Two years before the president’s assassination, Dallas Morning News publisher Ted Dealey initiated a public showdown with Kennedy during what was supposed to be a friendly luncheon with Texas newspaper publishers. The story is documented in the new book Dallas 1963:
“Dealey can’t stand it. Leaning forward, half out of his seat, he suddenly interrupts Kennedy and speaks forcefully across the elegant dining table:
“‘Isn’t one of the purposes of this meeting to get an expression of grassroots thinking in Texas?’
“Kennedy smiles, perhaps unsure where things are headed, and slowly nods in agreement.
“Dealey abruptly growls: ‘Well … That being the case, I will present the grassroots thinking in Texas as they have been presented to me and as I understand them.’
“The clinking and scraping of silverware against the china comes to a halt. The room is silent, except for the sound of Texas publishers shifting uneasily in their seats.”
“Why do we all not feel well? And what can we do about it?” asks GOOP, Gwyneth Paltrow’s much-mocked wellness empire. The answer might be “Visualize your aura and shove a rock into your vadge for good measure,” but it might also be “Get the medical community to realize how badly it’s failing women.” At The Baffler, Jessa Crispin wonders about the “curious feminist logic of GOOP” and how the internet is decentralizing and democratizing medicine, for better or worse.
This is, of course, the same internet that tells women their children’s autism is caused by vaccines and that Goop uses to distribute its theory that walking barefoot on the grass helps realign the electromagnetic fields of the body. It’s also the same internet I turned to when I was vomiting up the iron supplements the doctor prescribed for my chronic anemia. He refused to give me anything else, other than the suggestion to “eat more spinach,” but an online forum told me about the easily absorbed nettle tea, which I have been using effectively to control my anemia for years. It’s also the same internet that told me I had scabies or syphilis when really I had an allergic reaction to my soap, and the same internet that tells me my coffee beans carry a toxic mold and are slowly killing me…
Viewed against the sobering backdrop of Western medical history, the Goop turn in female self-treatment can be seen as more than just another jaded journalistic narrative about delusional women and their soft-headed disbelief in science. In important respects, it is also an attempt to wrest control and authority back from a medical community that has mistreated women for centuries. A male-dominated medical world is no longer the authority on the female body—I am, with the help of online message boards, Goop newsletters, and random Google searches for things like “why is my discharge like this” or “how do I get rid of wrinkles” or “can a person eat nightshades and not die.” We could be regressing, then, to something like the oral medical tradition of the medieval midwife, where knowledge is come across sporadically, where anecdote is given as much credence as experimentation, and the knowledge base is decentralized.
On a recent episode of the Longform podcast, the hosts heaped praised on Jodi Kantor and her reporting for the bombshell Harvey Weinstein exposé. The episode was released the same day the New York Times published a story reported by Kantor, Melena Ryzik, and Cara Buckley in which five women accuse comedian Louis C.K. of sexual harassment and assault, a story that had existed in a similar whisper network among female performers for years.
The praise for Kantor, and for the investigations by the Times in general, reminded some listeners of Longform’s 2016 interview with Leah Finnegan, in which she spoke about her experience as an editor at Gawker. Host Aaron Lammer questioned Finnegan about a post published by Defamer in May of 2015, about Louis C.K.’s predatory behavior.
“Part of the reason I went to Gawker was that spirit of wanting to fuck shit up, being into gossip, wanting to talk about things people didn’t necessarily want to talk about,” Finnegan tells Lammer. She cites their stories about Bill Cosby, Louis C.K., and Fred Armisen — “recurring rumors about … men who do gross things” — as examples.
There are rumors that maybe have truth to them, but the Times would not report on them, because they can’t really nail it down. But Gawker will report on them. I think that that spirit is really important, saying what no one else will say, just so it’s out there.
Lammer responds with an oddly irrelevant bit of whataboutism. “Couldn’t you also say that Donald Trump is also saying what no one else will say?” He criticizes the Gawker post as “weird and thin, even for an allegation,” describing it as “some guy said his friend was in a backstage … with Louis C.K. and he whipped out his dick and asked her to do something with it.”
Anjan Sundaram | Bad News: Last Journalists in a Dictatorship | Doubleday | January 2016 | 27 minutes (7,197 words)
Tonight, Jon Stewart ends his 16-year run as host of “The Daily Show.” Here are seven stories looking back at how Stewart became the most influential fake-news anchor in the history of television:
1. Is Jon Stewart the Most Trusted Man in America? (Michiko Kakutani, New York Times, Aug. 15, 2008)
“Hopefully the process is to spot things that would be grist for the funny mill,” Mr. Stewart, 45, said. “In some respects, the heavier subjects are the ones that are most loaded with opportunity because they have the most — you know, the difference between potential and kinetic energy? — they have the most potential energy, so to delve into that gives you the largest combustion, the most interest. I don’t mean for the audience. I mean for us. Everyone here is working too hard to do stuff we don’t care about.”
In a recent piece for New York, Jeff Wise reflected on how he became obsessed with the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 over a yearlong period—falling in with a virtual group of borderline-obsessive amateur aviation sleuths, formulating his own theory, and ultimately paying out of pocket to hire translators and researchers. But before he went down the conspiracy rabbit hole, he was just a pilot and science writer who’d written a big piece for Popular Mechanics about the mysterious crash of Air France 447 way back in 2009. A few days after MH370 disappeared, an editor at Slate emailed Wise asking him to write a short piece about it. It ran on March 12th, and the next morning he was invited to go on CNN. Soon, he was on-air up to six times a day:
There was no intro course on how to be a cable-news expert. The Town Car would show up to take me to the studio, I’d sign in with reception, a guest-greeter would take me to makeup, I’d hang out in the greenroom, the sound guy would rig me with a mike and an earpiece, a producer would lead me onto the set, I’d plug in and sit in the seat, a producer would tell me what camera to look at during the introduction, we’d come back from break, the anchor would read the introduction to the story and then ask me a question or maybe two, I’d answer, then we’d go to break, I would unplug, wipe off my makeup, and take the car 43 blocks back uptown. Then a couple of hours later, I’d do it again. I was spending 18 hours a day doing six minutes of talking.
As time went by, CNN winnowed its expert pool down to a dozen or so regulars who earned the on-air title “CNN aviation analysts”: airline pilots, ex-government honchos, aviation lawyers, and me. We were paid by the week, with the length of our contracts dependent on how long the story seemed likely to play out. The first couple were seven-day, the next few were 14-day, and the last one was a month. We’d appear solo, or in pairs, or in larger groups for panel discussions—whatever it took to vary the rhythm of perpetual chatter.
Anyone who has pets knows the alternate joys and pains of the walks, the smells, the snuggling and whining and inconvenient late-night demands, as well as the inevitable misery of their absence once they die. If crapping on the floor was a business, some of us pet-owners would be millionaires. In The Morning News, Gregory Martin writes about his relationship with his ancient cat Tess, relating his cat’s aging to human aging, and exploring what it means to have quality of life.
How many nights in a row would Tess have to pee in the bed before enough was enough? Five? Ten?
When I think about putting Tess down because she’s driving me crazy, ravaging my sleep, I can’t help but wonder: How will things go for me someday when I’m in diapers and think that Christine is my mom?
The more I think about it, the more I think that “How much are you willing to put up with?” is not the right question. Because no matter how tired I am, the answer is always: I could put up with more. Yes, I need four cups of coffee just to get going on the day. But I am not at my limit. To say so would be ridiculous. To even suggest it is to fail to recognize how many people are, actually, at their limit, or beyond it, and not because of their old cat.
Below, our favorite stories of the week. Kindle users, you can also get them as a Readlist.
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