Comments: Week of April 24, 2023


“How Stormy Daniels Sees It Ending,” April 10–23

Photo: R. Barrett

“When it became clear that Trump might be charged, I knew I needed to go see Stormy,” says Olivia Nuzzi about her cover story on the woman who set the ­former president’s indictment in motion. Journalist Rich Bellis called it “a suitably surreal, sad entry into the thick ledger of this ongoing national misadventure.” “Not a story of victory or catharsis,” wrote the Washington Post’s Ruby ­Cramer, but a “sad, humane portrait.” Some readers found it hard to sympathize with Daniels with one commenter ­on the magazine’s website writing, “She isn’t a hero. Not even close. Would we feel the same way if Gov. Gavin Newsom was her target? She had a consensual one-night stand.”
@jgrass76 tweeted, “The ­media’s lionizing of a porn star whose former lawyer is in jail and who has been ordered by a court to pay the one she has accused $500k would be astounding­ in any other circumstance. But this is about Trump and the media has TDS,” i.e., “Trump derangement syndrome.” For the Daily Beast, Kaytlin Bailey argued, “Because Daniels is not governed by the same polite niceties that define the tools of the polit­ical class, she was able to reflect back to all of us what Trump really is, and what he has always been—a clown of white supremacist chauvinism.” Of the reaction to the story, Nuzzi says, “I sometimes forget that when it comes to political feature writing, it is unusual­ for women like Stormy — who operate­ and thrive in spaces the Washington­ elite pretends it isn’t interested in — to be treated fairly in mainstream publications. I heard from artists and sex workers. And I heard from other women who have become household names as witnesses or otherwise supporting characters in the Trump drama. ‘My face is soaked with tears,’ one of them wrote to me. She was empowered by Stormy’s honesty and courage. I was too.”

Illustration: Adam Maida


“The Case of the Fake Sherlock”

David Gauvey Herbert investigated Richard Walter, a celebrity criminologist with phony credentials who helped put several people behind bars. “How can such a narcissistic impostor embed themself in America’s criminal justice system?” asked Longreads’ Cheri Lucas Rowlands. “I read this from start to finish, then went back to the beginning to dive in again. The first read was engrossing. The second? ­Infur­iating.” Retired NYPD detective Matt Steiner­ wrote, “Anyone who makes bold claims based on cursory evidence should immediately arouse suspicion. Investigations require objective, systematic and methodological review of evidence; gut instincts, hunches, and guesses are not ­evidence. In my experience, solving cases requires­ open-mindedness and persistence. As an investigator, you need to prove — and disprove — your hypotheses. This requires humility.” David Wilson, a criminology professor at Birmingham City University, wrote that the story “raises several important issues — ­including why so many individuals, agencies and industries wanted to be seduced by this type of fraud, as well as more generally the shaky status of what is often described as ‘offender profiling.’ It also brought back awful memories of ­sitting next to a man at a Scottish literary festival and listening to him describe how he’d been trained by the FBI and interviewed scores of serial killers. He was later revealed as a fraud by one of the serial ­killers whom he claimed to have interviewed. In other words, Walter’s is not a uniquely ­American phenomenon but one which has crossed the Atlantic.”


In Other News:

Carl Fischer, the photographer­ of dozens of New York’s covers in the 1960s and ’70s, died at his Manhattan home in April at the age of 98. Fischer shot many of the magazine’s best-remembered images, among them the socialites with fists raised for Tom Wolfe’s “Radical Chic” (June 8, 1970).

A recent FEC ­filing revealed that the Trump 2024 campaign spent $40 on a New York subscription while Nuzzi was reporting her feature on the reelection effort (“The Final ­Campaign,” ­January 2–15, 2023). The former­ president attacked the magazine after the article ran as “once very good, but now on its ‘last legs’ and ­failing.”

Columnist E. Jean ­Carroll first publicly accused Trump of sexually assaulting­ her at ­Bergdorf Goodman in a cover story for the magazine (“Hideous Men,” June 24–July 27, 2019). She is now suing him for battery, and with the trial set to commence on April 25, New York will be covering the proceedings from lower ­Manhattan in the ­latest edition of our Court Appearances newsletter. ­Readers can sign up at nymag.com/court-appearances.

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Comments: Week of April 24, 2023