Gabfest Radio: The Elephant Hats and Cockentrice Edition

Email a Friend

On this week’s debut episode of Gabfest Radio from Slate and WNYC, Political Gabfest panelists David Plotz, John Dickerson, and special guest Hanna Rosin preview the upcoming Republican National Convention in Tampa, and debate the usefulness of party conventions in the 21st century. They also discuss Missouri senate candidate Todd Akin’s inflammatory remarks about abortion and “legitimate” rape. And they weigh in on the intellectual cage fight that’s broken out over Harvard professor Niall Ferguson’s anti-Obama Newsweek cover story.

On the Culture Gabfest portion of the show, panelists Stephen Metcalf, Dana Stevens, and Julia Turner assess whether Singin’ in the Rain holds up after 60 years. They also scrutinize the state of food and cooking reality shows and discuss ABC’s latest effort, Time Machine Chefs. Finally, they debate whether book criticism has become too nice, thanks in part to social media.

Here are links to some of the items mentioned in this week’s episode:


POLITICAL GABFEST (Click here for this week’s individual episode at Slate):

John gives two examples of convention speeches that mattered, even after the pageant wrapped: Barack Obama’s speech in 2004, and Pat Buchanan’s speech in 1992. The Washington Post outlines five myths about conventions.

Hanna and David talk about the plan to humanize Romney, and some accompanying stagecraft. The New York Times has an overview.

John says Bill Clinton is the role model for efforts to reintroduce Romney; Clinton had a record 16-point increase in support after the 1992 Democratic Convention, according to Gallup.

John talks about the polling of American attitudes on Mormonism. The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life has a full report, “Mormons in America.”

Slate’s Josh Voorhees reports on the GOP platform’s abortion plank.

Hanna identifies Dr. John Willke as the mind behind Akin’s medical theories on legitimate and forcible rape. The Daily Beast’s Abigail Pesta has more on Willke.

David cites data from a Washington Post article about the percentage of people from a variety of demographics who reject the right to abortion in cases of rape.

David references Ezra Klein’s observation that today’s political media nationalizes all scandals. Elizabeth Warren’s new ad is part of the Akin fallout, says Time’s Swampland.

Harvard professor Niall Ferguson’s Newsweek cover story “Hit the Road, Barack.”

In addition to Paul Krugman, David notes other writers who have joined the anti-Niall Ferguson pile-on; try James Fallows, Mark Thoma, Dylan Byers, Matthew O’Brien and Slate’s David Weigel.


Cocktail Chatter:

David chatters about Richard Posner’s thoughts on leisure.

Hanna chatters about a sting story on This American Life.

John chatters about a Kaiser Foundation study on the dimensions of partisanship.


CULTURE GABFEST (Click here for this week’s individual episode at Slate):

The 60th anniversary Blu-Ray/DVD release of Singin’ in the Rain.

Roger Ebert on Singin’ in the Rain.

The 1952 New York Times review of Singin’ in the Rain.

Joan Acocella on the sixtieth anniversary of Singin’ in the Rain for The New Yorker.

The movies Casablanca and Citizen Kane.

Also co-directed by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, On the Town.

Singin’ in the Rain’s producer Arthur Freed, and co-stars Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, Debbie Reynolds, and Jean Hagen.

The film director Sergei Eisenstein.

The British Film Institute’s magazine Sight & Sound.

Watch the first episode of Time Machine Chefs.

Troy Patterson reviews Time Machine Chefs for Slate.

The bumper crop that is this fall’s food reality TV lineup, including Burger Land, Chef Race, and Chef Wants a Wife.

Medieval England’s popular entree, the cockentrice.

Competition-based reality TV shows including America’s Next Top Model, Project Runway and So You Think You Can Dance.

Jacob Silverman for Slate on the “epidemic of niceness in online book culture.

Dwight Garner for The New York Times Magazine calling for critics who are more critical.

Laura Miller case for positive book reviews for Salon.

J. Robert Lennon for Salon on how to write a bad review.

Flavorwire’s roundup of famous literary feuds.

McSweeney’s and The Believer, literary journals founded by Dave Eggers.

The essay by Heidi Julavits that launched The Believer and lobbies against snark in book reviews.

Forthcoming novels by Zadie Smith and Michael Chabon respectively, NW: A Novel and Telegraph Avenue: A Novel.



Dana’s pick: In honor of the director Tony Scott who died this week, his 1993 movie True Romance, written by Quentin Tarantino and starring Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette as a couple on the run from gangsters, and featuring an unforgettable ensemble cast.

Julia’s pick: Hit by Pitch: Ray Chapman, Carl Mays and the Fatal Fastball, the graphic history by Molly Lawless that tells the story of the two men involved in Major League Baseball’s only fatal at-bat.

Stephen’s pick: “Boxer” by the band Lovers from the album Dark Light.