Polls Prime Badge
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We have a new set of swing state polls out this morning from Bloomberg/Morning Consult. They show a number of things, which we’ll get to in a moment. But at a meta or media amplification level they also help us again see the massive megaphone tied to the NYT/Siena poll, notwithstanding the fact that its results were questionable in the 2022 cycle and have been big (Trump-favorable) outliers for much of this cycle. There are lots of polls. But the NYT-Siena poll’s outsized impact on news headlines extends even beyond the Times own brand and reach.

So let’s look at this new set of polls.

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Low Energy, Part 2 Prime Badge
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Let me follow up about the comment TPM Reader HS got when she called the office of her state’s senior senator, Alex Padilla. She called insisting there should be some kind of investigation into the Justice Alito flag controversy. When HS got through to Padilla’s office on the second try, a staffer told her they hadn’t yet been briefed yet on whether Padilla had a position on the issue. In response to that piece, another reader pointed me to this article from this morning in Politico.

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