The New York Times

A Way to Meet the Candidates Face-to-Face in Your Kitchen

The New York Times published an interactive “Meet the Candidates” special report in which 21 Democratic presidential candidates each answered 18 policy and personal questions in videotaped profiles that are easy to access and easy to listen to.

The New York Times published an interactive “Meet the Candidates” special report in which 21 Democratic presidential candidates each answered 18 policy and personal questions in videotaped profiles that are easy to access and easy to listen to.

With more than 20 Democratic presidential contenders, it’s hard to keep track of what they stand for, what they champion – or even who they are. The New York Times has, as Elizabeth Warren would say, a plan for that. 

In a special report called “Meet the Candidates,” the Times sat down with 21 of the presidential hopefuls in front of a camera and recorded their answers to 18 questions. The questions range from policy issues to personal preferences, including who candidates view as their personal heroes and their go-to comfort foods on the campaign trail. The interviews took place from early March to June.

The result is a fresh and engaging way to scope out the candidates, with one major exception. Former Vice President Joe Biden, who is the frontrunner in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, declined to participate.

The interactive report is another excellent example of reimagining newspapers in the digital era by marrying video and digital technology with traditional newspaper coverage.

The candidates were asked their views about guns, health care, climate change, foreign policy, immigration, death penalty, breaking up big technology firms and expanding the US Supreme Court.

Personal questions ranged from asking when a candidate’s family migrated to the United States, how much sleep they get, the last time they were embarrassed and how they relax. There also was a closing question that asked, “Does anyone deserve to have $1 billion?”

The report’s intent is to give viewers a face-to-face opportunity to listen to each candidate explain their views in their own words without filters or disruptions.

You can click on one or all 21 candidate profiles at your pleasure. Each profile contains the 18 questions and a candidate’s answer to each question in separate short videos. There also is brief summary of the views expressed. If you like what you hear, there is a “share” button.

Here are excerpts from Washington Governor Jay Inslee’s video profile:

Washington Governor Jay Inslee was one of 21 Democratic presidential contenders to sit for videotaped interviews by The New York Times for its innovative “Meet the Candidates” special report in which candidates could tell their story and state their views in their own unfiltered words.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee was one of 21 Democratic presidential contenders to sit for videotaped interviews by The New York Times for its innovative “Meet the Candidates” special report in which candidates could tell their story and state their views in their own unfiltered words.

  • Inslee touts his work as governor on fighting climate change and his plan to shift America to a clean energy economy, creating 8 million jobs.

  • Inslee calls for universal health care coverage and cites his leadership to create a public option for health insurance in Washington.

  • Inslee believes in the private right to own handguns, questions whether the current Israeli government is meeting international human rights standards and considers his wife, mother and father as his heroes.

  • Inslee supports legal immigration and asylum seekers and wants to protect so-called “Dreamers.”

  • His last embarrassment, Inslee says, was in high school when he missed a game-winning shot.

  • Inslee opposes the death penalty and favors criminal justice reform to address racial disparity.

  • Inslee favors enforcing antitrust laws when it comes to Facebook, Amazon and Google.

  • Inslee traces his family lineage to England and Wales. He didn’t provide answers for his go-to comfort food or how much sleep he gets on average.

  • Regarding adding more justices to the US Supreme Court, Inslee says he is open to any idea to protect a woman’s right to choose.

  • Inslee believes President Trump has committed crimes in office and the House is edging toward an impeachment inquiry.

In describing the project, the Times said Elizabeth Warren was the first candidate to sit for an interview and was invited back because more questions were added after her interview. It noted the interviews occurred at different stages of the release of Mueller special investigation report, which influenced how candidates answered the question about Trump. Most interviews occurred in New York, but some candidates sat for interviews in Washington, DC, Texas and Iowa.

Re-imagining 21st Century Labor Unions

Labor unions have seen their membership and political influence wane as corporate influences have swelled, leading to provocative ideas for a new type of union that represents the political interests of a community of workers.Labor Day was celebrated by the usual picnics and political speeches. But it also drew two intriguing op-eds that pointed to a broader and different role for labor unions in the quest to retain a working middle class in America. 

Both opinion pieces called for labor organizations that extend beyond bargaining for wages and benefits. They urged community-based organizations that would serve as the political voice for low- and middle-class workers as a counterbalance to well-heeled corporate influences in politics and governance.

