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Dublin: 6 °C Monday 21 October, 2019

Sitdown Sunday: 'Donald Trump never wanted to be President'

Grab a comfy chair and sit back with some of the week’s best longreads.

IT’S A DAY of rest, and you may be in the mood for a quiet corner and a comfy chair.

We’ve hand-picked the week’s best reads for you to savour.

1. The fire and the fury

Trump Source: Evan Vucci

By now, you’ve probably seen Trump’s tweets about Steve Bannon having ‘gone mad’. The reason for his outburst? This new book by Michael Wolff, which Bannon gave quotes for. This extract from the book details how Trump actually did not want to win the presidency.

(New York Magazine, approx 40 mins reading time)

Conway, the campaign’s manager, was in a remarkably buoyant mood, considering she was about to experience a resounding, if not cataclysmic, defeat. Donald Trump would lose the election — of this she was sure — but he would quite possibly hold the defeat to under six points. That was a substantial victory. As for the looming defeat itself, she shrugged it off: It was Reince Priebus’s fault, not hers.

2. Replacing Kevin Spacey

When Kevin Spacey was accused of sexual misconduct, he was looking forward to the imminent release of the film All the Money in the World, where he had a major role. But the director Ridley Scott decided to remove Spacey, and reshoot with Christopher Plummer in his role. And they had six weeks to do it before the film was released. Here’s how they did that.

(New York Times, approx 12 mins reading time)

A few days later, two of the film’s producers, Dan Friedkin and Bradley Thomas, unexpectedly arrived at Mr. Rothman’s office. They told him they were determined not to let the wrongdoings of one person damage a film that had been worked on by more than 800 people. And they floated an audacious idea that they had privately discussed with Mr. Scott: What about replacing Mr. Spacey with another actor? Mr. Plummer, perhaps.

3. Shaken Baby Syndrome

Louise Woodward/Southampton In 2004, British nanny Louise Woodward was sentenced to prison for murdering a baby in her care through shaken baby syndrome. She was later acquitted and her sentenced reduced to involuntary manslaughter, and she was released from jail. Source: PA Archive/PA Images

The science is not certain when it comes to Shaken Baby Syndrome, as this longread examines.

(The Guardian, approx 32 mins reading time)

On one side, there’s the view of the police, prosecutors and the medical establishment: when this triad of symptoms is found, it very strongly suggests shaking, even when other signs that a baby has been aggressively shaken, such as bruising, neck injuries or fractures, are absent. The establishment insists it is solely motivated by a desire to protect babies from dangerous parents; it sometimes characterises opponents as seeking fame, or lucrative expert-witness pay cheques. On the other side are the sceptics. They insist the prosecutorial forces aren’t concerned with justice so much as courtroom victories.

4. Erica Garner, RIP

After Eric Garner was killed in 2014 following being restrained by police, his daughter and namesake Erica became an activist. But at the age of 27, and after giving birth to her second child, she died following a heart attack. Here’s one of her last interviews before she died.

(New York Magazine, approx 18 mins reading time)

My father always had encounters with the police. He was very adamant, especially towards the end of his life, that he was being harassed and was basically being backed into a corner — police officers on Staten Island locking him up, taking his cigarettes, taking his money or tying it up in bail, time in jail even, for something so small as selling cigarettes. If you look at the video: Before he said, “I can’t breathe,” he was basically asking them to leave him alone.

5. Growing up in the shadow of the Simpsons

Comic-Con International 2017 - The Simpsons Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

Imran Siddiquee grew up in the town of Springfield, Illinois. And around the same time, another family living in a town called Springfield came to prominence. Here’s what it was like being from Bangladesh and living in the ‘other’ Springfield, with a character called Apu on the TV.

(Longreads, approx 20 mins reading time)

But it’s not simply that the white men behind the brown faces were teaching me how to perform my own browness and American-ness, via their caricatures, they were also teaching me how to perform my masculinity. The three were intertwined, inseparable. There were other influences and heroes, of course, but all of those other visions of manhood felt unattainable to me. Could I really be Michael Jordan? Tom Cruise? An imam? Apu, even more so than other cartoon heroes like Aladdin, was within reach.

6. China and ‘social credit’

This is a fascinating look at a ‘social credit score’, where companies in China use big data to rank what people buy, how they spend their time, and the mistakes they make.

(Wired, approx 31 mins reading time)

The executives realized that they could use the data-collecting powers of Alipay to calculate a credit score based on an individual’s activities. “It was a very natural process,” says You Xi, a Chinese business reporter who detailed this pivotal meeting in a recent book, Ant Financial. “If you have payment data, you can assess the credit of a person.” And so the tech company began the process of creating a score that would be “credit for everything in your life,” as You explains it.


In this Vanity Fair article from 1998, Buzz Bissinger explores the story of 25-year-old reporter Stephen Glass, who not only made up sources for his stories, but entire stories themselves. Why did he do it?

(Vanity Fair, approx 38 mins reading time)

“Look, you’re not backing me up,” Glass had told Lane the night before. He had appeared wounded, almost outraged. But Glass was acting; he knew exactly what he had done. Every name, every company, virtually every single solitary detail—except Glass’s own byline—had been a product of the young man’s imagination. But there wasn’t the slightest acknowledgment. “I really feel hurt,” Lane remembers Glass telling him. “You know, Chuck, I just feel really attacked. And you’re my editor and you should be backing me up.”

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday>

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