Audio Of The Week: The Riff

My partner Andy and my friend David are doing an “interview cast” which is “a 24 minute conversation about one topic, with one expert.”

They call it The Riff and their first episode is about the evolving news media landscape with CNN journalist Laurie Segall.

Here it is:


Comments (Archived):

  1. awaldstein

    Enjoyed this one.Most interesting change in the media to me is that there is nothing really objective any longer and no one in today’s world is divorced from their own point of view.Doesn’t mean there isn’t a standard of nuanced approaches to topics but the idea of objectivity is gone for certain.Facts are only as they are interpreted obviously.

    1. fredwilson

      I think triangulation is an increasingly important life skill. We need to get multiple and different takes on things before coming to conclusionsUnless, of course, we are taking about wine suggestions​ from you Arnold

      1. PhilipSugar

        This is so right. It is why you have to tolerate different viewpoints.

        1. Salt Shaker

          Of course one needs to seek out alternate points-of-view, and def now more than ever. But it’s hard to look at diverging points-of-view w/ credibility when they’re colored w/ falsehoods and lies designed to discredit, obfuscate and diminish the truth. If one of your employees was perpetually making shit up I’m sure you’d no doubt fire his or her ass. A person, and certainly not a President, can’t just make stuff up w/ out consequences. It eventually discredits his credibility even when an alternate POV is expressed and rooted in truth.

          1. LE

            But it’s hard to look at diverging points-of-view w/ credibilityDiverging points of view come from people as well. Not just media sources. And those differing points of view aren’t accepted (which is different than agreement) by people either. When they hear them person to person. And I am not talking about falsehoods that are repeated because you read it somewhere I mean something in your own brain that you have concluded somehow someway.Let’s take abortion. I am pro choice. But I also understand and actually can accept why some people aren’t. And I don’t think they are the devil either for those beliefs that they have. I can accept that many others worship and enjoy sports even though I don’t. Under the right set of circumstances growing up I might have as well. Likewise under certain circumstances I might have been against abortion.A person, and certainly not a President, can’t just make stuff up w/ out consequences.Well look this is the hand that we have been dealt. And is for sure an alternate universe, not doubt about that. And a scary one at that. What’s unfortunate though is that most people who are battling the President (pundits and the media and ordinary citizens) don’t understand how he ticks to even begin to be able to make any headway with him or make things as best as it can be given the power that he has. Definitely the wrong approach.

          2. Salt Shaker

            There is NO alternative other than the media questioning or challenging his unsubstantiated facts or claims. Trump perpetually falls back on claims of fake news when he often is the primary instigator. That’s the plain truth. How much time and resources continue to be spent on a bogus wiretapping claim? Literally millions of dollars in manpower w/ abso no basis. It’s shameful (and scary).

          3. LE

            There is NO alternative other than the mediaMy mistake I agree with that and will redact that part of my comment. Didn’t mean to suggest in any way that the media should give him a pass.How much time and resources continue to be spent on a bogus wiretapping claim? Literally millions of dollars in manpower w/ abso no basis.Well you are only saying that (as others are) because you are trying him with the general ‘he’s a nut and won’t provide any evidence’ (which is all true by the way he is a nut and he won’t provide any evidence). But still in all fairness you can’t convict someone based on past nuttiness as much as you want to do that. If that is the case we don’t need trials and courts we can all just figure it out and hang people in the village square. Not defending what he does or how he acts. It’s fucked up. But you know if you are in a room with a vicious dog and a steak you gotta figure out a way to get the dog to not come after you and go after the steak. You are not going to just get angry and have the dog go away.Very un presidential that is for sure but it’s just the way the man fights.

          4. Salt Shaker

            Nobody is convicting anybody. A DA decides to prosecute when there’s a preponderance of evidence, or if questionable sends a case to a grand jury. A President gets the benefit of doubt here, in deference to the position and in the absence of evidence, but continued behavior like this (e.g., false, unsubstantiated claims) over time can be construed as an abuse of power.

          5. PhilipSugar

            This was really not a political post.

          6. Salt Shaker

            Well, this thread isn’t about “tolerating different viewpoints” on the Kardashians. Certainly your or anyone’s prerogative not to engage, but lets call a spade a spade. Fake news, biased media, tolerance, echo chambers, etc., is all in the context of politics. Respectfully, just sayin.

          7. PhilipSugar

            Yes, but it happens on both sides. That is what people don’t understand.

      2. Pete Griffiths

        When you say ‘we’ it is perhaps worth remembering that their are millions of people who have no interest in triangulating onto facts to draw conclusions. Their worldview determines their conclusions.

        1. PhilipSugar

          Yes and people that view other people as not “enlightened” would be prime candidates for jumping to conclusions.

          1. Pete Griffiths

            What class of conclusions do you feel they would be most likely to jump to?

          2. PhilipSugar

            When you use the word “they” it says it all.

          3. Pete Griffiths

            What does it say to you?

