Five Best Tuesday Columns
Julia Ioffe on Putin's madcap press conference, Julia Angwin on privacy as a luxury good, Eliana Johnson on Ronan Farrow's new show, Sofie Karasek on the sexual assault problem at American universities, Adrian Ephraim on Oscar Pistorius and the Oscars.
Julia Ioffe at The New Republic on Vladimir Putin’s madcap press conference. “Slouching in a fancy chair in front of a dozen reporters, Putin squirmed and rambled. And rambled and rambled. He was a rainbow of emotion: serious! angry! bemused! flustered! confused! So confused. Victor Yanukovich is still the acting president of Ukraine, but he can't talk to Ukraine because Ukraine has no president. Ukraine needs elections, but you can't have elections because there is already a president. And no elections will be valid given that there is terrorism in the streets of Ukraine,” Ioffe writes. “Today's performance, though, put all that speculation to rest. Merkel was absolutely right: Putin has lost it. Unfortunately, it makes him that much harder to deal with.” Gideon Lichfield at Quartz tweets, “Great deconstruction of Putin's press conference.”
Julia Angwin at The New York Times on privacy as a luxury good. “In our data-saturated economy, privacy is becoming a luxury good. After all, as the saying goes, if you aren’t paying for the product, you are the product. And currently, we aren’t paying for very much of our technology. The more we learn about how our data is being harnessed — and how it may be exploited in the future — the more likely we are to re-evaluate the true cost of these supposedly free services,” Angwin writes. “As more privacy-protecting services pop up, we need to consider two important questions: Can we ensure that those who can afford to buy privacy services are not being deceived? And even more important, do we want privacy to be something that only those with disposable money and time can afford?”
Eliana Johnson at The National Review on Ronan Farrow’s MSNBC show. “He certainly knows how to charm sexagenarian elites, but young people don’t seem to like him much. Farrow’s largest audience, according to Deadline Hollywood, was among adults 50 and older: that is, among the same demographic that groomed the precocious Farrow from childhood and taught him to meet their expectations,” Johnson writes. “The mandarins who groomed Farrow may be excited to watch their protégé on the air, but the initial ratings suggest the country’s young people aren’t. They weren’t exactly clamoring for one of America’s best imitations of China’s infamous princelings to get even more airtime.” David Weigel at Slate (brilliantly) tweets, “They see me Ronan, they hatin’.”
Sofie Karasek at The Guardian on the sexual assault problem at American universities. “Last Wednesday, 31 students filed two federal complaints against the University of California, Berkeley for failing to prevent, investigate, or discipline assailants in cases of sexual violence and harassment. I was one of the students. While our individual stories are unique, our experiences of sexual assault are all too common at universities across the United States,” Karasek writes. “Sexual assault is an epidemic across college campuses; you are more likely to be sexually assaulted if you attend university than if you do not. And too often, the subsequent betrayal from the university is even worse than the assault itself. How many survivors have to speak before someone starts to listen?”
Adrian Ephraim at the South African Mail & Guardian on Oscar Pistorius and the Oscars. “The irony of parallel trending topics involving Oscar Pistorius and the Oscars awards ceremony on every analogue and digital platform built to disseminate information was not lost on the world or its media. We sniggered at how this murder saga was 'made for Hollywood'. The tenuous link, though, masks our more macabre obsession with two very mortal vices: vanity and violence – our vilest obsessions,” Ephraim writes. “We're rendered gullible enough to believe that there are similarities between the OJ Simpson 1994 murder trial in Los Angeles and the 'Hollywood-style' trial playing itself out in Pretoria, because 'the media' told us so. The Pistorius trial is doing something very different. It is awakening the sleeping giants in newsrooms and legal circles across the country.”