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#NPRreads: From Supreme Court Justice To The Notorious R.B.G.

#NPRreads is a new feature we're testing out on Twitter and on The Two-Way. The premise is simple: Correspondents, editors and producers throughout our newsroom will share pieces that have kept them reading. They'll share tidbits on Twitter using the #NPRreads hashtag, and on occasion we'll share a longer take here on the blog.

This week, we share with you four reads.

From Nina Totenberg, NPR's legal affairs correspondent:

Slate's Dahlia Lithwick explains how a "gentle Supreme Court justice became a badass gangsta Internet meme."

The architect of the legal battle for women's rights, Ginsburg has served on the nation's highest court for more than two decades but only recently attained rock star status. What changed? Lithwick theorizes that R.B.G. took off the gloves when Justice Sandra Day O'Connor retired and Ginsburg found herself the only woman on the court.

Lithwick says:

"Ginsburg's current rock-star status was only fully realized in the hours after she read aloud her dissent in the Hobby Lobby case last spring, when her accusations directed at the majority's cramped views on gender, reproduction, and work became a cri de coeur popularized in viral Facebook memes and a tribute song. Notorious R.B.G., crown and all, became the face of the female employees in Hobby Lobby, and female workers everywhere whose bosses' religious preferences might trump their right to birth control. As Rebecca Traister observed last summer in the New Republic, Ginsburg Mania was part of an unprecedented celebration of the power of older, politically authoritative women by a 'democratized, raucous communicative organ that is the Internet, in which a diverse rabble of young people make their own messages.' "

From Brian Naylor, correspondent on the Washington Desk:

Katsushika Hokusai's woodblock print The Great Wave is a true icon; the image of a giant tower of water looming over a pair of fragile fishing boats, with Mount Fuji in the distance, has been endlessly parodied and borrowed, used in advertising and, now, as an emoji. Ellen Gamerman writes in The Wall Street Journal that roughly 100 impressions of the print, which dates from the early 1800s, survive today; one is soon to be the focus of an exhibit at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts. She says:

"The artwork exists in that rare stratosphere of images that are both instantly recognizable and internationally famous. The Great Wave has gone viral over time, first circulating the old-fashioned way — via traders and tall ships in the 19th century. Since then, the woodcut has been called an inspiration for Claude Debussy's orchestral work, La Mer, and appears in poetry and prose by Rainer Maria Rilke, Pearl S. Buck and Hari Kunzru. Levi's and Patagonia used it in marketing campaigns. It has been preserved in cyberspace as a Google Doodle and an emoji."

From Tamara Keith, NPR's White House correspondent:

This National Journal profile of talk show host Hugh Hewitt hooked me with this line: "His program, which he has long called 'National Public Radio for conservatives,' is the brainier cousin of the shoutfests that blast out of many AM stations."

Hewitt is the go-to guy for Republican politicians in this nascent presidential election cycle. When Mitt Romney announced he wasn't running after all, Hewitt had the full prepared remarks on his website before Romney uttered a word on his conference call with supporters. Some Washington-based reporters had it wrong. Hewitt had the remarks word for word. In this magazine piece, reporter Shane Goldmacher tells us how and why. (Full disclosure, Shane and I were both young reporters covering California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger what seems like ages ago.)

And it starts with this jewel of forced participatory journalism:

"Before Hugh Hewitt would answer my questions, he had a condition: Through the producer of The Hugh Hewitt Show — his 15-year-old radio program that touts 2 million weekly listeners — he informed me that I would need to first answer his questions, on air.

"Hours later, I was live on his show. 'I got a note from my producer today, associate producer Marlon, saying you want to meet up with me and do a profile on me, which I think is about as dull as possible,' Hewitt said, 'but is that true?'

" 'That's true,' I replied, 'and he told me you only would chat with me if I chatted with you first.'

" 'That's it,' Hewitt said. 'That's my rule on profiles, because I always want to get the reciprocity going, because we can now find you and play this tape endlessly, and you answered two questions straight that should ruin your reputation in journalism.'

"The two questions Hewitt was referring to are staples of his show, and he poses them to just about every first-time guest: Have you read The Looming Tower, the 2006 book by New Yorker writer Lawrence Wright about al-Qaida and Sept. 11? And second: Was Alger Hiss a Soviet spy?"

From Steve Mullis, an NPR digital producer and host of our gaming Tumblr:

4chan is quite possibly one of the Internet's most notorious sites, known for trafficking in memes, mayhem and a general amount of offal. But as Rolling Stone reveals, Christopher Poole, the man who created the site as a teen, is surprisingly less of an Internet rabble-rouser than 4chan is famous for housing. I see Poole as a bit of a young Dr. Frankenstein, whose creation, made with seemingly benign intentions, got away from him — forcing him to walk away. Only in this case, the creation is both the monster and the mob, chasing its own tail with pitchforks and LOLcats. Here's an excerpt:

"Managing the site's content started to come with a price. Poole began getting death threats from angry 4channers. 'I get a lot of e-mails of a threatening nature,' he tells me. 'It flares up if there is a decision that I have made that upsets people." Poole's response is to be private to the point of paranoia — he insists upon concealing his current location, countries he recently visited and even the name of the university he briefly attended."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Nina Totenberg is NPR's award-winning legal affairs correspondent. Her reports air regularly on NPR's critically acclaimed newsmagazines All Things Considered, Morning Edition, and Weekend Edition.
NPR News' Brian Naylor is a correspondent on the Washington Desk. In this role, he covers politics and federal agencies.
Tamara Keith has been a White House correspondent for NPR since 2014 and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast, the top political news podcast in America. Keith has chronicled the Trump administration from day one, putting this unorthodox presidency in context for NPR listeners, from early morning tweets to executive orders and investigations. She covered the final two years of the Obama presidency, and during the 2016 presidential campaign she was assigned to cover Hillary Clinton. In 2018, Keith was elected to serve on the board of the White House Correspondents' Association.