(Ashley Gilbertson for The Free Press)

Communist Coachella at Columbia. Plus. . .

Who will buy TikTok? Lonely Hearts. And more.

Today from The Free Press: River Page on TikTok’s suitors, the myth of the young voter, three lonely hearts looking for love, and more. 

But first: a dispatch by Olivia Reingold, who spent part of the week with the students camped out on the Columbia lawn. It turns out that when they’re not telling their classmates to “go back to Poland,” they’re having a grand old time. 

Here’s Olivia’s report from Columbia’s Communist Coachella: 

It’s a Monday afternoon at Columbia University, but hundreds of students are not in class. They’re camped out on a lawn in front of the main library, making friendship bracelets, painting scraps of cardboard, and gossiping about the Zionists on campus. 

“What should I do?” a girl with a mullet pops out of a tent to ask her friend. She’s holding a Sharpie in her hand, staring at a blank poster board. “I’m thinking ‘Dykes for Divestment.’ ”

A few steps away, in front of a sign that says “Paint Ur Nails 4 Palestine,” a girl is fanning her freshly polished red toenails. Nearby, a student with Farrah Fawcett’s hairstyle—except purple—is frantically asking other students if they’ve seen her vape. When she finds it buried under a copy of Frantz Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks and a hoodie, she gasps and clutches it to her heart. No one is paying much attention to a nearby woman with a microphone, desperately trying to rally the crowd.

“Continue to support each other. This is all we have,” she declares. “Onward to liberation.”

There is a brief pause, and then about a dozen students start clapping. 

Welcome to the “Gaza Solidarity Encampment,” a sprawling tent city with a first aid center, a counseling tent, a “People’s Library for Liberated Learning,” a writing center, an art corner, a media corner, and a “laundry area” for drying clothes after a rainfall. A student named Ariella, whose entire face is wrapped in a red keffiyeh except for her bright green eyes, tells me “there is a space” for everyone at the camp. 

“They say that everybody has a role in the revolution,” they told me (Ariella goes by they/them pronouns). “And so there’s a space for people who like to organize stuff—and that’s me.”

Ariella says that they spend most of their time in “the tarp,” which is a section of the encampment with all the supplies—the melatonin gummies, the gluten-free bread, the organic tampons, the Aveeno sunscreen, the charging banks, the board games, and the pins that say “Union Proud.” The workers who enter the tarp, which Ariella tells me is also called “the cornucopia,” have to take off their shoes first, since it’s also their makeshift kitchen and they “want to keep it clean,” in the words of one tarp volunteer.


Ten Stories We’re Reading 

  1. American men are in crisis, says everyone, but also—importantly—surgeon general Dr. Vivek Murthy. Young men and boys feel “unmoored,” and “lost,” according to the doctor, and that people are “pointing their fingers at them and telling them you are the problem.” (The Ink

  2. Arizona’s state House voted to roll back the near-total ban on abortion from 1864 that was upheld by the state’s Supreme Court earlier this month. The bill now moves to the state Senate, who could vote for repeal as soon as next week. (NBC)

  3. Forget Florida. And Texas. These days, Ohio is the center of the Republican universe. (The American Conservative

  4. Germany has renewed its funding for UNRWA, a move Israel calls “regrettable and disappointing.” Western countries suspended funding earlier this year because of the UN agency’s close ties to Hamas. (Times of Israel)

    (Read Hillel C. Neuer in The Free Press on why the organization should be abolished for good.) 

