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I Read the Times Because You Read the Times. Right?

Based on an hour spent pinballing around the Web, I’d say item No. 1 is the arrest of professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. The actual event occurred a few news cycles ago, but it seems the commentary is just starting to rev up. Several blogs (including John McWhorter’s on TNR.com) have begun tearing into the issue of racial relations in a post-Obama America. Gates’ daughter has a Q&A with her dad on the front page of the Daily Beast. I’d expect the Times will have the final word in this coming Sunday’s Week in Review—just as everyone else is moving on to next week’s cocktail grist.

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Item No. 2 is the continuing health care debate, paired with expectation-setting for Obama’s press conference tonight. The Web seems to be framing this (perhaps as a result of the David Brooks “game-changer” referenced yesterday—which of course I still haven’t been allowed to read, damn it) as a delicate moment for Obama. Lots of “at a time when” stuff noting the recent dips in Obama’s poll numbers.

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Item No. 3 broke just a little while ago: DEA agents raided the Houston office of Michael Jackson’s personal doctor. The amazing TMZ.com once again seemed to lead the way, getting the story up just after noon eastern time. I’ve since noticed that BBCNews.com has picked it up. I can’t imagine the ink-stained among us are even aware of this development.

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To address Sam’s point about community: This is still the only thing I feel I’m missing by reading only non-newspaper Web sites. Yes, everybody reads the New York Times because the content is wonderful. But also, and perhaps more than that, everybody reads the New York Times because everybody reads the New York Times. When your friend asks, “Did you see that story in the Times about the hipster types who enjoy swimming in water-filled dumpsters?” (I got e-mailed a link to this story, but dutifully did not click), you feel left out of the conversation, no matter how ridiculous the story may be. You feel left out of the community of Times readers—which happens to include everyone I know.

—Seth

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