Plain English with Derek Thompson - Media Report Card! Biden Blues, Omicron Fears, Chris Cuomo, and a Celebrity Profile for the Ages


Today, I want to talk about the media.

We’re going to play a little game media report card on the Press coverage of Joe Biden Omicron, fears, Chris, Cuomo, and a celebrity profile for the ages.

I want media criticism to be a part of this show.


I think it’s important to hold my fellow journalists to account just as I hope, they hold me to account.

But first, I want to do a quick schpiel on the media.

The most common question that I get as a journalist is some variation of Y is the Media so X, so liberal, so boring.


So just - and I want to tell them all the media does not exist.

I’m not trying to be weird here.

This isn’t a conspiracy theory.

I’m not saying you’re like, in The Matrix, I’m saying the media is a singular noun.


He’s not a thing.

The media is 100,000 different newspapers, magazines, websites TV shows.

YouTube shows podcast Twitter accounts, newsletters for every, New York.


There’s a Fox News and for every traditional Brooklyn journalists.

There is a YouTube conspiracy theorists out there.


And if you describe all these things with one adjective, you are going to say something extremely wrong.

Like I sometimes compare it to treating food as a singular.


If someone told you in and, you know, food is too spicy.

You’re like what, what kind of note, dude?



Food is too spicy.

You like Mexican tie.

No, dude, food is Despite like this is obviously a natural conversation, but it’s no more absurd than the conversation that I have with non journalists about the world of media.

The media singular is not a thing.


In fact, if you want to understand the media ecosystem, like really understand all of its problems and all of its riotous diversity.

The word you need to.

Keep top of mind is competition.

There is so much stuff out there, and it’s all fighting for the same finite amount of attention.


The media is a gaggle of people and institutions scrapping, not just for clicks, not just for audience, but for an identity and identity that says they’re all wrong and come to me for the truth.

I’m Derek Thompson.


This is plain English.


Today’s guest is Brian Curtis.

Brian is the co-host of the Press Box and the ringer podcast Network.

It is an honor to have him stop by Brian.

Welcome to the podcast.

How are you Derek?

I’m great.

It’s so wonderful to have you on the show.

So today, we are inaugurating a new feature on plain English.


It’s called the media report card.

This is where media people engaged in a vanishingly rare activity.

That is talked about the media and I am here with the expert of that subject.

I have learned so much from your show.

The Press Box.

I’ve studied at your feet and I will Jokes Aside.


I’m just really so excited to have you on the show.

It’s a real honor.

You’re very nice.

There is a little bit of a Spider-Man, pointing at Spider-Man, element to all media report card and to you and I talking to each other here, but we’ll just go through with it.

I think it’s a good idea.

Okay, so the rules.


Of media report card.

Our number one.

We’re going to be as specific as possible.

The media is a singular does not exist.

It’s a riotous combination of Institutions and individuals, many of whom hate each other.

So, don’t try to describe the whole thing in one adjective because we will fail.

And number two.


This is a pass/fail system.

The goal is to determine whether the media as we Define.

It is passing or failing, its test to inform the public and Report.

The truth, Brian.

I have my red pen and professorial cardigan ready.

Shall We Begin?

Let’s do it issue.


One is the center to Center left media, being too mean to Joe Biden.

So recently Dana Milbank a Washington Post reporter published instantly viral op-ed.

The headline was the media treats Biden as badly as or worse than Trump.


Here’s proof.

He writes, quote, my colleagues in the media are serving as accessories to the murder of democracy, after a honeymoon of slightly positive coverage in the first three months of the year.

Biden’s press for the past four months has been about as bad and for a Time worse than the coverage Trump received for the same four months of 2020.


And its analysis is served up alongside what’s called a sentiment analysis.

That’s basically an algorithm and AI.

The process is a bunch of news articles gives weights to certain words to determine how bad the article is.

So that the analysis has sort of the, the imprimatur of AI science.



What is your take here?

I think.

Milbank is totally wrong.

And without even looking at his data analytics.

Let’s, let’s do what you say and sort of try to figure out.

Not talk about the media.

But talk about specific parts of the media.

Let’s look at the New York Times And The Washington Post you.


And I, at least, look at those two Publications everyday, and I think if you looked at them last year, they were treating Donald Trump as a very unique threat to democracy for almost all of the last year buried in that newspaper.