    2. Pete Griffiths

      I don’t think things ever were ‘objective’ and I believe that worldviews have always framed perception.The point is that some worldviews are more open to facts than others and hence different worldviews receive facts differently.Lakoff has written extensively on this. For a popular account I recommend “Don’t think of an Elephant”…

      1. awaldstein

        purchased and thanks.but this is less about objective or subjective and more about trust and truth.those are the axis that have gotten polarized.

        1. Pete Griffiths

          I think the work of Lakoff and others along these lines is precisely addressing the issues of trust and truth.I don’t want to beat this to death but imho…It is your worldview that (above all) determines who you trust and what you are likely to consider to be true.With regard to truth: there are world views, for example, that put a high premium on facts and tight argument precisely to deliver high confidence that a proposition is true. There are other world views that don’t adhere to such values. There is, imho, more objectivity to be had in such a world view as opposed to world views that don’t value facts and peer reviewed argument as a guide to truth. An obvious example is science that is our premier truth seeking world view for (at least) the natural world. It is because scientists share a world view that they are prepared to invest trust in the results of others.Consider by way of contrast a community bound together by religious belief. Go further and imagine a group whose such beliefs you find to be patently wrong e.g. a cargo cult. The fact that such a group has nothing you would recognize as meaningful evidence to support their beliefs doesn’t stop them holding them and trusting each other as members of the community.It is possible to argue that both world views are equally valid in some sense. But imho whilst they both deliver on trust and social cohesion they don’t both deliver on truth. Some world views are better with facts and argument than others and this does bear directly upon truth and trust.(I don’t think trust and truth have become polarized. I believe they have always been polarized. There have always been communities united by worldview but believing that other communities don’t share their ‘truth’ and are not to be trusted. The critical change has been that the submerged voices of many, submerged because they didn’t have access to mass media dominated by one worldview, now have access through technology to each other and the world. And because there are millions of them, this is a voice heard around the world.)

          1. awaldstein

            Nicely said.I’ll spend some time on the book and this thought.Thanks

          2. Pete Griffiths

            :)Should the book tickle your fancy and the idea continue to intrigue you, just message me. Plenty more interesting material on this topic. It is more important than ever before.

  2. Richard

    We need more curious journalists at networks like CNN, men and women with interests beyond politics.

    1. awaldstein

      The issue is that everything is politicized by definition. That is the status quo.

      1. Richard

        Yep, but media and their talking heads profit from this trend. Ted Turner started something amazing, but it’s twilight time. journalists should be ashamed. https://uploads.disquscdn.c

      2. Richard

        Even Sarah Silverman, why would she give up a career in comedy ?

  3. pointsnfigures

    Disagree with some of the premises Laurie has. I like that Andy said something to the effect of “your news isn’t news, it’s stories.” Hence the room for each political side to call the other guilty of spreading fake news.What is an interesting point to think about is at the end. Andy talks about conviction and I think he is correct. News has been totally disrupted. What’s the purpose of a news organization? If you asked a news reporter or executive they would tell you “to inform the public”. But, it’s pretty clear that isn’t happening. What they really are doing is competing for ad revenue.Maybe they need a rethink on their purpose and business model.

  4. Rob Underwood

    The China Cat opener is strong. Happy to see the dead making an AVC showing. Can Phish be far behind? Andy’s musical tastes cast a long shadow.

  5. Pete Griffiths

    IMHO the most important change is that due to the internet millions of people who have never had any interest in fact or argument and consequently were not moved by reporting that has long been built on facts and argument have for the first time found a way of finding themselves and uniting around media outlets in which fact and argument aren’t important. Such forms of media have enabled millions to organize their fact lite world view on a global scale.Trump’s pick of Twitter was brilliant precisely because he didn’t present fact or argument, he simply shouted his beliefs.

    1. PhilipSugar

      I would look in the mirror.

      1. Pete Griffiths

        What did you find when you looked?

        1. PhilipSugar

          Ok. Last comment to you ever.

      2. SubstrateUndertow

        Are you implying that one is an elitist if they acknowledge that people develop different levels of epistemological technique and thus better or worse information verification skills ?

        1. Pete Griffiths

          Sounded like that to me 🙂

        2. PhilipSugar

          Read that one back to yourself. Must feel good. Look at what I’ve sold my companies for. Must feel bad. Going bowling with those deplorables. Do you understand you elected Trump not me??? I didn’t vote for him, but you elected him.

  6. Salt Shaker

    The Butterfly Effect. Small waves are created by small media enterprises, conspiracy theorists, etc., and subsequently fueled by MSM and most damning, our Pres in Chief, who uses spin, obfuscation and narcissistic tendencies to deflect the truth. The Obama “wiretapping” (yes, in quotes) is a case in point. Richard Nixon was a liar and a racist, but would you consider him delusional? Prob not. Interpreting and analyzing irrational thoughts, opinions and behavior is a field for psychiatrists, not MSM.How often does today’s news media and WH publicists grapple with this question: “What did he mean by that?” Daily, and that shouldn’t be.

