Evan Osnos

It was a day.

January 7, 2021

Impeach and remove.

25th Amendment.

January 6, 2021.

Hurt people hurt people.

Misinformed people hurt people.

Cruel leaders hurt people.

“So anyway, that’s why disinformation is dangerous.” -Brooke Binkowski






[Seane Corn]

We must try.

From The Nation:

“This is not America,” a woman said to a small group, her voice shaking. “They’re supposed to shoot BLM, but they’re shooting the patriots.”

LA Times/KUSI TV in San Diego:

The woman shot and killed [seven other people were injured] inside the U.S. Capitol Building during a violent pro-Trump siege Wednesday was an Ocean Beach resident, according to her extended family and media reports.

Her husband confirmed to KUSI that the woman, whose shooting was captured on video, was 35-year-old Ashli Elizabeth Babbitt, and said she was a 14-year Air Force veteran.

Her final post on Twitter:

“Nothing will stop us…they can try and try and try but the storm is here and it is descending upon DC in less that 24 hours…dark to light!”

From Richard Engel, NBC News Foreign Correspondent:

“Police seemed very chummy with the protestors (insurgents) who also seemed to know exactly where to go.”

From journalist Evan Osnos, The New Yorker:

“The moments that surprised me most were not the young thuggish types; that’s eternal. What made me wonder about the future of the country was the presence of the grandmothers.

As darkness approached, police fired a series of flash-bang grenades to shoo people down from the balconies and steps. A heavyset man in a white maga hat stood in a crosswalk, watching the crowd begin to move. He was happy. “They sent a message. That’s enough,” he said. He turned to walk away and added, “Of course, if we come back, it will be with a militia.”



Discussing social media and Capitol insurgence and attempted coup.

Clint Watts, former FBI special agent, and Roger McNamee, author of Zucked/Waking up to the Facebook Catastrophe.

Thread from Andrew Yang, Thursday, January 7th:

There are 3 problems with our media that are fueling polarization: 1. The closing of 2,000 local papers, which are typically not very partisan; 2. Cable news maximizing audience share by adopting political stances (Fox); and 3. Social media’s supercharging of conspiracy theories.

The easiest one to address is reopening local papers. There is a bill in Congress – the Local Journalism Sustainability Act from Rep. David Cicilline, Rhode Island, and others – that would help support thousands of local publications. Congress should pass it immediately.

For Cable News we should revive the Fairness Doctrine which the FCC had on the books until 1985 that required that you show both sides of a political issue. It was repealed by Reagan. If there was ever a time to bring it back it’s now.

The most difficult and important is to overhaul social media. We need federal data ownership legislation mirrored after the CPRA in California. There should be ad-free versions of every platform. Section 230 should be amended to not include content that is amplified by algorithm.

The basic problem is that social media creators and companies are rewarded for having more extreme and untrue content. The goal should be to change or balance the incentives. Tech, government, media and NGOs need to collaborate on this to support fact-supported journalism.

There is an opportunity here to support artists, musicians and creatives as well whose work right now the market is ignoring. One element of this ought to be a degree of support for those whose work tries to elevate and inform rather than divide and denigrate.

The big tech companies are essentially quasi-governments unto themselves at this point – the problem is their decisions are driven by maximizing ad revenue, user engagement and profit growth. That’s not the set of incentives you want when deciding what millions regard as truth.

Our government is hopelessly behind on tech. Legislators haven’t had guidance since 1995 when they got rid of the Office of Technology Assessment. The average Senator is 62. Speeches won’t do much against trillions of dollars of financial incentives.

Edward Snowden, President Freedom of the Press:

Never forget that the Freedom of the Press is the very first part of the Bill of Rights. If you’re out on the street claiming to defend the Constitution, the way you do that is by protecting reporters, not attacking them. Even if you hate the media, anything less is un-American.

Outside the Capitol (on Wednesday), Trump supporters took all the equipment from a news media crew (hearing it was AP) and are looking for ways to set it on fire.

Dialogue. And listen.

October 10, 2020

And lead.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg “knew the power of example—that if you live your own life according to your principles, others will follow,” writes her former clerk, Ryan Y. Park, Solicitor General of North Carolina.

The Atlantic

My Friend and Boss, Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Constructive journalism is a response to increasing tabloidization, sensationalism and negativity bias of the news media today.
Evan Osnos, staff writer at the New Yorker:

“A big deal in the revival of local news: Nonprofit Mountain State Spotlight

“Mountain Spotlight launched in #WV with local/national support, and some of the best journalists in Appalachia. This is interesting for anyone wondering how to repair our democracy.”


Dr. David Bohm:

“Dialogue is really aimed at going into the whole thought process and changing the way the thought process occurs collectively. We haven’t really paid much attention to thought as a process. We have engaged in thoughts, but we have only paid attention to the content, not to the process.

It is proposed that a form of free dialogue may well be one of the most effective ways of investigating the crisis which faces society, and indeed the whole of human nature and consciousness today. Moreover, it may turn out that such a form of free exchange of ideas and information is of fundamental relevance for transforming culture and freeing it of destructive misinformation, so that creativity can be liberated.”

Leah Garces:

The first lesson I learned is that we have to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. Only talking to people who agree with us, it’s not going to get us to the solution. We have to be willing to enter other people’s space. Because quite often, the enemy has the power to change the problem that we’re trying to solve.

The world’s smallest and biggest problems, they won’t be solved by beating down our enemies but by finding these win-win pathways together. It does require us to let go of that idea of us versus them and realize there’s only one us, all of us, against an unjust system. And it is difficult, and messy, and uncomfortable.

Seth Godin:

The arc and the arch.

They sound similar, but they’re not.

An arc, like an arch, is bent. The strength comes from that bend.

But the arc doesn’t have to be supported at both ends, and the arc is more flexible. The arc can take us to parts unknown, yet it has a trajectory.

An arch, on the other hand, is a solid structure. It’s a bridge that others have already walked over.

Our life is filled with both. We’re trained on arches, encouraged to seek them out.

But an arc, which comes from “arrow,” is the rare ability to take flight and to go further than you or others expected.


This story is from Strangers in Their Own Land by Arlie Hochschild.

‘For this book, the professor emerita of sociology immersed herself in the American political right wing. Over the course of five years, she regularly stayed in ultraconservative “Bayou Country” in Louisiana. She herself comes from lefter than left Berkeley, California. She couldn’t have left her bubble any further behind.

‘When left-wing sociologist Arlie Hochschild went to live in a right-wing stronghold in the American South, she was entering “enemy” territory.

But, by listening to the people there – instead of arguing against them – she distilled a clear picture: right-wing Trump supporters felt like victims of a society that had left them behind.

In an era where debate has descended into a televised shouting match, it’s easy to feel like you’re at war with people who disagree with you.

But Hochschild learned that by laying down our arms and trying to understand, even empathise with, our political opponents, we can learn how to have constructive political conversations.’

You don’t have to agree with political opponents to understand where they’re coming from

‘Having a heart-to-heart conversation with an ideological opponent can feel uncomfortable – unsafe even. But sociologist Arlie Hochschild proves that it pays off. She immersed herself in a conservative stronghold in the Southern United States for five years and wrote a book about it.’

Not everyone agrees with this approach, Hochschild said during a 2016 interview with Ezra Klein. It can feel as though you’re surrendering, laying down your weapons and walking over to the enemy. But, she says:

Whether it’s about corona, climate or benefits, let’s carry out these diplomatic missions more often. That doesn’t mean you have to agree with each other, but at least you’re making a genuine attempt to understand the other person.’


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