The Nose

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Speaking on NBC's "Today" show Tuesday, actor Charlie Sheen revealed he is HIV-positive and has spent millions trying to hide it. This hour, we take a closer look at the words Sheen used in discussing his actions and illness. 

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Events this past week at Yale and the University of Missouri have sparked intense debate about the boundaries of free speech, and whether that debate is diverting the conversation away from a culture of racism at both schools that is not easily understood by those who don't live it.

Can we separate the fight against racism from the freedom to speak openly about it? Are we hurting students on the brink of adulthood if we protect them from exposure to the cruelties of life?

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This week, movie trailers lost their way when someone advocated boycotting Star Wars VII because they believe the trailer advocated white genocide. Why? Because a black man, a woman and a Latino were prominently featured in the trailer to the detriment of you guessed it, white men. What does this say about the level of diversity in science fiction fans?

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This past week brought us the long-awaited first of six Democratic candidate debates, held at the Wynn Casino in Las Vegas. The tone was substantive, exposing a few stark differences between the candidates and their Republican opponents. They offered nuanced and complex views -- overall, a good night for voters who want to know the candidates. 

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In 24 hours, UConn freshman Luke Gatti became a viral video sensation. By now, millions have turned on their computers to watch the apparently-intoxicated 19-year-old taunting and shoving a UConn food court manger. Over what? Mac 'n cheese, of course. 

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This week, Pope Francis was the biggest thing to hit America since the British Invasion. You could buy Pope-themed dolls, cookies with the Pope's face, hats, coffee mugs, backpacks, and even a Pope Bobblehead.

It was the pope's first visit to the U.S., and he seemed eager and happy to be here. He spoke passionately about the poor, climate change, and the migrant crisis, and cautioned against religious extremism. It has left some people wondering why he met privately and secretly with Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who refuses to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

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Volkswagen is having a moment. Not a good moment, but it's certainly a moment. VW owners are glaring at their vehicles with suspicion after it was revealed the automaker's diesel vehicles were designed to cheat on emissions tests.

Hopefully, VW is not capturing its moment with a selfie because that could be deadly. Plus, selfies are so easy to take, a monkey can do it and maybe even make some money from it.

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Ahmed Mohamed is a 14-year-old Texas student who likes to tinker. He was arrested for bringing a home-made clock to school, because school officials thought it was a bomb. What followed was an outpouring of support for Mohamed, who many said was targeted because of his Muslim faith. President Obama invited him to the White House, Mark Zuckerberg invited him to Facebook HQ, and he even got a scholarship to space camp.  


It was a rocky start to Stephen Colbert's Late Show debut. He admitted he went way over time, and barely got it on the air. But days later, his emotional interview with Vice President Joe Biden reminded us why we just love him so. 

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This hour we'll talk Evan Osnos' in-depth look at the nationalist movement behind presidential candidate Donald Trump. How much power lies with the fringe? 

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“Every journalist who is not too stupid or too full of himself to notice what is going on knows that what he does is morally indefensible. He is a kind of confidence man, preying on people's vanity, ignorance, or loneliness, gaining their trust and betraying them without remorse.'' Those, of course, are the immortal opening words of Janet Malcolm’s book-length essay, “The Journalist and the Murderer.” 


Last week's Republican debate created chaos on the internets:  Trump insulted Fox's Megyn Kelly, which naturally led to ladies live tweeting their periods at the wanna-be President. And a new slang was born: "Cuckservative."  

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So we know that everyone in the world is covering the end of Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show today. We know that you’ve probably already listened to an hour or two of radio about Jon Stewart on this very station today.

But the thing is, we’re gonna miss Jon Stewart too.

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This past week, a Minnesota dentist and father of two shocked us out of our complacency. Desensitized by the weekly shootings this summer of African Americans by white policemen, moviegoers in theaters and African American churchgoers by a young white racist,  his ambush of Cecil the lion was a visceral blow to our collective gut.  Yes, we're still horrified by the way human beings treat each other. Our outrage over Cecil doesn't change that horror, but animals are somehow out-of-bounds of our cruelty to one another. In some ways, they're like civilians in a war - innocent victims in a world outnumbered by humans with the power to destroy all that is natural in this world.

This hour, the Nose will definitely NOT talk about Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!

But they will cover Gawker's horrible week. After lots of backlash, the online site retracted a story in which they outed a married executive who solicited a male prostitute. They've now made the pledge to be "20%  nicer." Or maybe just 10%.

This hour, we'll talk about Ben Rothenberg's Serena-driven body image piece, and the stir it caused. Mark Leibovitch's peice on

dierk schaefer

Elinor Burkett, citing Summers' speech and asking if men and women have different brains.