  7. LE

    What has changed about news and telling stories? It has followed the very predictable pattern that exists in small groups of people. You have less truth because you need a way to steal and hold the rest of the groups attention. What works when you have 3 people is not the same as when you have 12 people as an analogy. Think of social settings you have been in and how truth is often stretched in ways to make things seem more interesting than they are.With 3 people there are only 3 people competing for the attention of the group. With 12 there are 4 times as many. As such an interesting story that you have to tell can easily be surpassed by another group member. And here is the thing thing. One of those group members (especially if the group grows larger) will inevitably embellish or hold back important facts in order to be able to keep the groups attention and focus. Human behavior. Everything in nature repeats.So, this is no different than what has happened with the media. Back in the day of less competition you could be more honest. So you were. Because your competition was limited and they had no need to cut corners or cheat. Today with all of the sources of news, information and attention vying for eyes and ears it’s vastly different. And it’s not going to change. If anything it will get much worse.I have observed this with the Nightly News. Example is a story just last night about a new study on a cholesterol treatment. It showed the usual suspect Cleveland Clinic doctor (Steven Nissan MD.) with 1 sentence being effusive (because it matched the story) and then quickly cut him off before he had a chance to offer a more circumspect view of the drug. Very clear to me what was happening. Most likely that story would have never run on the news 20 years ago. (Now I will look for proof to back up my point).Hah! Yawn! Here is is in this story quoting Nissan:…Many doctors wondered if such low levels would be dangerous, causing memory problems or dementia due to a lack of cholesterol, said Dr. Steven Nissen, chair of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, who was not involved in the new research but has led clinical trials of PCSK9 inhibitors in the past.The above was left out of the tv segment last night even though they were interviewing Nissan. He appeared to overly enthusiastic which is what led me to believe that something was rotten in Denmark and it was.

    1. PhilipSugar

      I cannot agree more.

  8. Seine

    Laurie is more obsessed with format than content. I did not have the felling she was realizing it. Sorry Laurie but we don’t go anymore to CNN for a breaking news, there are today many other channels . The big difference today is we are realizing more than ever how much news get spin…Too bad David and Andy could not get any in depth conversation on the topics of trust and conviction.

  9. jason wright

    why did (most) people stop going to church?

  10. Drew Meyers

    Seems clear there is no need for a 24/7 news cycle..

  11. pointsnfigures

    I don’t want to go there on this blog. If you watched MSNBC and the release of the “Trump taxes” and thought about bias and other things you will understand exactly what I mean. The left thinks Breitbart is fake news. There is plenty of fake news to go around and CNN is among the worst.

  12. LE

    In response to your comment someone said the following but it was removed by a moderator. I took the time to reply to it so I will do so here. Not sure why it was removed.One of the most insidious and brilliant and unfortunate successes of this administration is to make the world think that Breitbart is a legitimate news source.Seems like they’ve won on that.Crazy.My thoughts below:Actually I would argue that the traditional media is what gave power to Breitbart just like they gave power to Trump. Really. With Trump it was unavoidable perhaps but with Breitbart the more attention they gave it the more power Breitbart had.It would be interesting to study different news organizations to see how they differ in terms of ‘legitimacy’. I suspect that we would find that it’s a bit like paying taxes. Some people are just more of a pig than others but pretty much everyone most likely is cheating in some way knowingly if they are in a position to do so. And if they need to do so it’s even more likely.So it’s not like a clear demarcation point with news and truth. (Per my other comment about the cholesterol drug on NBC last night).It’s not pregnancy or cheating on your wife or girlfriend. [1][1] Even that line is different depending on the participants. Is it cheating to have dinner with a female person and not tell your wife if it is out of character and not business etc? And even the definition of life differs depending on who you ask, right?

  13. PhilipSugar

    What a great video. Just a great video.

  14. PhilipSugar

    Thank you for sharing. Thanks so much.

  15. LE

    That’s actually an interesting video. My bias is to think that the reason the kids couldn’t answer the question is that they weren’t a) taught the specific answer to the question and it was phrased broadly and b) didn’t spend enough time as kids tinkering, experimenting and failing. [1] With ‘b’ they didn’t learn from the ground up by experience and so they weren’t able to be able to think clearly on why the experiment might fail or what the factors were at least when put on the spot. As students probably not allowed to say ‘need to think about that’ might appear weak who knows.After all the type of power and the type of bulb is the first thing that comes to mind with a question like this so the answer is ‘it depends’.They didn’t show the audience what the students saw either the battery or the bulb. So that is manipulative as well (fake to make the story more compelling).[1] Below: A hard drive I am taking apart to see if I could get it to work w/o a clean room…. https://uploads.disquscdn.c

  16. Richard


  17. PhilipSugar

    It is the type of question I ask, I ask at every interview So damn easy my 12 year old should get it.One wire to the side of the bulb bottom of bulb on other terminal.It is why “teaching for the test” is so stupid.Can you imagine being an engineer and not knowing this?You should get your diploma revoked.This is how we get things like the mortgage backed securities debacle.The model says… dumb shit: people who have bad credit and no money are not going to pay back loans on overpriced houses they can’t afford.I see this so often. Living in an intellectual bubble is as bad as being a total ignorant hick. People just don’t get this and that is why they get blindsided.