Updates from NPR, Boeing, and Columbia. The Roast of Tom Brady. Lonely Hearts, and much more. Suzy Weiss reports for The Free Press.
(Illustration by The Free Press)

The Tinder Inquisition. Plus...

Updates from NPR, Boeing, and Columbia. The Roast of Tom Brady. Lonely Hearts, and much more.

My work husband Olly Wiseman is in the Old World, drinking tea in London and probably wearing a fascinator while those of us here in the New York newsroom are breaking news. . . 

On today’s Front Page from The Free Press: Eli Lake on Katherine Maher’s congressional no-show; Joe Nocera on another Boeing whistleblower; Francesca Block on Columbia; three more Lonely Hearts looking for love in all the right places; and yours truly on Tom Brady and the return of fun.

But first, our lead story. Polina Fradkin spoke to Jewish singles trying to hook up and find love on dating apps, only to find that since October 7, their matches have opted for cross-examination and political litmus tests.

Here’s Polina: 

Not too long after October 7, Itamar Edelman, a 34-year-old artist who lives in Los Angeles, matched on Hinge with a pretty woman named Lina. 

On his profile, Edelman’s ethnicity is set to “Middle Eastern” (he’s Iraqi Israeli), and his religion to “Spiritual/Jewish.” He’s been looking for “sparks of connection,” he tells me.

“Hey, Lina,” he messaged a few months ago. “Happy Friday!” 

“Hey!” Lina wrote back. “This is unfair because I don’t throw this question to everyone on Hinge but. . . thoughts on IDF?” 

Jake Williams, a 32-year-old ad salesman based in New York, matched with a guy on Grindr called Eric. The two chatted a bit through the app and soon exchanged numbers. Williams sent Eric a selfie—his Star of David necklace clearly visible. 

“Do a lot of people ask you about Palestine?” Eric immediately texted. “What’s your opinion?” 

Harry Markham, a 24-year-old student in London, refers to himself as a “charming Jewish boy” on the apps. Since October 7, he says, about half of his matches have grilled him on the Jewish state: “They say, ‘Before we go any further—are you a Zionist?’ ” Continue reading. 

  1. Who’s really behind the encampments? Read Park MacDougald’s deep dive into the charities, radicals, and “progressive dark-money networks” propping up campus chaos. We were jealous of this one. (Tablet)

  2. Representative Jamaal Bowman has a personal YouTube account called Inner Peace, where he follows a pu-pu platter of conspiracy accounts promoting theories like the earth is flat and the government is harboring aliens. (The Daily Beast)

  3. French businesses are being encouraged to sign a “hospitality charter,” otherwise known as a “Don’t be so rude to the tourists” contract, ahead of this summer’s Olympics. (The Washington Post)

  4. Just 13 percent of college students say the war in the Middle East is important to them. They are much more interested in healthcare reform (40 percent), education funding and access (38 percent), and economic fairness and opportunity (37 percent). (Axios

  5. Joe Biden said in a CNN interview Wednesday that if Israel invades Rafah “I’m not supplying the weapons.” (WSJ editorial: “Biden Slaps an Arms Embargo on Israel”)

  6. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. claims a parasite crawled into his brain, ate part of it, and then died there. Doctors contacted by the Times guessed it was a “pork tapeworm larva.” More alarming is RFK Jr.’s admission that he contracted mercury poisoning from eating so many tuna fish sandwiches. (The New York Times)

  7. Former KKK poster boy and son of a former Grand Wizard has whipped off his white hood to reveal that they are now transgender. (Daily Mail, natch)

  8. A year into the experiment, British Columbia is reversing course on drug decriminalization, making it once again illegal to do heroin, fentanyl, cocaine, and methamphetamines in public. (The New York Times

  9. Mike Johnson will remain Speaker of the House, despite attempts from Marjorie Taylor Greene to oust him. (Politico

  10. The cicada swarm is coming—and with it, a question Americans can always be trusted to ask: Can we eat it? Next came the recipes: Tempura Cicadas, anyone? Or pizza? (CBS News)

On Sunday, A-listers from Kim Kardashian to Ben Affleck brutally mocked former NFL quarterback Tom Brady (and each other) for three hours, live on Netflix.