He’s was, this is a bad bad thing going on here, folks, there is A big, big crisis happening in America.


Now, if we pick up those papers today and read what they are writing about Joe Biden, they might be reporting about Joe Biden.

They might be revealing things that Joe Biden doesn’t want them to reveal, but the tone is not the same.


And they are not saying things that are worse.

Quote-unquote about Joe, Biden or treating him worse, quote-unquote than they were treating Donald Trump, and I just don’t quite understand the I think the analysis exist somewhere between dubious and completely bullshit, like sentiment analysis.


Just isn’t very good.

AI doesn’t have ears.

It does.

It can’t determine the exact difference between certain sentences that actually are completely opposite.

So here are two sentences that I should’ve picked a road at random.

Number one, Joe Biden has failed to stop the spread of Delta despite his best efforts.


Number two.

Donald Trump has failed to up.

Uphold basic standards of human decency.

Okay, both of those sentences have the word fail in them.

So if you’re a dumb Ai and you read both sentences and you are trained to just pick up verbs, you’re like wow, both of these sentences have the same main verb, but they’re not the same sentence.


Like the first accused Joe Biden of reacting in a sub optimal way to a global pandemic and the second accused, Donald Trump of being something close to subhuman.

Those aren’t the same.

Idea, like where I do give the press a failing grade and I’m interested in your, your opinion of this is.


I think we do treat presidents as if they control everything in a world in which they don’t like people are Furious about gas prices and I get that, but Biden doesn’t set gas prices.

He doesn’t have a remote control for gas prices, and the media should probably do a better job of saying like, hey, gas prices.

Those are actually set by global market supply and demand over, which the president has limited control.


So, Biden is overseeing presiding over an economy in which gas Prices are going up but it’s not his fault.

They could do a better job.

I think of disentangling.

What is happening versus what Biden can control, but this idea that Joe Biden is being treated the same as Donald Trump across the Washington Post and New York Times, even the politicos which had been somewhat mean to the Biden White House.


I just don’t buy it at all.

Yeah, and I think if you had a complaint about the media, quote unquote, or maybe even the newspapers are Politico.

It’s a little bit different or at least mine would be a little bit different.

It’s that okay.

Your tree, you treated Donald Trump has unique threat to democracy.


The media learned, things about politics, and we may be marginally, maybe learned it here and there, but they sort of learned things about how politics works, then, Joe Biden, becomes president and for me to read it now, it reads, like, you’re covering him totally like a normal president.

You’ve actually gone back to the old ways of covering presidents, which can be good.


But it can also be really, really trivial, right?

We’ve been reading lots of articles about Kamala Harris, has staff for the last week.

Some of them are probably important.

Some of them probably So, the whole, the whole notion of me is actually that you are treating them completely differently, right?

And you are not, you haven’t learned the lessons of the Trump ehre.


I would also say this interested in your thoughts on this.

If the media thought that the biggest story of the end of the Trump regime was threats to democracy.

That’s still a big story, right?

As Trump’s Allies try to take over the machinery and the state’s, I saw David producer who’s running for governor of Georgia in 2022 saying, I want to certify the election, which was fair and legal in 2020.


So, So you could probably say, well, shouldn’t you be elevating those stories over more banal, intrigues of the Biden White House?

Shouldn’t you just stay with that story which they’ve done in many many cases?


It’s easy to complain.

But so maybe that’s the critique here, the data milbank’s trying to get at.


I think it’s a very, very fair point.

I want to put what I think is the sensible version of The Dana Milbank.

Critique alongside what I just said, which is that I think his actual analysis is probably wrong.

I think that Journalism is in a strange moment because we are forced to assess the performance of two presidents.


One of whom is completely within the realm of historical normalcy, and the other is completely outside of that realm.

So it’s a little bit hard to like, use the same instruments to assess the Trump presidency versus the Biden presidency.


And I think a lot of people are still trying to figure out.

How do we like hold the powerful to account in the Biden, White House?

While at the same time making clear that there is an external threat possibly to the democratic system?


That’s coming from someone who currently holds, no Presidential Power, who’s Donald Trump.

And his power is sort of, you know, almost Bengali power that he has over the Republican party.

I think it’s very very difficult to do.

I’m not sure that we’re doing a perfect job of it.

