Journalism layoffs considered 3 ways; plus, self-immolation as protest : It's Been a Minute The American journalism industry is in crisis - layoffs, strikes, and site shutdowns have some people talking about the potential extinction of the the news industry as we know it. Just last week, VICE Media announced their plans to layoff hundreds of employees and halt website operations. Taylor Lorenz, the Washington Post online culture and technology columnist, joins the show to unpack what is at stake with the continued media closures and layoffs.

Then, Brittany is joined by Deva Woodly, a professor of Political Science at Brown University. They discuss Aaron Bushnell's self-immolation outside the Israeli embassy in DC. They look at how this extreme act of protest is unique and how it might impact the ongoing conflict in Gaza.

Three ways to think about journalism layoffs; plus, Aaron Bushnell's self-immolation

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BRITTANY LUSE, HOST:

Hello, hello. I'm Brittany Luse, and you're listening to IT'S BEEN A MINUTE from NPR, a show about what's going on in culture and why it doesn't happen by accident.

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LUSE: The American journalism industry is in crisis. More than 2,600 journalism jobs were eliminated in 2023. And 2024 isn't looking so good, either. In January, the LA Times let go of 20% of their new staff. That same month, Sports Illustrated all but shuttered, laying off nearly all of its employees. And they weren't an anomaly. When you tally the layoffs from companies like Forbes, Time, NBC News and more, a total of over 500 journalists lost their jobs in January 2024 alone.

Since then, we've seen even more job cuts from news organizations like The Wall Street Journal, CBS News and massive layoffs at Vice Media. Last month, Vice halted publishing on its website and announced it would lay off several hundred employees, effectively gutting its news operations. Full disclosure - my husband is a former employee of Vice Media but left the company five years ago. As a journalist and as a person who wants to stay well-informed, this is unsettling for many reasons. And there are implications here that reverberate much wider than the journalism industry.

So today, I want to get into a few different ways we could look at these layoffs - why they matter as a labor issue, how the loss of local journalism can translate to higher taxes and the stakes of a dwindling press during this huge election year. Here to talk through it all is Taylor Lorenz, a columnist covering technology and online culture for The Washington Post. She's been following these layoffs closely. Taylor, welcome back to IT'S BEEN A MINUTE.

TAYLOR LORENZ: Thanks for having me.

LUSE: So happy to have you. We're talking today because we have been seeing layoffs on top of layoffs in media and in news, podcasting jobs, public radio. We're seeing, like, entire media companies be shut down. Even just last year, NPR laid off 10% of its staff here. But to focus on the latest news, Vice announced it was laying off hundreds of employees and that it would shut down its website. What was your initial reaction when you saw that?

LORENZ: Unfortunately, I was expecting it because there had been sort of discussion of this and fears about it for a while. Vice has also been in some dire financial straits for years. And again, the entire journalism industry is being dismantled.

LUSE: Also, the sheer number of journalism professionals, all of that perspective, all of that reporting and producing - gone basically in an instant. That's troubling. There's a couple elements of the Vice News layoffs that I want to touch on. News came out that in addition to the layoffs, they also talked about ending operations of the website. And I'm really worried about what that could mean for the digital archive. Like, I worry it could get broken or totally disappear. And having that archive is really important to me. We rely on that kind of reporting in our work, as well. Losing it would make getting good, solidly reported, fact-checked information harder to access. I wouldn't have those stories to reference in my work anymore. You know what I mean?

LORENZ: I couldn't agree more. I think it's horrifying. And, you know, you already saw stuff like this happen with Gawker being removed. I wrote for mic.com. Thankfully, those archives are still up, but they're really hard to read. The articles are broken. It doesn't rank very high in SEO at that point. You know, it's just - it's horrible, and it's - people are going to be less informed. They already are less informed because of these changes. Vice especially did so much accountability-focused journalism. And they really held power to account and reported on extremists really well and corporations really well. And, I mean, I cover a lot of extremism-related stories. When I go to look up something - for instance, what has this, you know, Nazi group been doing, and where have they - you know, what is the activities? Who's the leader? What's happened? You know, these are major political actors in our political system. Like, Vice was one of the only places doing that really well and really consistently for years. It's worrying. From an accountability standpoint, it's really scary.

