Who in the world are these people: Just like that, yesterday turned into a very big "news day."
There's a downside to such occasions. All too often, they keep us from the day's "noteworthy facts"—more specifically, from such "noteworthy facts" as this:
"The ongoing restoration of the Roman Colosseum has been financed by a roughly $30 million donation from Tod’s, the Italian shoemaker."Now that's a noteworthy fact! It's right there today on the New York Times' reimagined page A3, along with noteworthy facts like these:
"The company that owned Southern Comfort liqueur thanked Janis Joplin, a devotee who made a show of drinking it, for the free advertising by giving her a fur coat."Good times! Truly, those were the days—and those are some noteworthy facts!
"At the height of its 14-year run, the singing competition show 'American Idol' sometimes drew more than 30 million viewers a night."
The New York Times' "noteworthy facts" are routinely inane, to the point of seeming bizarre. The daily "Here to Help" feature is typically just sad.
Today, though, we were struck by the reimagined A3 feature called "The Conversation." Here's the way it starts:
The ConversationAccording to that text, this latest "Best of Late Night" column was "the most read article on Tuesday."
THREE OF THE MOST READ, SHARED AND DISCUSSED POSTS FROM ACROSS NYTIMES.COM
1. Jimmy Kimmel Responds to Critics Over Health Care
The latest "Best of Late Night" column, the most read article on Tuesday, includes a recap of Jimmy Kimmel's on-air confrontation with Senator Bill Cassidy...
We're not entirely sure what that means, but the "column" in question is extremely short.
Mainly, the original "column" provided a brief, rather fuzzy account of Kimmel's opening monologue Monday night. During the segment, Kimmel discussed his recent remarks about health insurance for children. Mainly, the "column" provided videotape of the 12-minute segment.
Out of the Times' full body of work, was that really "the most read article on Tuesday?" A fellow could imagine being depressed by revelations like that.
More strikingly, we're puzzled by the account of the original column the New York Times proceeded to give on today's A3. Perhaps for obvious reasons, items on page A3 don't include the names of any authors. But whoever wrote today's account of that original column didn't seem to understand what he had read and seen.
During his monologue, Kimmel spoke with Senator Bill Cassidy (R-La.), who had said on CNN that any new health care law should pass a “Jimmy Kimmel test,” meaning that “a child born with congenital heart disease be able to get everything she or he would need in that first year of life.”
On Monday night, Kimmel and Cassidy had a very friendly, five-minute discussion. In all honesty, Kimmel didn't push very hard or seem to know very much. Cassidy said very little.
That said, there was exactly zero antagonism between the two men. Until you read today's A3, where you find yourself being told this:
"Commenters felt that the senator, who appeared on Mr. Kimmel's show on Monday via satellite, had been presumptuous—as did Mr. Kimmel."
Say what? The text goes on to quote the comment by Kimmel which supposedly demonstrates that he felt this way about Cassidy. Watching the actual videotape, we have no idea why the anonymous journalist who composed this text thought he'd seen any such thing. We don't know why he thought he saw a "confrontation" between the two men.
Giovanni Russonello's original "column" was fuzzy and hapless enough. Along came The Conversation to distort the episode further. Did the unnamed person who wrote today's piece actually watch the Kimmel tape? Kimmel was very friendly to Cassidy—and no, Kimmel doesn't seem to know enough to conduct such discussions. (Very few people would.)
What sorts of life-forms are writing the items on the Times' reimagined A3? Do they go unnamed on the page because, being aliens from deep outer space, they don't actually have any names, let alone any knowledge of this planet's noteworthy facts?
Russonello wrote a lazy original "column." On this morning's page A3, some alien life form proceeded to dumb it down substantially further. Meanwhile, Russonello's murky column was "the most read article on Tuesday," whatever that's supposed to mean.
That item today makes little sense. Are we getting a horrible look behind a terrible curtain?
If our smartest newspapers function this way, should anyone be surprised that Donald J. Trump is now president?