(an amazon warehouse)
Bill Simmons had Malcolm Gladwell and Nate Silver on his podcast yesterday. They spent a lot of time talking shop about the evolution of the newspaper/media industry. A particular focus was on Jeff Bezos’ purchase of the Washington Post. Kevin Drum had what I thought was a pretty sober assessment of the purchase – that it’s not quite the big deal that some have asserted, particularly those who worry about consolidation of prominent media outlets in the hands of big corporations.
But Simmons, Silver and Gladwell didn’t even broach the potential political implications of Bezos’ purchase, not even to dismiss it. Their only concern was with whether Bezos, given his new economy pedigree, was well-positioned to make the Post a profitable and financially forward-looking enterprise (with lots of requisite terms like “value proposition” and “curating content” being bandied about). But why is that the *only* consideration worthy of discussion, particularly where it concerns Silver, whose new ESPN entity, he said, would be fully one-third devoted to politics? I know Silver is more of a horse race guy when it comes to politics, albeit a highly informed and adept one. But surely the purchase of the Post, an institution in American political life, merits some political discussion.
And while the three spent plenty of time lauding Bezos’ acumen as a businessman, and the extraordinary fortune he’s amassed, I suppose it was too much to ask for even a mention of the growing concern – and not just from wacky leftists – about the terrible working conditions in Bezos’ warehouses.
I understand that you can’t check every box every time you broach a subject. But Bezos’ purchase of the Post has been a serious news story with lots of tentacles. It’s disappointing that Gladwell and Silver, who surely are both considered at the forefront of “big think” new era content, couldn’t be bothered to broach any of that.
Update: later in the podcast, the subject of PEDs came up. Gladwell has a righteous rant about how nonsensical the discussion has become, particularly in bans in drugs that help people recover from injury. What is the sense of that? Simmons chimed in that there are all kinds of pain killers that players can take. And then there are things like Tommy John surgery. Yes, its purpose to repair damaged elbows. But virtually every pitcher who goes threw the surgery at this point seems to come back with *increased* velocity. Does that make Tommy John surgery “performance enhancing?”
And one more thing – Silver suggested that we should allow or ban performance-based drugs based on their long-term health consequences. Gladwell, who’s written a lot about the dangers of football, jumped on this, noting that if our concern were long-term safety of the athletes, we’d be in very different territory than we are now.
Another Update: speaking of drawing lines in all the wrong places, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, the longtime CNN medical correspondent, has a new documentary coming out, “Weeds,” and has experienced a significant reversal on the validity of medical marijuana, which he formerly opposed:
Well, I am here to apologize.
I apologize because I didn’t look hard enough, until now. I didn’t look far enough. I didn’t review papers from smaller labs in other countries doing some remarkable research, and I was too dismissive of the loud chorus of legitimate patients whose symptoms improved on cannabis.
Instead, I lumped them with the high-visibility malingerers, just looking to get high. I mistakenly believed the Drug Enforcement Agency listed marijuana as a schedule 1 substance because of sound scientific proof. Surely, they must have quality reasoning as to why marijuana is in the category of the most dangerous drugs that have “no accepted medicinal use and a high potential for abuse.”
They didn’t have the science to support that claim, and I now know that when it comes to marijuana neither of those things are true. It doesn’t have a high potential for abuse, and there are very legitimate medical applications. In fact, sometimes marijuana is the only thing that works.
Given Gupta’s platform, this is potentially significant.