Longreads of the Year 2012: January-June
"National Public Rodeo", by David Margolick, Vanity Fair, January 18, 2012
Williams was in Fox News’s green room, between appearances with Shepard Smith and Sean Hannity, when Weiss told him the news. He was dumbfounded. Had she read the entire interview? Couldn’t he at least come in to talk about this? There was no point, she replied. Hannity immediately called Fox News’s senior vice president, Bill Shine, awakening him at home. Sit tight until tomorrow, Shine told Williams. The next day, Ailes gave Williams a three-year deal worth a reported $2 million.
NPR officials weighed offering a full account of Williams’s tortured history at the place. But whether out of cowardice or guilt or loyalty or decorousness or just an inability to think tactically and defend themselves, they took the high road, saying simply that Williams had strayed beyond his proper role as NPR news analyst. This left Williams free to portray himself as a betrayed loyalist, victim of political correctness and martyr for free speech.
"One Town’s War on Gay Teens", by Sabrina Rubin Erdely, Rolling Stone, February 2, 2012
The silence of adults was deafening. At Blaine High School, says alum Justin Anderson, “I would hear people calling people ‘fags’ all the time without it being addressed. Teachers just didn’t respond.” In Andover High School, when 10th-grader Sam Pinilla was pushed to the ground by three kids calling him a “faggot,” he saw a teacher nearby who did nothing to stop the assault. At Anoka High School, a 10th-grade girl became so upset at being mocked as a “lesbo” and a “sinner” – in earshot of teachers – that she complained to an associate principal, who counseled her to “lay low”; the girl would later attempt suicide. At Anoka Middle School for the Arts, after Kyle Rooker was urinated upon from above in a boys’ bathroom stall, an associate principal told him, “It was probably water.” Jackson Middle School seventh-grader Dylon Frei was passed notes saying, “Get out of this town, fag”; when a teacher intercepted one such note, she simply threw it away.
"Obama’s Dangerous Game With Iran", by Daniel Klaidman, Eli Lake, and Dan Ephron, Newsweek, February 13, 2012
On Jan. 12 of this year, Obama called Netanyahu to clarify again, in part, the national interest and policies of the United States in dealing with Iran’s nuclear program. The message has been conveyed repeatedly, via many channels: the administration is asking for “the time and the space for the sanctions to work,” says a senior administration official. “Not only have we put in place the most robust economic sanctions ever, but we’ve just started to move on the energy sector.” Above all, the White House doesn’t want Israel to start a war—not yet, anyway.
"Ghosts in the Newsroom", by Sarah Ellison, Vanity Fair, April 2012
One attempt to revive it, in 2003, was mounted by Steve Coll, who was then Len Downie’s managing editor and is now the president of the New America Foundation. In the wake of the paper’s ejection from the International Herald Tribune, Coll went to Graham with an idea. “I said, ‘This is an opportunity for us to rethink what our alternative futures are post-I.H.T., in terms of the global and online audience,’ ” Coll told me. “Don encouraged the exercise.”
…In May 2003, at an off-site meeting of top editors at the Inn at Perry Cabin, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, Coll and others discussed the findings of the project. Then Graham rose to address the room. “He very emphatically emphasized that the Washington Post franchise was local, and that our emphasis on this opportunity represented a threat to the franchise because it might pull the journalism and energy away from serving the local audience,” Coll told me. “He unintentionally delivered the speech in a way that felt like he had just shot me in the head.”
"Life of the Party", by Ryan Lizza, The New Yorker, March 12, 2012
Romney won twenty-four votes to Gingrich’s eight, Santorum’s three, and Ron Paul’s three. Phyllis, who backed Santorum, told me that Romney won because of his religion. “This is L.D.S. territory, and Romney is L.D.S.,” she said. “They’ll support their own no matter what.”
It was just the sort of caucus that critics of the system, including the late Polsby, feared. It had broken down into factions, based partly on religion. It had devolved into name-calling.
"The Devils in the Diva", by Mark Seal, Vanity Fair, June 2012
By the late 90s, however, her voice would begin to betray her, and she would have to lower the keys in live performances. The reason wasn’t just cigarettes and her age. Whitney’s drug use escalated after the 1993 birth of her only child, Bobbi Kristina Houston Brown. She started lacing her joints with cocaine, as she later told Oprah Winfrey. She confessed that she would spend her days and nights getting high with Bobby, watching TV, not getting out of her pajamas for seven months, while Brown lost control—“he would smash things, break things … cutting my head off a picture.” In short, she began the degrading process of what Oprah would call “making herself smaller … so the man could be bigger.”
The pop diva was reverting to the New Jersey street kid. “People think I’m Miss Prissy Pooh-Pooh,” she told Time magazine. “But I’m not I can get down, really freakin’ dirty, with you.” She told Rolling Stone, “I can get raunchy I’ve learned to be freer from Bobby.” She said in a later interview, “I started in the hood.” And she admitted, “Yeah, man, I’m what you call a functioning junkie.”