The Roast of Tom Brady was scorched earth. Tony Hinchcliffe joked about cotton picking and said Brady “looks like a Confederate fag.” He said the football player’s ex-wife, supermodel Gisele Bündchen, took after him—because she was out “draining balls right now.” He also threw this barb at comedian Jeff Ross: “Jeff is so Jewish he only watches football for the coin toss.” UFC’s Dana White ragged on Netflix for giving him so little time on the mic: “You guys gave me 60 seconds? My name is Dana! Is that not trans enough for you liberal fucks?” Former New England Patriot wide receiver Julian Edelman even managed to make fun of Aaron Hernandez’s suicide in the middle of a dick joke

You know what happened. The Washington Post called it “misogynistic” and “cruel.” Gisele Bündchen is said to be “deeply disappointed” by the show—and wanted the world to know that she is currently focused on her charity work.

But guess what? No one cared. 

Because the roast—raunchy and crude and totally politically incorrect—was fun. 

It felt like a throwback to a simpler time, before Hannah Gadsby made us feel sorta bad about comedy, and SNL fired Shane Gillis for saying a rude word before his first day on the job.

And it’s not the only thing that feels old-school and alive in the best way. 

The rap beef between Drake and Kendrick Lamar is vicious and, in the parlance of the decade, homophobic, misogynistic, and ableist. There’s wordplay about Parkinson’s; talk of “ho shit”; and gay-tinged put-downs. (Kendrick called Drake’s crew “dick riders.”) It’s not quite family-friendly, but it’s very, very entertaining. 

Streams don’t lie, nor do laughs: The Roast of Tom Brady is in Netflix’s Top Ten and the song in which Lamar called Drake a pedophile broke streaming records. Woke scolds and Keffiyeh Karens are still screaming their heads off, but normal people are just tuning them out.

There are other clouds of fun rising up like vapor through the grates. The wellness regime of daily workouts and endless supplements and dietary restrictions—which always felt puritanical and smug—has been vanquished by Ozempic, a cheat that allows you to eat whatever you like, just less of it. Even the fact that Sweetgreen announced it’s now serving steak—cue the Timesceremonial hand-wringing over red meat’s carbon footprint—feels like an unbuckling. Pop music, and there is so much of it, is a Technicolor dreamscape tinged with Americana. Taylor Swift is dating a cool jock who dressed like Al Capone for the Kentucky Derby. JoJo Siwa is letting her freak flag fly. The Kings of Leon’s new album, set to release in two days, is called Can We Please Have Fun. Yes!

The band’s last album, from 2021, was called When You See Yourself. It came at a time when we were all meant to reflect, check ourselves, dig deep, do the work, and most importantly, do better. Now? It’s the Morning After the Revolution. It’s time to let loose. 

→ NPR CEO hides from Congress: Where the heck is Katherine Maher? The NPR CEO has not made a single public appearance since April 9, when The Free Press published an exposé by Uri Berliner, a 25-year veteran at the network, alleging ideological bias at the institution. 

Even yesterday, when Maher was summoned by Congress to give testimony about whether NPR’s news reporting was “fair and objective,” she was a no-show. 

Her excuse? The night before the hearing, she announced she could not attend because of. . . a previously scheduled board meeting. Instead, Maher submitted written testimony drafted in the prose style of brand management consultants. According to Maher, NPR is “bringing trusted, reliable, independent news and information of the highest editorial standards” to tens of millions of listeners. 

Berliner had sounded the alarm internally at NPR for years over the public’s loss of trust in the network before coming forward with his story in The Free Press. He wrote that “an open-minded spirit no longer exists within NPR, and now, predictably, we don’t have an audience that reflects America. That wouldn’t be a problem for an openly polemical news outlet serving a niche audience,” he continued, “but for NPR, which purports to consider all things, it’s devastating both for its journalism and its business model.” A New York Times investigation later showed that NPR’s weekly audience has dropped from an estimated 60 million in 2020 to about 42 million today. 

Now Berliner, who has since resigned from the network, is questioning whether Maher is the best person to lead NPR. 

“Why isn’t she there? Is she the right person for the job at this time?” he asked, adding that her written statement “sounds like a pledge drive.” 

Continue reading the full story from Eli Lake.

→ Another Boeing whistleblower is dead: Boeing whistleblowers are starting to seem like zombies in a horror movie: even if you kill off a few of them, there are plenty of others right behind. Last week Joshua Dean, a 45-year-old whistleblower who worked for Spirit AeroSystems, which makes fuselages for Boeing, died after contracting a mysterious virus. His death came two months after another Boeing whistleblower, John Barnett, was found dead in his truck with a gun in his hand. It was officially labeled a suicide, but a lot of people had trouble believing he had taken his life, including his own lawyer.

