Five Best Friday Columns
Howard Kurtz on the media and Manti Te'o, Paul Krugman on the deficit non-crisis, Jill Lepore on Roe v. Wade at 40, Mimi Whitefield on Cuba's travel restrictions, and Molly Redden on Teddy Turner.
Howard Kurtz in The Daily Beast on the media and Manti Te'o Disgraced Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o has lots of questions to answer about his dead girlfriend, who only ever existed on Twitter. And while the scandal is embarrassing for Te'o, it's even more embarrassing for all the sports journalism outlets that never sought answers about her supposed existence in the first place, argues Howard Kurtz. "Let’s be clear: it wouldn’t have taken Bob Woodward to unravel this tissue of lies," Kurtz writes, praising Deadspin reporters Timothy Burke and Jack Dickey for taking the time to uncover this thinly veiled lie. "This kind of cybersleuthing could become increasingly important in a society in which many of us live our lives online. There is much we still don’t know about the Te’o/Kekua scam. But there is no escaping the media’s gullibility."
Paul Krugman in The New York Times on the deficit non-crisis Don't turn to Paul Krugman for answers on the "deficit crisis." He has arguments for how to keep it in check, sure, but he doesn't think we have huge problems on that issue. "The medium-term budget outlook isn’t great, but it’s not terrible either," Krugman writes, "and the long-term outlook gets much more attention than it should ... The deficit scolds dominating policy debate will, of course, fiercely resist any attempt to downgrade their favorite issue. They love living in an atmosphere of fiscal crisis: It lets them stroke their chins and sound serious, and it also provides an excuse for slashing social programs, which often seems to be their real objective."
Jill Lepore in The New Yorker on Roe v. Wade at 40 The monumental Supreme Court decision that allowed abortions to become legal was decided in January, 1973. As we approach the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Jill Lepore takes a moment to reflect on the history of reproduction rights, Planned Parenthood, and the cultural wars over abortion in the U.S. How we've talked about Roe v. Wade has bled over into other issues such as socioeconomic status, Lepore argues. "Looking back, it seems clear that the abortion-rights movement embraced the rhetoric of privacy at the cost of making an argument about equality," Lepore writes. "National political figures rarely use the word 'poverty' any more, but the Guttmacher Institute this year reports that among poor women, the rate of unwanted pregnancy is five times higher than for wealthier women: four in ten women who have abortions are poor."
Mimi Whitefield in The Miami Herald on Cuba loosening travel restrictions The Obama administration helped increase travel between the U.S. and Cuba by lifting certain existing bans for Americans, but what has the Castro regime done for their citizens? Well just this week, it became much easier for Cubans to see the world. Huge reforms on travel policy were enacted, with laws on exit visas and invitation letters loosened significantly. And that decision may rub off on the U.S. "Some analysts say Cuba may hope its new travel stance will pressure the United States to liberalize its own travel policy toward the island as well as take another look at the Cuban Adjustment Act," writes Mimi Whitefield.
Molly Redden in The New Republic on Teddy Turner The son of cable TV mogul Ted Turner might share his father's name, but he doesn't share his politics. Ted the elder might is a vocal liberal, while young Teddy is running for the Senate in South Carolina as a Republican. And what qualifies Teddy to serve in Congress? Molly Redden isn't sure he is qualified at all, if his only political experience hinges on dinner table arguments with his dad. "This inexperience, Turner feels, is his best asset," she writes. "Teddy Turner, whose curriculum vitae includes television news producer, amateur maxi-yacht skipper, tech entrepreneur turned scam victim, bison meat purveyor, and high school teacher, is the definition of a political outsider. It's a role he's comfortable with, having grown up as one, too."