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Posts Tagged ‘Laura Bennett’

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.

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TNR’s Art and Literary Characters

TNR‘s Literary Editor Leon Wieseltier’s ears must have been burning up last night. Well before he arrived to The Phillips Collection to give a talk on a John Constable oil painting, colleagues gabbed about what a character he is – a few mentioned, for example, his penchant for blasting music at the office. One day it’s Rihanna, the next it’s opera.

Leon doesn’t disappoint. He shows up and people magnetically gravitate toward him. Or was it his hair? He has a spectacular head of shoulder-length, silky, white-gold fluff that makes him a stand-out in any crowd, but especially this well-coiffed, stylish mix.

“I don’t want that on WikiLeaks,” he deadpanned after I snapped his picture.

Later during the talk: “It’s very hard to peel back the familiarity of the work,” he tells a rapt audience stuck on his every word. “It’s a spiritual exercise. When you can do it, great things happen.”

The talk was part of TNR’s co-hosted After 5 dim sum party at The Phillips Collection. Chinatown’s Ping Pong catered the delectable cuisine with shrimp toast among its offerings. Also there to give a talk was the magazine’s Art Critic Jed Perl.

Perl, in from Manhattan, in a tailored brown corduroy blazer and skinny pants, is no slouch alongside Wieseltier. He’s thankfully game to dissect The Devil Wears Prada. He wrote for Vogue in the 80s and reminisced with FishbowlDC about what it was like to be Anna Wintour‘s Art Editor. “She was easy to work with,” he said, explaining she could be shy, not snobby. Of Meryl Streep’s character in the movie, he says, “She doesn’t just play icy bitch. It’s more complex than that.” And so is Wintour. He said she understood him perfectly, is “incredibly smart” and knew his ideal place within the publication. He surmised, “I think she gets a bum rap because she’s a woman. I have a deep respect for her.”

Find out who else attended the party after the jump…

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TNR Makes Changes to Web Team and Announces Brand New Class of Reporter-Researchers

Today TNR.com Editor Greg Veis announces two additions to its web team: Barron YoungSmith and Seyward Darby (pictured above) have been named deputy editors. Both are former reporter-researchers at the magazine.

Chloë Schama (below right) has replaced Darby as Assistant Managing Editor. Schama is a former Assistant Literary Editor at the magazine. She has an M.Phil. in English from Cambridge and graduated from Harvard. Schama is the author of Wild Romance: A Victorian Story of a Marriage, a Trial, and a Self-Made Woman (Walker Books 2010).

Laura Bennett (below left) has been named Assistant Literary Editor. She graduated from Yale where she was editor-in-chief of the The Yale Herald and the recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship.

TNR also introduced its 2010-2011 class of reporter-researchers. Find out who they are and see where they might go. We have the list as well as noteworthy alumni after the jump…

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