Comments: Week of July 17, 2023


“The Kennedy Conspiracy,” July 3–16

Cover Story

For New York’s latest cover story, ­Rebecca Traister profiled Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and what his campaign reveals about the rot in American democracy. Dan Cluchey, a former Obama speechwriter, said, “It’s almost unfair for journalism this trenchant to also be this dazzling as prose,” adding that the story “reads like sublime ­fiction.” Vanity Fair’s Joe Hagan called it a “terrific and definitive profile of RFK Jr. … and not just for the compilation of well-observed facts, but for the astute interpretation of his appeal to sad American white men.” The Hill’s Norman Solomon said the feature was a “devastating” brief “against Kennedy’s faux populism.” But writing for National Review, Dan McLaughlin argued that Traister seemed “hesitant” to blame Democrats outright for their complicity in Kennedy’s rise, conceding that it must have been awkward for her to be “explicit about where the rot is, and she deserves credit for naming some of the culprits who are quite close to home.” In the Columbia Journalism Review, Jon Allsop commended Traister for interrogating “Kennedy’s policies and the sort of damage he’d be liable to do as president, not least to the vaccine approval process,” but cautioned “even good coverage risks introducing Kennedy’s ideas to those who might not otherwise have heard about them, and of actively inflating his political relevance; a glut of glossy magazine profiles, even if they’re all insightful on their own terms, can collectively elevate a candidate to discourse centrality.” Politico’s Jack Shafer also observed, “In just a couple of months, Kennedy has gone from ‘that anti-vaccine guy’ to a staple of cable news coverage, making him The Top Kennedy for now, even if much of the publicity is bad.”


“Spies, Bones & Pancakes: The Battle of Fishkill”

Reeves Wiedeman documented the years-running feud between IHOP kingpin Domenic Broccoli and the Revolutionary War preservationists trying to halt his expansion upstate. “It’s hard to think of a more entertaining magazine story published thus far in 2023,” wrote Longreads’ Seyward Darby, who praised Wiedeman’s “wit, style, and empathy.” Shriram Krishnamurthi said it was “quintessentially USA: pancakes, themed strip-malls, guns, freedom, larpers, nimbys, lawyers, the accumulation of great wealth, ‘my inner Bronx’, a house named Manor, and a guy named Domenic Broccoli.” @clapifyoulikeme tweeted, “Please understand that I cannot oversell this article. There are buried, unburied, and re-buried skulls, RICO, and an actual spy named Ian James Bondi.” As for why there might be bodies in the area in the first place, Andrew Wehrman, a history professor at Central Michigan University, wrote, “Fishkill wasn’t just a supply depot. It was the site of a large military hospital and one of the largest inoculation centers for the Continental Army. This could explain why there are bodies buried there (although I seriously doubt there are ‘thousands’).” Still others were drawn to the quality of the ­writing. @QuentinMahoney said it “blasts off the page into my mind as a perfectly rendered Danny McBride limited series.” And Nick Riccardi likened it to “a Don DeLillo novel about a fight over a strip mall.”


“There’s Something About a Bode Boy”

Brock Colyar wrote about how the menswear designer beloved by the downtown set went mainstream. “I love Bode but wow, that story: An old-school coup of a trend piece and example of the form par excellence,” said Futurism’s Foster Kamer, adding that there are “few things funnier, weirder, or just straight-up awkward than forcing people to be articulate about something they believe in their hearts is capital-C cool.” “This is really good,” ­tweeted @shaheezus, “particularly because it doesn’t automatically assume the eliteness and untouchability of Bode as a brand—properly chronicling its descent into mediocrity, by no fault of the designers, but simply because of the growing lameness of its clientele.” In Puck’s Line Sheet newsletter, fashion correspondent Lauren Sherman wrote, “It’s hard to write anything new about Bode, mostly because the brand is not about newness, but also because the people behind it are pretty guarded. Brock Colyar found a smart, different way in. (And I’m not only saying this because I’m quoted.)” Lindsey Webb, though, said the story was a “perfect example of a writer trying to write a hit piece and realizing halfway through they have no ammunition.” And the New York Times’ Willy Staley joked, “Having another one of those days where I’m learning that my colleagues and peers in media apparently care a lot about some store that sells $600 pants, and have strong opinions about the pants, which have like embroidered flowers on them and look stupid as hell.”

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Comments: Week of July 17, 2023