paper trail

Museum of African American History to open in DC; Curtis Sittenfeld on book reviews

National Museum of African American History and Culture. Photo: Rex Hammock

Vinson Cunningham writes on the soon-to-open National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC, and the century-long “bureaucratic slog” required to make it happen. Founding director Lonnie Bunch has been at work on the project since 2005. His unconventional techniques included Antiques Roadshow–style acquisitions, but his vision for the building might be the most striking: “I didn’t want the white marble building that traditionally was the Mall. What I wanted to say was, there’s always been a dark presence in America that people undervalue, neglect, overlook. I wanted this building to say that.”

Curtis Sittenfeld, author most recently of the Pride and Prejudice-inspired Eligible, talks to the Times about the oversized authority of book reviews. “It’s not really, say, The New York Times that’s authoritatively weighing in on the quality of a book. . . . It’s actually one reviewer weighing in, . . . and all of us as individuals have quirky, subjective taste.” Sittenfeld also outlines which reviews she’ll read: “I’ll read the ones that are smart and positive, smart and negative, or dumb and positive (hey, all our egos need a little sustenance!). But there’s no point in reading a dumb, negative review.”

Unlike her husband, who often accuses publications of inaccuracies on social media but rarely follows up with any substantive action, Melania Trump has notified the Daily Mail of her plans to take legal action over an article published last week containing allegations that she may have once worked as an escort. Meanwhile, Mr. Trump is unintentionally promoting the Washington Post’s “hit job book,” Trump Revealed: An American Journey of Ambition, Ego, Money, and Power, by tweeting about it.

The Wall Street Journal reports on the origin of Vice’s TV channel, which came about thanks to an unlikely partnership with Disney. Disney hopes to reach “young, male audiences who are fleeing pay television for digital alternatives.” At a Vice Media board meeting in Las Vegas last year, CEO Shane Smith “had just won $1 million at blackjack” when he brokered the deal with Disney. “That evening, Mr. Smith was using his gambling winnings to host Disney strategy chief Kevin Mayer and a couple dozen other executives at a $300,000 dinner at the hotel’s Prime Steakhouse, complete with $40,000 bottles of French Burgundy.”

Twitter keeps getting compared to the worst parts of the web. Most recently, The Observer has likened the social media platform to Yahoo, citing Twitter’s continued identity crisis, the return of founder Jack Dorsey, and the site’s weak response to threats and harassment. “The clock is ticking on Twitter. . . . Dorsey or whoever buys it had better finally come up with some real answers to its myriad problems.”

Dr. Mehmet Oz, whose health advice has been questioned by the New Yorker, the ||New York Times|, Columbia University, and Senator Claire McCaskill among others, has signed a deal with Scribner to publish Food Can Fix It next spring.