Five Best Wednesday Columns

James Fallows on the Iran vote, Erik Wemple on Politico and Fox News, Kevin Roose on the Whisper app, Adrienne LaFrance on the history of native advertising, and Linda Holmes on tweeting with cancer. 

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James Fallows at The Atlantic on the Iran vote. "The Obama Administration, along with some of the usual U.S. allies — the U.K., France, Germany — and such non-allied parties as Russia and China, has taken steps with the potential of peacefully ending Iran's 35-year estrangement from most of the rest of the world. That would be of enormous benefit and significance to Iran, the U.S., and nearly everyone else concerned," Fallows writes. "The U.S. may be in a position right now with Iran analogous to the one with China in the early stages of the Nixon-Mao rapprochement. Nothing is guaranteed, but the benefits of normalized relations would be so great that they must be given every chance to succeed," he argues. But Senate Republicans are pushing for a sanctions bill, and some Democrats have joined them. This is an "untenable position." Peter Beinart, who's covered Middle East issues for many years and recently joined The Atlantic as a contributing editor, tweets, " weighs in on danger of Iran sanctions bill. Hope he'll inspire others." 

Erik Wemple at The Washington Post on Politico and Fox News. Politico's Mike Allen, who writes the influential Playbook every morning, seems to have a special relationship with Fox News' Roger Ailes. During 2013 alone, "Allen touted this 'EXCLUSIVE': 'Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes to receive the 2013 Bradley Prize.' Wonder who tipped him off? He aired a Fox News counterpoint to an allegation in a book by journalist Jonathan Alter that Ailes meddled in real time with a Fox News segment. He promoted a partnership between and Fox News. He quoted extensively from a Harper’s Bazaar puff piece on Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly. He picked up a New Republic piece on Ailes touting his plans to appeal to Latinos. And more," Wemple writes. It's the "Allen-Ailes hagiography." Amid rumors that Fox News has banned Politico reporters from appearing on the network, Fox News' PR admitted they prefer to deal directly with Allen. "As they should," Wemple writes. New York's Frank Rich tweets, "A devastating indictment of Roger Ailes' sway over Politico’s Playbook from the unimpeachable ." Slate's Dave Weigel puts it more succinctly: " goes on ."

Kevin Roose at New York on the Whisper app. "If you're older than 25, you may not have heard of Whisper. But the app — already popular among high-school and college students across the country — is quickly becoming the most interesting social network around," Roose writes. Basically, "it allows people to post anonymous Whispers (photos with a line or two of text overlaid on them, in the style of a Reddit image macro) which can then be 'hearted' or replied to by other users." Anonymity is crucial. "Whisper is one of the organizations trying to reclaim the transparency that anonymity can breed. ... Unlike Facebook and Instagram — where people announce engagements but never divorces, and where people always seem to be putting on a show for their friends — Whisper appears more in line with reality," Roose writes.

Adrienne LaFrance at The Awl on native advertising. "News curmudgeons relish blaming the internet for things they don’t like, a pastime that is maddening, a little sad, and just ironic. These people who fetishize print media's past are often selective in their memories of it," LaFrance argues. "For instance, BuzzFeed didn't invent coverage of silly animals, and it certainly didn't invent native advertising—that is, advertising with a narrative structure that mirrors surrounding editorial content," she writes. All the way back in the 1920s, newspapers were running advertorials. "So the fact that The New York Times is now publishing native advertisements isn't a signal of some brave new world. Rather, it harkens back to the old one." 

Linda Holmes at NPR on tweeting with cancer. Bill and Emma Keller both wrote op eds this week about Lisa Bonchek Adams, a woman who has been tweeting and blogging about her battle with cancer.  "While the personal angles on this story ... are the most compelling and important, there is a publishing and media story here, which is that Bill Keller's column, in particular, reflects a misunderstanding of what Twitter is," Holmes argues. While Bill Keller appears to be uncomfortable with how Adams writes about cancer, what he really doesn't like is the medium. "Here's my theory: Traditional publishing applies a sort of Presumption Of Importance to personal writing. It presumes you would not write about your experiences unless you wanted to advocate for your way as the right way ... Thus, it's very difficult for traditional publishers to believe that you might tweet about your experience simply for the benefit of those who may find it useful without particularly believing in your own exceptionalism," Holmes writes. The New Yorker's Emily Nussbaum tweets, "I know I've tweeted pieces on the Kellers, but this fantastic post by takes a crucial, different angle."

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