Susannah Meadows

Stories by Susannah Meadows

  • Polanski, the Pope, and the Power of Apology

    A decent apology accepts all the responsibility for what happened, so it can begin to undo the humiliation that comes with thinking you had something to do with the awful thing that happened.
  • Fast Chat: Close Listener

    Chris Matthews tends to show little patience for politicians on TV, but as he writes in his new book, "Life's a Campaign," he's learned a lot from them. One of the big lessons? The power of listening. NEWSWEEK's Susannah Meadows took note. ...
  • How Hillary Won Over the Health-Care Industry

    She was persona non grata in the early 1990s, when the then-first lady's dramatic health-care reform package went down. These days Hillary Clinton is winning raves among health-care-industry groups—and attracting their campaign dollars.
  • Evangelicals and the Vitter Effect

    By now, Washington has grown accustomed to its sex scandals. In the capital, obsessed with Iraq and the coming presidential election, the news that Louisiana Republican Sen. David Vitter’s phone number had turned up in possession of a D.C. escort service created a relatively modest stir. The press dutifully pointed out Vitter’s hypocrisy; a devout Catholic who has been an outspoken moralist, he was a vocal crusader for President Clinton’s impeachment during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, accusing Clinton of draining “any sense of values left in our political culture.” Vitter swiftly copped to the transgression via an e-mail to the AP. After rumors of other dalliances began cropping up in the New Orleans papers (he denied them), Vitter grimly took to the microphone, his embattled wife by his side, and, in an all-too-familiar D.C. ritual, apologies for letting his wife, friends and supporters down, then told the world he was pressing on with the people’s business.In political circles,...
  • What Really Happened That Night at Duke

    They spent a year accused of kidnapping, assault and rape. Now, though, the three Duke lacrosse players were told they were 'innocent.' The inside story of the infamous evening.
  • Why Can’t Mike Huckabee Catch Fire?

    Mike Huckabee is in an unusual situation for a politician. He doesn’t have to pander to his base. A former Southern Baptist preacher, he starts his 2008 presidential bid well to the right of his party’s most serious contenders. His long-held pro-life, pro-gun, and anti-gay marriage agenda would seem to be music to the ears of conservatives unhappy with the fact that social-issue moderates like John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, and (at least until recently) Mitt Romney are hogging the headlines. So why isn’t the governor of Arkansas and current Republican presidential candidate, stuck around two percent in recent polls, catching fire among religious conservatives? Huckabee has a plan to fix that—and it starts with this interview. NEWSWEEK's Susannah Meadows talked with the other guy from a place called Hope about gays, hell and donuts. ...
  • Hillary's Religious Roots

    If Hillary Clinton and George W. Bush have anything in common, it is a deeply rooted wariness of outsiders. Both the president and the woman who hopes to succeed him have always relied on a small, closed circle of friends and advisers who have been with them for years. So it's not surprising that there are so many familiar faces on Clinton's new campaign team. Ad maker Mandy Grunwald, pollster Mark Penn, strategist Ann Lewis and others are loyalists from Bill Clinton's White House.There is another person on Hillary's shortlist of confidants who goes back farther than any of them, but whom you've probably never heard of. The Rev. Don Jones, a Methodist minister who is now 75, was perhaps Hillary's earliest spiritual and political mentor. She has written of her "lifelong friendship" with him. It was Jones who first awakened young Hillary to the civil-rights movement and counseled her on questions of faith. They continued to be in touch as Hillary became a national figure. Years later,...
  • Return To The Top

    Serena Williams proved Friday night what we already knew: That when she’s playing her best, no one can touch her. In a breathtaking performance, she stomped on, whipped, flogged—the thesaurus sure is fun in moments like these—the No. 1-ranked Maria Sharapova to win the Australian Open . Unseeded and ranked 81 at the start of the tournament, Serena’s own number zoomed up to 14 by its thrilling end. Sharapova retains the top slot in the computer, but last night was its own verdict.It’s been a difficult two years for Serena, since her last win in 2005. In 2003 she had surgery to fix an injured knee. Then, while she was home in Florida recovering , her half-sister, Yetunde Price, was killed in a drive-by shooting in Los Angeles. After that, Serena’s game has never quite been the same—the dominance was gone, the spark had flamed out. The knee kept nagging her, yes, but that seemed only half the struggle.For her fans, these last few years have been especially trying. We worried that her...
  • The Duke Case: Standing Down

