Five Best Monday Columns

Charles C.W. Cooke on Oprah's Harvard address, Kate Aurthur on Nikke Finke's blogging life, Gary Younge on Bradley Manning's trial, Steve Coll on the Obama administration's obsession with secrecy, and Michelle Boorstein on the religious evolution on gay Boy Scouts.

This article is from the archive of our partner .

Charles C.W. Cooke at National Review on Oprah's Harvard address What kind of advice can billionaire television mogul Oprah Winfrey give to Harvard graduates? Charles C.W. Cooke takes Winfrey's recent commencement speech to task for fetishizing political compromise: "The worst thing about Winfrey’s spiel — and almost all others like it — is that it was premised on the rotten and mendacious conceit that there are never any real instances in which conflicting political prerogatives make compromise impossible," he writes. "The problem with America, in this view, is never legitimate difference of opinion, and always the abstract notion of 'politics.' 'If only we could agree!' is the unspoken cry. Well, sure. But we don’t agree. So what do we do about it?" Writing at The Washington Post, Melinda Henneberger adds: "Winfrey dedicated her talk to 'anybody who’s felt screwed by life,' which I hope but am not sure she meant ironically." And at The Wall Street JournalSimpsons writer and Harvard alum Rob Labeznik gives his own commencement speech, which concludes, "I advise you to ignore all the clichés of the typical commencement speech and do what your generation does best: get lucky."

Kate Aurthur at BuzzFeed on Nikke Finke's blogging life "Nikki Finke — who may or may not have been fired from her own site, Deadline, by its owner, Jay Penske — has changed entertainment journalism," begins Kate Aurthur, in her consideration of Finke's career. "She made it more news-oriented, faster, more personally revealing, and meaner. ... Her Deadline, with excellent and sane reporters such as Nellie Andreeva and Mike Fleming providing its spine for the past few years, has supplanted the trades and has become huge. It’s an inside baseball empire. But an empire nonetheless." TheWrap's Sharon Waxman, who first reported that Finke had been "fired," explains how Finke's power is often personal: "Finke has both terrorized and riveted Hollywood by shredding the reputations of executives she dislikes and heaping praise on those she does. ... Her willingness to write so aggressively -- while simultaneously threatening lawsuits to perceived rivals -- was taken as a warning to others to feed stories to her blog and otherwise cooperate."

Gary Younge at The Guardian on Bradley Manning's trial Gary Younge assesses the fate of Army Pvt. Bradley Manning, whose military trial in Forte Meade begins today over allegations that he leaked classified materials to WikiLeaks. "The case against him indicates the degree to which the war on terror ... privileges secrecy over not only transparency but humanity," Younge says, adding, "To insist that Manning's disclosure put his military colleagues in harm's way is a bit like a cheating husband claiming that his partner reading his diary, not the infidelity, is what is truly imperiling their marriage. Avoiding responsibility for action, one instead blames the information and informant who makes that action known." Creative Time Reports' Molly Crabapple weighs the discourse of loyalty that surrounds Manning's trial: "Loyalty is life and death for soldiers. But like courage, it’s a morally neutral virtue. Its morality depends on how you view the cause it serves. Like any whistleblower, Manning may have betrayed his institution, but he did so out of loyalty to humanity."

Steve Coll at The New Yorker on the Obama administration's obsession with secrecy Steve Coll attempts to shed light on recent revelations that the Justice Department authorized searches of reporters' communications. "[Obama's] longest-serving advisers are disciplined and insular to a fault; press leaks offend their aesthetic of power," he explains. "... yet the Administration’s record cannot be chalked up to the President’s temperament or to Holder’s poor judgment alone." He continues: "Obama inherited a bloated national-security state. It contains far too many official secrets and far too many secret-keepers." At Reuters, Jack Shafer is a bit more cynical about Attorney General Eric Holder's intentions: "If you resist looking at the current spat in the freeze frame of current events, you might view Holder as sincerely troubled by the press corps’ reaction ... or maybe we’re all overinterpreting, and all that has transpired this week is the standard Washington power dance, with duplicity and fatuousness by all."

Michelle Boorstein at The Washington Post on the religious evolution on gay Boy Scouts A week after the Mormon and Catholic Churches issued their approval of (or at least peace with) the Boy Scouts' vote to allow gay troops in 2014, Michelle Boorstein tries to explain the shift in tone. "The Boy Scout debate highlighted the way religious conservatives — like much of society in general — have begun, in recent decades, to say that being gay is a biological orientation, not a rebellious and changeable behavior," she writes. " ... Which leads to a question: Can you affirm the complete human dignity and equal stature of someone while simultaneously saying one of their basic attributes makes them an undesirable role model?" In The Miami HeraldLeonard Pitts notes that the recent Boy Scouts vote goes only so far: "The Boy Scouts’ decision to split the difference — allow gay boys, ban gay men — does not exactly smell of Solomonic wisdom. ... What kind of message does all of this send gay boys? You’re acceptable until you aren’t?"

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