Gabfest Radio: Enfeoffing Ourselves to Popularity Edition

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On this week’s episode of Gabfest Radio from Slate and WNYC, Political Gabfest panelists Emily Bazelon, John Dickerson, and David Plotz discuss whether John Kerry's accidental Syria plan can work, and what that means for international law. They also discuss whether Bill de Blasio's victory in the New York City Democratic mayoral primary is a rejection of Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his policies.

Then on the Culture Gabfest portion of the show, our critics take down Salinger, Shane Salerno’s new documentary about the reclusive writer. The film features a star-studded cast of talking heads, whose commentary on Salinger fluctuates between unfounded speculation and total hagiography. Next, the Gabfest turns to the concept of popularity, as defined (or redefined) by Adam Sternbergh in this week’s New York Times Magazine. Adam joins the critics to discuss the ways in which the Internet has both clarified and confounded our measures of cultural popularity. Finally, the Gabfest examines changes at the Onion. After 25 years in publication, the satirical newspaper has ascended from supermarket periodical to a mini-media empire in its own right. Changes in the staff and the tone of the paper, however, have led some critics to ask: Is the Onion still funny?

Join the Gabfest discussion all week long at the Political Gabfest Facebook page and the Culture Gabfest Facebook page.

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):

Vladimir Putin rakes President Obama over the coals for promoting American exceptionalism in a New York Times op-ed.

If the Syria deal goes through, it will be a vindication of the force of international law, writes Emily.

A campaign ad for New York City mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio starring the candidate's son highlights the differences between de Blasio and Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Sixty-one percent of New Yorkers say empathy is the most important quality for a new mayor, a New York Times-Siena College poll found.



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


Dana’s review of Salinger for Slate.

2010 New York Times feature on Salinger’s waning popularity among young readers.

Adam Sternbergh’s New York Times Magazine culture package on popularity.

Billboard music charts.

Girls on HBO.

House of Cards on Netflix.

Mad Men on AMC.

Duck Dynasty on A&E.

“I Gotta Feeling” by the Black Eyed Peas.

“Come on Eileen” by Dexy’s Midnight Runners.

Welcome to Night Vale.

The Onion.

Noreen Malone’s New Republic piece on the Onion as op-ed.

David Weigel’s Slate piece on the Onion’s humor.

Farhad Majoo’s Slate piece on changes at the Onion.The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

The Colbert Report.



Dana: Wise Up Ghost, a new album Elvis Costello and The Roots

Julia: Breaking Bad on AMC

Steve: BBC America’s crime drama Broadchurch

Outro: “I Gotta Feeling” by The Black Eyed Peas.