    The three Duke lacrosse defendants just got more good news. District Attorney Mike Nifong, who'd once called them hooligans, has asked to be recused from the case, suggesting a special prosecutor be appointed to take over.The pressure on Nifong to step down has been building. In December the state bar accused him of disparaging the defendants and misleading the public about evidence. Then the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys--his own colleagues--urged Nifong to recuse himself "in the interest of justice."The case itself is imploding. The accuser, who'd already changed her story numerous times, did it yet again, according to a motion filed by defense attorneys. In this new version, she says she was attacked by two men, not three. She'd originally singled out Reade Seligmann as having forced a specific sex act on her. Now, according to the documents, she told Nifong's investigator that Seligmann said he couldn't go through with the rape because he was getting married....
  • In Scandal's Shadow

    Last April, Duke lacrosse star Reade Seligmann huddled with his dad at a Durham, N.C., law firm. A stripper hired to perform at a team party on March 13 claimed several players raped her. In a lineup, she'd identified three of them as her alleged assailants. Seligmann now awaited a call from the prosecutor that would tell him if he was one of the players she'd singled out. He felt certain he would be cleared. The call came. Reade, 20, was being indicted for first-degree rape, kidnapping and sexual offense. He had a strong alibi--cell-phone records would show he was busy calling his girlfriend at the time the alleged crime was taking place--but the D.A. declined to hear it. As he heard the news, Reade looked at his dad. It was the first time he'd ever seen his father cry. Then it hit him: how was he going to tell his mom? Kathy Seligmann was home in New Jersey with her three other boys. He dialed her number. "Mom," he said, "she picked me."Just before the new year, Reade sat with...
  • Lara Logan

    Lara logan has spent the last five years reporting from Iraq and Afghanistan. Before that, she was in Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Kosovo, the West Bank and Gaza, and Burundi during the coup. On a recent morning in New York, just back from Baghdad, she cheerfully ticks off all the wars she's covered, like a college kid proud of maxing out her Eurail pass. She even cracks up talking about the time she drove over an explosive device in Afghanistan, got tossed out of the truck and landed in the road on her face. "Along the way I've had moments where I've been frightened," she says. "But even when I got blown up, I mean, how can you be afraid if it's over?"It's all in a day's work for Logan, 35, who contributes to "60 Minutes" and this year became the chief foreign correspondent for CBS News. She's always preferred being where the action is. Logan grew up in South Africa, where her antiapartheid parents taught her to question the government's racist policies. At 17, she sneaked out of...
  • Coach Danowski

    They'd been favored to win the national championship last year, before they hired two strippers and a scandal was born. After sitting out the end of last season, the Duke Lacrosse team returned this fall to a new coach and 6:30 a.m. practices. John Danowski talked with Susannah Meadows about his team.I'd hug guys if they made a mistake. They didn't like it. They weren't used to that. But when I was getting frustrated with some of the guys who weren't going to make the team, this kid walked by me and said, "Hey, Coach, need a hug?" I looked at him and said, "Yeah, I do."I think. I think. I hope.These kids have never been in the principal's office. They certainly didn't plan on messing up. One thing I did was, we have a software program that allows me to text-message them as a group. On a Friday night, it's 11 o'clock [and I'd write], "Hey, I'm thinking about you. Make great decisions tonight." The next day they'd always say they got a good laugh out of it.Let's win the first game.
  • Shattering The Quiet

    I was one of the reporters who converged on the peaceful Pennsylvania countryside after the shooting of 10 Amish girls. When there's a tragedy, journalists struggle to report what happened while still respecting the feelings of a grieving family. But as a hundred news trucks choked the small roads, the contest between public interest and privacy was thrown into high relief. The Amish boarded up the schoolhouse windows to keep our greedy eyes from the space where their children had been lost. Reporters from across the nation stood in a row for their stand-ups with the school behind them, providing a nice backdrop for the evening news.The Amish desire to live simply, apart from modern society, has always had real integrity. It's not as if they courted media attention and then complained, like Tom and Katie, when the scrutiny got to be too much. They build the windows in their schools high enough to keep tourists from taking pictures. So throughout that week, I had to fight an...
  • Botched

