January 30, 2017

The felony rioting case brought against Vocativ’s Evan Engel has been dropped. Engel was arrested while covering anti-Trump protests in Washington, DC, on Inauguration Day. In a statement, Engel said his “thoughts are with any other journalists who are facing charges for doing their jobs, as well as with journalists imprisoned around the world.”

Julia Ioffe

At The Atlantic, journalist Julia Ioffe writes about her family’s experience as Soviet refugees, describing what it is like to be the subject of debates and policy decisions made by strangers many miles away: “They don’t know you. They don’t know the days of your life that you have already lived, and the stuff of your mind and the strength in your hands. To them, you are an abstraction, colored by their fear and their hate, or by their heartrending idealism.”

The Women’s Prize for Fiction, which has honored an outstanding English-language novel each year for twenty-two years, is looking for a new sponsor. The Irish drink company Baileys has funded the award for the past four years, but, according to the Prize’s website, the company is making way for a new backer because it now has a “need for marketing activities that work across different languages.” In an essay for The Pool, the Prize’s founder, Kate Mosse, frames the sponsorship search within the context of Donald Trump’s election and the recent worldwide women’s marches, writing, “A new sponsor for the WPF will help us take the Prize into a new era. Will help champion women’s stories in the days, weeks and years ahead when, frankly, who knows what might happen.”

At the New York Times, Caitlin Dickerson looks at anti-refugee articles online, examining the ways in which they spread by preying on readers’ anxieties. Once found mainly on far-right websites, these articles are now beginning to change mainstream perception of refugees and immigrants, as untrue stories (as well as wildly exaggerated ones with a grain of truth) are shared widely. Brookings Institute fellow William Galston tells Dickerson that even if people don’t believe alarmist fake news, its presence on social media still changes the tone of the discussion about immigration: “I think . . . opinions are being intensified because the intensification of contrary sentiments is increasing polarization.”        

In a profile of Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer, the Times recaps his first week, noting that he was “pilloried as a liar, hammered by journalists, mocked by Stephen Colbert, taunted by the freeze-dried ice cream brand Dippin’ Dots and held up as the poster child for an administration that can play fast and loose with the facts.” Even his boss was unhappy with him: Trump reportedly criticized Spicer’s first press conference, imploring him to wear better clothes and carry himself more confidently, because, as Spicer explains, “He was disappointed with how the overall news cycle was going.” Still, the press secretary appears undaunted, saying of his job:  “You’re not here to be someone’s buddy. You’re here to enact the president’s agenda. . . . And if you think it’s going to be anything bad, then this isn’t the job for you.”

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