Posts tagged with "The New Yorker"

RFK’s grandson Max blows the whistle on Kushner’s ‘Lord of the Flies’ COVID Task Force

September 23, 2020

Robert F. Kennedy’s grandson, Max Kennedy, Jr., 26, volunteered to work on a COVID-19 task force run by White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner. But he ended up sending a complaint to Congress after witnessing what he described as a chaotic, dismal “Lord of The Flies” operation, The New Yorker reported on September 21.

“I just couldn’t sleep,” Kennedy told the magazine. “I was so distressed and disturbed by what I’d seen.”

Indeed, according to a report by the Huffington Post, Kennedy detailed a poorly managed operation to procure desperately needed medical supplies run by an inexperienced crew of volunteers. There appeared to be no vision, no strategy, and no real leadership driving the operation, he recounted.

Kennedy, a lifelong Democrat, said he volunteered for the COVID Supply-Chain Task Force because it was “such an unprecedented time.”

“It seemed larger than the administration,” he told The New Yorker.

But he said he was stunned to learn that he and some 12 other young volunteers were essentially the government’s team in charge of obtaining protective equipment like masks, gloves, and hospital gowns for frontline workers. They were using their own laptops and personal email accounts to do what they could.

“We were the entire frontline team,” an incredulous Kennedy told the magazine. The volunteer numbers were more appropriate for an “after-school event — not to run the greatest crisis in a hundred years,” he said. And there was no urgency to mobilize more people for such an “unbelievably colossal” challenge, he added.

Kennedy said he suspected that inexperienced volunteers were used so that the White House could “control the narrative,” and wouldn’t be contradicted by anyone with expertise.

He was alarmed Trump consistently underplayed the danger of COVID-19 and the dire of lack of supplies. Trump’s solution for the chaos was to blame states—a strategy that won him praise as a “marketing genius” from his aides, Kennedy recounted.

Kennedy ignored a nondisclosure agreement he had been required to sign and sent an anonymous complaint to the House Oversight Committee, he told the magazine. He quit in April.

The supply operation was like a “family office meets organized crime, melded with ‘Lord of The Flies,’” Kennedy said.

“It was a government of chaos,” he added.

There was no immediate response from the White House. It wasn’t clear what happened to his complaint to Congress.

Research contact: @NewYorker

Moo-nificent: France’s biggest celebrity is this gorgeous cow

February 26, 2020

“Her name could not be more appropriate,” says the website for the 2020 Paris International Agricultural Show: Idéale, a superb, sturdy six-year-old Charolais, has been selected to represent her breed and get top billing as this year’s mascot at the exhibition, which runs from February 22 through March 1.

The annual convention brings together farmers from all over France to celebrate the country’s rich bounty of agricultural products, from its wine and cheeses to its produce, its livestock; and, according to The New Yorker, its hot-tub vendors.

Every year, New York Magazine’s “The Cut” reports, the event chooses a bovine mascot that best embodies the wonders and opulence of the event, and whose picture gets plastered around the streets and subways of Paris. First, the breed is selected by the organizing committee. Then the president of the breeding organization for the winning breed chooses a specific cow as mascot. And this year, it’s Idéale. Idéale!

Idéale hails from Monts du Beaujolais in western France. She has, according to the show, “everything going for her.” Specifically, she has “a short head, a broad muzzle with nice sharp teeth, fine crescent-shaped horns which curve perfectly around towards her eyes (referred to as cabettes), a wide and muscular back, thick haunches, etc.”

In addition to her gorgeous sharp teeth and thick haunches, she has a sweet personality. She’s described as docile, maternal, and “she cannot hide her pleasure when being stroked.”

Last year’s mascot, Imminence, was a five-year-old Bleue du Nord, who also was a delightful ambassador, we’re sure. But who can compare to Idéale, really?

Research contact: @NYMagazine

Daily Beast: NBC admonished Ronan Farrow to stop reporting on Harvey Weinstein

September 4, 2018

Even the hottest and most widely sourced stories can be blocked by news outlets that capitulate to the pressures of politics and profitability. That’s exactly what happened at NBC News, an exclusive report by The Daily Beast alleges, when Ronan Farrow tried to air a story on Harvey Weinstein’s sexual harassment of, and assaults on, female film industry associates in August 2017.

Indeed, even after Farrow left the network, NBC News General Counsel Susan Weiner made a series of calls to the writer and “threatened to smear him,” if he continued to delve into whispers about the Hollywood mogul, The Daily Beast claims in its August 30 scoop.

Farrow went on to publish his story in The New Yorker, causing nationwide reverberations that resulted in the #MeToo movement.

