Francesca, your story “Woman’s work” was the clearest description I’ve ever read of what a war zone is like. Part of the clarity for me, I’m sure, is knowing that a woman wrote it and being able to see through your eyes instead through a man’s. Thank you. So much of what we see in the media here in the States is so dumbed down and sanitized that it’s like looking at something through frosted glass: There’s something there, but we can’t quite see the real shape and size. I’ve been reading a lot about the human need for stories as a way of communicating and connecting, relatable stories in which you can picture yourself as part of the narrative. Your piece put me in the streets next to you and made me see it in a personal way instead of as an abstract concept. Thank you! Stay safe.

Shawna Job
Portland, OR

My ex-husband sent this article to me with the words read this. I have, and am now in tears with my first cup of coffee. I am feeling frustration, angst, fear, and overwhelming empathy. I used to say that if I could touch just one person with my photographs to make them want to know more, then I’ve done my job. Now, at those dinner parties, having limped in feeling every old injury, I usually, by the end, tell someone I don’t know why I bothered—they couldn’t give a damn.

Carlee Keppler-Carson
Palmer Lake, CO

A Fox in the henhouse

Jim Sleeper’s commentary on Zev Chafets’s book about Roger Ailes (CJR, July/August) repeats the legend that the Fox News president “crafted” the notorious “Willie Horton” ad. However, as Martin Schram wrote in The New Republic (“The Making of Willie Horton,” May 28, 1990), the honors go to Larry McCarthy, a former Ailes Communications executive, who by then worked for a pac called Americans for Bush and who devised the media campaign that included the Horton ad. Not only was Ailes not involved, by law AFB could not contact or coordinate with the Bush campaign.

Schram’s article details how McCarthy conceived the ad, even selecting the mug shot, and worked his way around the network censors, then snookered the talk shows to pick up the story as well. Given that McCarthy’s role in negative campaigning during the Bush (and subsequent) presidential race has been discussed as recently as a 2012 New Yorker article (Jane Mayer, “Attack Dog,” February 13, 2012), one has to wonder about the accuracy of the rest of Chafets’s reporting.

Mike Buetow
Amesbury, MA


In Sabra Ayres’ story “Future tense,” (CJR, July/August), we wrote that Afghanistan’s “illiteracy rates hover around 39 percent for men and 13 percent for women.” We meant “literacy rates.”


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