Comments: Week of February 27, 2023


“Head Games,” February 13–26

Photo: Ellington Hammond

For New York’s latest cover story, ­Simon van Zuylen-Wood wrote about Kyrie Irving and his tumultuous tenure with
the Nets. Rolling Stone’s Jeff Ihaza said the profile was “really good, non-hysterical writing that ­respects the complexity at hand,” and Hunter­ Walker called it “a nuanced look at Kyrie, the rise of internet conspiracy ideology, and Black-Jewish relations.” But radio host T. J. Legacy-­Cole criticized the story as “an anti-Black hit piece … with racial undertones disguised as substantive journalism … Dehumanizing­ Black athletes has become such a perverse fetish in media.” Arianny Mercedes added, “I can’t stand ­Kyrie Irving for basketball reasons, but this is just an ­attack on him as a person.” Myles Brown countered, “This was thorough and fair, which is all I can ask of anything written about Kyrie. Instead of trying to get a sound bite out of him, or raise their profile by ­berating him in some long winded performance, this work actually looks at a person and does its best to objectively ask, ‘what makes someone think that way?’ ” And @busyxb said, “I thought it was incredibly fair and offered him grace in a lot of ways.” ­Commenter algordon99 said, “As an ­American Jew, I don’t think Kyrie is anti-Semitic, I just think he thinks he’s smarter than everyone else because he reads things online and then can’t bring himself to ever admit he might be wrong. Thank god the Knicks didn’t sign him!”

Photo: Jason Nocito


“Get Me Risa Heller!”

Shawn McCreesh profiled the flack ­Manhattan’s elites turn to when they’re in for an especially bad news cycle. “Cracking read on Risa,” tweeted Hiten Samtani, “one of the more interesting characters in the city.” Maxwell Young, the communications director for Mayor Eric Adams, wrote that the article “is fantastic, yet it still undersells her talent and force-of-nature-ness.” While Stuart Anderson­-Davis called it an “enjoyable glimpse into the chaos & moral ambiguity that is working in crisis communications,” Nick Field tweeted, “Feels like we should have more discussion about the relationship between journalists, whose job is to search for the truth, and PR professionals, whose job it is to thwart said search for truth.” ­Political adviser Astrid M. Aune wrote that the story “makes me wistful for what ­everyday ­people could claw back if they had someone­ spinning as hard for them.” Retired­ public-relations-agency ­founder Lloyd Trufelman­ said, “Heller clearly understands how the media works and is to be commended for being straightforward and discouraging her clients from lying. ­However, let’s not kid ourselves about the magical powers of super flacks. I’m sure Heller provided valuable counsel to her ­clients, but no matter how their stories were spun, the ­public reputations of ­people like Jeff Zucker, Jeffrey Toobin, David Paterson, ­Anthony Weiner, Jared Kushner and ­Harvey ­Weinstein will remain tarnished.”


“Crime of the Centuries”

In “Crime of the Centuries,” Greg ­Donahue documented how Michael ­Steinhardt amassed a collection of antiquities, including many that were stolen. In a letter to New York, ­Princeton art historian Chika Okeke-Agulu wrote, “It is clear that museums, museum officials, auction houses and elite dealers have always worked to hide illicit art trade. I fervently await the story of how countless Igbo alusi figures, taken from Igbo communities and exported en masse by well-known dealers during the Biafran War (1967–70), ended up in major European and American collections. There are many private and insti­tutional ­Steinhardts of African art and cultural ­heritage out there and someone needs to shine the light on them as well.” Commenter mjg added, “Collecting anything, antiquities, art, wine, whatever, is a fool’s game. There is so much fraud in the industry that buyers don’t really know if what they actually get is what they believe they’re purchasing. Dealers and auction houses do not stand behind the items they sell, even the fancy shmancy ones. Caveat emptor.”


“Can Prestige TV Be a Video Game?”

In her essay on HBO’s adaptation of The Last of Us, Andrea Long Chu asked “Can Prestige TV Be a Video Game?” Garth Franklin, CEO of the entertainment-news site Dark Horizons, praised it as a “superb piece that touches upon some of the ­reasons ­people are admiring but emotionally not connecting with HBO’s series. It’s an issue that video game to film/TV ­adaptations in general all face as they shift from interactive to passive storytelling.” @OrNistar­ tweeted, “This essay took my breath away: it’s putatively a generic ­analysis of television adapting a video game, but it’s really about the courageous fatalism of love (amor fati, indeed).”

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Comments: Week of February 27, 2023