LUSE: It is worrying. It is worrying. On the topic of accountability and holding power to account, there's another angle I want to discuss. There was this Twitter post that made the rounds talking about how the executives at Vice had been taking bonuses recently. According to Hell Gate, the executives at Vice had given themselves, quote-unquote, "lavish bonuses" right before declaring bankruptcy last year, which some are calling corporate greed. Is that too simple of an explanation of what's happening?

LORENZ: No, I think that's a very direct and correct explanation.

LUSE: How did the layoffs at Vice and the layoffs within the journalism industry in general - how do those relate to other layoffs? Like, how do you see this as a labor issue?

LORENZ: I think the way these layoffs have been conducted is what's kind of upsetting. I mean, I don't know the exact details of the Vice layoffs, but The Messenger recently, another huge media startup that got very buzzy - it was supposed to reinvent journalism, hired hundreds of journalists - laid people off without severance and without COBRA, which allows them to continue health care on. And they were given no warning, no cushion. You know, it was just like, you're out, basically, with no support. And there is a class-action lawsuit from those employees to try to hold the multimillionaire Jimmy Finkelstein, who I used to work for - but, you know, he founded this site and has yet to pay these employees out. And that's a huge shame.

LUSE: As a backdrop to the layoffs in the journalism industry, there have been conversations about what to do about AI across the journalism industry. How do you see the emergence of AI as connected to the disappearance of so many news outlets, media companies and journalism jobs?

LORENZ: I think that content is just increasingly being automated. We're increasingly seeing computer-generated content. I mean, I was on some website recently - I think it's called Noah News - I think the whole website is generated by AI, actually. And look, I mean, in some cases, AI think I can be really useful. For instance, those SEO hits that we all write sort of in the beginning of our career where it's just sort of - it's not really doing reporting. It's more just scraping information from a Google knowledge panel, right?

Anything further than that, it's cutting into a journalist's job. Like, it's doing a bad job of sort of summarizing information, often with no oversight, and trying to automate the process very ineffectively. And so I think you're seeing increased automation across all creative industries. And I do consider journalism somewhat part of a creative industry in that, like, people are doing creative work. I mean, I'm not anti-AI as a whole, but the way that these media executives have traditionally sort of implemented technology has not been in a responsible way, and that's what I worry about. Not to mention that AI is also just, like, a plagiarism machine in so many ways.

LUSE: And as we said, it looks like there are fewer and fewer working journalists for them to even plagiarize. You know, an article from The New York Times found that in the first two years of the pandemic, over 360 newspapers shut down. And according to a recent Northwestern University study, every week in America, 2 1/2 newspapers shut down.

LORENZ: Which is worrying as well. I don't think people realize that when a local newspaper leaves, there's marked effects on their lives. And I think people might celebrate the end of journalism. But if you live in a town without a newspaper, you are more likely to pay higher taxes. You are less likely to have any - yeah. You're less likely to have any government oversight. Incumbents are more likely to win.

There's a great list - I did a TikTok on it a while ago - but there's this great list put together by a press freedom organization of all the downsides that people just don't realize when we lose this local news. There's just less accountability. There's less checks on power. Without those checks, they're able to operate with impunity.

LUSE: But there are people trying to fill those voids and check the system. You know, something that you're known to report on is TikTok and social media. How are you thinking about these layoffs in regard to, like, where social media is at right now in general?

LORENZ: I mean, here's the problem - is that those people are succeeding despite the platforms not wanting news on the platform, right? I mean, Meta came out and just said, we do not want news and political content. They don't want that stuff on these platforms. They want more benign content. So Meta openly said, as I covered, that they are down ranking any sort of news and political content - will perform worse and be shadow banned. You can lose your ability to monetize if you're posting certain types of news and current events on Meta platforms.

TikTok, as well, has made an effort to down rank news. They don't want their platform to be seen as a place for political news especially, or any sort of world news, because they don't want to be regulated. It's a lot easier for TikTok to just pivot to shopping and say, look - no, we're just the place where people buy ring lights don't regulate us.

LUSE: It feels like QVC now when I open it, honestly, with the addition of the shopping tab.

LORENZ: That's intentional that they're pushing this, especially in an election year because they don't want people getting information on these apps. I think it's just really worrying because we're seeing sort of the platforms themselves down rank, demonetize, ban journalists with no recourse. And then we're also seeing the journalists themselves unable to monetize or really build businesses on these platforms. It's very hard to build a business solely on the back of social media.

