Earlier this week, Columbia University announced the winners of this year’s Pulitzer Prizes. In journalism, Public Service awards went to The Guardian and The Washington Post for their NSA coverage, and a Breaking News Award was given to The Boston Globe for its coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing and manhunt. The brutal blows suffered by print journalism over the last decade or so have made these awards an annual occasion for sober self-reflection—especially, this year, at the Globe, where a wealthy new owner is hoping to stabilize operations amidst deep declines in subscriptions and massive newsroom cuts. The Globe’s “muted ceremony,” as reports characterized it, mixed pride in victory with the grim knowledge that over the last 11 years, subscriptions have fallen by more than half, and the newsroom has lost almost 200 journalists.
I remember, from my days as a reporter, the rush of excitement that hits when an interviewee says something truly ridiculous on the record. But nobody ever gave me a quote quite like this doozy from Michael Bloomberg: “I am telling you if there is a God, when I get to heaven I’m not stopping to be interviewed. I am heading straight in. I have earned my place in heaven. It’s not even close.”
This morning’s Times makes a stark declaration: “Obama Effect Inspiring Few to Seek Office,” it says on page A1, above the fold. I began reading, driven by several questions: Was that what people meant by the “Obama effect”—that it would create a generation of young politicians? How did they manage to measure the number of young people running for office, and to count how many of those people were doing so because they were inspired by the President? And with nearly three years remaining in his second term, isn’t this judgment a little hasty? But the Times didn’t answer any of those questions, because the piece wasn’t about the “Obama effect” at all.
Not long ago, accounts of homeless people in America focused on single white men, who indeed made up the majority of those without a sure place to live. A skid row lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, mental health problems, and a lack of social ties to people not themselves homeless— these were the realities for homeless white men. But homelessness in America took an unexpected turn starting in the 1980s, when the share of women and children on the streets began to grow.
This weekend’s reading: Two writers engage in thoughtful and provocative dialogue on race in America, a former senator makes a really stupid comment about race in America, and a historian helps sort things out.
The Supreme Court has given campaign finance laws a beating over the last few years, but a few key restrictions are still intact—to conservatives’ apparent chagrin. In the wake of last week’s ruling striking down limits on overall donations to federal candidates, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said yesterday that he’d like to see donation limits to individual candidates disappear too. “I don’t think we should have caps at all,” Priebus told talk radio’s Hugh Hewitt. So far, the Court has stopped short of that point. But what has it wrought in the meantime?
The Obama Administration will be licking its wounds the rest of this week after a brutal front-page story in Monday’s New York Times chronicling its mishandling of immigration reform. The story demonstrates, in damning detail, how the White House has failed to placate its critics, has alienated its allies, has miscalculated on political strategy, and—worst of all—has badly fumbled on policy. It may not be too drastic to read this story as evidence that comprehensive immigration reform, perhaps Obama’s highest second-term priority, is a dead prospect until at least 2016.