Update: “Worth” on Netflix is a successful portrait of a unique process and the people who inhabited it. Major reviewers agree. Movies are movies. The real story is better.

Kenneth Feinberg, attorney at law is about to become famous, maybe even very famous. In a new film called “Worth” Feinberg, who led the fund after 9/11 that gave the families of the dead and injured about $7 billion in public money, is played by the great actor Michael Keaton.

The film lands on Netflix September 3, after a brief theatrical run in New York. No gala premiere for so solemn…


Janet Cooke is 66

April 15, 1981

“Jimmy’s World” was in essence a fabrication. I never encountered or interviewed an 8-year-old heroin addict…I apologize to my newspaper, my profession, the Pulitzer board and all seekers of the truth. Today, in facing up to the truth, I have submitted my resignation.

Janet Cooke

In the spring of 1981, Janet Cooke received journalism’s ultimate accolade, a Pulitzer for “Jimmy’s World” which had been a front-page feature in The Washington Post the previous September. It was beautifully written at over 2000 words. It caused D.C. …


In this summer of extreme weather, the Delta surge, and the chaos in Afghanistan, Barack Obama’s sixtieth birthday party got major media play, much of it critical because of its scale amid so many national crises. On the other hand, the Obamas were celebrating a major life milestone at their Martha’s Vineyard estate bought with earnings from their enormous book royalties and other post-presidential paydays. So why not?

I was fascinated by the party for several reasons. The original guest list was cut back but still apparently was more than two hundred people. Black superstars were very much on hand…


Is This Time Different?

On March 15, 1965, before a joint session of Congress, President Lyndon Baines Johnson gave the most memorable speech of his political career. The subject was his plan to submit a voting rights bill.

“Our fathers believed that if this noble view of the rights of man was to flourish, it must be rooted in democracy,” he said. “The most basic right of all was to choose your own leaders. The history of this country, in large measure, is the history of the expansion of that right to all people.”

Use of masculine terms such as…


On Sunday, June 13, 1971, the front-page splash in The Washington Post was the White House wedding the evening before of President Nixon’s daughter Tricia to Edward Cox. The Post played the event especially big because its reporter, Judith Martin, had not been allowed to attend and the story was therefore an act of journalistic brio.

The New York Times’s front page that same Sunday morning was dominated by a different story: the first installment in its planned series on the contents of the Pentagon Papers, a top-secret history compiled by the Department of Defense detailing what became known as…


Notwithstanding “The Big Lie” about the results of the 2020 election or the recent ascendency of Elise Stefanik to GOP stardom by embracing it, Donald J. Trump’s presidency is now history, which is not the same thing as historic.

In any event, what exactly was it? In March, a group of seventeen historians, organized by Princeton University’s Julian E. Zelizer, convened to do what The New York Times described as “taking a first cut at writing a scholarly history of the administration.” The members submitted chapters on topics including immigration, foreign policy, race, party politics, disinformation and impeachment. The book…


Human Rights Watch: Israel Commits Crimes Against Humanity

This piece appeared on April 27, 2021in The Forward. I am posting it here to reach what I expect is another readership. It raises questions that only will be answered over time. I say without reservation that I am a supporter of Israel, not what it is, but what I would like it to be. And, I feel the same way about the United States.

Human Rights Watch, the world’s preeminent monitor of how governments treat people within their borders, has found that Israelis are guilty of apartheid.

This is far more…


Walter Mondale who died yesterday at 93 achieved a remarkable goal for a career in politics. He made it through untarnished from his time in the Senate, as an influential Vice-President to Jimmy Carter, as a singularly unsuccessful presidential candidate against Ronald Reagan in 1984, who still made history by choosing Geraldine Ferraro as his running mate, as Ambassador to Japan and Elder Statesman. I watched Carter and Mondale at an event at the Carter Center two years ago. Their bodies had aged, but their minds and wits were on display. Mondale, in his final note to staff over the…


The (Glorious) Story of Magazines

It is routine now to declare legacy institutions as in irreversible decline or already dead. I could have called this piece some variant of “The End of Magazines” because so many of them have been eviscerated as readers and advertisers abandoned the printed pages for the internet versions.

A decade ago, I wrote about finding the first issue of Esquire from 1933 in an attic box at home. I praised its glossy elegant look, and its contributors, among others, Hemingway, Ring Lardner, Dashiell Hammett, and cartoons, I wrote, with “shapely showgirls in lingerie.” It was…


April 15, 1981

“Jimmy’s World” was in essence a fabrication. I never encountered or interviewed an 8-year-old heroin addict…I apologize to my newspaper, my profession, the Pulitzer board and all seekers of the truth. Today, in facing up to the truth, I have submitted my resignation.

Janet Cooke

In the spring of 1981, Janet Cooke received journalism’s ultimate accolade, a Pulitzer for “Jimmy’s World” which had been a front-page feature in The Washington Post the previous September. It was beautifully written at over 2000 words. It caused D.C. …

Peter Osnos

Founder in 1997 of PublicAffairs, he is the author of “An Especially Good View: Watching History Happen” to be published in June.

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