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It was another great week: Matt Belloni chronicled Showtime’s descent; Julia Alexander depicted NBCU’s future; Julia Ioffe scooped Putin’s epic miscalculation; Dylan Byers revealed CNN’s Gayle King curiosity; Teddy Schleifer detailed the impact of S.B.F.’s downfall on his brother, G.B.F.; and Tara Palmeri measured the fallout of Kevin McCarthy’s favor-trading.
Check out these stories, and others, via the links below. And stick around for the backstory on how it all came together. Also, if you haven’t yet taken our reader survey, I implore you to take a few minutes and fill it out. Your feedback will help us immeasurably. Thanks.
|On Thursday afternoon, just as executive editor Ben Landy and I were doing our final reads on Tara Palmeri’s fabulous, dishy, and utterly sophisticated piece on the logrolling calculus currently descending upon Capitol Hill—you can read McCarthy’s Horse Trading Nightmare here—we began transforming Puck’s spacious Chelsea office into an ersatz party room.
Max Tcheyan, Puck’s co-founder and chief strategy officer, and I moved our robust conference room table into a corner to make room for the wizardly chefs from Tacombi, the best taqueria in town. Co-founder and C.O.O. Liz Gough was helping to set up the bar that would soon encompass our open plan meeting area. Alex Bigler, our head of brand marketing and the brains behind the evening (and so much more), was directing traffic while C.E.O. Joe Purzycki emptied out the furniture into the nook by the freight elevator. In start-ups, everyone wears multiple hats.
We were welcoming some members of the media, friends, and, most importantly, members of Puck’s Inner Circle, our highest tier of subscription. Our Inner Circle members are entitled to attend conference calls with Puck talent, engage in one-on-one virtual meetings with our journalists, have exclusive access to our data studies, and get first crack at Puck merch, among other things. They’re also invited to our events. I was excited to connect with our readers in person. One of the RSVPs, in fact, was a guy I grew up with in Greenwich Village in the ’90s. It’s a small world, as we often say around here.
The Inner Circle isn’t simply a tier of membership that confers extraordinary value. It also reflects an essential part of our identity as a company. From the earliest days of our Puck journey, we’ve been laser-focused on recognizing that journalists are the ultimate influencers in our culture, and it’s our job to bring readers closer to their orbit than ever before. We think of it as farm-to-table journalism. Our readers don’t just want to read the work; these days, they want a touchpoint with the journalists, themselves. We’re happy to oblige.
The evening was a blast, needless to say. And my favorite part was watching, over and over again, the surprise and delight on our guests’ faces when I got to introduce them to Bill Cohan, whose recent bestseller, Power Failure, adorns our bookshelves. Adulation is lovely, but feedback is essential for scaling a company. I viewed the evening, in part, as a focus group session and I’ll be incorporating some suggestions in coming weeks.
One topic that came up throughout the night, quite naturally, was the ongoing saga surrounding Sam Bankman-Fried. My partner Teddy Schleifer has been at the center of the tornado. Last month, he published a brilliant and chilling piece about his visit with S.B.F. during his home confinement on the mean streets of Palo Alto. More recently, Teddy has been detailing the complex inner workings of the Bankman-Fried clan, a group of ubermenschen polymaths who somehow find themselves in a black swan catastrophe. This week, if you only have time to read one piece, I’d direct your attention to Teddy’s profile of Bankman-Friend’s brother, Gabe (or G.B.F., I suppose), who became his brother’s political adviser and much more. As is the case with all the clannish Bankman-Frieds, family and business were intertwined, and the relationship suggests where this scandal may be headed. Indeed, it’s truly the story of our time—at the epicenter of Wall Street, Washington, and Silicon Valley, with a little Dostoevsky thrown in for good measure—and precisely the sort of piece you can only find at Puck.
Have a great weekend,