Did tech geniuses trick people into voting Trump?

They did not.

Hi there and Merry Christmas!

Sometimes I get assigned a story (versus doing a story I think of and pitch). It can be a nice change of pace. Maybe it’s because I’m on monthly late duty, and there’s a business executive in need of an obit. (That’s tonight’s work.) But this assignment was to figure out what the hell Brad Parscale is up to since he was tackled by a SWAT team outside his home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

My main thing with Brad — and generally the narrative around tech and Trump — is that social media is a really easy scapegoat. It’s a lazy explanation for why Trump won in 2016 and the panic around it was totally overblown.

It’s relaxing to say Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook tricked Americans into voting for Trump. Or that it was Russia. Or viral disinformation. Or some magic algorithms. Maybe it was because of Cambridge Analytica, secret data theft and manipulation that did it. Any two conservatives emailing each other became The Dark Web.

Brad Parscale was a supposed conductor. I remember really believing each of these explanations as each news cycles rose and fell. The trouble is, the actual flesh and blood Brad Parscale is not Svengali but a pretty basic marketing bro. The story explores his fall and, yes, figures out what he’s working on now, which is a new marketing thing called Nucleus to sell to conservatives.

The other fun part about this assignment is I got to work with a more experienced colleague, Annie Karni.

Here’s our Bradley Parscale story: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/24/us/politics/brad-parscale-trump-campaign.html

Coming soon from the New York Times x NO CHILL productions: a feature + video about the sperm industry (inspired by . . . personal needs); a story about how hard it is to be a small business owner; a feature on the exodus from San Francisco; and, a piece on how working from home has made workplace culture into internet culture.

I hope everyone reading this has a really wonderful holiday weekend. On personal notes, I just started Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles. It’s been raining in LA but today was hot. Bar and I adopted a second dog from the same shelter to be Buzz’s wife, so we’re having fun being cozy and watching them chase each other in circles.

We’re torn on a name…Bar wanted Olive, but then we got word it might be cursed, plus Olive is maybe too cool for us. So the big debate now is: Dolly, Ollie or Goldie (Lox)? Opinions welcome.

Til next time!

Nellie