In fact, I think we’re all often doing an imperfect job of it.


But I think that’s very, very different than saying that the quality of coverage of Joe Biden is, is more negative than it is of present.

Donald Trump that just completely fails the sniff test to me.

I agree.

And it’s almost a whiplash, isn’t it?

Just the way, the two different presidencies and then seeing the media in the context of the, two different presidencies.




Like the media always has As a negativity bias.

This is not a new idea if it bleeds it leads, right?

And so, it’s all a lot of people, sort of blaming the media’s negativity bias for Biden’s, decline in approval, which has been fairly dramatic of the last few months.


But my response to, that is, like, blaming Joe Biden’s approval decline on media negativity.

Bias is like, saying I tripped and fell and cracked my tooth because of gravity, like, you’re blaming the universal constant for an acute phenomenon.

The media is always negative.


The media is 0.

Always attacking the president because it knows that a tax on people in power tend to get a lot of coverage.

That, that is a, that is it a long-term?

Just that’s just the way the media is.

And I think it’s probably better for the media to, you know, afflict the comfortable and comfort The Afflicted rather than the opposite, but I can see how to be slightly.


Nice to the Dana.

Millbank Point.

I can see how it can be difficult.

Alt to scrutinize the Biden White House, while at the same time, paying equal attention to the the fear of trump, the further step into the Funhouse here.

You’ll remember too that the conservative critique or conservative media critique was that reporters were going to lay up once Biden got into the White House.


That’s right there.

Where that coronavirus was going to end.

They were going to stop covering which as you say, misunderstands everything about the incentives reporters have at Major Publications to get ahead and get promoted in this day on really big beats.

They want to break news.

I want to report critically.



So it is a really really weird situation.

We find ourselves in.


So if I’m giving a pass fail grade to the Dana Milbank piece, I’m giving the Dana Milbank Pisa fail.

And if I’m giving a pass fail grade to General media coverage of the Biden presidency.

I’m giving it.

I’m giving it essentially a push something in the middle.


I think that, I think we’ve, I think the Press is over attributed, the problems of the economy, and the problems have Delta 2, 2 Biden, but at the same time I want immediately ecosystem, that is scrutinizing.

People in power rather than Than saying there’s some other threat that’s worse than the than what people in the White House are doing.


And so I’m going to, I’m going s to sandbag a little bit.

How do you feel?


It’s like when the teacher passes you, but sends a note home to your parents.

They’re not have some concerns.

I have a passing grade, but I have a few concerns.

That’s where I obviously approach here because you’re even better at the pass/fail stick than I am.

Okay, it’s you never to covid and Omicron.


The other crime news is so interesting because it’s a very clear case where I think Readers and viewers and listeners are overloaded with information and under served with meaning.

It’s like a zillion factoids and not a lot of.


So what and you had an Diamond.

Great reporter for the Washington Post on your podcast last week to talk about his approach to Omicron coverage and how he thinks the media is doing.

How do you think the media that you consume is doing with the Omicron variant?


It’s really complicated right because the media Huh.

In this case and again, talking very broadly doesn’t have the answer to the money question.

We want at this moment, you know, we have news about Pfizer today, we have clues about Omicron, but we don’t have the answer to the big question which is so how bad is Omicron going to be and in what way, what particular way is it going to be bad?


So, it’s a really weird story to cover.

I saw Charlie Wars will compare this to a tropical depression the other day, which is, you know, on cable news where everybody puts the rain slickers on and gets on the beach and go, it’s coming.

It’s coming.

We don’t know if it’s going to be the worst hurricane ever.

We don’t even know it’s going to be a hurricane at all.


But it’s coming that thing over there.

Yes, we can see it.

And I when I read the coverage, I think that’s that’s a perfect metaphor because everybody is and the responsible news outlets are straining to say, yes, but yes, but we think this we don’t know that.


So it is hard to find something very clear cut, but I wonder is that just where we are with Omicron and that’s not a, you know, failure among reporters eye.

I think, first of all, I love the Charlie metaphor.

I think that’s great.

Charlie Wright’s newsletter for the Atlantic.

I think especially great because, you know, when that guy is standing on the beach and point of the sky, the sky is always dark.


It’s a little bit windy and it’s raining and that could be a Prelude to a category 1, a category 0 or a category five.

