Response to NEWSWEEK's 'Terrorist' Taxonomy Debate

Our e-mail conversation on why the media have been reluctant to label Joseph Stack a terrorist has generated a lot of critical discussion among prominent political bloggers. Apparently, some of the criticism stems from a misunderstanding of the fact that we were discussing the media's aversion, not our own, to labeling Stack a terrorist, and that when we laid out the logic of the media we were ironically mocking it, not endorsing it. Today, Andrew Sullivan asks whether our multimedia...

Bloomberg, Huffington Post Whip Up Frenzy Over Misconstrued Obama Quote

Yesterday President Obama gave an interview with reporters from Bloomberg BusinessWeek. The full story will hit newsstands Friday, but excerpts are trickling out and causing a stir. This afternoon, Bloomberg and the Huffington Post both led their sites with comments Obama made in the interview, and Simon Johnson and Paul Krugman are already blowing a gasket. But what's striking to me is how reckless Bloomberg, HuffPo, Johnson, and Krugman are all being with the quotes they've seen so...

Enough Already: Government Czars

IF AMERICAN HISTORY is any guide, the movement to create yet another federal-level "czar"—this time for the auto industry—should send a clear signal to U.S. consumers: buy Japanese. Forget for a moment that it's perverse the way we fall in love with iron fists, at least linguistically, whenever a problem becomes too big to be solved through democracy. (And come on, the only reason we keep creating czars, rather than, say, sultans, is because words with the letter Z sound badass.) No, the...

Great Tennis Became Great Art

When sports junkies describe the games we love as art, the Rafael Nadal–Roger Federer final at last year's Wimbledon is what we mean. It stretched across an entire Sunday, including five hours of much-needed, nerve-settling rain delays—one stupefying rally after another. I don't think I've ever said "Oh, my God" so many times in a single day. The match began at about 9 a.m. here in New York, and I woke up to Nadal steamrolling the champ in the first two sets. Tennis's long-awaited changing...

Fast Chat: Darren Aronofsky on "The Wrestler"

There are two comeback stories in director Darren Aronofsky's new film, "The Wrestler." The first stars Randy (the Ram) Robinson, a washed-up pro—when the tights come off, the hearing aid goes on—who won't quit the only job he knows how to do. The second stars Mickey Rourke, who plays the Ram and gives a raw, career-resurrecting performance. Aronofsky spoke with NEWSWEEK's Devin Gordon about both. Why wrestling? Was it a boyhood passion of yours? Not really. Like most guys my...

Enough Already: Stop With the Czars

If history is a guide, the movement to create yet another federal-level "czar"—this time for the auto industry—should send a clear signal to U.S. consumers: buy Japanese. Forget for a moment that it's perverse the way we fall in love with iron fists, at least linguistically, whenever a problem becomes too big to be solved through democracy. (And come on, the only reason we keep creating czars, rather than, say, sultans, is because words with the letter Z sound badass.) No, the real problem...

Enough Already: Main Street versus Wall Street

In politics, every crisis gets its own cliché, and the near collapse of the U.S. financial system has already spawned a groaner: the false dichotomy pitting "Wall Street" versus "Main Street." Whenever Barack Obama and John McCain babble about our dueling American boulevards—and they both do it, a lot—you can practically hear the implied sound effects. Wall Street: hiss! Main Street: yay! In this climate, boosting soda fountains and sliming investment bankers carries about as much...

Rock on Barack: The Comic's New HBO Special

Chris Rock stalked onto the stage at Harlem's Apollo Theater late on a Friday night earlier this month and opened his fifth HBO comedy special by explaining why it had been so long since the fourth. He wanted to wait, he told the audience, until the moment was just right. Rock has become the country's smartest, most essential comic by salting his punch lines with blunt social evangelism. And in a prior special, 1999's "Bigger and Blacker," he went on a riff about how the black community...

Worth Your Time: De Niro and Pacino in 'Heat'

Ten years ago, the prospect of Robert De Niro and Al Pacino on screen together would've provoked a very different reaction than the one I have when I see posters for their new cop flick, "Righteous Kill." Then, I'd have raced you to the theater. But now? All I see is two men stooping to self-parody in paycheck roles. My advice: skip "Righteous Kill" and catch Bobby and Al at a moment when the pairing actually meant something. It happened only once, in the 1995 crime epic "Heat," and—aside...

Enough Already: "Red Meat"

In the Russell Crowe movie "Gladiator," there's a scene in which Maximus gets tossed onto the floor of the Colosseum into a swarm of hulking warriors and roaring tigers, and the crowd, smelling blood, leans forward in anticipation. Maximus, though, ends up carving everyone else to pieces. The crowd falls silent. "Are you not entertained?" he shouts.Maybe I spent too much time watching conventions over the past two weeks, but I thought of that scene every time I heard a TV talking head toss out...

