What I learned from 10 days of observant traveling

Ten days ago I departed from Boston Logan airport. Today I’m returning. In between were speeches, workshops, vacation, and a little bit of insight into what I do and why I do it. On this trip I spent time in Cleveland; New York; the glorious airport in Newark; Provo and Salt Lake City, Utah; and Burlington, Stowe, … Continued

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin tap dances around a $2 trillion mistake

Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, among many others, says that the Trump administration has made a $2 trillion accounting mistake in its budget and tax plan. That’s an oopsie half the size of the federal budget. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin tried to defend it on CNBC, in an epic tap dance. To understand the error, … Continued

With its Seth Rich retraction, Fox News doesn’t behave like news

Right-leaning viewers think Fox News reveals a side of the news not seen in mainstream media. Left-leaning viewers would say the same about MSNBC. But there’s a difference. Fox News just retracted its controversial article about murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich in a way completely different from how journalists should behave. You can read the … Continued

How this guy actually got a job by writing without bullshit

Authors don’t hear from readers that much. It’s usually “there’s a typo on page 116.” But every once in a while, we get something that reveals that our work actually matters. Here’s what Alex from Amsterdam sent me in an email: Mr. Bernoff, I want to send a letter and give my sincere thanks for the insights … Continued

Masha Gessen reveals how meaning and language are crucial

Masha Gessen has written a must-read essay in the New York Review of Books. Her thesis is that once politicians and pseudo-journalists have robbed words of their meaning, we damage our shared understanding of reality. And that’s happening right now. Gessen should know; she was a journalist in Russia in the Soviet era. As she … Continued

Ford, where euphemisms are Job 1

PR people, if you have something unpleasant to say, just say it. Hiding it behind euphemisms doesn’t fool anyone. Today’s case study: Ford’s plan to lay off 10% of its staff, which it calls a “people efficiency action.” According to a Wall Street Journal article, Ford will cut 10% of its global workforce to boost profits, with … Continued