These independent journalists are also open to lawsuits. There has been this trend in trying to sue journalists out of business, and independent journalists don't have protections from that. So if you post the wrong TikTok, you can lose your entire livelihood. Not to mention the disinformation and the fact that because these people don't understand journalism and they're just sort of average people doing citizen journalism, some of which is great, most of it is inaccurate or at least not abiding by traditional journalistic ethics or conflict-of-interest standards.

LUSE: And talking about fake news, I suppose, and needing the public to have access to good, solid information, I mean, these layoffs in journalism are coming in the midst of what is shaping up to be a particularly intense election year. Although, I mean, I feel like they're all intense at this point. But how do you see all of these layoffs impacting the political ecosystem?

LORENZ: I think they're already having major impacts on the political system because we have a less-informed public. And a less informed public cannot make good choices - right? - when they vote. They're often working off misinformation or disinformation that they've seen online, or they can't find the information online. I mean, I think of a lot of people in local candidates. Local newspapers often did the best coverage of local candidates. They would sort of inform you who's running in your town, what is their platform. Now it's very hard to get that information. You basically have to get it directly from the candidates who are candidates.

LUSE: (Laughter).

LORENZ: They're political candidates. They're giving you political spin. There's no one to sort of, like, challenge and contextualize these local issues or ballot measures and things like that. And so it erodes democracy. The press plays a crucial role in democracy. And if we lose that, we are a less democratic state, undeniably. And I just want to stress, I'm a huge critic of traditional media. I built my platform as a critic of traditional media. However, I think it's so important to fix these institutions and ensure that we still have journalism or, even if these big institutions go away, ensure that we have a robust, independent media ecosystem.

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LUSE: Taylor, thank you so much for joining me. This was really great.

LORENZ: Thank you for having me.

LUSE: That was Taylor Lorenz, a columnist covering technology and online culture for The Washington Post. Coming up, a history of self-immolation and why people turn to it as a form of protest.

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LUSE: Just a warning. This segment contains discussion of self-harm and suicide as acts of protest and may be hard to listen to.

Last week, a radical and fatal act of protest unfolded outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C.

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AARON BUSHNELL: I am an active duty member of the United States Air Force, and I will no longer be complicit in genocide.

LUSE: Dressed in his uniform, a code of dress that active military are explicitly prohibited from involving in protest, 25-year-old U.S. airman Aaron Bushnell live streamed his protest on Twitch.

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BUSHNELL: I'm about to engage in an extreme active protest, but compared to what people have been experiencing in Palestine at the hands of their colonizers, it's not extreme at all.

LUSE: After setting down the camera, the video shows Bushnell lighting himself on fire and shouting, free Palestine. Discussion of Bushnell's protest was all over my social media feeds on Sunday night, but on Monday morning, any mention of Bushnell was missing from the front page of some major American newspapers, including The Washington Post, aka the daily paper of D.C.

DEVA WOODLY: I was looking and looking looking for this story, and it turned out you had to sort of scroll all the way down to the local section before you got a story about Aaron Bushnell.

LUSE: That's Deva Woodly, professor of political science at Brown University. She specializes in political communication, public discourse and protest movements. The somewhat muted media response to Bushnell's self-immolation was curious to professor Woodly and to me, given our current moment.

WOODLY: It requires a little bit more reflection.

LUSE: As of Thursday, over 30,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israel's invasion of Gaza. That is according to the local health ministry, though experts say it's likely higher. The invasion has been a response to the surprise attack by militant group Hamas on October 7 in Israel. The Hamas attack killed 1,200 people and took approximately 240 hostages. According to NPR News, in the last few years, the U.S. has given Israel roughly $3.3 billion in military aid annually. Since the early days of the Israeli invasion, supporters of the Palestinian cause have engaged in acts of protest around the world, but the potency of Bushnell's self-immolation is unique.

Today, professor Woodly and I are looking at self-immolation as a form of protest, why it's so hard for many of us to wrap our heads around it, and how Bushnell's self-immolation could shape the United States' continuing involvement in the ongoing conflict in Gaza. Professor Woodly, welcome to IT'S BEEN A MINUTE.

WOODLY: Thank you.

LUSE: We're really glad to have you. OK. So to jump right in, when you first saw the news of Aaron Bushnell's self-immolation in front of the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C., what were your first thoughts?

WOODLY: I think my first thought was surprise. And then I was also quite sort of curious. I was curious about Mr. Bushnell's self-explanation for why he felt that it was important to undertake that kind of act of protest.