    Chuck Schumer got right to the point. On Thursday afternoon, the New York Senator, who’s leading the Democrats’ efforts to win back the Senate, called John Kerry and let him have it. The Massachussetts Senator’s supposed “botched joke” about the president's handling of Iraq had become a feast for Republicans—sucking up tons of airtime and knocking Democrats off message in the crucial remaining days before the midterm election. Kerry’s attempts to fight back, by calling the Republicans “stuffed suits” and “right wing nutjobs,” was only prolonging the story and making things worse. Apologize now, Schumer told him, according to a high-ranking party official who didn’t want to be named talking about a private conversation. (A source close to Kerry said the exchange was cordial.)Just the day before, Kerry had been all swagger as he took swipes at President Bush in a speech to a crowd of Democrats. But Kerry, never known for his verbal agility, or his sense of humor, mangled what was...
  • Tragedy In Amish Country

    In his years as a taxi driver, Bob Potts had driven his "FriendlyTransportation" cab all around his home of Lancaster County, Pa. The Amish weren't among his regular customers. When they couldn't walk, they usually took their familiar horse-drawn buggies, which Potts often passed on the roadside. In some ways, the Amish and non-Amish in the area were neighbors in proximity only. They lived alongside one another, but two centuries apart. The Amish, whose beliefs require them to live simply, don't drive; typically don't have electricity or phones in the house, and worship in each other's homes. Last Monday morning, however, after a deranged, anguished gunman entered an Amish schoolhouse and shot 10 girls and then himself, the cultural differences between the two communities were, for a time, set aside. The Amish, who cherish their privacy and separateness, welcomed the non-Amish neighbors who rushed over to help in whatever way they could. The outsiders sat with worried Amish parents,...
  • Outpouring

    Since the Oct. 2 shooting of 10 Amish schoolgirls, sympathetic people have responded with an outpouring of donations to help the community in Nickel Mines, Pa., pay hospital bills and for a new school. Since last week, three Mennonite groups with close ties to the Amish have been receiving those donations. Now the Nickel Mines Accountability Committee has been organized to administer the money. Herman Bontrager, normally the CEO of Goodville Mutual Insurance Company, is a volunteer spokesman for the committee. He talked to NEWSWEEK's Susannah Meadows from his office in New Holland, Pa.NEWSWEEK: How much money has been donated so far?Herman Bontrager: Over $1 million already. But we don’t really know how many funds might be out there.Many of the hospitals caring for the girls have offered now to waive their bills.One hospital contacted one of the [Amish] leaders saying that they would not be charging for services rendered. Other hospitals followed suit.What is the response of the...
  • Murder on Their Minds

    For months Eric Harris had been writing in his journal about murdering all the people who'd ever snubbed him. "Everyone is always making fun of me because of how I look ... well I will get you all back," he wrote five months before his killing spree through Columbine High School. A week later, he wrote about how hard it was going to be to wait until April to get his revenge. But then, for a brief moment, he considered calling off his plan. "If people would give me more compliments, all of this might still be avoidable," he wrote. But he quickly realized it was useless: "Whatever I do people make fun of me, and sometimes directly to my face."As Harris and Dylan Klebold hurtled toward that spring morning in 1999 when they would gun down 13 people at their Littleton, Colo., school, the two seemed to want someone to stop them. Documents released last week by the Jefferson County sheriff's office show that the boys repeatedly dropped hints at school about their murderous state of mind....
  • Doubts About Duke

