Five Best Friday Columns

Eugene Robinson on Trayvon Martin, Howard Kurtz on disinterest in the campaigns, Michael Kinsley on age discrimination, Jack Shafer on covering presidential kids, and Witold Rybczynski on Eisenhower's memorial.

This article is from the archive of our partner .

Eugene Robinson in The Washington Post on Trayvon Martin The news reports that describe the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, an armed civilian who has yet to face charges, make it hard to believe there was real reason to believe Martin looked suspicious, as Zimmerman claims. "For every black man in America, from the millionaire in the corner office to the mechanic in the local garage, the Trayvon Martin tragedy is personal," writes Robinson. He recounts details of the 911 calls and news reports to suggest that the only thing suspicious about Martin was his skin color. He notes how much has changed for black Americans since the killing of Emmett Till, but how this case still unites them under a similar fear. "Whether Zimmerman can or should be prosecuted, given Florida's 'stand your ground' law providing broad latitude to claim self-defense, is an important question. But the tragic and essential thing, for me, is the bull's-eye that black men wear throughout their lives."

Howard Kurtz in The Daily Beast on disinterest in the campaigns Even as Mitt Romney won the Illinois primary Tuesday night, cable news channels devoted their coverage to a range of other topics. "None of this is coincidental. Television, in short, has pretty much decided the race is over, Mitt Romney has won, the thing is boring everyone to death, and it’s time, at least for now, to move on." Kurtz suggests the end of the debates, which provided reality-TV-esque drama, brought this on. So, too, has the increasing sense that Mitt Romney will win. Kurtz laments this, saying the campaign remains alive, with issues like Paul Ryan's budget to debate. That budget "could put Romney in a tough spot this fall. But substance is a tough sell in today's short-attention-span media environment."

Michael Kinsley in Bloomberg View on age discrimination Kinsley describes two friends who reacted differently to the suspicion that they lost out on jobs because of age descrimination. The first friend "says he already has his dream job and didn’t mind the idea that, because he is 60, some career opportunities have moved beyond his reach," he writes. "Another friend of mine ... is doing something about it: He's suing." Kinsley describes the many career accomplishments of his friend, former North Dakota attorney general Nick Spaeth, making the case that Spaeth's inability to get hired as a law professor at 62 has everything to do with age. The issue, Kinsley says, is complicated because age discrimination is illegal, but many feel it's okay for older people to clear out and make room for younger ones. "But remaining gracious as the generations shift is harder than I would have expected. Fortunately, we all get a chance to be victimized by this shift -- if we’re lucky."

Jack Shafer in Reuters on covering presidential children When several major media outlets reported the news that Malia Obama would travel to Mexico on a school trip, the White House asked them to scrub the stories from the Web, as part of a general agreement to leave the first children out of the news. Most outlets complied. "The old-fashioned command-and-control model ... can't possibly continue even if it’s the 'fair' thing for the kids," Shafer writes. He describes a bit of the history of this agreement on presidential children, but he writes that a new media landscape makes it silly for the White House to demand certain things of mainstream outlets. (The Malia story remains on several other websites, for instance.) "Like it or not, White House kids have become a kind of temporary American royalty, visual appendages to the father's political ambitions, and all the presidential jawboning in the world can’t blot that out."

Witold Rybczynski in The New York Times on the Eisenhower memorial Led by Eisenhower's grandchildren, many have raised criticisms of Frank Gehry's proposed design for a memorial to the President in Washington. "I am concerned that the growing public brouhaha will ultimately weaken the memorial design," writes Rybczynski, part of the commission that first approved the concept. He outlines several of the complaints. Many point to the statue of Eisenhower as a child in Kansas, which some say does disservice to his military and presidential leadership. Rybczynski argues it's a tribute to Eisenhower's own habit of recalling his boyhood. He notes that memorials from Lincoln to Jefferson have met with resistance when first proposed, and often take time to become admired. "In this case, too many cooks will definitely spoil the broth. Compromise and consensus are important when devising legislation, but they are a poor recipe for creating a memorial."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.