Slate Plus

Friday Night Fever

How not to fight lies, and how to survive as a college professor, in the Slate Plus Digest.


Spencer Platt/Getty Images

It’s Friday night again, and scientific research suggests we should brace for some unusually crazy tweets from the president of the United States. Here’s some stuff to read while you wait:

From Slate

  • Jamelle Bouie points to the Trump administration’s “frighteningly coherent political ideology”: white nationalism. Also from Bouie: the Coretta Scott King letter that Elizabeth Warren attempted to read on the Senate floor cuts to the heart of the modern Republican Party.
  • Why does the White House keep saying “fake news”? It’s not a claim about reality, writes Will Oremus—it’s “a slur carefully selected to inflict maximum damage on its target.”
  • Why are men on the internet so sure Trump is a brilliant mastermind?, wonders Katy Waldman.
  • Social conservatives lost on gay marriage and are losing on abortion, Reihan Salam points out. He suggests a new crusade for them: a defense of stay-at-home parents.
  • If you want to fight lies, facts won’t help, writes Jess Zimmerman. “Trying to counter a lie with a fact is like trying to get a catchy tune out of your head by reading out loud from the dictionary.”
  • Michelle Goldberg points out that Kellyanne Conway unambiguously broke the law on national TV and should be prosecuted.
  • Finally, a weekend treat: this amazing, twisty true-crime story from Leon Neyfakh, set in Dothan, Alabama.

Not from Slate

  • Things haven’t been going very well for President Trump. Politico reports that he’s “growing increasingly frustrated with the challenges of running the massive federal bureaucracy.”
  • Here’s Deadspin’s gloss on that story: “According to a report by Politico, corned-beef dirigible Donald Trump, a skill-free inheritance baby with a virtually unbroken lifelong track record of incompetence and failure, has found that running the United States government is a tougher job than lending his name to mail-order steak delivery scams run by other people.”
  • Josh Roiland is a tenure-track professor at a public research university. He wrote about selling his blood to pay his bills.
  • Are the war on drugs and the prison industry responsible for America’s mass incarceration problem? A new book says the answer is no.
  • Mohamed Bzeek is a foster parent in Los Angeles County who takes in terminally ill children, loves them, and grieves for them. “The key is, you have to love them like your own … I know they are sick. I know they are going to die. I do my best as a human being and leave the rest to God.”
  • And finally: A cool interview with Jamelle Bouie about his photography, with lots of beautiful examples.

Very Short Q-and-A

Please welcome new Slate Plus associate editor Chau Tu! She’s answering this week’s personal question.

Slate Plus: Chau! You come to us from public radio’s Science Friday, where you reported stories for the website and radio program. What is the most surprising scientific fact you learned while you were there?

Tu: One of the most useful facts I learned in my reporting at SciFri was that, despite the common presupposition, monosodium glutamate is generally not bad for you! The basic component of MSG is a naturally occurring amino acid. It seems that people think they have negative reactions to MSG based on old, bad research that doesn’t account for how we actually consume it. There’s almost never enough MSG in a meal to pose a health threat.

Thanks, Chau—welcome aboard!

And thank you for your Slate Plus membership, which makes our journalism possible. See you next week!

Gabriel Roth
Editorial director, Slate Plus