    The order had come, signed by a judge, requiring that the Duke lacrosse team give DNA samples. The prosecutor was trying to identify the three players who had allegedly raped an exotic dancer at the house rented by three of the team's co-captains on the night of March 13-14. All 47 players had gathered in a classroom near the lacrosse field to hear their lawyer, Bob Ekstrand, tell them what they needed to do. Ekstrand was about to tell the players that they could appeal the order as "overbroad," too sweeping in its scope, when the players got up and started heading for their cars to drive downtown to the police station. (The team's one black player was not required to go; the accuser, who is black, claimed her attackers were white.)Ekstrand was struck to see how little hesitation the players showed. After all, if the DNA of any one of those men matched DNA found on the accuser's body, it could ruin his life: disgrace followed by many years in prison. But there was no talk of hiring...
  • Exclusive: Battle Lines Are Drawn Over Duke Rape Charge

    Attorneys for members of the Duke University lacrosse team are presenting their fullest accounting yet of what happened the night a stripper says three players raped her. The timeline--illuminated by photos from one partygoer's digital camera that NEWSWEEK has viewed--offers a preview of the defense strategy should indictments come as expected early this week.At 11:02 p.m. on March 13, a group of partygoers, sitting on couches around the edge of the room awaiting the arrival of two strippers, smile for the camera. They're holding plastic cups. Above their heads, a Duke lacrosse poster on the wall reads it's hard to beat a team that never gives up. (Robert Ekstrand, who represents 33 of the players, used a forensics expert to establish the photo times.) The accuser is dropped off at about 11:45, about a half hour after the other (second) stripper arrived. By midnight, according to a photo, the two are almost naked on the beige carpet in front of their visibly happy audience. But by...
  • A Troubled Spring at Duke

    A few--but only a few--facts are clear and uncontested. On the night of March 13, members of the Duke University lacrosse team, at the time ranked second in the nation, crowded into a small house rented by three of their captains to watch two exotic dancers perform. What happened next is very much a matter of dispute. There are at least two different scenarios, with vastly different implications for everyone involved.According to the affidavit of a Durham, N.C., police officer, one of the strippers, an African-American woman, told the police she had been raped, sodomized, strangled and beaten by three of the partygoers. The story, with its heavy overtones of race and class, immediately popped onto front pages and TV screens around the country. Duke--an elite school known for its championship basketball teams and privileged, mostly white students--is located in a racially mixed neighborhood in a city that is part Tobacco Road, part Research Triangle. Duke lacrosse players (like...
  • Politics: Using Sign Language

    Though K. T. McFarland is poised to jump into the New York Senate race, she says she's not ready yet to discuss the issues or the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton. She doesn't have to: the naval relics on her kitchen wall--displayed last week on the front page of The New York Times--do the talking for her, artfully signaling to pro-military voters that she's one of them. And challenging Clinton's defense resume is exactly how Republicans hope to sap her presidential candidacy. A decoding of the signs:Naval officer's sword that belonged to McFarland's father-in-law, Alan McFarland. Souvenir photograph of Alan McFarland with FDR and Churchill at their 1941 secret summit at sea. Flag from the destroyer McFarland commanded during World War II. Citation for McFarland's Bronze Star.
  • Fast Chat: Thank You, Academy

    Long before he was nominated for best director for "Capote," Bennett Miller made another film about an oddball writer with a squeaky voice. Released in 1998, "The Cruise" is a documentary tribute to Timothy (Speed) Levitch, an eccentric Manhattan bus-tour guide who speaks in florid poetry about the city that enthralls him. With its rich footage of New York, including the World Trade Center, the small cult film practically disappeared after 9/11. But the success of "Capote" has chest-pumped Miller's earlier effort, which is now being released for the first time on DVD. Susannah Meadows talked with the filmmaker.Honestly, I really love this movie. I was really frustrated when it never came out on DVD. This thing you labor on, and you know it reaches people, is flirting with oblivion.I watched that footage so much, editing that scene where he's twirling around on the plaza. The day after 9/11, I ended up being in one of those half-sleep states, and that footage entered into my brain in...
  • Halfway To Heaven

