Comments: Week of October 1, 2018

Photo: Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images (Protester); Mark Peterson/Redux (Booker); Nigel Parry for New York Magazine (Graham)

1. In New York, Soon-Yi Previn, the wife of Woody Allen and the adopted daughter of Mia Farrow, broke her silence three decades after being at the center of Allen and Farrow’s very public, acrimonious breakup (“Introducing Soon-Yi Previn,” September 17–30). In the story, written by Daphne Merkin, Previn talks about years of what she claims was mistreatment at the hands of Farrow, the inception of her own relationship with Allen, and her now 20-year marriage to the director. In the Guardian, Hadley Freeman wrote, “The first, and most obvious, thing to say is that Soon-Yi Previn has every right to tell her story, and any publication has the right to publish it … I admire Previn for finally speaking out after having been spoken about for so long. But that she has had to speak out at all is, ultimately, an indictment of the grown-ups who were long ago supposed to look after her.”

As the profile acknowledged, Merkin has been friendly with Allen over the years — that relationship was indeed a lens of the article, and for some a disqualifying one. In a statement, Dylan’s brother Ronan Farrow defended his mother from Previn’s portrayal: “As a brother and a son, I’m angry that New York Magazine would participate in this kind of a hit job, written by a longtime admirer and friend of Woody Allen’s.” Readers also raised this objection in letters to us, with Michele Whitney writing, “Publishing a thinly veiled attack piece on Mia Farrow, written by a longtime friend of Allen, is beneath you and betrays the trust your subscribers put in you week after week.”

However, the journalist Ash Carter wasn’t moved by this vein of criticism: “I have heard the complaint that Merkin was too close to the subjects. But the fact is that Mia, Dylan, and Ronan have spoken to writers they trust, namely Maureen Orth and Nicholas Kristof. Why should Soon-Yi deny herself the same privilege? In any case, people who claim to value truth should want more testimony rather than less.” Another reader, the poet Cathy Park Hong, tweeted, “The Soon-Yi profile makes me sad & it has nothing to do with Dylan. Sad that it’s taken this long for Soon-Yi to speak. Sad that we’ll never know the truth. Sad that she sounds strong & independent but everyone dismissed her as docile and blank. Sad that no one’s talking about race … Why do we focus only on Dylan’s trauma? Why don’t we also talk about Soon-Yi’s trauma (by both Woody and Mia) and the traumas of Thad and Moses and Lark, the forgotten children of this whole sad saga?”

2. In her profile of the Trump-hating turned Trump-embracing senator from South Carolina (“The ‘Little Jerk,’ ” September 17–30), Lisa Miller asked: “What happened to Lindsey Graham?” On Twitter, @704heather wrote, “This is the most fair and well-written piece I’ve read lately, and it explains a lot about who Sen. Graham is and how he operates.” Emma Dumain tweeted, “The ultimate thesis of this story is correct: [Graham] hasn’t changed. He has always been a political operator who seeks relevance and influence by working within the system, and doesn’t care how it might look to ­outsiders,” though @TonyDenny countered, “That is also known as ‘getting things done.’ ” In a letter, one South Carolinian, Jane Lloyd, weighed in: “I am a constituent of Lindsey Graham’s and have contacted his office in the past with concerns on bills and other issues and received the typical carbon copy responses. I no longer bother to contact. However, I can answer your question. What happened to Lindsey Graham? Mark Sanford lost his race after Trump weighed in on his election. That’s what happened to Lindsey Graham.”

*This article appears in the October 1, 2018, issue of New York Magazine. Subscribe Now!

Comments: Week of October 1, 2018