Recent Reads Can’t Get Away from Politics. Sad!

We’re really not trying to make Recent Reads all about politics, dear readers. But with the crazy amount of news coming out of Washington these days, much of our collective attention is almost necessarily focused on what’s happening in the Beltway.

We hope our national gaze will turn to other matters – pitchers and catchers report in about a month! – as 2017 progresses. But we’re not holding our breath.

With that, here’s Recent Reads:

BuzzFeed’s decision to publish dossier reasonable – There were plenty of articles this week supporting and decrying BuzzFeed’s decision to publish an unsubstantiated intelligence report alleging that the Russian government had compromising information on Donald Trump. This article probably didn’t garner the most attention, but it’s interesting in that it comes from a PR consultant who works for Republicans and who explained BuzzFeed Editor Ben Smith’s thinking by way of a 15-year-old conversation. I’m not sure where I come down on BuzzFeed’s decision, but this is definitely another instance of the norms of our society changing, and changing rather abruptly. – Paul Wilson

Trump, ‘Lies’ and Honest Journalism – Gerard Baker, The Wall Street Journal’s editor in chief, wrote this piece in response to criticism of his comments on NBC’s “Meet The Press” that he would be careful in using the word “lie” in regard to comments made by Donald Trump. Bottom line: Baker is concerned about certain words and their moral implications, particularly in this tumultuous era. – Abby Moriarty

Brands Start Planning for Unexpected Criticism of Trump – For years now, smart companies have scenario-planned for activist investors, predictable crises and operational snafus. However, they may not have planned to have their actions – positive or otherwise – scrutinized in the blink of an eye in the Twitterverse. That potential is becoming a reality for many companies, particularly given the big changes in Washington. – Larry Larsen

One Man’s Quest to Change the Way We Die – This story is about B.J. Miller, a doctor who has a unique perspective on living and dying due to a near-death experience that left him a triple amputee. We often talk about grit at Greentarget; he has exemplified it in his recovery and now in his work to change the way we approach palliative care. It’s a moving and beautifully written account of his life and mission. – Stephanie Burke

Wearables Could Soon Know You’re Sick Before You Do – Depending on your point of view, this news (which is basically explained in the headline) is either really cool or extremely creepy. But we’re apparently not that far from a time when wearables can tell you you’re coming down with something, allowing you to take action. Here’s hoping technology doesn’t make hypochondriacs act even more like hypochondriacs. – Jackson Pillow

An Experiment in Radical Empathy – After gathering a group of 16 strangers, half vehemently pro-gun, half gun opponents or victims of gun violence, New York magazine put them in a room, paired them off and asked them to share their personal gun stories with one another. Then each had to tell the other’s story – from their partner’s perspective, even using the first person. The results provide a moving, revealing glimpse of the power of empathy – and its limits. – Brandon Copple