Five Best Thursday Columns

Sanjay Gupta changes his mind on marijuana, Gail Collins on Chris Christie's gender gap, Fort Hood shooting victim Shawn Manning on the personal stakes of calling the attack terrorism, Slate editor David Plotz bans "Redskins" at his site, and Julia Ioffe on her on-air fight with MSNBC host Lawrence O'Donnell.

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Sanjay Gupta at CNN changes his mind on marijuana After doing some research for an upcoming documentary on marijuana, the doctor has issued a strong apology for previously opposing the drug. "It doesn't have a high potential for abuse, and there are very legitimate medical applications." The Washington Post's Dylan Matthews tweets this quote from Gupta: "We have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years in the United States," and Gupta adds, "and I apologize for my own role in that." That Gupta, CNN's preeminent medical expert, has so radically reversed his position startled other journalists. "An unflinching mea culpa," writes Keith Kloor, blogger for Discover magazine, while author Philip Gourevitch admires that Gupta "makes passionate apology for his part." "Wow," tweets Reuters labor reporter Amanda Becker.

Gail Collins in The New York Times on Chris Christie's gender gap "There’s a side to Christie that reminds women of their worst boyfriends," Collins writes. "Ouch," comments Wall Street Journal politics reporter Neil King. As the only potential Republican presidential candidate with a gender gap in a recent New Hampshire poll, Christie is turning off women, Collins posits, who won't vote for yellers and hotheads. "Maybe quiet and sane trumps loud and crazy, even in Republican primary politics," she writes, but Texas political campaign coordinator Karen Townsend doesn't think it matters: "I don't think conservative voters take boyfriend advice from Gail Collins!" Still, Philadelphia Inquirer political writer Tom Fitzgerald "Enjoyed Gail Collins' against-grain take," he writes, and radio host Mara Dolan tweets that this is "Further proof that Gail Collins is a national treasure."

Shawn Manning in The Washington Post on the personal stakes of calling the Fort Hood terrorism Manning and the 31 other people non-mortally wounded in Maj. Nidal Hasan's rampage qualify for lower financial benefits than soldiers injured in combat because the army classified the shooting as workplace violence rather than in-combat terrorism. "The only entities that have stubbornly refused to call it an act of terrorism are the Army and the Pentagon. Unfortunately for those wounded in the attack, their opinions are the ones that most affect us," Manning writes. "Strong op-ed by Ft Hood attack survivor," writes Christian Beckner, the deputy director of GWU Homeland Security Policy Institute. But CBS Radio News military analyst Mike Lyons disagrees, tweeting "The Army was grossly negligent keeping Hasan on AD, but his attack was not an act of Terror."

David Plotz in Slate on refusing to use the Washington Redskins name "This is the last Slate article that will refer to the Washington NFL team as the Redskins," writes the editor of Slate, concluding that the racial slur used for the football team is too insensitive to appear in that web publication. "So while the name Redskins is only a bit offensive, it’s extremely tacky and dated—like an old aunt who still talks about 'colored people' or limps her wrist to suggest someone’s gay," Plotz writes. The question is important because "Changing how you talk changes how you think," notes Amy Webb, the head of digital strategy agency Webbmedia Group. TV anchor Nathan Hager writes that Slate is "one more" outlet to abandon the nickname, but even Plotz admits that there won't be major pressure to change until larger publications like The Washington Post follows their lead. But he does have at least one ally at Jeff Bezos' paper: Post columnist Gene Weingarten tweets, "Good for Slate."

Julia Ioffe in The New Republic on her experience with cable news hackery Ioffe, an expert on Russia who previously reported from Moscow, was invited to talk about Edward Snowden on Lawrence O'Donnell's TV program on MSNBC last night. It did not go well. O'Donnell disagreed with Ioffe and yelled over her arguments with what she called a "ridiculous" and "insane" argument, and Ioffe column lambasts O'Donnell's condescending "mansplaining." Fellow journalists noted this behavior is pretty typical: "I think @JuliaIoffe speaks for every print reporter who's had to put up w/ a TV blowhard," writes Jason Zengerle, contributing editor for New York Magazine, and The Daily Caller's Alexis Levinson sarcastically tweets O'Donnell's yelling is "shocking, never before seen behavior," for a TV host. But National Post writer Andrew Coyne thinks the whole column is ridiculous: "Journalist goes on TV, writes 1500 word piece complaining about being interrupted. Could readers possibly care less?"

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