    The 5,000-acre tomato field in southwestern Florida sure doesn't look like heaven. Bulldozers scrape the land flat while clusters of Porta Pottis signal an undeniable earthiness. But soon a massive cathedral will rise from this barren spot. Reaching 100 feet in the air behind a 65-foot crucifix, the Oratory will anchor Ave Maria, a whole new town and Roman Catholic university 30 miles east of Naples. Ground was officially broken last week, and the plan is to build 11,000 homes--likely drawing families who already hold the church at the center of their lives.For Tom Monaghan, the devout Catholic who founded Domino's Pizza and is now bankrolling most of the initial $400 million cost of the project, Ave Maria is the culmination of a lifetime devoted to spreading his own strict interpretation of Catholicism. Though he says nonbelievers are welcome, Monaghan clearly wants the community to embody his conservative values. He controls all the commercial real estate in town (along with his...
  • Cut, Thrust and Christ

    When you believe the end of the world is coming, you learn to talk fast. On a Friday afternoon the debate team from Liberty University, Jerry Falwell's fundamentalist Baptist college, is madly rehearsing for the tournament about to begin. This year's topic: should the United States increase diplomatic and economic pressure on China. They may just be practicing, but you wouldn't know it from the menacing mosquito-buzz rising as all 20 debaters read their speeches at once, as fast as they can. Policy debate on the college level has become a rapid-fire verbal assault, an arguments-per-minute game, that sounds more like the guy at the end of the car commercial than an eloquent Oxford intellectual. There is tension and more than a little spittle in the air. The Liberty team is currently ranked No. 1 in the country, above Harvard (14th) and all the other big names. But for the evangelicals, there's a lot more at stake than a trophy. Falwell and the religious right figure that if they can...
  • Where's the Wit?

    The failure of Ana Marie Cox's first novel, "Dog Days," starts at the bottom, with the heroine's shoes. In the opening scene, Melanie Thorton, a low-level presidential campaign staffer, wears a pair of "strappy" Charles David sandals with a heel "thin and wide, like an upright graham cracker." The shoes, we are told, cost $350, and were a reward she gave herself though they are now causing her pain.If you're trying to knock-off "Sex and the City"--which Cox desperately is, with her single women bantering about cocktails and men--at least get the shoes right. They cannot be a brand that's available online and at shopping malls in the exurbs. They should be unattainably expensive. (Charles Davids actually go for about half of what Cox reports.) They must not involve man-made materials. And it is imperative that the heel be more stylish than a snack food. Tackiness in literature should only be intentional.Melanie's bad shoes are indicative of this book's problems. It's not nearly as...
  • Periscope

    Is this the end of Lebanon's brief "Cedar Revolution"? The signs aren't good. On Dec. 12, a massive car bomb exploded in a suburb of Beirut, killing Gibran Tueni, a member of Parliament and a crusading newspaper publisher. That brought the number of pro-democracy politicians and journalists attacked or murdered since former prime minister Rafik Hariri was assassinated last February to nearly a dozen. Though proof in these cases remains elusive, all fingers point to Syria. "We're all wondering who's next," says Elie Keirouz, a young Beirut journalist.Meanwhile, Syria itself seems to be wriggling off the hook. On Dec. 12, German prosecutor Detlev Mehlis presented part two of his U.N. report on the Hariri assassination--anything but the knockout punch that many Lebanese had hoped for. Under apparent threat to his family, a prominent witness, Mehlis said, had been intimidated into recanting testimony that implicated Syrian intelligence in the killing. It mattered little that the U.N....
  • Hillary's Military Offensive

    This summer, the reserve Officers Association presented Sen. Hillary Clinton with its President's Award for her work on behalf of soldiers. On the morning of the ceremony, the event's organizers were a little nervous. While they were in the White House, the Clintons were never regarded warmly within the ranks or among the brass, and the First Lady was seen as especially hostile to the military. (There are still soldiers who swear by the myth that she banned uniforms at the White House.) It was rumored that some officers were planning to walk out of the award ceremony. As it turned out, the audience did stand up, but not to leave. When Clinton's name was announced, she received a standing ovation. "If you'd asked me three years ago, I would have been surprised," says Lt. Col. Lou Leto, the group's spokesman. "[But] she's one of our strongest advocates."It is no accident that hawks inside and outside the military are reconsidering Hillary Clinton. She may have entered the Senate in...

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