Comments: Week of April 10, 2023


“Abortion Wins Elections,” March 27–April 9

When New York writer-at-large
Rebecca Traister was deciding how to
cover the politics of abortion in the post-
Dobbs landscape, she came up with several major story ideas, from Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer’s successful abortion messaging in the 2022 midterms to the Biden administration’s failure to emphasize the issue. In the end, she combined them into one expansive feature that tied all of the threads together, and in the resulting cover story, Traister surveyed how Democrats finally started putting reproductive rights at the center of their agenda. Alexis McGill Johnson, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, wrote, “Traister’s story is an important read. If the midterms showed us anything, it’s that when you invest consistently in building an infrastructure to mobilize reproductive rights voters, you win. Full-throated support of reproductive freedom is a winning platform.” On All In With Chris Hayes, the MSNBC anchor said, “There is an alignment between the substantive and the politics that I think is unlike anything I’ve seen … If you’re talking about abortion, you’re winning. You should pick the fight.” Mini Timmaraju, president of naral Pro-Choice America, called the story a “tour de force” but added, “What the piece didn’t touch on was how, for decades, activists and advocates have pushed their elected officials to protect and expand access to abortion care. That’s what changed the hearts and minds of officials. That it paid off electorally is a bonus.” Attorney Dilan Esper quarreled with Traister’s position that Biden’s removal of the Hyde Amendment from his budget was significant: “The Democratic Party obsesses about this kind of meaningless cow dung … But it doesn’t help even one woman. What does running on abortion actually mean? It means putting together an abortion rights bill that might actually pass Congress.” After election results in Chicago and Wisconsin seemed to validate Traister’s conclusions, David Leonhardt took up her argument in his New York Times newsletter, writing, “Abortion is a winning issue for Democrats, but only in some circumstances … There is not yet evidence that abortion can determine the outcome of most political campaigns. In hotly contested races — for governor, Congress and other offices — most voters make their decisions based on an array of issues. And many Republican voters who support some abortion access are nonetheless willing to support a candidate who does not.” Whitmer responded to Traister’s story, tweeting, “Here in Michigan, we respect the fundamental right to abortion. And we’re not backing down.” A week later, the governor signed a bill into law repealing Michigan’s 1931 abortion ban.

Photo: Beth Sacca


“The New Light Is Bad”

LED bulbs promised a bright future, but in “The New Light Is Bad,” journalist Tom Scocca asked why they seem to make everything look worse. The feature prompted hundreds of comments on the site and vigorous discussion from lighting nerds on Reddit and elsewhere. Lauren Wilford called it an “elegant and important piece … about something that seems
trivial but is actually fundamental. We need to be able to accurately describe
what tech—even good, green tech!—is causing us to lose, so we can make plans to save it if we want.” Johanna Neumann, senior director of Environment America’s campaign for 100 percent renewable energy, wrote, “Scocca underlines the fact that crucial advances like improving energy efficiency can be uncomfortable. LED lighting is different from incandescent, and we’re not used to it. Yet, technology advances inexorably toward better quality. By switching to LED lighting, America will cut its need for power by 92 power plants.” Andrew deLaski, executive director of the Appliance Standards Awareness Project, noted, “In Europe, they phased out incandescent bulbs years ago, and somehow life went on (with significantly reduced utility bills). I suspect the same will happen here.”


In Other News:

Late last month, a judge ordered the deportation of Filippo Bernardini, the man convicted of stealing manuscripts in a caper covered by Reeves Wiedeman and Lila Shapiro starting in 2021 (“The Spine Collector”). In their report from the sentencing, Wiedeman and Shapiro wrote that if one theme tied the proceedings together, “it was the enduring mystery of the crime. As the prosecution, the defense, and the judge all noted, Bernardini never sold these manuscripts, nor profited off of them in any way.”

At the annual National Magazine Awards from the American Society of Magazine Editors, where New York received ten nominations for its work, the magazine took home the top prize in Lifestyle Journalism for its cover story “The Year of the Nepo Baby” (December 19, 2022–January 1, 2023) and won Best Single-Topic Issue for its commemoration of the “Ten Years Since Trayvon” (January 31–February 13, 2022).

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Comments: Week of April 10, 2023