Every now and again you come across a quote that tells you everything you need to know about what’s going in journalism. It’s from the New York Times’ pioneer of native advertising/sponsored content/brand journalism, Meredith Kopit Levien. Her blather about deceiving readers into believing they’re reading journalism when they’re actually reading advertising was brilliantly skewered by John Oliver over the summer. Now over to Joe Pompeo:

Levien watched the clip for the first time the next day with Times publisher and chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr., who encouraged her to have a good laugh over it.

“I think John Oliver is hilarious, and I think he did the most clever take one could have on the risks and downsides of native,” Levien told me a month later during an interview in her glass-enclosed 19th-floor office with enviable Hudson River views, though she admitted: “It was my first experience with random people tweeting negative things at me.”

Her rebuttal? “The best way to preserve editorially independent, high quality journalism is to preserve the business model. And I think the idea of branded content that shares a form factor with editorial is a great first step.”

Let’s look at that quote a little more closely, shall we?

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Sit In Protest Continues In Hong Kong Despite Chief Executive's Calls To Withdraw

Authorities in Hong Kong and Beijing appear to be eschewing another attempt to forcibly disperse the island’s massive student-driven protests, which grew in numbers today as China held its national day celebrations, but they won’t negotiate with the demonstrators either. Peter Ford reports that the government is banking on the movement wearing out its welcome with the public:

They have withdrawn almost all policemen from the protest areas, where the atmosphere is relaxed. A protracted national holiday means that the strikes blocking streets in four spots around the city will not disrupt much until next Monday. … Government supporters expect the crowds to disperse if the protests continue into next week and prove to disrupt the city’s normal life. Polls have found that Hong Kongers are pretty evenly split over the merits of the government’s plans for political reform, and over how they regard the “Occupy Central” movement.

But with the protestors demanding that Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying resign by tomorrow and threatening again to occupy government buildings, the situation could easily come to a head again soon. Heather Timmons and Lily Kuo pass along a harshly-worded editorial in a party-line newspaper and worry:

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We War-Loving Americans

Oct 1 2014 @ 11:21am

Aaron Blake highlights a new poll showing rising public support for Obama’s ISIS strategy:

The newest WaPo-ABC poll shows 50 percent approve of Obama’s handling of the Islamic State, as compared to 44 percent who disapprove. That’s an improvement from August, when the question referenced only Iraq and not Syria, and 42 percent of Americans gave Obama a vote of confidence. Obama’s new polling heights come as Americans overwhelmingly approve of the airstrikes he ordered in Syria. Seven in 10 Americans (70 percent) support the airstrikes — up from 65 percent in early September. His decision to send American forces to train Iraqi troops and coordinate airstrikes against the Islamic State in that country is less popular, but still gets positive marks: 53 percent support and 44 percent opposition.

Drum is dismayed at how comfortable we are with going to war yet again:

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The View From Your Window

Oct 1 2014 @ 11:03am


Seattle, Washington, 9.20 am

Not So Fast With The Nudging

Oct 1 2014 @ 10:25am

Jeremy Waldron expresses his worries about the vision laid out in Cass Sunstein’s Why Nudge?: The Politics of Libertarian Paternalism:

Every day we are bombarded with offers whose choice architecture is manipulated, not necessarily in our favor. The latest deal from the phone company is designed to bamboozle us, and we may well want such blandishments regulated. But it is not clear whether the regulators themselves are trustworthy. Governments don’t just make mistakes; they sometimes set out deliberately to mislead us. The mendacity of elected officials is legendary and claims on our trust and credulity have often been squandered. It is against this background that we have to consider how nudging might be abused.

There are deeper questions, too, than these issues of trust and competence.

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Ebola Makes It To America

Oct 1 2014 @ 9:41am

Ebola Quiz

As we noted yesterday, a man who flew from Liberia to Dallas has been diagnosed with Ebola. Kent Sepkowitz examines the precautions we’d taken:

The Dallas case is breaking some of our ironclad assumptions. The CDC has a well-considered algorithm that places those returning from the three endemic West Africa countries—Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia—into a measure of extra vigilance if and only if the person has had exposure to a known case of Ebola. Per the press conference, the Dallas case had no such exposure. He was not a health-care worker treating patients, nor was he from a family battling active disease. Of course, more facts may emerge that contradict today’s story—but today’s facts, if they hold up, mean that yesterday’s assumptions are no longer correct. Liberia may indeed be enough of a hotbed of Ebola that anyone arriving from the area will need to be considered for extra vigilance.

Ezra recommends calming down and taking the quiz seen above:

On average, Guinea spends $32 on health care per-person, per-year. Liberia spends $65. Nigeria spends $94. The United States spends $8,895.

That money buys trained health workers, disease investigators, isolation wards, fever screening, protective gear, and much more. That money buys advanced hospitals all across the country, and labs that can quickly test for the disease, and the ability to do contact tracing and follow-up visits on a tremendous scale. That money also buys public-health officials with long experience combatting infectious diseases — both here and in other countries.

