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'Public laundry': Aaron Rodgers, Ivanka Trump and the family ties that bind

In some ways, The New York Times is the same old Times, getting its knickers all wet at the prospect of Roger Federer’s return from a back injury and, no doubt, a possible Stuart Restoration, or something. The Times has already carried two Feddy articles, one announcing his return and the other exploring how he’s looking to old rival Rafael Nadal for inspiration in his comeback. Given that Rafa hasn’t been the same player since his 2013 return and that his rivalry with Novak Djokovic – or, for that matter, Nole’s rivalry with Fed – has been longer and more exciting, you have to feel that the Old Grey Lady and Feddy Bear are both grasping at straws.

These are not the best of times for The Times. The Paper of Record “backed the wrong horse” – to switch our sports metaphors – in the election, as many of us did.

Since then, its coverage has been at times overwrought, as if it were determined to be a journalistic Cassandra, preaching and prophesying when many don’t care. ...

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Whither the female gaze in the Trump era?

Years ago, I had a dream job with Gannett Inc. as senior cultural writer. One of my beats was to cover the big arts stories of the day and so it was that I found myself on one occasion interviewing Richard Cragun the American-born star of the Stuttgart Ballet and one of the finest male dancers of the 20th century.

In those days, Gannett recycled our stories in its many publications, and my Cragun piece found its way into one of the tabloids overseen by a favorite editor who was fond of the Daily News and New York Post. It was with some sheepishness then that I handed the publicist a copy of the publication with the words “Ballet Hunk” in the headlines. I needn’t have worried. He was thrilled.

I covered most of the great “ballet hunks” of the 20th and early-21st centuries ...

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In defense of Streep, the humanities – and humanity

The latest salvo in the culture war that is surely to deepen under President Donald Trump was fired by Meryl Streep in a graceful and grace-filled speech at the Golden Globes.

I’m not a fan of people using award shows as a bully pulpit, coming of age as I did in the  1970s when such Oscar speeches (think Vanessa Redgrave and an absent Marlon Brando) were a kind of cliché. I’m not a fan of gesture politics like refusing to stand for the National Anthem. I’m not even a fan of Meryl Streep, a sometimes mannered actress (“Sophie’s Choice,” “The Hours”) who’s nevertheless capable of great work (“Marvin’s Room,” “The Manchurian Candidate”).

But Streep – a hard-working craftswoman who has paid her dues – offered a master class in a performer giving a political speech by turning the concept of the politician as performer inside out. ...

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