"The union movement is not going to rebuild the middle class in the 21st century with a system of labor laws that were designed for factory worker in the 1930s and copied for government workers in the 1970s," wrote Tim Nesbitt, a former president of the Oregon AFL-CIO and senior advisers to Governors Ted Kulongoski and John Kitzhaber.

In his op-ed appearing in The Oregon, Nesbitt said, "Today's realities require looking beyond the traditional bargaining units composed of jobs of a single employer at one or more work sites, which are no longer effective for advancing the interests of large numbers of workers in the job churn of the private sector."

Political Nanotargeting

Many people think of politics as a lot of hot air. It turns out politics may be more like rocket science.

Since the 2004 George W. Bush presidential campaign, Republican and Democratic political strategists have been using nanotargeting to reach and activate their political bases. To target ads, operatives pore over voting histories, housing values, recreational preferences, automobile ownership, TV viewership as well as favorite restaurants, drinks and websites.

Who knew that your zest for Arby's or the number of bedrooms in your home could drop hints about your political leanings?

In a recent piece in The New York Times, Thomas Edsall, a professor of journalism at Columbia University, probes this intensifying segmentation — and polarization — of the American electorate. Here are some tips Edsall offers in spotting stereotypical Republicans and Democrats:

  • Someone who reads The Washington Post or watches the Comedy Channel is more likely to be a Democrat. People who reads The Wall Street Journal or watches Country Music Television or the Golf Channel are probably Republicans.

  • Among the top 10 favorite TV shows of Republicans are "The Office," "The Big Bang Theory," "Desperate Housewives" and "The Biggest Loser."  Democrats prefer "Late Show with David Letterman," "PBS NewsHour," "House of Payne" and "60 Minutes."

  • McDonald's, Burger King and Wendy's appeal to the political middle. You can spot the Republicans eating at Macaroni Grill, Outback Steakhouse, Arby's and Chick-fil-A, while the Democrats chow down at Popeye's, Dunkin' Donuts and Chuck E. Cheese.

  • The Democratic drinks of choice are cognac or Budweiser. Republicans favor light beers, Guinness and scotch.

  • Don't look for GOP presidential ads on "30 Rock" or Democratic ads on professional football games this fall.

Clearly these are generalized views of American political sympathies. But they are the basis for making critical, make-or-break advertising choices. As Edsall notes, "Incremental shifts among key constituencies — Hispanics, single white working class women and private-sector unionized employees — can be decisive."

Starbucks CEO Urges Contribution Boycott

Until U.S. political leaders put aside partisanship and provide leadership, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said business leaders should stop making political contributions. Photo by University of Denver.From his Seattle office, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has seen enough and is leading what amounts to a boycott of political contributions until Congress and President Obama work out a plan that restores faith in the American economy.

"Right now, our economy is frozen in a cycle of fear and uncertainty," Schultz wrote this week to other corporate leaders. "Companies are afraid to hire. Consumers are afraid to spend. Banks are afraid to lend."

"Our national elected officials from both parties have failed to lead," he says. "They have chosen to put partisan and ideological purity over the wellbeing of the people. They have undermined the full faith and credit of the United States. They have stirred up fears about our economic prospects without doing anything to truly address those fears."

Schultz said the way to get the attention of politicians is to cut off campaign contributions. "We invite leaders of businesses — indeed all concerned Americans — to join us in this pledge."

Appreciating Bill Keller

New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller steps down to pursue a writing career. Photo by John Niedermeyer.It doesn't seem that long ago when Bill Keller, then a Capitol Hill reporter for The Oregonian, sat across from my desk in the Cannon Office Building and told me I didn't know as much as I thought I did. Keller meant his comment to apply to a particular topic, but I took it as a general observation. As time has advanced, I have reflected often on his comment and agree with him more every day.

So it was an interesting personal moment last week when I heard Keller announce he will step down as executive editor of The New York Times after eight years in the post. Bill characteristically took the occasion of his pending departure to unload about his soon-to-be former job. He described constant crisis management, from low morale on the news staff that he inherited to the atrophy of newspaper bottom lines. Somewhere in there, Keller was involved in parsing and publishing sensitive government documents obtained by WikiLeaks.