And and to a certain extent that’s where we were with Omicron especially week ago.

I think it goes even like a level deeper toward how people think about journalism.


Like I said, I was here people say The media should just report the truth.

Why don’t you guys just report the truth?

And they’ll sometimes use this metaphor of like when it’s raining say it’s raining and when it’s sunny, say it’s sunny and like, look a lot of media sources really are total pieces of shit, very ideological team.


Picking if my enemies say it then it’s wrong.

Their outrage mongers.

A lot of them are bad.

But so much of the time reasonable journalists, get things wrong.

Not because the world is has like Clear people because the world doesn’t have a clear window looking out into the sunlight in the rain, like most the time, the truth requires us to be like a person who’s in a dark cell looking up at the tiny window at the top of the wall, like just straining our necks and trying to see an incomplete picture out of that little tiny, you know, plate of glass.


So like here’s a fun fact about Omicron, not a fun fact that affect Mama cries because bringing fuss about, it’s a hopeful.

So Omicron seems to be associated with less.

Severe illness and fewer ICU admissions in South Africa and that is absolutely reason for hope.


We did not know this.

The first day we all heard about it is Reason for Hope, but doesn’t mean I’m a con is less severe.

Does it mean that elderly vaccine the Americans have nothing to worry about?

No, we just, don’t know.

So this idea, people have about, like, look out the window, tell me if it’s raining.



That’s not how the world works.

It doesn’t appear to us as rain or Sunshine.

Can I ask you a question?

And this is fascinated me.

Do you prefer?

Read about something like Omicron in the form of an old-fashioned news article or in a more newfangled newsletter e, explainer unpack what you mean by old-fashioned article and and newsletter explainer just for people who don’t get the distinction.


So we mentioned and I’m of the Washington Post when they did their first major article about Omicron, the other day was paragraph after paragraph.

Quoting experts going over the evidence so far.

I made fun of Dan because he has money quote was actually in the thirty first paragraph of the We are being as responsible as humanly possible to present the information in a little bit of a dryer form.


No offense to anybody, but this is again, it’s, you know, fact.

Fact fact, fact, rather than a more personalized explainer in a newsletter, like David Lee and hearts writing for the New York Times, we say, hey buddy, grabbing you by a little lapels.

Here’s the news.

Here’s what it means to you.


Which of those do you like better?

I’m gonna offer a pathetic squishy synthesis.

I Sandwiches.

I like giving me the upshot up top.

If I have 5 Seconds, giving me a longer up shot at the bottom.


If I have 30 seconds and giving me the full context in the middle, right?

Executive summary long, detailed nitty-gritty analysis, final up shot.


So the, the the nitty-gritty, the complexity, the data, the Since the raw data without interpretation, that’s that’s the that’s the stuffing in my Oreo that I want, right?


And sometimes I’ll want that.

Sometimes I’ll have time for the stuffing but a lot of times like I just have five minutes or if she’s made just have five seconds.

And this is true of a lot of people like, in my own writing.

I try to be very sensitive to the fact that people have a wide diversity of time and interest in my subject.


When I wrote a book.

I I joked that books have to pass.

The broken elevator test and that means you need to be able to explain the book in five seconds in an elevator pitch, but if the elevator breaks and you’re stuck in there for seven hours, the book needs to be entertaining for 7 hours.


That’s like the length of a book on tape.

She liked the book and the book has to pass the broken elevator test and I think that that complicated articles have to pass a certain broken elevator test as well.

What do you think?

What’s your preference?

Well, I think one thing that it came up in the conversation with Dan is that is Omicron in the coronavirus, generally the best subject.


To explain her away.

Now, we’ve got to do some of it.

You’re doing it going to do some of your podcast David and I’ll do a lesser extent aren’t podcast will be newsletters.

But have we reached a subject that if somebody is not as conversant?

Let’s say with public health that that’s really the best way to understand it.


Yeah, or is it complicated enough and changing enough and bewildering enough?

Even to Public Health officials that there is a limit to the whole explainer way.

Of viewing the world.

So this is extremely apropos about 35 seconds ago.


I now see my article went up at the Atlantic called, here’s everything.

I think I know about Omicron and physician heal thyself, and and I try to do a sandwich.

I tried to explain up top of them doing having up shot at the bottom and work through the nitty-gritty in the middle.