  5. What made Mike Johnson change his mind on Ukraine? Intelligence briefings, the White House—and a lobbying effort by Ukrainian evangelicals. (FT)

  6. The Justice Department is investigating consulting firm McKinsey for advice it gave to manufacturers of OxyContin and other opioids. In 2021, McKinsey paid $642 million as part of a settlement with all 50 states, five U.S. territories, and Washington, D.C., over their work for opioid manufacturers. (WSJ)

  7. Americans’ top two long-range foreign policy goals are protecting the U.S. from terrorist attacks and reducing the flow of drugs into our country. (Pew

  8. Health officials are ramping up testing for bird flu in dairy cows. Bird flu has now been detected in dairy herds in eight states and trace amounts of the virus have been found in grocery store milk, though the FDA says the milk supply is safe. But with our luck, the birds will be getting tested for mad cow disease soon enough. (Axios)

  9. Goodbye film, hello YouTube. “The movie business is over,” says Jerry Seinfeld in a new interview. “Film doesn’t occupy the pinnacle in the social, cultural hierarchy that it did for most of our lives.” (GQ

  10. Self-confessed porn addict Kanye West is considering starting a porn company with Stormy Daniels’ ex-husband. Wake up, Mr. West! (TMZ)

Who Do We Want to Buy TikTok?

After months of inaction, lawmakers on the Hill have been awfully busy of late. Amid all the money for Ukraine and Israel, you’d be forgiven for missing that the House and the Senate have now both voted for legislation to force ByteDance to sell TikTok or face a ban in the U.S. Biden signed the package into law yesterday. So if TikTok is for sale, who might buy it? 

Here’s River Page on the possible suitors:

For more on the TikTok ban, read sponsoring congressman Mike Gallagher’s November essay in The Free Press: “Why Do Young Americans Support Hamas? Look at TikTok.

On Our Radar

→ ‘If you can hear us, we are telling you: we love you’: Hamas released a proof-of-life video of Israeli American hostage Hersh Goldberg-Polin on Wednesday. Goldberg-Polin was kidnapped from the Nova music festival on October 7. In the video, he is extremely gaunt, with his left arm missing below the elbow. 

“Seeing the video of Hersh today is overwhelming. We are relieved to see him alive, but we are also concerned about his health and well-being as well as that of all the other hostages and all of those suffering in this region,” Hersh’s parents Rachel and Jon said in a statement

We spoke to Rachel Goldberg-Polin, Hersh’s mother, on his hundredth day in captivity and asked her what she had learned since October 7: “I have learned that there are no appropriate words in any language to describe the excruciating, throat-constricting dread I feel at all times from having my only son stolen from me.” 

Yesterday, 101 days later, Rachel said in a video message: “Hersh, if you can hear this, we heard your voice today for the first time in 201 days, and if you can hear us, we are telling you: we love you, stay strong, survive.”  

Watch Bari’s conversation with Rachel Goldberg-Polin in Israel here.

→ Youngsters—they’re just like the rest of us: According to received wisdom, Joe Biden has a big problem with younger voters in no small part because of his administration’s support for Israel since October 7. But an important reminder that not every young voter thinks the same way comes courtesy of the latest Harvard Youth Poll. The survey finds that the war in Gaza is far from the most important issue for voters under thirty. In fact, it ranks 15th on a list of 16 issues. And the issue that occupies the bottom spot? Student debt—the other thing the White House and many commentators seem to think is key to Biden’s chances with the youngs. What do under-30s care about? The same stuff as everyone else. Inflation, healthcare, and housing occupy the top three spots. 

Overall, young Americans are not an optimistic bunch. Just 9 percent say the country is headed in the right direction. Back in the spring of 2020—in the midst of the pandemic—that figure was more than double, at 21 percent. 

Meanwhile, a new Bloomberg survey shows Biden’s recent gains against Trump vanishing amid a downturn in economic sentiment. 

→ What’s with the masks? Speaking of young people and Gaza, one question I often find myself asking when I see footage of yet another protest is: What’s with all the masks? If you’ve asked yourself that question too, Semafor’s Dave Weigel has some answers. One is fear of being identified, of course. (Though if you’re not comfortable being identified chanting certain slogans, maybe don’t chant them?) But another is, as Olan Mijana, a spokesman for the March on DNC 2024 coalition, put it: “. . . communicating that we deny the Biden administration’s narrative about Covid—that it’s no longer a big deal. It’s about collective safety, and it’s also about connecting this Covid neglect to the very issues that we’re marching on the DNC for.” Fifteen days Four years to slow the spread, everyone!  

