The Present Age Weekly Recap: June 24, 2022
Anonymity, Tucker Carlson, and Chris Geidner
Welcome to the weekly recap. In this post, I’ll be linking to my work from the week, sharing some stories from others I thought were interesting, and providing a few casual thoughts on [gestures at everything]. If you’d like to receive this weekly email ONLY, please go to your account page and under “Email notifications” uncheck every box except “TPA Weekly Recap.” If you don’t want to receive the weekly recap, leave all boxes except “TPA Weekly Recap” checked.
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On Monday, I wrote about anonymity on the internet, and why you should be skeptical about who people say they are.
On Thursday, I wrote about what happens when someone like Tucker Carlson puts a target on your back.
Also on Thursday, I was on a CBC podcast talking about the rising anti-LGBTQ sentiment that's sweeping the US.
New semi-regular Friday feature: the launchpad
As people launch new newsletters, I want to try to feature some of my favorites. This week, instead of a list of things I’m reading, I’ve got the first installment of what will hopefully become a semi-regular feature in these weekly recaps.
Today’s guest is legal expert Chris Geidner, who launched a Substack just a few days ago. With today’s Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, you’ll certainly want to subscribe, which you can do here:
PARKER MOLLOY, THE PRESENT AGE: Chris! Thank you so much for taking the time to answer some questions about your new newsletter. I've been a reader of your work dating back to your "Law Dork" blog, and after that, your work at BuzzFeed covering LGBTQ issues. But for those of us who aren't long-time Chris Geidner superfans, can you tell me a little bit about your background and what people can expect from your newsletter?
CHRIS GEIDNER, CHRIS GEIDNER’S NEWSLETTER: Thanks, Parker, for reaching out! Yes, people should definitely check out my About page for the long version, but the short version is pretty simple and comes back to Law Dork. Nineteen years ago, I started my blog while in law school. Since then, I've gone on a wild journalism journey, from covering the national legal fight for marriage equality and LGBTQ employment protections to breaking news on actions (or inaction) from all branches of our government, and learned so much from so many great mentors and colleagues. Now, in what is a really important time for the country, it felt like it was also a good, full-circle time for me to return to independent writing — this time as a career.
TPA: Do you have a strategy in mind as far as post frequency is concerned? And how much do you plan on making available for free vs. paid?
GEIDNER: Good question! The news cycle will determine some of the frequency questions — and my Junes are always busy because of end-of-the-term Supreme Court decisions — but, once we are done with decisions, I'm planning to get into a practice of three posts a week on average. And, I am planning for most of my content to be free, because I think it's important that my most important writing be available to everyone. That said, I have talked with some other newsletter folks about what they do, and I'm planning to have a recurring feature — something that might not be top-of-the-news but that definitely would be of interest to the type of people who, say, eagerly want Law Dork back and even want Law Dork merch — that goes only to paid subscribers.
TPA: What makes this the right moment for you to make this jump?
GEIDNER: It's an important time. As I've discussed at the newsletter already, an end to Roe v. Wade would upend people's lives — and make a lot of government very complicated in the coming months. Other moves from the court — on guns, religion, criminal law, and elswhere — could similarly upend our country. I know how to cover such fast-moving, multi-state, multi-governmental developments, and I decided that, if there would ever be a time for me to give myself freedom to tell those stories as I see fit, it would be now.
TPA: As you note on your newsletter's About page, you've interviewed some big names, including Obama. Who is one person you'd like to interview for your newsletter, and what would you ask them?
GEIDNER: I'll give you two sets of answers here. First, I've not interviewed any justices yet, so, if any are reading, I'm available. Second, and less specific but just as important, I want to be interviewing and talking with the people who have to live with the justices' decisions. Some of my favorite — oh, I see the next question.
TPA: What are 3 of your favorite stories you've written?
GEIDNER: Some of my favorite stories have been the chances I've had to profile plaintiffs in cases. Spending time with Jim Obergefell in Cincinnati and Edie Windsor in Manhattan to tell their stories have been humbling highlights of my career. I also love opportunities to dive into history to tell a story that people might not know that, nonetheless, is important for them to know. I think my best example of that was my story about how Nancy Reagan turned down the request for help from Rock Hudson, who had AIDS, when he was seeking experimental treatment in France. I also had big stories in a similar vein about the 25th Amendment and the Defense of Marriage Act.
TPA: Do you read a lot of newsletters? Any personal favorites you'd like me to link here?
GEIDNER: I dabble! I subscribe to several newsletters, but I'll just highlight these two very different newsletters: I love Hunter Harris's newsletter! It's smart and fun, and I'm always eager to open it! Luppe Luppen's Pawprints — in a more Law Dork vein — is also great. I love when he dives deep into something interesting that others have missed or didn't find.
TPA: Why'd you go with Substack instead of Revue, Bulletin, Patreon, or something else?
GEIDNER: Honestly, that's where I see most people — and the people at Substack were helpful in getting me set up.
TPA: Anything you'd like to add? Anything you'd like to plug? Anything you wanted me to ask that I didn't?
GEIDNER: I don't think so! This — like most things in life — is a bit of an experiment for me, so I just encourage people to join me by subscribing and let's figure this out together! Thanks again for reaching out, Parker!
That’s it for this week. I know that with the Roe decision, a lot of people are feeling justifiably angry, frustrated, sad, helpless, etc. It’s a scary time right now, and I’d be lying if I said that I was confident that things would work out okay. The Supreme Court has taken an extreme turn, and I don’t see that getting much better. I don’t know what to do.
The Supreme Court majority has made clear that it is a right-wing tool to advance a Christian Nationalist agenda in this country, and it will not stop with abortion. In the coming years, they will chip away at the rights of anyone who does not fit into their little box. That is why it’s more important than ever that we support each other right now. I wish I had happier words to add here.