Unfortunately for Boeing—but fortunately for the rest of us—there are at least 10 more whistleblowers represented by Brian Knowles, a South Carolina attorney who was also the lawyer for Barnett and Dean. One of them, a Boeing engineer named Sam Salehpour, told a Senate committee a few weeks ago of the 787 Dreamliner, “They’re putting out defective airplanes.” His specific issue was that sections of the fuselage were being jammed together in an unsafe manner. Although Boeing denied Salehpour’s specific complaints, the company later told the Federal Aviation Administration that it had discovered that some employees had falsified certain key tests. The FAA is now investigating.

Why are so many Boeing employees coming out of the woodwork to highlight the company’s problems? “They’re raising concerns because people’s lives are at stake,” Knowles told the New York Post. Keep those whistles blowing, fellas. —Joe Nocera 

Fighting words from Columbia students: In an anonymous forum called Sidechat, which is available only to college students, Columbia students joked that the custodians who were trapped inside the campus building in the middle of the night when a mob of protesters broke in and barricaded themselves inside “need to grow a pair.” 

“They cannot be serious,” reads one message. It was posted with a picture of a quote from Lester Wilson, one of the three custodians, in which he said, “I could have been killed in there.” 

Wilson, Mario Torres, and Jesse Wynne all told The Free Press that the events of that night have left them “traumatized”—and that over a week later, they still refuse to go back to the building, Hamilton Hall, where it happened. One student called the “narrative” pushed by the Columbia employees “BS” and another seemed to challenge Torres to a fight at a landmark in the center of campus. “I’m free tomorrow at 2 p.m. Go talk to Mario Torres and let’s meet at the sundial.” —Francesca Block

Another week, another trio of Free Pressers looking for love. First up, The Free Press’s own Kyra N., followed by another young New Yorker, then an outdoorsy Canadian. Best of luck to all, and if you’re ready to meet your match, you know who to call!

Kyra N., 29, New York/San Francisco 

My name is Kyra, from Brooklyn, NY, and San Francisco, CA (I can’t make up my mind which city I like to live in more!).

I am not looking for someone to be with. . . I am looking for someone I don’t want to be without. If that someone is tall, quick-witted, athletic, curious, preferably self-made, politically open-minded, and, above all else, kind and doesn’t fear someone who doesn’t settle. . . bring them on!

I am an online-dater hater. I long to have a crush on someone I have met “naturally” at an event, party, or through work. That slow burn of hoping he will be there. The thought of picking out a guy on an app feels like ordering a sandwich: “A slice of ham, not too cheesy, a decent amount of bread, very fatty mayo, full of spicy mustard, light enough to want another.” When facing my 29th birthday, I decided to change my mind and give Hinge a try. Maybe I will find only a bit of bologna, a sour “kraut,” or a turkey on “wry,” but for now, or until I get responses to this, I will give it a try!

Philip Alfred Wolf, 25, New York City

I am looking for someone kind, caring, and positive. I firmly believe that attitude is a little thing that can make a big difference. It’s contagious. I want to be with a woman who sees the world as full of opportunity and potential, and not jammed with thorny issues and sharp angles. I hope to spend time with someone who, like me, instinctively believes that most people are inherently good. 

A person’s political views are a deal-breaker only if they are fixed in dry cement. I was raised in a home with a mother who worked in Republican politics and a father who had always been a registered Democrat, so I thrive on discussion, debate, and conversation. I believe that listening is as important as speaking and in looking for someone who believes the same. And for me to truly fall in love, she must also enjoy tacos, margs, and rom-coms.

Lauren Straub, 53, Regina, Canada

Hello, world! I currently live a peaceful and blessed life with my rescue pup Lily. She is a lovely companion who reflects me well: always up for an adventure and then happy to recharge in silence. 

I am grateful to have been raised on a prairie farm; my roots go deep into the earth, giving me a solid foundation to explore the vastness beyond. I can have fun almost anywhere and love to laugh, explore, learn, dance, and dream. I’m proud to say I’ve kept my small business afloat during these bananas times. My tribe consists of beautiful and grounded folks who are passionate about the future of humanity.

I see a future that is bright, and I would love to share this with a man who is up for weaving with me a shared vision filled with joy, kindness, and abundance for all. And having a lot of fun in the process!

Suzy Weiss is a writer and editor for The Free Press. Follow her on X @SnoozyWeiss

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