Behind the Cover
In choosing a symbol to represent this issue and inaugurate the magazine’s redesign, we wanted something striking and metaphorically rich: A bloody hand. The contours of a (fractured) nation. The universal symbol for “Stop!” A body divided against itself. The photographer Sam Kaplan, the stylist Brian Byrne, and their teams captured the hand’s porous colors—every smudge and glint—in vivid detail, under the photography direction of Luise Stauss, and in doing so helped us construct an apt emblem for the political fractiousness and general chaos of the current moment.
Peter Mendelsund, Creative Director
Oliver Munday, Senior Art Director
What we learned fact-checking this issue
This month, Tom Junod writes about his transformative friendship with Fred Rogers, the inspiration for a new film starring Tom Hanks. Junod recently recovered emails from the cardigan-wearing minister—they corresponded regularly from 1998, when Junod profiled Rogers for Esquire, until 2003, when Rogers died—and shared them for fact-checking purposes.
In 1999, Junod was assigned to write about the 11-year-old rapper Lil’ Bow Wow, and sought Rogers’s advice. What should he ask the boy—who, at age 6, had been handed his stage name by Snoop Dogg and had appeared in the music video for “Gin and Juice”? Rogers replied: “Does he have any friend(s) with whom he can share his times of sadness and fear (everybody has those you know)? … Does he have anything that gives him comfort when he goes to sleep? Could you tell him what it was like for you when you were 11?”
In his article about the tween, Junod mentions that he and Lil’ Bow Wow played hide-and-seek together. “How lovely,” Rogers wrote. “There’s [a child] in everybody, but B.W. gave you the invitation of ‘Seeking’ his out.”
Stephanie Hayes, Associate Editor
Q & A
In the October issue, McKay Coppins wrote about the battle between Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. to succeed their father and rule the MAGA empire. Here, Coppins answers questions sent in by readers.
Q: What surprised you most as you reported this story?
A: I was amazed to learn how much Friedrich Trump—a German immigrant, enterprising brothel owner, and alleged draft dodger—had in common with his grandson serving in the Oval Office. The way a family ethos can be passed down through generations fascinates me.
Q: Elevating family members and friends to high offices or unelected advisory roles is in fact a norm from past presidencies rather than an unusual feature of the Trump administration, as you observe. Going forward, what could be done to prevent the executive branch from engaging in this kind of cronyism?
A: An anti-nepotism law is already on the books that prohibits the president from giving jobs in federal agencies to family members. By appointing Ivanka and her husband, Jared, to the White House staff, Donald Trump exploited a loophole that many Democrats argue should be closed.