The Atlantic Daily: Public Investigations

After U.S. intelligence said Russian hackers interfered on behalf of Donald Trump, he doubted the evidence—but the Senate planned an inquiry.

Larry Downing / Reuters

What We’re Following

The Russian Hacking Allegations: Last Friday night, following the announcement that the Obama administration would launch a thorough review of election-related hacking, news broke that the CIA suspected the Russian government of orchestrating cyberattacks to help Donald Trump win the presidency. Now the Senate is also getting involved, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell backing a bipartisan inquiry into Russia’s role—and a group of presidential electors is demanding a briefing on the hacking. But Trump is questioning the CIA’s conclusions, while some of his closest allies—including his likely pick for deputy secretary of state, John Bolton—are claiming without evidence that the hacks were conducted under a false flag.

What This Means: The president-elect doubting his own intelligence agencies presents a worrying prospect for transparency under his administration. On a broader scale, his party’s new embrace of Russia shows Trump leading an ideological shift in conservative foreign policy—and that policy could have global significance, especially if Russia gets more aggressive toward its NATO neighbors in 2017. You can read a summary of these and other brewing conflicts here. As for how Americans should respond to Russia’s probable election-hacking? Here are five questions that need answering first.

Culture Clash: One place to look for sharp political coverage? Teen Vogue. An op-ed the magazine published over the weekend comparing Trump’s rhetoric to gaslighting—or the manipulation from an abusive spouse—surprised many older readers. But those reactions underestimate how eager the teen magazine’s core audience is to engage social issues. Meanwhile, Bob Dylan’s Nobel acceptance speech—delivered in absentia this weekend by the U.S. ambassador to Sweden—reflected the singer’s long-established policy of detachment from interpretations of his work. And elsewhere in the entertainment world, this year’s list of Golden Globes nominees established La La Land, Moonlight, and Manchester by the Sea as strong awards contenders—while also recognizing some more surprising choices.


A green meteor plunges through the atmosphere above the Western Ghats mountain range in South India. Photographer Prasenjeet Yadav won an honorable mention for this image in the National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year contest. See more winners here.

Evening Read

Peter Brannen on one of evolution’s biggest mysteries:

The evolution of whales spans whole ages and unfamiliar worlds. It draws from an oeuvre that includes, not only paleontology, but paleoclimatology, oceanography, geology and paleoecology as well. To get a foothold on this dizzying sweep, UC Berkeley Ph.D. candidate Larry Taylor has decided to probe something smaller. Not the whales themselves, but the barnacles that cling to the animals—hitching rides around the planet. As Taylor realized, oxygen isotopes in barnacle shells act as a chemical passport of a whale’s travels, filled with stamps from the world’s various oceans. And humpback-whale barnacles go back millions of years in the fossil record. Taylor hopes to find ancient whale journeys coded in these fossil shells—journeys that could illuminate the evolution of whales and, perhaps even, why some got so preposterously large.

Keep reading here, as Brannen explains how the barnacle record lends insight into whales’ survival tactics, climate change, and much more.

What Do You Know?

1. According to a recent study, the amount of time that college-educated parents spend on childcare in the U.S. peaked in the early ____________ and plateaued after that decade.

Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.

2. To find out more about human speech disorders, some scientists are looking at the songs of ____________.

Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.

3. Though about half of the graduates from top film schools are women, only ____________ percent of directors in the U.S. film industry are female.

Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.

Answers: 2000s, mice, 3

Reader Response

Have you ever been hacked? This reader had her personal email exposed:

The hacker had been accessing my account for weeks before I found out. The hacker corresponded with a couple of my former male acquaintances and forwarded them nude pictures I had sent to a man I was dating.

Neither of the former acquaintances said a word. In fact, they conversed with the hacker back and forth without my noticing it. The hacker was deleting the emails from the inbox and I rarely checked the sent folder.

One weekend morning, a friend called me to say he was getting strange messages from my email address. He said my account had been compromised that morning. Someone had sent out a mass email from my account with pictures, personal correspondences, and my password with an invitation to everyone to access my account. When I opened my email, I discovered that the person had forwarded the information to not only friends but also family, including my aunt. I was devastated.

Read more here, and share your own story via

Look Back

The French novelist Gustave Flaubert would have been 195 years old today. In our January 1884 issue, his fellow author Henry James described his artistic frustrations:

He had a passion for perfection of form and for a certain splendid suggestiveness of style. He wished to produce perfect phrases, perfectly interrelated, and as closely woven together as a suit of chain-mail. He looked at life altogether as an artist, and took his work with a seriousness that never belied itself. To write an admirable page—and his idea of what constituted an admirable page was transcendent—seemed to him something to live for. He tried it again and again, and he came very near to it; more than once he touched it. ... But there was something unfruitful in his genius. He was cold, and he would have given everything he had in order to glow. ...

And yet this local dumbness, as I may call it, inspired those who knew him with a kindness. If Flaubert  was powerful and limited, there is something impressive in a strong man who has not been able completely to express himself.

Read a PDF of the article here. For more on Flaubert and his prose, check out this review of a 2004 translation of his first novel, Madame Bovary—which even James, despite his skepticism, agreed was a masterpiece.

We accidentally posted an incorrect link in the newsletter dated December 9, 2016, which led to a photo essay from our archives instead of “a history of public perceptions of business leaders.” Sorry about that! If you’d like to read about those leaders and the mixed awe and suspicion they inspire, you can find the correct article here.

The Atlantic Daily is written by Rosa Inocencio Smith. To contact us, email