NY Times on Top of the Big Stories: 'How to Get a Selfie With Elizabeth Warren'

July 26th, 2019 3:23 PM

Pro-Democratic hackwork in Thursday’s New York Times: A deeply silly “selfie” story (not even involving actual “selfie” photos) from the campaign trail of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. A step-by-step graphic of just how Warren fans got their pictures taken with the great one herself took up two-thirds of a page of the ostensibly valuable print news section of the paper of record: “How to Get a Selfie With Elizabeth Warren.”

It took three Times employees to carve out this hard-news reporting gem: Thomas Kaplan, Tamir Kalifa, and Eden Weingart. The tone was light and positive throughout:

Sure, you could wear a campaign button. But a photo with the candidate is so much more versatile: suitable for avatars, posting with a clever hashtag, even printing out and framing if you want to go analog.

Posing for the camera with a presidential candidate used to be a perk generally reserved for wealthy donors. At Senator Elizabeth Warren’s events, all it costs is passing some time in a well-organized selfie* line.

(The asterisk above noted that “The pictures are not technically selfies.” But why mar a nifty pro-Warren public relations idea with factual accuracy?)

At a recent event in Lansing, a small army of campaign staff members -- working like a factory assembly line that hums along -- helped usher voters through their encounter with Ms. Warren in eight key steps.

Each staff member plays a different role.

One can’t imagine a conservative Republican, or even Joe Biden, getting this kind of soft-focus, entertainment magazine-style coverage from the New York Times.

Since entering the presidential race, Ms. Warren has taken pictures with more than 38,000 people, her campaign estimates. Ms. Warren says the photos are part of her effort to build what she likes to call a “grass-roots movement.”

“It’s how I make this real, person to person,” she said in an interview. “I know I won’t be able to shake the hand of every single person; I know I won’t be able to take a selfie with every single human being in this country. But I’m going to try.”

The story came complete with 10 “Selfies” with Warren shared by voters.

Ms. Warren’s campaign estimates that she has spent about 107 hours taking pictures in selfie lines since entering the race -- the equivalent of working 9-to-5 for 13 days. At one event in Iowa, she continued posing for pictures in the midst of a tornado warning.

“I have time to do this because I’m not spending hours and days and weeks with big-dollar donors and corporate lobbyists,” Ms. Warren said. “I’m not running around the coasts trying to scoop up as much money as I can. That leaves a lot more time for selfies.”