Worth Your Time: De Niro and Pacino In "Heat"

Once upon a time, the prospect of Robert De Niro and Al Pacino on screen together, mano a mano, would've provoked a wildly different reaction than the one I have whenever I see posters for their new cop flick, "Righteous Kill." Twenty years ago I'd have raced you to the theater. Now? All I see is two bored, scowling men paired up for a movie that sounds as though it's about a surfing competition ("Dude, that was a righteous kill!"), and all I think is, "Oh, no." This isn't the first time De...

Worth Your Time: 'The Foot Fist Way'

"The Foot Fist Way," a new comedy made for pennies by a bunch of pals from the North Carolina School of the Arts, is not a particularly good movie. Many of the actors can't act. Whole scenes fall flat. And you'll find more sophisticated camerawork on YouTube. But you should see the movie anyway, because what it does have is Danny McBride, the most hilarious man you've never heard of, heir to Will Ferrell's throne as king of the idiots. Last year McBride was the funniest thing in two deeply...

Film: A Ticket Out of Hell

"See this right here?" says the young black man, dribbling a basketball in New York's rugged Coney Island. "This here can get you a long way." Some people are unsettled by the idea that a game can be such a potent symbol of escape for so many inner-city teens, but it's an ivory-tower argument at odds with street-level reality. Two new documentaries, one a conventional history lesson, the other a triumph of new-media storytelling, examine the past and present of hoop dreams as a ticket out of...

Analogy Check

This Stage Isn't Big Enough for Two Seabiscuits History repeats itself, but not without a few wrinkles. We make the comparisons—and then we pick them apart. The Comparison Bathed in Iowa's afterglow, Republican Mike Huckabee and Democrat John Edwards both seized on the same hackneyed metaphor for their candidacy: each man says he's Seabiscuit, the underdog racehorse that up set Triple Crown winner War Admiral in 1938. Why It Works It better suits Huckabee, who...

TV: 'The Wire's Last Season

For five seasons, critics have worshiped 'The Wire'—and lamented that more people don't. Now's your last chance to catch what may be TV's best drama ever.

This Doesn't Ad Up

As a football fan, I'm tired of hearing about how the commercials are the main event on Super Bowl Sunday. Maybe that was true seven or eight years ago, when hyperclever, ultrapricey advertisements were still a novelty and Super Bowl contests were annual blowouts. But in the current era of NFL parity—thanks, salary cap!—the games have been uniformly competitive, if not always white-knuckle thrillers. The ads, meanwhile, have quickly become the most overrated part of the night. Once the game...

The Emmy Entourage

Maybe this is silly, but we've always found it charming when famous people get nervous around other famous people. When two-time Oscar winner Sally Field arrived for our first-ever Emmy Roundtable, America Ferrera, the radiant young star of ABC's freshman hit series "Ugly Betty," stayed bolted to the floor. "I'd go up to her, but I'd just say something dumb," Ferrera said. "All I could say is 'Hi.' I mean, what do you say to Sally Field?" Fortunately, "Entourage" nominee Jeremy Piven broke the...

American Actress Jodie Foster Talks About Playing a Vigilante

Over the course of her new film, "The Brave One," Jodie Foster kills eight people. The two-time Oscar winner plays a public-radio host named Erica Bain who survives a brutal attack in New York's Central Park during which her fiancé is killed. After she heals, she slowly transforms into a vigilante and puts herself on a collision course with the thugs who attacked her. Foster says the film, directed by Neil Jordan ("The Crying Game"), appealed to her not only for its resonance with "Taxi...

Andy Samberg's Rocky Film Start

According to "Saturday Night Live" wunderkind and comedy cinephile Andy Samberg, the ideal length for a funny movie is approximately 90 minutes. Samberg knows this because he's done the research. When he and his partners in comedy, boyhood pals Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone, found out that Paramount Pictures was going to give them millions of dollars to make their first feature film, they immediately went online to look up the running times of all the comedies they worshiped. "No stone...

David Duchovny Finally Finds His Role

If you weren't a fan of "The X-Files," you probably don't know how funny it could often be. Sure it was creepy, and weird, and confusing. But every so often, the writers would throw in an oddball episode with a dry sense of humor—and David Duchovny, as the tireless, laconic Agent Fox Mulder, would hit it out of the park. Comedy has always been an underrated skill for Duchovny, now 47, but Hollywood has done him no favors in getting the word out. You might've missed the glimmers of his talents...

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