LUSE: I was also kind of surprised when I saw this last Sunday. And I couldn't help but think about perhaps the most famous - at least in the West - image of self-immolation that I learned about in school, which was the monk Thich Quang Duc in Vietnam back in 1963. I think about him kind of as a leading example. Like I said, that was in all of my history books. And it was understood, at least to me, that this was a brave undertaking in that specific context. But I have found that self-immolation is not something you see on a regular basis in the United States. I wonder, what makes people turn to self-immolation as a form of protest?

WOODLY: Well, self-immolation is one of a series of protest tactics that people may use, which basically amount to the sort of weaponization of their bodies and their own lives. A colleague of mine, Banu Bargu, has written a book called "Starve And Immolate" that is about these kinds of protests that use the body and the deprivation of the body or the mutilation of the body or the death of the body, one's own body as a form of using voice, right?

It's kind of the most underlined way of using one's own voice to try to get a point across that one feels hasn't been taken in and heard. It's to say that what I am standing up and fighting for is so important that I'm willing to sacrifice my life in public and sacrifice it in such a way that, you know, it's a very painful, terrifying undertaking as well.

LUSE: I talked to other professors in preparation for this conversation, and something that came up was, like, it's seen by many as a very extreme form of nonviolent direct action.

WOODLY: Yes. I mean, it is the most extreme form of nonviolent direct action because self-immolation is not meant to hurt others. It's not meant to destroy property. It's really meant to use one's own life to make a statement. It's also on a spectrum - right? - like, you know, sort of on a spectrum from, for example, hunger strike. Some people do things like nail parts of their bodies to buildings. And then sort of self-immolation is, like, on that spectrum of the most extreme kinds of nonviolent direct action.

LUSE: Aaron Bushnell repeatedly made it very clear that he was going to do an act of extreme protest for that specific movement to bring attention to the deaths in Gaza and the Free Palestine movement. But this is not the first time someone has lit themselves on fire for this particular cause. This past December, there was an unidentified individual who performed the act in front of the Israeli consulate in Atlanta with the Palestinian flag. And, you know, even with other causes - there was another self-immolation in response to climate change in 2022. But what makes Aaron Bushnell's act different?

WOODLY: Well, I think one of the things is that it carries a different kind of message and significance when the person behind the act is known. And so the fact that this act was undertaken by a person whose identity is well-known, whose history...

LUSE: Yes.

WOODLY: ...People will find out - right?

LUSE: Yes.

WOODLY: Their biography is something that people are already researching. It also carries a particular significance that the person behind the act was active-duty U.S. military in uniform - right? - because that is an image that Americans are taught to respect. And they undertook this action while in active duty and in their uniform. That has just layers of signification that, you know, is legible, I think, to Americans in a way that an anonymous person setting themselves on fire maybe isn't - right? - legible, I mean, as a political act. And it's important to note that it's not only symbolism in terms of him being active military. It's also the kind of inside knowledge that he might have about the level of atrocity - right? - that may be taking place that a civilian might not know.

LUSE: I can't help but also think about the act of livestreaming this action on Twitch, which, you know, creates a video, which - I personally have not been able to watch it. But if you haven't seen it, you've at least seen the image of him on fire, or you have read some sort of description about it. That information is out there. It's not something that you're getting through hearsay. It's something that is confirmed to have happened, and it unfolded in a particular way.

WOODLY: Right. And he meant for it to be that way. And it's also a form of information that people are used to getting after the multiple years of mobilizing around people's deaths - right? - that have been captured on camera. So there's a way in which this is turning a form that we know on its head. Normally, the deaths that we see are because of vigilante violence or police brutality. Bushnell has kind of turned that form on its head, you know, not as a victim but as someone who's trying to make a deliberate political statement. He was literally screaming free Palestine until his body couldn't make any more sound.

LUSE: To your point just now, in our pre-interview, we talked about the power of having something to discuss, like a video or an image or a news story in that way - and when I say that, I mean we the public - in order to have discourse and make up our minds about something in American politics. I would love it if you could talk more about that and how you see it relating specifically to Aaron Bushnell.

WOODLY: Well, I think that a number of things are made possible by the video, right? Now, let me re-emphasize that I didn't watch the video, and I won't watch the video, right? And people who don't want to shouldn't - right? - which is something that I learned during the Black Lives Matter, you know, movement during the peak of the circulation of those videos.

LUSE: Right.

