It used to be that Democrats would view Fox News with a mixture of disdain and awe. Disdain for the channel's casual relationship with the facts, and its GOP-line-toeing under the motto "Fair and Balanced"; awe at its megaphonic ability to spread its feverish narrative to a huge audience that is deathly serious about politics and shows up at the polls.
But in the last election it became apparent that Fox News may be doing the Republican Party more harm than good, casting the entire party as insular, intolerant, and more than a little crazy. At least that is one of the themes of The Loudest Voice in the Room, Gabriel Sherman's book about Fox head Roger Ailes, which was reviewed by Steve Coll in the latest issue of The New York Review of Books. As Coll writes:
Here lies the problem in the alliance between Fox News and the Republican Party that Ailes has constructed. Fox owes its degree of profitability in part to its most passionate, even extremist, audience segment. To win national elections, the Grand Old Party, on the other hand, must win over moderate, racially diverse, and independent voters. By their very diversity and middling views, swing voters are not easy to target on television. The sort of news-talk programming most likely to attract a broad and moderate audience — hard news, weather news, crime news, sports, and perhaps a smattering of left–right debate formats — is essentially the CNN formula, which Fox has already rejected triumphantly. [New York Review of Books]
It's common for people to describe Fox News as being an arm of the Republican Party. But with the 2016 race starting to take shape, and the network doubling down on its reputation as the channel of old white men, it might more accurately be described as a huge thorn in the GOP's side. Ryu Spaeth
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced executive orders Saturday intended to ban LGBT conversion therapy in the state, BuzzFeed News reports.
Both public and private insurers are banned from reimbursing the therapy, which aims to change a person's sexual orientation or gender identity, for minors. And facilities funded, licensed, or operated by New York will not be allowed to offer conversion therapy to minors.
"We will not allow the misguided and the intolerant to punish LGBT young people for simply being who they are," Cuomo said in a statement.
Don't panic, but Twitter might shake up your reverse chronological feed as soon as next week, BuzzFeed News reported Friday. They're already testing a new feature — an algorithm designed to put tweets you want to see near the top of your feed — with a small number of users.
There's reason to believe the switch, which would look a lot like your Facebook feed's out-of-order posts, will be optional:
Sources at Twitter tell me algorithms are strictly opt in.
— Josh Sternberg (@joshsternberg) February 6, 2016
Twitter declined to comment on feed changes. Julie Kliegman
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) is in the middle of dealing with a crisis in Flint, where lead pipes have contaminated the drinking water. While addressing a grave concern in an impoverished city, Snyder celebrated his wife's birthday with quite an upscale-looking cake from an Ann Arbor bakery, MLive reports:
— Liz Day (@LizDDay) February 6, 2016
Interesting choice of optics. Julie Kliegman
MSNBC pundit Melissa Harris-Perry called out the Democratic Party on Saturday for a lack of diversity in an "anemic" candidate pool.
"I would argue that for me, Thursday night, watching Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders — we are in New Hampshire — and our party is so anemic. We are down to two candidates, right?" Harris-Perry said. "Say what you want to say about the mad house going on on the Republican side."
For Harris-Perry, the primary field bears some resemblance to a certain other much talked about national event: "It's whiter than the Oscars up in here." Julie Kliegman
You may or may not be excited for football, but chances are you're pretty amped about the food associated with Super Bowl Sunday.
Here are some striking numbers courtesy of ABC News regarding what U.S. viewers are expected to wolf down as the Denver Broncos face the Carolina Panthers:
12 million — Americans watching from restaurants and bars
48 million — takeout and deliver orders
139.4 million — pounds of avocados
1.3 billion — chicken wings, a 3 percent increase over 2015
$15.5 billion — total Super Bowl spending
Happy eating. Julie Kliegman
Saturday would've marked Babe Ruth's 121st birthday. To honor The Great Bambino, relive the glory of his first-ever New York Times profile. It's from way back in 1915, and it has some real gems:
— NYT Archives (@NYTArchives) February 6, 2016
The paper of record described the soon-to-be-record-setting slugger as "peculiar" and "built like a bale of cotton."
"What the Yanks evidently need are some peculiar left-handed pitchers," the profile went on to say, to counter Ruth, who then pitched for the rival Boston Red Sox.
Either that, or perhaps they just needed to make the trade of the century. Julie Kliegman
As the Syrian government works to cut off Aleppo's rebel supply route from Turkey, foreign intervention is not welcome, Foreign Minister Walid-al-Moallem warned Saturday, The Associated Press reports.
"Any ground intervention in Syria without the consent of the Syrian government will be considered an aggression that should be resisted by every Syrian citizen," he said. "I regret to say that they will return home in wooden coffins."
Saudi Arabia recently said it would send troops as part of a U.S.-led coalition to fight Islamic State extremists, who control parts of Syria. The United Nations suspended peace talks Wednesday as conflict near Aleppo ramped up. Julie Kliegman