And the reason again, I think it’s really important to offer people.

Quick up shots that are oversimplifications, right?

All simplifications are oversimplifications.

But the reason I think it’s important to do that.

Is that like people need to make decisions.


Now, they are whether or not they re David or Dan or you or me, they’re going to make decisions about travel and school and weddings and funerals and holidays.

And they’re making those decisions in the face of imperfect information.

So if we don’t give any kind of upshot, if we don’t give any Kind of simplified synthesis of what the informed opinion is of the writer, who spent all this time, in the minds of Omicron information.


I think we’re under serving our readership because we’re not, it’s, we’re not doing that last bit of service of essentially, like acting as a friend.

If a friend asked me, should I go see my grandmother?

I’d probably give advice.

So why would I give advice to a friend and not to readers?


I don’t understand that that distinction.

So that’s why in my work.

Even when I’m uncertain, I do.

Do my best to come to a conclusion?

Yeah, even in the face of the most bewildering possible news story, which this actually might be released on the medal stand.


So I mean, I’m going to give the media that I consume Washington Post.


New York Times, CNN Atlantic, which I think, frankly not the Atlantic but a lot of the others have done a scattershot job of coverage during the pandemic.

I’m going to give us a rare pass on Omicron.

I think the level of cautions been appropriate.

I think the level of of jesting has been appropriate.


I the level of constrained.

Hope is a little bit appropriate for people who Actually added in for people who have boosters because to give my own upshot, the data on severe illness, for people who are vaccinated, and especially people who are boosted is a lot more hopeful than we thought it would be.


I think, a week ago and that’s important.

It’s still critical that we’ve actually the rest of the world, but a lot of people reading me, have two shots in them, maybe even three.

And, and, and that’s an important thing to share.

So are you, are you past failure or push on the media coverage that you’ve that you’ve And also passing grade on this and I think most of the people even the people reporting on it would agree that they’ve gotten better and better at writing about this over the course of the last now, almost two years.


So it’s one of its the media covers.

It’s not only passing, but I think it’s improving probably with every month or two.

I agree with that.

Yeah, we’re developing muscle memory about dealing with uncertainty and dealing with epidemiological uncertainty and that’s a good point.

All right issue, 3.

Chris Cuomo.


The most watched anchor on CNN was fired last weekend by CNN head.

Jeff Zucker.

A Cuomo had survived several mini scandals.

He had physical Arctic altercations.

There were some accusations of unwelcome physical behavior, and obviously the real questions about his relationship with brother, former, New York, Governor, Anthony Cuomo as the latter Cuomo, was being forced out of office for multiple accusations of sexual harassment, then finally all hell, Breaks Loose, I’m reading now a summary from variety quote, New York State Attorney General Letitia, James released documents showing Cuomo took an active hand in helping his brother.


While the politician was accused of sexual harassment.

After all that, CNN felt its anchor had used up the proverbial.

Nine Lives.

Brian, say say more about what you see as the journalistic sins, Cuomo committed here and why they’re so egregious.


Well, there’s so many General from advising your brother while you’re playing a journalist on TV, but I would say the one that really got to me was the stuff in the AG’s report that you referred to, he was using journalistic techniques.


He was running down leads.

He was helping his brother shape statements, or at least the office shaped statements.

That would then, go out to the public.

This is what journalists do we write things down?

Or we say them and they go out to the public.

But he was doing it, not for his viewers.


He was doing it on behalf of the person in power vanga.

I mean, that is just mind-blowing that that was happening.

And again, I think you, I don’t think Andrew Cuomo.

Excuse me, Chris Cuomo.

Shoot a comeback after we found out, what we found out in the spring, which the he was advising his brother.


I think you should have things been gone right then, but certainly now, when you see the journalistic power used in that very, very strange way.

I promise listeners, we did not exchange notes about this issue.

But what I have written down here in my notes is quote.


Chris Cuomo was being an investigative reporter for his brother while not being an investigative reporter for CNN on his brother.

And there we go.

That is just that’s just a fatal flaw and it’s a fatal flaw that like Like, I think you mentioned this in your pod, a lot of people, right after this news came out said, truth.


Be told gun to my head.

I do this for a family member to, and my response to that.

I’m really shaking your head.

I don’t know your response to it to my response to it is fine.

