The worst thing about being a reporter in the age of Donald Trump is, of course, the president’s concerted attacks on the free press. The second-worst thing is well-meaning readers who say things like, “Thank you for what you do.”
I mean, I appreciate it. Last week, on assignment in Cape Cod — hardship travel, I know — I thanked myself for what I do with a dip in the Atlantic and a buttery lobster roll. Some of my more frontline colleagues, from Elmhurst, Queens, to Wuhan, China, take physical and psychological risks to deliver information that deserve true gratitude.
But when some of you who are alarmed by the rise of Mr. Trump thank a political journalist or a television pundit, you’re feeding our worst instincts — toward self-importance, toward making ourselves the story and toward telling you exactly what you want to hear. And you’re leading us into a dangerous temptation at a time of maximum pressure on the free press.
“The many mainstream journalists who have been charting Trump’s ceaseless outrages for four long years, myself included, inevitably risk becoming performance artists for appreciative readers who already agree with us,” said Frank Rich, the executive producer of the HBO shows “Veep” and “Succession” and a former New York Times columnist. “You have to wonder if any of it has swayed a single Trump voter.”
Wildfires continue to burn without containment up and down the length of the West Coast on Thursday, with smoke blotting out the sun in parts of Oregon and California in particular. In Oregon, officials are beginning to take stock of the damage, particularly from the Glendower Fire, also known as the Almeda Fire, that has threatened parts of the city of Medford, and largely destroyed the towns of Ashland, Phoenix and Talent to the southeast of the city.
Red Flag warnings for critical wildfire weather remain in effect for parts of Oregon and Washington state through the early morning hours Thursday, but after that, weather is expected to improve, with slackening winds compared with the howling gales that caused the fire outbreak to feature so many rapidly spreading blazes at once.
A teenager died after he was stabbed and set on fire in a gruesome attack in a Bronx apartment hallway Wednesday afternoon, police said.
Winston Ortiz, 18, had been in an argument with the assailant sometime before the brutal assault at 3:10 p.m. in a fifth-floor hallway on Woodycrest Ave. at W. 165th St. in Highbridge, police said.
He was stabbed three times in the chest before his assailant poured accelerant on him and lit him ablaze, cops said. Responding cops found him semi-conscious, with extensive burns on his body.
Medics rushed Ortiz to Harlem Hospital in critical condition, but he couldn’t be saved. There were no immediate arrests in the case.
“He is a Christian boy from a Christian family. He was very involved in his church. He just graduated from (Metropolitan) Lighthouse Charter School,” said Susan Coles, 37, a family friend. “He was very quiet. I don’t see him being involved in anything like this.”
Ortiz lived two blocks away from the scene of the attack.
Residents of the fifth floor rushed to the teen’s aid after hearing a girl screaming nearby.
A girl was screaming and I thought her apartment was on fire. When I got there, I saw a kid on the floor. He was on fire,” said one woman, a 34-year-old mom who lives down the hell. She asked her name not be used because the attacker is still at large.
“I started screaming. I was panicked. I screamed to my daughter to call 911,” she said. “I grabbed a bucket and filled it with water. Another woman came and got a bucket.”
She added, “We passed the buckets to other people, and they put him out. I couldn’t recognize him. He was too badly burned.”
The building’s super, Evaristo Rodriguez, 59, said he didn’t recognize the victim.
“When they called us, we thought the apartment was on fire,” he said. He was eating lunch with his adult daughter at the time.
“But when we got up there it was a different story. Somebody had burned somebody else,” Rodriguez said.
“He doesn’t live here. We didn’t recognize this guy. We have no idea what he was doing here.”
The attack happened on the same block where two men were shot outside a bodega Tuesday night. One victim, 21, was shot seven times, while the second, 37, was hit twice. Both survived their wounds.
With Rocco Parascandola
From The New York Times
18-Year-Old Dies After He Is Stabbed and Set on Fire in the Bronx
The teenager was attacked in an apartment building near Yankee Stadium. The police later arrested the brother of his former girlfriend.
Winston Ortiz was shy teenager who family members said had become depressed in recent days over a breakup with his first girlfriend. So, he was excited when he heard from her on Wednesday afternoon, they said, and he left his family’s Bronx apartment in high spirits.
He never returned.
About 3 p.m., Mr. Ortiz was stabbed in the chest, doused with a flammable liquid and then set on fire while he was still alive in the hallway of a nearby apartment building, the police said. He died hours later at a hospital in Harlem.
The next day, the police arrested his former girlfriend’s brother, Adones Betances, 22, on charges of manslaughter and murder. Detectives believed that the two men had argued about Mr. Ortiz’s relationship with Mr. Betances’ 15-year-old sister, said a law enforcement official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an open investigation.
“We got a call from one of the police officers who was at the scene,” his father, who is also named Winston Ortiz, said. “They said his last words to them were his mother’s phone number.”