paper trail

Essential reporting on the D.R.; questionable sources elsewhere

Tom Harper on CNN

In the Dominican Republic, after today’s deadline to register with government authorities, hundreds of thousands of workers, mostly of Haitian origin, will face deportation; Harper’s has just removed the paywall from Rachel Nolan’s frightening and essential account of the context, which appeared in its May 2015 issue.

It’s worth watching this weekend’s bizarre appearance on CNN by Tom Harper of the Sunday Times (UK), which had just published an evidence-free lead story titled “British Spies Betrayed to Russians and Chinese.” Even the most basic questions about the story were met with “don’t know”s. “That’s not something that we’re clear on,” Harper said at one point, “so we don’t go into that level of detail in the story. We just publish what we believe to be the position of the British government at the moment.” Relying on quotes from unnamed British officials to the effect that Edward Snowden may have “blood on his hands,” the report itself is odd enough (at The Intercept, Glenn Greenwald takes it apart in detail and calls it “a self-negating joke” that “reads like a parody I might quickly whip up in order to illustrate the core sickness of Western journalism”), but Harper’s attempt to back it up on television is truly not to be missed.

Whatever the inaccuracies in Wednesday Martin’s “anthropological memoir” Primates of Park Avenue, they haven’t deterred Hollywood: MGM just won the rights after a bidding war.

Likewise, the bestselling pundit David Brooks apparently doesn’t let the facts hold him back: David Zweig, a writer and former magazine fact-checker, details his “journey down the Brooks rabbit hole”, tracing the mysteriously sourced and ever-shifting statistics Brooks uses and reuses from book to book to TV appearance, and wondering how the humility expert gets away with it.

Gawker's impassioned but flailing attack on Jonathan Safran Foer as “his own genre of bankable awful” begins with a note of mourning for the time of New Yorker short stories by J.D. Salinger and John O’Hara: “These days, the New Yorker fiction issue is so bad it’s hard to imagine anyone liking it who wasn’t told to.”

Anyone feeling similarly jaded may be cheered by the launch tomorrow of “Read Paper Republic”—in an effort to bring readers more Chinese literature, a free short story, essay, or poem will be made available every week, starting with an original translation by Michelle Deeter of a story by A Yi.