I love my sister.

I love the shit out of her, but like if I stopped being a journalist for the Atlantic to be an undercover reporter for my sister to save her career.


I would expect the Atlantic to fight.

You’re me right by choosing my sister over the Atlantic.

I would be literally choosing my sister over the Atlantic and therefore.

Of course, I should lose my job at the Atlantic.

What was your take on sort of the sort of ironic sort of?


Like, you know, at Twitter contrarian defensive, Chris woman’s Behavior.

It was a totally false choice.

And Chris Cuomo was the one who wants to lure us into this false Choice.


Do I have to abandon my brother?

Or do not abandon my brother.


That’s actually not the choice.

It’s you can go help your brother and leave CNN.

Yes, you could have done that at any point you could have said, even if my brother has done something, wrong family is so important to me that I’m going to give up my multi-million job dollar job and go help him II say that.


I think it’s all the time whenever I see a journalistic scandal, whenever journalists are behaving this way.

They’re telling us, they don’t want to be a journalist anymore.

Right there coming out and telling us I Want to be hemmed in by the rules of Journalism.

It is up to us Derek and to CNN and Jeff Zucker in this case to listen to the people saying that.


Oh, oh, you don’t okay, then great.

You’re out of here.

But sometimes we just don’t listen to people.

That are telling us, they don’t want to be journalists and then something like this happens.

He gets another six months and Sienna.

Obviously the pass/fail for Chris Cuomo is not a particularly mysterious grade.


How do you how do you grade Jeff Zucker in CNN here?

How do you think they did ludicrously bad and on the, on the scale?

I just gave you.

Because again, this should have been handled in the spring immediately.

When it came to light.

You should have said you clearly don’t want to be a journalist.


You want to advise your brother.

Goodbye, and they didn’t and now they’re paying the price for it.

And why do you think Zucker changed his mind?

There was some talk about the fact that some sexual harassment allegations were coming in in the eleventh hour at the same time that the Attorney General’s report was Again, which made it a little bit hard to disentangle.


Is Cuomo being fired for his journalistic sins or is he being fired for his professional sexual harassment?

Since both important?

I’m not trying to put one over the other but it does make it hard.

I think to know exactly on what information Zucker was acting.

Yeah, and I don’t quite have the answer to that but I will say the particular nature of the last round of journalistic sins.


Again, you’re running down leads on accusers of your brother.

You are acting as a journalist to help.

Him fend off these accusations of misconduct.

I think, I think CNN didn’t have a choice at that point.

We’re in general gaming here, fail.


Fail, fail Issue.

Number Four.

I want to ask you about what might be the most talked about celebrity profile in my corner of the world that I can recall.

This was the New Yorker on Jeremy, Strong and extremely intense.

Extremely talented actor, who stars in the show, in the show succession on HBO, which is, I think in the pantheon of great a show, 21st century and probably one of the top 10 dramas of all time.


In my opinion.

I’m obsessed.

I was obsessed with this profile.

I could go on for an hour about it.

But Brian give me your reaction.

It’s fascinating.

First of all, it’s a great piece.

I gobbled up every single line of the piece and every single quote, and every, especially every quote from a fellow succession cast member, which just read.


So differently is been really interesting to watch the response to this piece on Twitter because I think a lot of people are like you and I saying, Oh, wow, what a fabulous complicated celebrity profile, which we don’t always read these days.

But I also see a lot of people that I think their brains have been totally real scrambled by it because we’re so used to on social media and elsewhere getting just PR from celebrities.


This direct unfiltered.

Feed of the celebrity injected into my veins.

They’re doing something funny.

They’re tweeting at their significant.

Other thing that when we read something like this, that is conceived on completely different.

We’re like, what the hell am I looking at?

Yes, I thought it was such a fascinating interview in part in contrast to other celebrity interviews and this age of the celebrity interview where I feel like and this might be an unfair characterization.


So home to the fire here, but I feel like so many celebrity interviews.

These days are about finding Heroes and profiling them rather than about finding celebrities and Excavating whether or not they’re Heroes, right?



Like so much of the time and this is part in part because I think a lot of media, not all of it.

I’ll try to be as specific as possible.

A lot of glossy magazines, a lot of newspapers.

Even the New York Times Washington Post that this air of celebrity profile is such where the writer will find a celebrity with whom they are topically or even ideologically aligned and then write about how they are the boss killing it on this issue.


