BROOKE GLADSTONE: But, to be fair, though this week the President did chastise the press that wasn't his only target.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: It’s worth asking ourselves what each of us - as politicians or journalists, but most of all, as citizens - may have done to contribute to this atmosphere in our politics.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Nate Silver published a recent analysis that found that even when journalists attempt to cover, say, Donald Trump in an in-depth, issues-driven way, these stories simply don't gain traction. Here’s Silver on the 538 podcast this week:
NATE SILVER: There has not been a single day since Trump announced his candidacy when any investigative stories, about Trump University, for example, or imminent domain, where that led the news cycle. There have been stories written about that but never led the news cycle.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Why don’t those stories get traction? Is it became we, the news-consuming public, don't truly give a rat’s patoot about them? Martin Bellam, an editor for the Guardian, recently attempted to tackle that foundational question in post this week for the website Medium titled, “The difficulty of getting people to read about Lahore.” He was dismayed by the fact that even though the Guardian led its website with several stories about this week’s horrific bombing in Lahore, Pakistan, leaving at least 75 dead, many of them children and hundreds injured, none of those stories were clicked on enough to make it into the site’s top five most read. Bellam reflected, “It’s harder to get mainstream reader empathy and interest in terrorism attacks that occur further from our shores. Of course, it's natural.
But is it inevitable? Can we change it? Should we even try? Peter Singer is a moral philosopher, a professor of Bioethics at Princeton University, and author of One World: The Ethics of Globalization. Peter, welcome to the show.
PETER SINGER: Thank you, it’s a pleasure to be with you.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: We all know about this concept called homophily. We are drawn to people who are like us. And that – that’s probably evolutionary. As you acknowledge in your book, The Expanding Circle: Ethics, Evolution and Moral Progress, if the manner of our evolution has made our feelings for our kin and for those who have helped us stronger than our feelings for our fellow humans, in general, an ethic that asks each of us to work for the good of all will be cutting against the grain of human nature.
PETER SINGER: Yes, and we just have to face up to that fact. We have to start from that. We don't have to finish there because even if we are pushing against the grain of human nature, we are beings who are capable of thinking for ourselves, acting in ways that we judge to be better, and not just better in accordance with those evolutionary hardwired instincts, but better for others too.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: But if we’re talking about whether or not we read about the attack in Lahore, about which we can do nothing, do you think it's somehow morally requisite for us to actually read that article?
PETER SINGER: I do think it’s morally requisite for us to read that article because it helps to inform us about the nature of the world and some extremist organizations that are capable of carrying out an attack deliberately targeted at a playground for religious reasons.