Nora's Secret

I tried to read all the articles about Nora through her gimlet eye. A few of them did rise to the level of grandiosity, self-promotion, and superciliousness that she mocked over the years in writers as various as Theodore H. White, Brendan Gill, Ayn Rand, Leonard Lyons, the staff of the old Gourmet, and Mimi Alford, the former JFK intern whose tell-all memoir will be remembered only for Nora’s delicious spin on it. For me, the most moving remembrances of Nora were by Lena Dunham, the young auteur of HBO’s Girls (and much else; she’s a Nora-like multitasker), and James McAuley, even younger, an editorial-page staffer at the Washington Post. Both told their stories of the unexpected support and encouragement Nora gave to them in their still-early careers, of how she made a point of staying in touch and giving direction when she had no reason to do so except sheer generosity. That was my story with Nora when I was in my twenties, and often since, so no doubt that’s in part why I responded so strongly to theirs. (A bit more about that in a minute, too.) What made Dunham’s and McAuley’s narratives doubly moving is that when Nora was mentoring them, we now know, she didn’t have all the time in the world for elective kindnesses to strangers. She was fighting the illness that would kill her.

Stag Party

After the Blunt Amendment lost (albeit by only three votes), public attention to the strange 2012 Republican fixation on women might have dissipated had it not been for Rush Limbaugh. His verbal assault on a female Georgetown University law student transformed what half-attentive onlookers might have tracked as a hodgepodge of discrete and possibly fleeting primary-season skirmishes into a big-boned narrative—a full-fledged Republican war on women. And in part because Limbaugh pumped up his hysteria for three straight days, he gave that war a unifying theme: pure unadulterated misogyny.

Murdoch Hacked Us Too

The real transgressions of the Murdoch empire are not its outré partisanship, its tabloid sleaze, its Washington lobbying, or even what liberals most love to hate, the bogus “fair and balanced” propaganda masquerading as journalism at Fox News. In fact, these misdemeanors are red herrings—distractions from the real News Corp. corruption that now threatens to bring down its management and radically reconfigure and reduce its international corporate footprint. The bigger story is this: An otherwise archetypal media colossus, with apolitical TV shows (American Idol), movies (Avatar), and cable channels (FX) like any other, is controlled by a family (and its tight coterie of made men and women, exemplified by the recently departed Rebekah Brooks) that countenances the intimidation and silencing of politicians, regulators, competitors, journalists, and even ordinary citizens to maximize its profits and power and to punish perceived corporate, political, and personal enemies. And, as we now know conclusively, some of this behavior has broken the law.

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