But so the Celebrity.

This Liberty profile is it was pre-filtered for criticism, right here.

It’s not pre-filter for criticism.

It’s unbelievable.

All of these sort of barely contained contempt that a lot of people in his career, Aaron Sorkin, a previous director, other actors and he works with contempt, might not be the right word.


Criticism is probably the right word, but the barely contain criticism that they have for his style.

Which is something called method acting.

Daniel Day-Lewis is famous for doing this.

It’s Marlon.

Brando might have been the famous sort of the celebrity originator of it.

But this is, this is basically a way of getting deep deep deep into character and staying in character.


Even when you’re having the cold cuts between shots.

What did, what did you make of the of the method acting side of this?

I have an acting background.

I have a whole thing.

I’m going to do on this and just a sec.

But like were you surprised by his behavior and how incredibly deep he gets into roles even when they’re sort of DCd roles in the movie or show.


I was surprised by the forms of took because again, having been a student of celebrity profiles in journalism.

More generally.

I think when you read these, you see the little leaked story or photo from the sets, like, oh, he’s even pretending to be the character between takes he was he was in character the whole time.


Like that’s what counts here.

We find him, you know, doing all kinds of things, right, including his own kind of worship, Fanboy, whatever you want to call it of.

A certain actors like Daniel Day-Lewis and Al Pacino.

And and what I think was so, and what if I can, if I can just like, crawl out on a limb for a second.


I think what was so interesting about when you talk about going to find the boss man, and the way we write about celebrities now, he was kind of doing that as a professional role model himself, right?

He was picking actors and be like not only do I want to be like you, I want to be in your presence.


I want to have this relic of this letter.

The Daniel Day-Lewis sent me one time.

That I will not tell you what it is, but it contains all these things.

I think about the world.

And that was that was just so fascinating to me to read about because I think it’s the way a lot of people interact with famous people and with the world and I think a lot of people don’t want to admit that.


So it’s interesting to see it here.

I thought so before I was a journalist.

I was an actor.

I did Shakespeare and musical theaters in d.c.

At a bunch of professional theaters around d.c.


And just after I went to college the thing, I am not.

I was not a method actor that’s for Sure, the thing about method acting that I think is so interesting about this about this profile, is that typically method acting is done as a kind of pay on or complement to the actor.


Oh, Daniel Day-Lewis was so great in Lincoln because he acted like Lincoln while taking a piss, you know, like that’s that’s the way those three profiles are written.

It’s like he was so committed to the role that he studied the way that like 19th century people like walk to and use the Isn’t that astonishing that’s why the performance has so much verisimilitude.


But dealing with method actors is really fucking annoying.

It’s really annoying other actors.

Don’t like it.

So I have to read from the article here.

Quote, when I asked this is the the New Yorker writer when I asked Brian, Cox, who plays Logan, the patriarch of succession to describe Jeremy Strong’s process.


He’s struck a note of fatherly concern, quote.

The result that Jeremy gets is always pretty tremendous.

I just, Worried about what he does to himself.

I worry about the crises.

He puts himself through in order to prepare Cox a classically trained.

British actor has a quote turn it on.


Turn it off approach to acting and his relationship with strong recalls.

A famous story.

About Laurence Olivier, famous middle of the 20th, century Shakespearean, actor working with Dustin, Hoffman on the 1976 film Marathon, Man on learning that Hoffman had stayed up partying for three nights before seen in which he had to appear sleep-deprived Olivier said.


My dear boy, why don’t you try acting and like that?

What I love about that.

It’s an amazing section and they’re just so many little nuggets there, just like that.

What I love about that is just like the tiny little window that it gives into the theater Community or at least my sliver of the theater Community, which was that in every show in every project.


There’s that guy or that woman who is taking things a little bit too seriously and not always getting Superior.

Results from it.

And it is excruciating to live alongside.

Like, there might be sort of analogs for for.


I don’t know for for journalism people that like, get on a high horse about like the pursuit of truth, but they’re not actually like that good at reporting out the news or maybe people just have someone like this their own life.

But this this discrepancy that exists, sometimes between like the absolute solemnity with which some people take their jobs and the quality in which they actually perform those jobs is often cavernous.