Susannah Locke imagines best and worst case scenarios:

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An Anti-Jihadist Dilemma

Oct 1 2014 @ 8:59am

Colum Lynch and Elias Groll point out an inherent danger in Obama’s effort to cut off ISIS’s supply of foreign fighters, warning that illiberal regimes will likely use it as an excuse to further stifle dissent:

[At last week's UN Security Council session], the Obama administration pushed through a measure that requires member states to prevent their citizens from traveling abroad to participate in or finance acts of terrorism. It was unanimously approved by the assembled world powers, but the vote wasn’t the clear-cut win for American diplomacy that it may appear to be.

Instead, the measure, in a textbook example of the dangers of unintended consequences, could end up giving China and similarly repressive states such as Russia and Middle Eastern monarchies powerful new tools for cracking down on separatist groups branded as terrorists. The resolution, which is legally binding, is so sweeping and vague that it effectively leaves it to each country to decide who to target, and how, because there is no internationally agreed upon definition of terrorism. For instance, the resolution requires that law enforcement agents prevent people from traveling if they have “credible information that provides reasonable grounds” for suspecting they might commit terrorist attacks during their travels. The standard of proof required to ban travel is likely to vary sharply in democratic and autocratic countries, opening the door to potential abuse of, for example, political opposition groups and ethnic minorities.

Akil Awan asks how countries whose citizens travel to Syria and Iraq to join ISIS should best deal with them when they return home. Every option, he finds, has limitations and downsides:

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Making Cents Of Hong Kong

Oct 1 2014 @ 8:13am

Screen Shot 2014-09-30 at 10.09.12 AM

While the ongoing protests are primarily about political freedoms, Matt O’Brien observes that the island has “already seen what being subsumed by the mainland means economically. And it’s had enough of that”:

It’s true that China’s growth has been good for Hong Kong’s—especially their retailers—but it hasn’t been as good for their relative standard of living. Not only have the richest mainlanders caught, or even surpassed, them, but now those Chinese are pushing up their cost-of-living and snatching up everything from their stores. That’s why Hong Kongers say the mainlanders are “locusts” who come in, take everything, and then leave—and with bad manners, too. Indeed, it set off a social media firestorm this year when a mainland parent was caught letting their two year-old urinate in one of Hong Kong’s streets. In other words, it’s the same old story of old money versus the nouveau riche.

But Yglesias attributes Hong Kong’s recent economic slump, which may also play a part in driving the protest movement, to the absence of these rich mainlanders:

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The Natural Gas Hype, Ctd

Oct 1 2014 @ 7:27am

A reader writes:

Good piece overall, but I want to point out this sentence: “Brooks Miner adds that ‘natural gas does have a dark side: It is composed primarily of methane, which has a much stronger climate-warming effect than carbon dioxide.'” That’s misleading without context. Methane is, indeed, a potent GHG. But it only has this impact if it is allowed to escape, unburned, directly to the atmosphere. If it is burned completely, it becomes CO2 and water like any other fuel. So the global warming impact of used methane is equal only to its carbon content (which is lower, per unit of energy, than petroleum). It is only leaked methane that has this “dark side” – and since we should be economically averse to wasting fuel through leakage anyway, it’s only a problem when something goes wrong.

The other thing to note is that leaked methane will only circulate for a few decades because it will naturally combust in the atmosphere and degrade to CO2. So while its immediate impact is high, it won’t have the same centuries-long effects as a commensurate amount of carbon emission.

Another goes into greater detail and more:

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The Best Of The Dish Today

Sep 30 2014 @ 9:00pm
by Dish Staff

Andrew couldn’t do the BOTDT this evening because he’s giving a speech on “The Future Of The Media” at Claremont McKenna College. But there is plenty of Andrew elsewhere on the Dish today; he wondered whether new PrEP drugs will finally bridge the deep divides between HIV-positive and -negative men; he compared the British and American systems of war authorization; he posed questions over sexual fluidity; and his jaw dropped a little over Kevin D. Williamson’s draconian views on abortion, with reader input here. Breaking ebola news here. And don’t miss this kickass video of breakdancing Orthodox Jews.

Many of today’s posts were updated with your emails – read them all here. And you can always leave your unfiltered comments at our Facebook page and @sullydish. Below, a few readers respond to our latest window contest, whose photo came from the Dish’s own Chas Danner, taken on his honeymoon. The first reader:

You are much smarter and better educated than I am, but no post makes me feel more intellectually vacant than The View From Your Window Contest.

Another fan:

I’ve been following your weekly contest for about a year. Your readers are incredible. If the CIA would hire some of these people, we’d find these ISIS assholes in a few hours. OR, maybe some of these people do work for the CIA and are spending their time on this contest instead of finding ISIS.

If you participate in the weekly contest and haven’t yet subscribed to the Dish, you can do so here. For years, the contest has been the most time-intensive post we put out each week, often taking up to five hours for Dish editor Chris, and now his contest successor Chas, to read through, compile, edit, and illustrate the hundreds of entries sent each week. So if you value all the hard work they do, consider subscribing for as little as $1.99 a month, or less than 50 cents a contest. And if you love the contest enough to spread the word to others, gift subscriptions are available here.

A big thanks to the 17 readers who subscribed today. Your daily dose of Dish resumes in the morning.

(Original dog video at the top of the post here)