Scott Pruitt, Harold Bornstein, Kanye West: Your Wednesday Briefing

The Times, in different phrases

Here’s a picture of today’s front page, and hyperlinks to our Opinion content and crossword puzzles.

What we’re studying

Sam Sifton, our meals editor, recommends this piece in Longreads, an excerpt from a brand new biography of Edward Abbey, the heavy-drinking, philandering “desert rat” who wrote lyrically about wilderness and critically about public land use. “It will make you want to head to the desert and drive,” Mr. Sifton says.

Back Story

The newspaper Pravda formally started publishing in Russia this week in 1912, providing Vladimir Lenin a megaphone for communist thought. (Pravda, which suggests “truth,” was “probably history’s most inaccurately named publication,” The Times once noted.)

One of Pravda’s early editors was Joseph Stalin. With the publication Izvestia, which suggests “news,” it turned a propaganda instrument of the Soviet Union. The papers’ titles additionally led to a chorus in Soviet life: “There is no news in Pravda and no truth in Izvestia.”

A bust of Vladimir Lenin at Pravda’s workplaces in Moscow.CreditSergei Ilnitsky/European Pressphoto Agency

With a circulation of 11 million at its peak — aided by necessary subscriptions for presidency organizations — Pravda spoke with the “absolute, leaden authority of the Kremlin,” The Times wrote in 1996.

After the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, Pravda misplaced its captive viewers. The subsequent 12 months, it lamented in a note to readers the market forces that had led to a quick shutdown:

“Under the Czar, the newspaper was closed nine times, then four under the Provisional Government, and then in August 1991. The time has come to put us on our knees once again. Some politicians think that 80 years of Pravda can be struck out of history.”

The paper was later purchased by two Greek capitalists, nevertheless it nonetheless struggled, briefly shutting down once more in 1996. Today, its circulation is about 100,000.

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