2020年5月22日 星期五

The Daily: The Kindness of Strangers

The story of our show about a restaurant owner grappling with reopening.
Jasmine Lombrage

Last Friday’s episode about Jasmine Lombrage, a restaurant owner in Baton Rouge, La., struggling with the decision of whether to reopen, struck a chord with many of you. There was an outpouring of feedback.

It turns out finding Jasmine was no simple task. So I asked senior producer Clare Toeniskoetter how it happened:

“As more and more states allowed restaurants to reopen for dine-in service, I really wanted to hear from a restaurant owner grappling with that decision. So producer Daniel Guillemette and I made a list of states that had allowed restaurants to reopen, divided them up, and started cold-calling. We ended up talking to restaurant owners all across the country, including in Evansville, Ind.; Texarkana, Texas; and Nashville, Tenn.

“I was particularly interested in Louisiana, knowing how deeply the pandemic has impacted New Orleans. So I just searched online for restaurants in the state, then tried to check their social media to see if they were open before calling. That’s when I stumbled on The Bullfish Bar and Kitchen.

“Its Facebook page said ‘social distancing outside seating available,’ so I gave the restaurant a call. Jasmine picked up the phone. I was immediately struck by how warm she was. She was a natural storyteller, willing to open up about how she was grappling with this moment. Within 10 minutes of chatting with her, I sent a message to the rest of the team. I knew we had found the right person.”


After a couple of hours, I was on the phone with Jasmine, conducting an interview for the next day’s show. As we talked, I understood the weight of Jasmine’s decision: Should she reopen and risk infecting customers, and a member of her family who is immunocompromised? Or should she stay closed and risk losing her home without any income?

A sampling from The Bullfish Bar and Kitchen, which serves a fusion of Caribbean and Southern cuisine.Jasmine Lombrage

After the episode ran, dozens of listeners asked how they could help Jasmine, her family and their staff. One of them set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for them. Donations poured in. Several listeners showed up at the restaurant itself to say hello and meet her daughters, Gaby and Angelle. Soon after, CNN booked Jasmine for an interview.


Jasmine and her husband decided not to open for indoor dining this past Tuesday, as they had originally planned, in part because donations from listeners had provided them with a financial cushion. They tentatively plan to reopen on June 1 — as Jasmine had always wanted.

A few days ago, Clare gave Jasmine a call to check in. She told Clare that she was overwhelmed by the kindness of so many strangers. She was relieved to not be fully reopening right away and more hopeful than ever that the restaurant might survive the pandemic.

Talk to Michael and Clare on Twitter: @mikiebarb and @claretoenis.

‘Ask for PewDiePie interview’

PewDiePie.Screen grab from YouTube

This Saturday on The Daily, you’ll hear the sixth episode of Rabbit Hole. The tech columnist Kevin Roose explains how he convinced PewDiePie, one of the world’s biggest and most polarizing YouTube influencers, to sit down with him for an interview:


For about two years, I had a recurring monthly reminder set up on my Google Calendar: “Ask for PewDiePie interview.”

As a student of internet culture and someone who spends way too much time on YouTube, I’ve been intrigued for years by the Swedish YouTube comedian PewDiePie (real name: Felix Kjellberg). Kjellberg is YouTube’s biggest celebrity — and one of the most famous people in the world. He has more than 100 million subscribers and an intense fandom, known as the “Bro Army,” that hangs on his every word. (If you’ve never heard of PewDiePie, you’re not alone, but you’re also probably not under 25.) He’s also one of YouTube’s most controversial creators, because of his history of edgy, crude humor. Anti-Semitic jokes he told on his channel once got him labeled by critics as an alt-right sympathizer and nearly blew up his career.

I wanted to profile him, badly, but there was a problem: He was aggressively hostile toward the mainstream media, which he said took him out of context and sensationalized its coverage of his channel. Over and over again, I emailed his publicist asking for an interview, and the answer always came back: No thanks.

Still, I kept asking. And finally, last year, I got a surprising call. Kjellberg wanted to talk. Just weeks earlier, the terrorist responsible for the mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand, had said PewDiePie’s name before entering a mosque and killing dozens of Muslims. Kjellberg was upset about being linked to such a horrible tragedy, so he invited me to his hometown — Brighton, a charming seaside city in Britain — to hear him out. It would be his first mainstream media interview in years and a rare chance to see him out of character.

A few days later — after convincing a few editors that landing an interview with PewDiePie, on my beat, was like getting an Oval Office sitdown with the president — I packed my bags and flew to London. I met Kjellberg at an Airbnb near his house, and we talked for hours about his controversies, his political beliefs and his war with the media.

It was a fascinating day, one that revealed to me how Kjellberg feels caught in a tug-of-war between his fans, who want him to push the limits, and the world outside YouTube, where he risks getting in trouble for crossing the line.

After I got back from Britain, I wrote my piece and sent the tape to the Rabbit Hole production team so they could start putting together the episode. Then I finally deleted my calendar reminder.

On The Daily this week

Monday: A larger federal deficit feels like the last thing the country needs right now — but borrowing for bailouts is exactly what some economists say will save the economy. Ben Casselman on the debate in Congress over spending.

Tuesday: Maggie Haberman takes us behind the scenes at the White House, where President Trump has been purging government agencies of top watchdogs.

Wednesday: Some have called the pandemic “the great equalizer.” But is it? We talk to Linda Villarosa about how the coronavirus is compounding existing inequalities — and why so many more black Americans are dying from it.

Thursday: “If I send you home today, you’ll be dead by tomorrow.” This is what one 14-year-old heard after learning he had a mysterious illness connected to the coronavirus. Pam Belluck explains why more kids may get sick.

Friday: Using postcards from the past, the author Jon Mooallem takes us to Alaska to tell the story of how Anchorage responded to the biggest earthquake to hit North America in recorded history. This is one example of how to live when your world falls apart.

That’s it for The Daily newsletter. See you next week.

Have thoughts about the show? Tell us what you think at thedaily@nytimes.com.

Were you forwarded this newsletter? Subscribe here to get it delivered to your inbox.

Love podcasts? Join The New York Times Podcast Club on Facebook.

Need help? Review our newsletter help page or contact us for assistance.

You received this email because you signed up for The Daily from The New York Times.

To stop receiving these emails, unsubscribe or manage your email preferences.

Subscribe to The Times


Connect with us on:


Change Your Email|Privacy Policy|Contact Us

The New York Times Company. 620 Eighth Avenue New York, NY 10018