And now a message from the Free Press Cupid 

This week, we head out west for three more Free Press lonely hearts—one of whom happens to be a member of The Free Press team (do Free Press employees get to cut the line? Look, journalistic ethics go out the window when it comes to love.) Happy soulmate searching to all, and if none of this week’s entries tickle your fancy, submit your own to

Samantha Dier, West Hollywood, California

My name is Samantha Dier, but most people call me Sam. I’m a 27-year-old gal who works at The Free Press, and I’m looking for love in the big city. I live in West Hollywood and would love to meet a gentleman. Ideally, he’s Jewish, but I can be flexible. Plus, anyone who reads The Free Press is an honorary member of the tribe, right? 

I have been rewatching Sex and the City, and let’s just say modern-day dating is nothing like it was in the ’90s. I have Hinge. I have Bumble. I even have the elusive Illuminati-adjacent app Raya. But using apps in this city doesn’t bode well for the natural. Could I invest in a hair dryer and up my chances? Sure. But I like to think that my real-person aesthetic sticks out in a city of plastic double-Ds and Alps-like enhanced cheekbones. Sue me. 

What else? I have a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern. Occasionally, I’m pretty funny and my mother would say I’m a “hoot.” While my cooking isn’t any good, I put a lot of love into the basic dishes I keep in rotation, like. . . well, I eat a lot of takeout, but I brew a mean cup of coffee! And I have dual citizenship, so if this country goes south, we can go west! (Or east, actually, to Switzerland.) I love to stay active, I keep Shabbat in a modern, cool kind of way, and I’m a huge animal lover (like in a “stop to pick up snails and move them to a safety zone” kind of way). 

Being 5′9″, I’d love to find someone who is taller than me. But more important than that: my ideal partner is kind, smart, understanding, and open-minded. And funny. Very, very funny. I want to admire the person I am with and vice versa. And please, Cupid, make him cute. Or at least not gay. You’d think that would be a given, but as I mentioned, I live in West Hollywood. And at the end of the day, if my mom and Bari approve, I’ve found my soulmate.

Ruban L., Portland, Oregon

I’m a libertarian-minded gay guy in Portland, Oregon, looking to meet other guys. I appreciate diversity of thought and have friends all across the political spectrum—politics change, but character is forever. I’m a brown-bearded 44-year-old, 6′3″, and 230 pounds. I was born and raised in rural Alberta—it’s like the Texas of Canada, and so I think that’s where my libertarian streak comes from! I’m happily American now, and while I like guns and the Constitution, drive a truck, and have a couple of American flags around the house, I also like scented candles and burning sage.

I enjoy hiking a couple of times a week at least, long road trips, and spontaneous travel—especially to Ireland. I like to live a balance between being rooted in my home and being adventurous.

If you’d like to meet over coffee or a pint, my email is

Madilyn Grace Phelps, Omaha, Nebraska

I am a 25-year-old living and working in college admissions in Omaha, Nebraska, and I will start a master’s program in the fall. When I am not working, I enjoy sewing, spending time with family, writing, practicing languages, and—my real passion—reading, preferably the classics and books on history and philosophy. When my friends mention Goodreads or the latest bestseller, I nod along and pretend to know what they are talking about.

I despise boredom and love good company. I enjoy little adventures, a night in with dinner, or a night out visiting Omaha’s shops, restaurants, museums, or galleries.

I have long, dark, brown hair, pale skin, and dark brown eyes. I stand at only five feet, so meeting a taller guy won’t be too difficult. I want to meet a kind man with a good wit and keen intelligence. Since we both read The Free Press, I imagine that will not be an issue.

If you are a man in the Omaha area who wants to make me laugh and make memories, let’s set a date.

Oliver Wiseman is a writer and editor for The Free Press. Follow him on X @ollywiseman.

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