In this case, Jeremy Strong happens to be extremely Fucking talented actor.

But anyway, what’s behind the scenes?

Here is Method.

Actors, can be really effing annoying.

Can we trick back to the journalism point you made about the ways that celebrity profiles are written?

Now and I know there’s a long history of that.


But for this current crop to what do you attribute that to?

I have a slightly over simplified and maybe unfair opinion.

That for a variety of reasons too much mainstream media.


Media at places like the New York Times, Washington, Post has become extremely team picky.

It’s become people who have a set of values.

They hold very dear and sometimes those values are good values in the global picture, but they have a set of values and they can sometimes see, Journalism, as a means of advancing.


Those pieces of ideology rather than as a means of Simply discovering cool stuff.

That is true.

And if you pursue journalism, I think through a mode of trying to represent a finite set of favorite values, then your approach to topics like a celebrity interview will not be.


Let me just look around it.

Interesting people that are doing interesting things.

Reach into their mess of a life and see what I pull up instead.

You’re going to have a certain ideological filter on when you began the celebrity profiling job.

And you’re going to pick celebrities whose lives have a thesis that is in line with the thesis that you came to that project with.


And that I think is an ethos.

That’s become a little bit rampant in modern in in the sliver of Journalism that I’m talking about.

I think it’s gotten a little bit worse since Trump because Trump was such an odious gargantuan monster.


And so many ways that picking teams felt safer in a trump regime because of the right team.

Felt clearer making that choice, feel clearer, but I think that it’s made some some corners of Journalism less interesting.

And I think the celebrity profile is one such corner.


I agree with a lot of that and I think also, you know, just the technology, right?

It’s like so you’re Writing for your audience is not your editor so much as it is people on Twitter.

And if you pick a celebrity and say this celebrity is also awesome in real life than your that that’s that profile is going to just track much better on Twitter than if you say this person’s really complicated or maybe kind of shitty right?


Think that just doesn’t, that doesn’t work and I’ll also just to indict both of us before we go here.

I think, I think the rise of podcasting is involved in this, by the way, because I think, in a way we’ve all become Jimmy Fallon.

There are some really good.

Hard, interesting.


Thoughtful podcast interviews you and I hope to do those every week or what at least once maybe twice a week.

But a lot of podcast interviews just become like here is the famous person aren’t they?


I’m going to talk to them for 45 minutes and it’s never going to get to a place like this with Jeremy Strong.


It’s never going to get to those kind of places.

And so I think in a way I just think the whole apparatus is really really change the way we sort of process these things.


I think I think that’s right.

And just to just to give one quick example.

Look I think I think, you know, Alexandra.

Kashia Cortez is an extraordinary figure, but I think that there’s like an AOC if ocation of the celebrity profile, if you kind of see what I mean, like there are celebrity profiles that are made of certain characters that are clearly where, that character clearly is, is fitting, the ideology of the writer.


And then this is just like a further example of why that ideology is right.

That’s just that’s just an example of where I kind of See this going.

But look I think your point is also really well taken that there something about social media that flattens the distinction between non celebrities and celebrities.


We all feel like many celebrities when we’re performing online and getting a bunch of likes on a tweet or something and the celebrities have them have more sort of direct access to the people because they’re not coming to them, merely through, you know, movies or or or albums, but they’re, they’re talking to them directly on on Twitter and Instagram, and maybe there’s something.


About that flattening between celebrities and the public that is also made the celebrity profile, less antagonistic and more like, hey, I found a buddy who happens to be famous who agrees with most people.

Most things that I think here’s 5,000 words on that.

So we’re gonna pass Michael Shulman and fail.


The celebrity profile as a vehicle.

That’s that’s where we’re headed here.

II would agree with that.

I would agree with that.

Diagnosis, with that.

With that grading system.

I did I give you a hard hard pass, you know, hard Mass cancels.

It passed with flying flying colors and they, plus plus and celebrity profile in the New Yorker and a mild fail to the ecosystem of study profiles.


That pre-existed it Brian.

Thank you so.

So much for helping me.

Negotiate My Way Through My First Media report card and I will see you on the pods very soon.

Thanks Derek.

Thanks for having me.

Plain English with Derek, Thompson is produced by Devon.


If you like, what you hear, please follow rate and review us new episode jobs on Tuesday.


Have a great weekend.

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