year in review

Intelligencer’s 20 Most-Read Stories in 2021

Photo: Intelligencer

Two stories dominated 2021, the Trump administration’s calamitous finale and the lingering COVID-19 pandemic, so it’s no surprise that those topics are heavily represented on this list of Intelligencer’s most-read stories of the year, measured by audience engagement time. Readers also gravitated toward pieces that explored seismic power shifts, from Andrew Cuomo losing his grip on New York politics to redditors banding together to terrorize Wall Street. And they made time for offbeat topics, too, including the Pentagon (sort of) revealing what it knows about UFOs and what it’s like to become a millionaire overnight.

This list is just a small sample of the work New York puts out each day in print, across its six digital sites — Intelligencer, the Cut, Vulture, Grub Street, the Strategist, and Curbed — and in its growing portfolio of newsletters. For more of our coverage, be sure to sign up for Intelligencer’s daily newsletter and to subscribe.


20. Confessions of an Overnight Millionaire

Animation: QuickHoney

“I constantly ask myself, Do I deserve this money?Read the story ➼

Delta Variant

19. The U.K.’s Delta Surge Is Collapsing. Will Ours?

Photo: Craig F. Walker/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Why the variant’s spread may be less pervasive than expected. Read the story ➼


18. 4 Minutes With Jill Biden

Photo: Nancy Lane/Boston Herald/Getty images

Grieving with the First Family. Read the story ➼


17. How the West Lost COVID

Photo: Ivan Aguirre/REUTERS

How did so many rich countries get it so wrong? How did others get it so right? Read the story ➼

The Truth is in Here

16. What’s Inside the Pentagon’s Long-Awaited UFO Report

Photo-Illustration: Joe McBride/Getty Images

A guide to the government’s unclassified report on unidentified flying objects. Read the story ➼


15. The Science of Masking Kids at School Remains Uncertain

Photo: Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times via Getty Imag

A large, groundbreaking study suggesting no clear benefit from school mask mandates has many experts questioning the policy. Read the story ➼

First Person

14. My Penis, Myself

Photo: Dan Winters

I didn’t need a penis to be a man. But I needed one to be me. Read the story ➼

Book Excerpt

13. Donald Trump’s January 6

Photo-Illustration: Mike McQuade, Photos: Getty Images

The view from inside the Oval Office. Read the story ➼


12. Rudy Giuliani Is (Probably) Screwed

Photo-Illustration: Intelligencer; Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Former prosecutors say he is in an excruciating legal predicament — and could very well flip. Read the story ➼


11. Don’t Panic, But Breakthrough Cases May Be a Bigger Problem Than You’ve Been Told

Photo: Mark Felix/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Current public-health messaging may understate the scale and risk. Read the story ➼


10. The Murders Down the Hall

Photo: Corinne May Botz for New York Magazine

393 Powell Street was a peaceful home until residents started dying in brutal, mysterious ways. Read the story ➼

January 6

9. Gina. Rosanne. Guy.

Photo-Illustration: John Ritter

What do you do the day after you storm the Capitol? Read the story ➼


8. The Political Life of Dr. Oz

Photo-Illustration: Joe Darrow

His campaign to be the next Republican senator from Pennsylvania is facing one major problem: Republicans in Pennsylvania. Read the story ➼

The National Interest

7. An Ex-KGB Agent Says Trump Was a Russian Asset Since 1987. Does It Matter?

Photo: Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Revisiting the Trump-Russia mystery in light of recent revelations. Read the story ➼

Andrew Cuomo

6. Abuse and Power

Photo: George Etheredge

Andrew Cuomo’s governorship was defined by cruelty that disguised chronic mismanagement. Why was that celebrated for so long? Read the story ➼


5. The Tiger Mom and the Hornet’s Nest

Photo: Photograph by Gillian Laub for New York Magazine

For two decades, Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld were Yale Law power brokers. A new generation wants to see them exiled. Read the story ➼


4. Trump Is on the Verge of Losing Everything

Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A broken president leaves the White House twice impeached, on the brink of bankruptcy, and criminally exposed. Read the story ➼

The National Interest

3. Tom Brady Joins Biden to Laugh at Trump in Worst Day of Trump’s Life

Photo-Illustration: Intelligencer. Photo: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The sum of all Trump fears. Read the story ➼

The Swamp

2. Senior Trump Official: We Were Wrong, He’s a ‘Fascist’

Photo: AFP via Getty Images

“The legacy of the Trump administration is going to be that the president sparked an insurrection and people died.” Read the story ➼


1. The Lab-Leak Hypothesis

Illustration: Illustration by Robert Beatty for New York Magazine

For decades, scientists have been hot-wiring viruses in hopes of preventing a pandemic, not causing one. But what if …? Read the story ➼

This piece has been updated.

Intelligencer’s 20 Most-Read Stories in 2021