We'll talk about the controversy surrounding one of the Inland Northwest's most prominent civil rights activists. The family of Rachel Dolezal says the local leader of the NAACP has been falsely portraying herself as black for years.

Vanity Fair

Way back -- I don't know -- a week ago, the story of Caitlyn Jenner was pretty amazing.

The gender transition of one of America's most acclaimed male athletes was, all by itself, a watershed.

And how much of a watershed?

Is this like an Ellen DeGeneres moment, when a mass audience suddenly gets comfortable with a new idea?

Jasin Boland/Warner Bros.

Setting into your movie theater seat for "Mad Max Fury Road" you are treated a series of trailers that remind you how many movie screens this year will be taken up with new iterations of old franchises. There's a new Jurassic Park movie coming and a new Terminator.

But Mad Max is a little different. The franchise had lain dormant since and the movies are the work of a single auteur, George Miller, who begot Mad Max and, at age 70, has reimagined parts of it for this latest installment.

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David Letterman reinvented television. He's irreplaceable. He was a comedic revolution. According to President Obama, Letterman is "a part of all of us."


This hour on the nose: Sports! Did you know it’s a mistake to include content that makes light of domestic violence? Damn, why didn’t WE know about it here at the Cleveland basketball office place? Like eight or nine of us watched the video and we thought it was totally fine, but now we can kind of see what people object to. Also...

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Which side are you on?

In the mammoth PEN Awards kerfuffle, that is. Table captains have walked out over the award being given to the survivors from Charlie Hebdo. And now 145 writers, including six table captains and such notables as Junot Díaz, Lorrie Moore, Joyce Carol Oates, Eric Bogosian and Michael Cunningham, have signed a letter protesting the award to Hebdo. As LBJ  apparently never said regarding Vietnam and Walter Cronkite (but we'll come to that): Once you've lost Joyce Carol Oates, you've lost America. Francine 

One of the unwritten rulers of a weekly culture show like The Nose is that, if you're willing to "go low," as they say, you could probably alternate between Gwyneth Paltrow and Ben Affleck every week. They're both wonderfully talented, but they're also kind of useful idiots, reliably causing some kind of spectacle we can go after. And they used to be a couple.

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We don't usually talk politics  on The Nose, but that's OK, because Hillary Clinton isn't really talking politics (much) yet either. Instead, she's just trying to, you know, hang out with all 235 million voting age Americans at once. How does one do that? That's the kind of thing that interests the Nose. 

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What's up with all the weight talk? 

We're not even sure when it started, but Candice Bergen, who was always perfect and who is still perfect, really went there  in her current memoir and book tour.

“Let me just come right out and say it: I am fat.”

Mostly, it feels like someone opening the window and letting the fresh air in, right? And it lets us know that everybody eats and some of us eat too much. I mean, it turns out that the FBI -- which is being held to new fitness standards -- is full of stress-eaters.

Chion Wolf

The only people who might have had a wilder roller coaster ride than Trevor Noah this week were the owners of  Memories Pizza in Walkerton, Indiana. (That's the place that announced Wednesday morning they would not be willing to service the burgeoning market for breadsticks and nacho cheese dip at gay weddings.  By Friday, they had been forced to close temporarily because of all the harassment and had seen half a million dollars raised for them on the site

Anyway, we're not talking about Indiana on The Nose today. We promise.

Chion Wolf

Our topics today involve censorship, transgression, and reconciliation. 

Earlier in the week, The Nose panelists started talking about China's "dancing grannies" problem. This sounds like a Monty Python sketch, but it's real. In China's public squares, droves of people --most of them women and most of them with a little snow on their roofs -- assemble and dance, in various styles, to various kinds of music. 

Colin McEnroe

Starbucks is trying to start conversation about race relations in America, led by baristas across the nation. The effort has had mixed reviews.  

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Mark Oppenheimer hosts an All-Star New-Haven Nose Panel from New Haven.

For as long as fraternities have acted poorly,  adults have quietly tolerated and even gloried in it. Who can forget John Belushi and Animal House? Too often, parents and college administrators have excused the all-night parties, destruction of property, and drunken brawls as the rude, yet benign acts of those on the brink of entering adulthood, the last gasp of carefree youth. 

Julia Pistell

In a couple of weeks the nation will be transfixed by a competition in which basketball teams advance through a tournament laid out as a series of brackets.

Can the same process get people more interested in literary fiction? For a decade, the Morning News has been testing that theory. They year we decided to attach ourselves, like remoras, to their enterprise. We asked three super-readers to blow through as many of thoe 16 novels as they could; and today, on a special edition of the Nose, they'll talk their way through the brackets.