Irin Carmon and Amy Brittain were on the verge of publishing an investigation looking into sexual misconduct allegations against a powerful executive at CBS. But the Washington Post decided not to run the story. Carmon looks back at how an important story was killed.
One of Fahrenthold’s most impressive journalistic pursuits came after that conversation, when he began to investigate Trump’s charitable giving. Trump had long made loud claims about his charitable donations, but Fahrenthold discovered that although Trump claimed to have donated millions of dollars spread among 400 charities, very few of those charities had any record of Trump’s supposed contributions.
Eleven years ago, one of Washington’s most tradition-bound companies placed a bet that would transform its fortunes. The wager, by The Washington Post Co. and its Kaplan division, took the form of a $165 million purchase of an Atlanta-based chain of for-profit vocational schools that catered to low-income students. The bet was big — the price equal to the profits earned that year by The Post Co.’s print-media pillars: this newspaper and Newsweek magazine. So was the payoff. But what proved a deftly timed business move brought other, less welcome scrutiny to a family-run company that had long prided itself in serving the public interest.
'American Progress' (1872), by John Gast, depicts settlers moving west, guided and protected by a goddess-like figure and aided by technology (railways, telegraphs), driving Native Americans and bison into obscurity. (Fotosearch / Stringer/Getty)
Will Meyer | Longreads | March 2019 | 17 minutes (4,498 words)
In the small New England town where I live, Hadley, Massachusetts, the common lies a few miles from the mishmash of corporate chains that make up the town’s economic center. A quiet residential neighborhood surrounds the common. It is a grassy patch, left vacant most of the year, save for occasional festivals and craft fairs; open space to be utilized as needed, hardly disturbed otherwise. Adjacent to the college towns of Northampton and Amherst, not much happens in Hadley. I go for walks around my neighborhood most days and seldom run into many people. The common feels like an oasis, a fleeting yet contained sliver of vastness.
In 1995, the Hadley Historical Commission installed a plaque on the side of a rock, near the end of the common, between where it meets the main road and a paved rail trail. The plaque commemorates the “17th Century Palisade,” a wall that was “3 fingers thick and 8 feet high” in 1676, 100 years before the American revolution. The “fortification,” the plaque states, “was one mile long by 40 rods wide.” Most saliently, however, “Hadley was then a frontier outpost which felt threatened by Native American attack.” In other words, the settlers built a wall (around the corner from where I live now) both to assert their settlement and ward off perceived threats — namely the brown-skinned Other the United States was founded, at least partially, to pacify and remove. Read more…
One day in 1913, a housewife named Pearl Curran sat down with her friend Emily Grant Hutchings at a Ouija board. Curran’s father had died the year before, and Hutchings was hoping to contact him. While they’d had some success with earlier sessions, Curran had grown tired of the game and had to be coaxed to play. This time, a message came over the board. It said: “Many moons ago I lived. Again I come — Patience Worth my name.”
This moment was the start of a national phenomenon that would turn Curran into a celebrity. Patience Worth, the ghost who’d contacted them, said she was a Puritan who immigrated to America in the late 1600s. Through Curran, she would dictate an astounding 4 million words between 1913 and 1937, including six novels, two poetry collections, several plays, and volumes of witty repartee.
The work attracted national headlines, serious reviews, and a movie deal. Patience Worth’s poetry was published in the esteemed Braithwaite’s anthologies alongside writers like Edna St. Vincent Millay. In 1918, she was named an outstanding author by the Joint Committee of Literary Arts of New York. Her novel, The Sorry Tale, was a bestseller with four printings. The New York Times said her poetry was a “high level of literary quality” with “flashes of genius.” Harper’s Magazine said that the “writings attributed to Patience Worth are exceptional.” The New Republic added: “That she is sensitive, witty, keenly metaphorical in her poetry and finely graphic in her drama, no one can deny.”
Literary Digest summed up the critical interest by writing: “It is difficult not to take Patience Worth seriously.” Read more…
Two years after the death of her owner, Betty learned her mistress was to remarry. She most likely received the news of her mistress’s impending second marriage with great wariness as word spread that Martha Custis’s intended was Colonel George Washington. The colonel was a fairly prominent landowner with a respectable career as a military officer and an elected member of the Virginia House of Burgesses. His marriage to the widowed Martha Custis would offer him instant wealth and the stability of a wife and family that had eluded him.
A huge yet necessary transition awaited Martha Custis as she prepared to marry and move to the Mount Vernon estate, nearly one hundred miles away. For Betty, as well as the hundreds of other slaves that belonged to the Custis estate, the death of their previous owner and Martha’s marriage to George Washington was a reminder of their vulnerability. It was often after the death of an owner that slaves were sold to remedy the debts held by an estate. Read more…
Photos by Nate Gowdy for Longreads and The Stranger.
To cover this past weekend’s inauguration and Women’s March protests in Washington, D.C., Longreads teamed up with Seattle publication The Stranger. Armed with mood rings supplied by their editors, writers Sydney Brownstone and Heidi Groover, along with photographer Nate Gowdy, met those celebrating and protesting, shared their personal perspectives, and examined what it means for the next four years. Here’s their full diary from the events of January 18-23.