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Afternoon Reading List 07.24.13.

Press conferences are not couples therapy — Anthony Weiner (a.k.a. Carlos Danger’s) presser yesterday dropped a bombshell and released a mushroom cloud of cable news commentary. But Laura Bennett of TNR argues that sex scandal press conferences are being treated like couples therapy, and they shouldn’t be. As Bennet points out, MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell enlisted the help of a sex therapist last night for a segment on “standing by your man,” and Rachel Maddow was chastising Weiner’s “redemption tour” and his “online, no-pants exchanges.” On Fox, Donald Trump diagnosed Weiner as “a sick guy.” A common theme among all cable coverage of sex scandals, Bennett writes, has become close analysis of the body language, rhetoric and chemistry of the politician and “the good wife.” In the past, the disgraced politician’s wife’s silence and solemn looks left the door wide open to this type of interpretation. But at yesterday’s press conference, Huma (known by her first name in Washington, as CNN’s Dana Bush noted) took the podium herself, seemingly leaving little room for interpretation of her feelings. But that didn’t stop the media from giving the replay of the presser a close analysis.

Why you should read it: The sex scandal press conference has become almost like a championship sports game, complete with post-game analysis. But Bennet offers insight that this type of analysis shouldn’t continue with the next sex scandal, which is sure to be just around the corner.

Where do speeches come from? — As President Obama gave his speech on economic policy today, there is little evidence of the multiple drafts, copious notes and many discussions that went into writing it. Yahoo! NewsOliver Knox sat down with head speechwriter Cody Keenan for an inside look at how the speech went from an idea in early June to Obama delivering the speech at Knox College. Beginning with a half-hour meeting on June 14, in which Knox took detailed notes of “unfiltered POTUS,” Keenan assembled a 20-page outline that turned into the first draft. Working long hours with many people, Obama included, the speech became “tidier and tidier” until it was ready to go. Keenan mostly goes under the president’s direction, but occasionally argues against a presidential edit, though it’s rare. His office is full of political memorabilia, but Keenan’s favorite item is a signed football from 1985 Super Bowl champion Chicago Bears. Knox closes the piece with a sharp left turn, quoting Keenan saying that “Mike Ditka [who coached the team] could have prevented Barack Obama from becoming president, because he almost ran against him in ’04, in Illinois.” Hmmm… Ditka 2016, anyone?

Why you should read it: Knox provides a fairly detailed account of a speech’s journey from idea to delivery. Keenan also works ungodly hours in a basement office, so it may also help you feel better about your work schedule.

The obesity fight is in the wrong place — Obesity has been a widespread issue in America, and as TNR’s Judith Shulevitz reports, it’s a growing problem. But Shulevitz argues that the focus has been finding the cause of obesity. Much of the blame was originally put on obese people themselves, faulting them for having bad diet and fitness habits. Now many people are blaming society and the food industry, like Michael Bloomberg and Michelle Obama. But Shulevitz argues that the focus shouldn’t be so focused on the cause, but rather there should be more attention focused on treatment. More than 40 percent of American adults and 17 percent of youths are obese or morbidly obese. More evidence is being presented that obesity isn’t caused by just eating too much. In fact, the American Medical Association just upgraded obesity from a “condition” to a “disease.” Obesity drugs exist, but aren’t popular and don’t work all that well. Until more focus is put on finding an efficient treatment, Shulevitz argues, it’ll continue to be a large (no pun intended) problem.

Why you should read it: Yes, we know there are two TNR stories on the list, but they’re both good. Shulevitz provides a lot of information on what actually causes obesity and some of the ways researchers are working toward treatments.

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