Weekend Reading: Hearings at the Capitol, Introducing Gawker 2.0, Olympic Women, Amy Chua at Yale, and More
The best reporting and writing from the past week, and context to understand it.
There’s a lot of great journalism out there. Every week, in a format short enough that it won’t be clipped by your inbox, we aim to share some of the best, with additional context for understanding the biggest news of the day. This is a weekly digest of stories you can savor and reporting you can rely on.
The Secret Source Who Helped Fuel Trump’s Big Lie
Mike Giglio, The New Yorker
An I.T. consultant who was a member of the Oath Keepers and is a firm believer in the New World Order conspiracy theories helped President Donald Trump and his supporters continue the Big Lie.
I asked him how, if he really thought the New World Order had stolen the election, he could continue living his normal life. He found my question odd. New World Order adherents believe that a secret global cabal has been controlling the country’s affairs for decades. The Trump years were just a brief respite.
📖 ‘This N***** Voted for Joe Biden’: Here’s What the January 6th Capitol Insurrectionists Yelled at Police Officers — Tasneem Nashrulla, BuzzFeed News: Every time you think you know the full extent of the January 6th attacks on the Capitol, something new emerges, and you’re left shaking your head all over again. That happened for many after hearing the testimony of these four Capitol Police officers of their experiences on that dark day.
📖 ‘They Sought to Convert Us’: Officers’ January 6th Testimony Reveals the Riot’s Dark Righteousness — Jeff Sharlet, Vanity Fair: Jeff Sharlet on anything is must-read. This is no different.
And on it goes; the list is long. Are officers Dunn, Fanone, and Hodges and Sergeant Gonell also men of faith? We don’t know — and it doesn’t matter. Yesterday theirs was a testimony not of “things unseen” but of the evidence of their senses, what they endured: chemicals, concussions, brain injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder. It was visible, too, in Officer Dunn’s wide-eyed, incredulous gaze as he asked, “Why is telling the truth hard?” Then he gave us an answer, for better and mostly worse, until we make it otherwise: “I guess in this America, it is.”
🎥 ‘Telling the Truth Shouldn’t Be Hard’: Officers Testify About January 6th Riots — Taylor Turner & Maya Blackstone, The New York Times: If reading the words on the page aren’t enough, here’s a video of the officers’ testimony from their experiences on January 6th. Be forewarned: It is not easy to hear.
Welcome to Gawker
Leah Finnegan, Gawker
You remember Gawker, right? From the glory days of blogging came the bitchy, irreverent, mean-spirited, often accurate musings and observations on all things celebrity, media, gossip, etc. Then came one of the most stunning developments in all of First Amendment case law (and bear with me, because this will sound like a Mad Lib; you’re not going crazy): A billionaire with a grudge against the website for, among other things, outing him as gay bankrolled one of the most famous professional wrestlers in the world to sue the website for publishing a sex tape of the wrestler with his best friend’s wife (with his best friend’s consent), during which time he used racist and homophobic slurs repeatedly. Long story short: Hulk Hogan, backed by Peter Thiel, wins his lawsuit against Gawker and effectively kills the site. Subsequent iterations had not gone over, but a brand new team is hoping to change all that.
📖 Gawker: The Return — Katie Robertson, The New York Times: A straightforward recitation of the relaunch, in the most un-Gawker-ish language (i.e. the Times’ tone of reasonableness and seriousness).
🗄️ From 2019: What the Hell Is Happening Over at Gawker 2.0? — Amanda Arnold, New York: A helpful timeline of the fall (and road from rebirth) of Gawker, part deux.
🗄️ From 2016: Gawker’s Demise and the Trump Era Threat to the First Amendment — Jeffrey Toobin, The New Yorker: A level-headed look at the legal implications of this case, as seen through the lens of a newly installed Trump presidency.
These Women Don’t Owe Us Anything
Lauren Puckett-Pope, Elle
A beautifully written essay on the interior struggles of which we will never know of some of the most talented female athletes in the world.
