On Thursday, before taking off for a few days, I did a FaceTime commentary in which I talked about the roving underground parties reportedly taking place all over New York City (and, undoubtedly, in a lot of other places) where people can congregate in tight spaces without social distancing and without wearing masks, giving in to a desire to socialize and deluding themselves that the pandemic's threats are in the history books. It proves, I said, that Forrest Gump's mother was right: Stupid is as stupid does.
In that same faceTime, I addressed some recent criticism from readers who feel that MNB's coronavirus coverage is a) off-mission, and b) too political. While I take those criticisms seriously, I disagree - I think the pandemic is one of the most important stories of the year and maybe of MNB's 18+ year existence, with enormous implications for retail, and so covering it is absolutely on-brand. (I acknowledge that I write about it from a variety of angles, some of them tangential and even digressive, but I think that's also very much on-brand.)
As for being political - I've done my best to write about the science, and have done my absolute best to not be political. In fact, I remain amazed that so much of the reaction to the pandemic has been political. But if it had not taken this turn, I would be writing pretty much the same stories with the same attitude … if this seems political, that is other people's perception, not mine. I still need to write the stories, and try hard not to be ideological - because, as Pete Hamill taught us, ideology is a lousy substitute for actual thought.
One MNB reader responded:
Been a reader for a long-time. By and large I really look forward to Morning News Beat each day. This morning however I watched your “Face Time with the Content Guy” segment and I was first, frustrated by your rant regarding the underground parties in New York. Not because I don’t agree they are stupid or potentially dangerous. It is because you sound like an old curmudgeon. And by the way, I am about your age. I agree, stupid people will be stupid. I don’t think however, you should waste your time or mine playing the role of Grandpa!
This leads to my next point. In the latter part of the same FaceTime, you commented that some of your readers think you are getting away from the morning news beat mission. You immediately let them know they were wrong (I think without counting to 10 first). I cannot tell you if you have drifted from your mission or not (I have not seen your mission statement), however I can tell you that you are getting away from your normal process of relating just about everything you comment about, to our industry. I don’t know if it is only because of the Covid-19 crisis or that we are getting close to an election, however you have drifted.
I don’t mind drifting to sports or a wine recommendation every now and then. I don't, however, enjoy the preaching about what people are not doing right in their lives. Leave that to the preachers and politicians. Apparently I am not alone in this view. I will continue to read and listen because the morning news beat is very good; and your interview with Scott Moses this week was as good as it gets. When you start to drift away from what you normally do, I will move on to the next article. Thanks for listening.
A few things here.
I agree - the interview with Scott Moses is as good as it gets.
FYI … I've been doing pandemic wrap-ups daily since early March, but I look forward to the day when I don't have to do one. I wish that day would come tomorrow. But that's not likely.
Grandpa? Really? (That's sort of hitting below the belt…) If you've been reading MNB for any length of time, then you know that I've been getting cranky about certain things for more than 18 years. I wouldn't call it getting cranky, though. I like to think of it as righteous outrage. And preaching, to some extent, is what I do … which is why I often refer to MNB as my soapbox.
One other thing. You suggest that I didn't count to 10 before disagreeing with the readers who criticized me. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Just ask Michael Sansolo, who I often call about these things to talk them through before I write them. The conversations are frequent and, I'm sure he'd say, seemingly endless. I may be wrong, but I at least try to be thoughtful about it.
MNB reader Jim Antrup weighed in:
Your FaceTime this morning was very on target, my wife and I have the very same conversation it seems daily and “Stupid is as Stupid Does” some it up perfectly. Also I don’t believe you have taken a political stance at all.
Keep it up, I enjoy your column and listening daily.
MNB reader Deborah Faragher wrote:
While I understand that folks may not like your coverage of the pandemic, not only is it one of the biggest stories of our lifetime, it is having an impact on nearly every single aspect of our lives. It seems to me that its importance and its effect on everything we do and everywhere we go is certainly worthy of your coverage. It is especially helpful to see how the virus is being handled by the companies we rely on for our food and everyday essentials and more. It is sad that it has become political and that seems to be serving to prolong the situation the country finds itself in. Your coverage is helpful and I, for one, will continue to read it with interest.
MNB reader Dr. Allen F. Wysocki wrote:
I agree with you 100 percent. Keep telling the Covid story. I have really enjoyed tuning in to FaceTime each morning.
MNB reader Joe Axford wrote:
KC I think your Coronavirus coverage has been just right, and not political at all. I would venture to say the people complaining are the same people who won't wear masks or get vaccines.
MNB reader Mary Henslee wrote:
Just wanted to add my voice to the many others I am sure you are hearing from this morning, to say I agree that you are covering COVID19 correctly and appropriately. The pandemic clearly has had the biggest impact on retail of any major event of our time, and as such requires daily coverage. You have done a good job in reporting the facts and providing useful insights.
Please continue to do the right thing, by encouraging both retailers and their customers to do the right thing.
MNB reader Rich Heiland wrote:
Totally agree with this morning's video. I have become a fan of MorningNewsBeat because, even though I have nothing to do with the grocery industry other than being a consumer, I find your news and comments about that industry, as well as others, to transcend one category and I often share them with my clients. COVID-19 is the single biggest event of my lifetime (and I will be 74 in September) in terms of the scope, pace and permanence of change and impact on not just business but all aspects of life. I am working with clients right now who are struggling with trying to think strategically when they don't even know what tomorrow will look like. I find MorningNewsBeat to be a valuable resource as I work with them. As you noted many have made this crisis political so it is unavoidable that you from time to time mention politics. As a former journalist your skin is thick enough to take the heat and your instincts are solid. Keep it up!
Thanks, all. Your comments mean a lot.