The Atlantic Daily: Increasingly Creative

Rudy Giuliani and President Trump changed their account of a payment made to Stormy Daniels. Plus a reckoning in the culture world, the history of mail fraud, and more.

Rudy Giuliani speaks in Washington, D.C., on November 16, 2016 (Joshua Roberts / Reuters)

What We’re Following

A Stormy Saga: Rudy Giuliani, a member of President Trump’s defense team, walked back his comments about the payment that Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen made to the adult-film star Stormy Daniels just before the 2016 election. Giuliani’s statement adds new contradictions to the White House’s account of Trump’s dealings with Daniels and Cohen. David Graham sums up the situation: “We still don’t know whether Trump really reimbursed Cohen, when he did so, and when he learned what he was reimbursing Cohen for. All we know is that the president’s lawyers and associates have misled the public in the last three days, and some of them knowingly.”

Should the U.S. Stay in the Iran Deal? As the May 12 deadline for Trump to make that decision approaches, we’re hosting a debate on the pros and cons of withdrawal. Reuel Marc Gerecht argues that the agreement fails to set meaningful safeguards against the development of nuclear weapons in Iran. But Philip Gordon worries that exiting the nuclear deal without a plan could start the U.S. on an unpredictable path—one that could include even more violence in the Middle East.

#MeToo and the Academy: The director Roman Polanski is planning to appeal his expulsion from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The ouster, announced Thursday, came 41 years after allegations surfaced that Polanski had drugged and raped a 13-year-old girl. And the Nobel Foundation is canceling this year’s prize in literature as the Swedish Academy, which selects the winners, reckons with a sexual-harassment scandal that divided its members.


Siese Veenstra, of the Agence France-Presse, photographed Hermien, a cow that was saved by a crowdfunding campaign after she escaped from a truck bound for the butcher, enjoying her first day outside at a retirement home for cows in Zandhuizen, Netherlands, on May 3, 2018. See more of the week’s best photos.

Evening Read

Simon R. Gardner on the history of mail fraud:

Communication has always facilitated crime, and the letter can be traced back thousands of years, with the world’s oldest known correspondence consisting of clay tablets used to ferry messages between the pharaohs of Egypt and the kings of city-states. But to become a criminal tool, the letter needed a form of distribution that could provide the sender with anonymity. The creation and evolution of the modern postal service provided that infrastructure, which then underwrote centuries of increasingly creative criminal acts.

Keep reading, as Gardner recounts how the postal service became weaponized.

What Do You Know … About Culture?

Politics, past and present, seem to be taking over pop culture. A new Netflix docuseries about Bobby Kennedy and his 1968 campaign for the presidency serves as a reminder that many of the problems facing America in the ’60s still persist today. Michelle Wolf’s set at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner—and the uproar that followed in its wake—illustrated a clash of media norms that may signal the death of the annual event. However, comics will still continue to take aim at the administration, as John Mulaney does in his recent Netflix special, Kid Gorgeous. Trump’s critics may be wrong to call him a “reality-TV president,” though: As Lucas Mann explains, he doesn’t exhibit many of the characteristics that define the stars of the genre.

Can you remember the other key facts from this week’s culture coverage? Test your knowledge below:

1. On Thursday, the comedian ____________ and the director Roman Polanski became the third and fourth people ever expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.

2. The Rain is the first Netflix original series to come out of the country ____________.

Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.

3. In the year ____________, Jason Todd and Bucky Barnes, comic-book characters whose deaths are defining moments in superheroes’ backstories, were both resurrected on the page.

Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.

Poem of the Week

From our November 2004 issue, “Sinners Welcome” by Mary Karr:

     That the world could arrive at me
with him in it, after so much longing—

Read more.

Reader Response

After the acronym IMHO sparked an unexpected debate between Atlantic writers over what the H stands for, readers on Facebook got into the discussion. Laura writes:

Humble. Period. It makes no sense to say honest opinion. People don’t generally assert that their opinions are dishonest or false.

Chris writes:

Sorry, no. The H in IMHO means exactly what the H in TBH means: honest. Stop trying to make humble happen; it doesn’t make sense.

And Naomi recalls:

In 1997, one of my professors sent an email to the whole class and used IMHO. None of us knew what it meant and had to grill him when we got to class. Fittingly, it was a translation course.

Join the debate on Facebook, or write to us at


Neighborhood evacuated, drought withstood, breastfeeding brainstormed, motherhood complicated.

Time of Your Life

Happy birthday to Joey (a year younger than websites), from his wife in London; to Yakira (twice the age of the iPhone); and from Dad to Jennifer and Susie (both a year younger than the Super Bowl).

Tomorrow, happy birthday to Gary, who shares a birthday with Pam (both a year younger than sunscreen); to Heather (twice the age of the euro); to Rebecca’s husband, Gobind (a year younger than George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four); to Denise (twice the age of The Oprah Winfrey Show); to Karmen (a year younger than MTV); and to Laura’s mom, Gloria (a year younger than Batman comics).

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