We think, because we cheer them on, because they are the beneficiaries of Uber Eats commercials or Nike endorsements, that women like Osaka and Biles must bifurcate their own existence. They must split into two entities: the athlete and the woman. The athlete must perform for our entertainment, volley and spring for our love, and she must be relentless in that pursuit.
📖 The Radical Courage of Simone Biles’ Exit From the Team USA Olympic Finals — Eren Orbey, The New Yorker: When the simple act of “saying no” becomes an Earth-shattering decision.
📖 Simone Biles Said She Got the ‘Twisties.’ Gymnasts Immediately Understood. — Emily Giambolvo, The Washington Post: An absolutely terrifying lede that tells you everything you need to know about the story.
Imagine flying through the air, springing off a piece of equipment as you prepare to flip on one axis while twisting on another. It all happens fast, so there’s little time to adjust. You rely on muscle memory, trusting that it will work out because, with so much practice, it usually does. But then suddenly you’re upside down in midair and your brain feels disconnected from your body. Your limbs that usually control how much you spin have stopped listening, and you feel lost. You hope all the years you spent in this sport will guide your body to a safe landing position.
🖥️ Are You Allowed to Criticize Simone Biles? A Decision Tree. — Carlos Greaves, McSweeney’s
The New Moral Code of America’s Elite
Elizabeth Bruenig, The Atlantic
Amy Chua is a simultaneously popular yet controversial professor at Yale Law School. An unclear series of events happened that resulted in Chua no longer being allowed to lead a first-year “small group.” All of this seems rather insignificant, and yet, because of her reputation (for both good and bad) and that of her husband, whatever happened at Yale Law School became a source of great mystery.
The following articles, along with the one above, serve as something of a journalistic Rashomon: some of the most respected journalistic outfits in the country all tackle a vague and uncertain event. Does any one of them paint the truth? Do numerous retellings help you understand, or simply muddy the water?
📖 Gripped by ‘Dinner Party-Gate,’ Yale Law Confronts a Venomous Divide — Sarah Lyall & Stephanie Saul, The New York Times
📖 The Tiger Mom and the Hornet’s Nest — Irin Carmon, New York
📖 What Is Going on at Yale Law School? — Lizzie Widdicombe, The New Yorker
More of Our Favorites From the Past Week
Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert: Movie Critics for the People — Brian Raftery, The Ringer
I’m a Parkland Shooting Survivor. QAnon Convinced My Dad It Was All a Hoax. — David Gilbert, Vice
Scarlett Johansson Files Lawsuit Against Disney Over ‘Black Widow’ Release — Pamela McClintock & Eriq Gardner, The Hollywood Reporter
The Mystery of My Obsession With Agatha Christie — Jamie Fisher, The New York Times Magazine
Our Democracy Is Under Attack. Washington Journalists Must Stop Covering It Like Politics as Usual. — Margaret Sullivan, The Washington Post
The news doesn’t stop. If you checked out last week’s edition and found the topics interesting, here’s a collection of stories published since.
📖 Oh Good, Now There’s an Outbreak of Wildfire Thunderclouds — Matt Simon, Wired
📖 White Evangelicals Resist COVID-19 Vaccine Most Among Religious Groups — Ian Lovett, The Wall Street Journal
Facebook vs. The White House
📖 She Risked Everything to Expose Facebook. Now She’s Telling Her Story. — Karen Hao, MIT Technology Review
The 2021 Olympics
📖 The Chinese Sports Machine’s Single Goal: The Most Golds, at Any Cost— Hannah Beech, The New York Times
This week, elsewhere on The Postscript.
The Essential COVID-19 Reading List
Ed Yong, staff writer at The Atlantic, shares some of the stories that informed his Pulitzer Prize-winning work on the pandemic.
Stories That Matter: How Harper's Uncovered Amazon's Union-Busting Tactics
Daniel Brook spoke to past and current employees at a warehouse in Alabama and found a workforce that largely failed to connect the dots between the struggle for civil rights and labor organizing.