Since then, Farrow has been awarded a 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for a series of articles that revealed allegations of sexual harassment and assault—and questions have lingered about why the network gave up on the story.

Now, the supervising producer who worked beside him at NBC has quit the network, too, and is telling his own full story. Rich McHugh tendered his resignation on Friday, August 17—a year to the day after the Weinstein story left with Farrow.

A spokesperson for NBC News, speaking on the condition of anonymity, vigorously denied all allegations that Farrow was muzzled and intimidated by the network. “Absolutely false,” the spokesperson told The Daily Beast. “There’s no truth to that all. There is no chance … that Susan Weiner would tell Ronan Farrow what he could or could not report on.

“The sole point of the Susan Weiner’s conversation with Farrow, roughly a month after he had left NBC,” the spokesperson added, “ was to make sure he wasn’t still telling sources that he was working on the story for NBC, since he had moved on to The New Yorker.

How it all started

In February 2015, Farrow lost his daytime show on MSNBC and began working with NBC News’s investigative unit. In November 2016, Farrow and Rich McHugh decided they wanted to do a story about Hollywood’s “casting couch”— the longtime practice of producers and other powerful men exchanging sex with women for film roles, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter.

They presented the idea to NBC News President Noah Oppenheim, who suggested that the team look into a October 2016 tweet by actress Rose McGowan, who said she had been raped by a Hollywood executive, according to two sources with knowledge of the investigation.

Over the next several months, Farrow began collecting evidence that suggested Weinstein had a pattern of inappropriate behavior toward women.  Weinstein pushed back, denying all allegations of non-consensual sex.

An order to stand down

In an interview with The New York Times published on August 30, McHugh accused “the very highest levels of NBC” of later stopping the reporting.

The same network spokesperson says that claim is inaccurate, telling The Daily Beast, “There was not one single victim or witness to misconduct by Harvey Weinstein who was willing to go on the record. Not one.”

By February, according to the sources, Farrow had secured an on-the-record interview with McGowan in which the actress said she had been sexually harassed by a powerful producer, though she did not name Weinstein. (McGowan subsequently named Weinstein during the NBC investigation, according to a source with knowledge of the story, but reportedly pulled her interview after being legally threatened by Weinstein, who had reached a $100,000 settlement with her in 1997 after she accused him of sexual assault.)

Farrow and McHugh also had obtained a bombshell audio recording from an NYPD sting in which Weinstein admitted to groping Filipina-Italian model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez in 2015. (The Battilana audio was subsequently published by The New Yorker.)

However, during a meeting in summer 2017, Oppenheim mentioned to Farrow that Weinstein had raised objections to Farrow’s reporting—even though Farrow had not yet asked Weinstein to comment on the allegations, according to individuals briefed on the meeting.

“Externally, I had Weinstein associates calling me repeatedly,” McHugh told the Times. “I knew that Weinstein was calling NBC executives directly. One time it even happened when we were in the room.”

HuffPost reported last year that Oppenheim had gone so far as to relay concerns from Weinstein’s lawyers that Farrow could not report the story because the producer had worked with his estranged father, director Woody Allen.

“No, absolutely not, and Noah Oppenheim never had a conversation with Harvey Weinstein about the content of NBC News’ investigation,” the network spokesperson said.

By August 2017, Farrow was prepared to fly to California to interview a woman who was going to claim in silhouette on camera that Weinstein had raped her, according to the sources—however, network management said he “needed more” and would not allow Farrow to use an NBC News crew for the interview, a person familiar with the matter told The Daily Beast. Farrow went ahead with the interview anyway, paying for a camera crew out of his own pocket, according to sources.

“Three days before Ronan and I were going to head to L.A.,” McHugh told the Times, “I was ordered to stop, not to interview this woman. And to stand down on the story altogether.”

Dejected, Farrow approached longtime New Yorker media writer Ken Auletta, seeking advice about what to do. It was Auletta who suggested bringing the story to The New Yorker and called Editor in Chief David Remnick, who accepted the idea.

Immediately after Farrow published his bombshell at The New Yorker, top figures at NBC began pointing fingers at each other, two sources said.

While Oppenheim told staffers that he took responsibility for the decision to let the story go, he privately told at least one colleague that NBC News Chairman Andrew Lack and Senior Communications Vice President Mark Kornblau had made him a scapegoat.

The issue remains open. Questions about the story still are surfacing—and they are likely to cause more headaches in the coming months, The Daily Beast reports.

Earlier this year, publisher Little, Brown announced it was publishing a book by Farrow entitled Catch & Kill, in which he is expected to share his recollection of NBC’s decisions around the Weinstein story and report more broadly on the conspiracy of silence that protects powerful men.

More details on the story are available on The Daily Beast website.

Research contact: @maxwelltani