Comments: Week of October 29, 2018

Photo: Photo portfolio by Amanda Demme for New York Magazine

1. New York’s latest issue was devoted to powerful women talking about ­power: fighting for it, winning it, losing it, wielding it (“Women and Power,” ­October 15–28). Laura McQuade, president and CEO of New York City’s Planned Parenthood, wrote, “In the wake of Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the ­Supreme Court, which left many of us despondent and enraged, it was a pleasure to read the celebration of women’s supreme resilience and grit in this issue that explores the many facets of women’s power in a world determined to diminish us at every turn.” Perhaps unsurprisingly, we heard from readers about who was (and wasn’t) included, such as Michael Rapaport, who tweeted, “Stormy shouldn’t have made The Cut” (a nod to the story’s appearance on New York’s site the Cut). Sonya Barnette wrote, “Thanks for including Marjorie Dannenfelser [the leader of an anti-abortion organization] on your list of powerful women. Pleasantly surprised! Also, thanks for the stories of the powerful women who were grossly underpaid at some point.” Though the issue featured interviews with Dannenfelser, Megyn Kelly, and Nikki Haley, Kristen Weber wrote, “Maybe someday this magazine will be interested in what conservative women think. I will wait, but I won’t hold my breath.” @TheMominatrixx tweeted, “Legend Barbra Streisand & 11-year-old gun-control activist Naomi Wadler on the same magazine cover—now THAT’S badass! Women of ­EVERY age can make their mark!”

2. As part of the same issue, chefs Gabrielle Hamilton and Ashley Merriman reflected, in a story by Maggie Bullock, on their now-abandoned plan to partner with accused sexual harasser Ken Friedman at the Spotted Pig ­(“Gabrielle Hamilton and Ashley Merriman Dreamed of Writing the Second Chapter in the #MeToo Story. Instead, They Got Scorched,” October 15–28). Jodi Kantor, the New York Times journalist who helped expose Harvey Weinstein, tweeted, “Strongly recommend this saga about what happened when the chef and writer Gabrielle Hamilton tried and failed to perform a #MeToo rescue operation. Real talk about mistakes, management, and who (if anyone) can save poisoned institutions and businesses.” Naturally, the story was widely discussed among food writers, with Times restaurant critic Pete Wells commenting, “I don’t know what lesson to take from the Hamilton-­Merriman-Friedman fox-trot except: Don’t give interviews until the ink on the contract is dry.” Eater’s Meghan McCarron added, “At the end of this saga, there’s much more conversation to be had about what Hamilton and Merriman owe other women and the #MeToo movement. All the while, Ken Friedman is presumably still drawing a salary, and possibly a profit, from the ­Spotted Pig, as Hamilton and Merriman are left with ‘an exhausted, sad, lasting woundedness.’ ”

3. In the most recent issue, Olivia Nuzzi detailed “My Surreal, (Semi-) Private Oval Office Press Conference” (October 15–28). Marvin Kalb, author of Enemy of the People: Trump’s War on the Press, the New McCarthyism, and the Threat to American Democracy, responded, “Nuzzi’s article provides excellent insights into how Trump manages his administration. It’s a kind of Off Broadway production. The saddest aspect of this spectacle is that very busy people (the vice-president, the secretary of State, the chief of staff) are then all obliged to play their roles, laughing, joshing, lying, deceiving. Why? Because they know that’s what they must do to retain the boss’s confidence—and their jobs. Thanks to Nuzzi and others like her, we can see through the ‘fake news’ the president was peddling.” The national-security journalist Marcy Wheeler tweeted, “Three reasons why [Nuzzi’s] private Trump interview is so much better than others of the genre: (1) She makes it clear that this is all a big production. (2) She notes explicitly when Trump goes off the record and for how long. (3) This line, which should be in every single story where Trump accuses off-the-record sources as being imaginary friends: ‘ “Well, you’ve cited anonymous sources before,” I said. “Were they made up?” ’ ” Not everyone was quite so taken with the article. @zachlipton tweeted, “It’s wonderfully written and indeed surreal, but the amount of praise that’s being heaped on an Oval Office sit-down in which apparently not a single question of substance, on really any topic at all, is asked really sums up the problems with covering this administration.” Of the antics Nuzzi observed, Bill Kristol added, “The Trump White House is like the court of a third-rate monarch.”

*This article appears in the October 29, 2018, issue of New York Magazine. Subscribe Now!

Comments: Week of October 29, 2018