WOODLY: But even so, that provides a record, right? When people discuss it, they will discuss what he actually said because it's recorded, right? There won't be able to be any obfuscation around what his motives are. He stated them. Now, that doesn't stop the debate about the efficacy of this protest tactic or the tragedy of the event or discussion about how it should be discussed, right? So all of those conversations are actually very active right now, and some of them are contentious. But then there's, I think, been an impetus to really want to honor the seriousness, the urgency that Aaron Bushnell obviously believed was warranted in this situation. And so it has really galvanized organizers to redouble their efforts for cease-fire.

LUSE: Yes. And to that point, even though he had been so clear in his political messaging, it's been interesting to see coverage of Aaron Bushnell wrapped up in conversation around mental health and suicide.

WOODLY: Sure.

LUSE: What do you make of that?

WOODLY: Well, I think there's a lot of levels, right? Remember; this is not a tactic that's very familiar to people in the American context. And even in the 1960s, for example, you know, there were some Americans who did perform self-immolation, but it was in solidarity and mimicry of people who had done so in Eastern contexts. So it's a relatively rare protest tactic here, whereas we do have a very robust kind of framework around discussing mental health, particularly the mental health of young, white men who do things that we think are surprising or extreme, right? So, I mean, I think that also matters, right? Like, this could very easily fall into a kind of trope we have about troubled, young white men, right? But he didn't hurt anyone else.

LUSE: Right.

WOODLY: Right? And it doesn't necessarily fit the readymade stories that we have, which is part of also the reason it's generating so much conversation, particularly among activist communities.

LUSE: In our pre-interview, you said that you didn't see anything about it until you scrolled down to the local section of The Washington Post.

WOODLY: That's right. Yes. I think that I still haven't seen that much coverage. I'm not sure what the general level of awareness at this moment is about Aaron Bushnell's self-immolation. However, it's a kind of story that people are going to continue to talk about. And so I think awareness around it will continue to grow. But I'm not sure that that awareness will be mostly from legacy media organizations. I think that it will be a story that's passed between people. It will be a story that's passed as a part of efforts to organize for cease-fire.

LUSE: So I do wonder, going back to the touch about legacy media and, like, kind of the timidity around putting the story of Aaron Bushnell front and center, I wonder, might it have anything to do with concerns about suicide coverage and wanting to cause the least harm? Because that is something, I mean, even just in my training, we have to be very sensitive about. Even in preparing to talk to you today and have this conversation, we've had to, you know, have internal conversations about, what are the boundaries of how we talk about essentially someone taking their own lives? Or how do you think that is playing into the mainstream media coverage of this?

WOODLY: That is certainly an aspect of it, right? Whenever you have a situation where there's not a ready-made narrative, I think it takes a little bit more time for legacy media to sort of produce stories about it.

LUSE: The Israeli invasion has been like a lightning rod politically. And I wonder, how do you see this particular protest affecting the U.S. government support for the current conflict?

WOODLY: I think it will galvanize folks who are organizing for a cease-fire. And I think it increases pressure on the Biden administration, not only because of the severity of the act right itself, but more because of the way that it will underline the urgency of the work that people were already doing.

LUSE: The ongoing invasion of Palestine has been a hugely divisive issue, especially for the Democrats.

WOODLY: Yes.

LUSE: And we are in an election year.

WOODLY: Yes.

LUSE: And at the time of our conversation right now, I believe some votes are still being tallied in the Michigan primary.

WOODLY: Right. Biden won the primary.

LUSE: Yes. Overwhelmingly, he did win the primary. Something that has been getting a lot of attention...

WOODLY: Is this 13% of people voted uncommitted.

LUSE: Yes.

WOODLY: That is an enormous proportion, I just want you to know, in a Democratic primary.

LUSE: Yes. What do you make of that 13.2%, and why is it so significant?

WOODLY: The fact that organizers in Michigan organized folks to vote uncommitted to send this specific message about dissent - right? - from the way that the Biden administration is supporting Israel in the conduct of their war in Gaza is just an unusual occurrence, right? Normally, voting is a really blunt tool. That's what we say in political science is that the only signal that voting sends is that some proportion preferred this option over this option. That's a really important piece of information, but it's not a very detailed piece of information.

Whereas organizers in Michigan were able to forge this extra choice, this choice of uncommitted, into a very specific message. And even before we understood that there was going to be a pretty significant number of people who were going to vote in this way, Governor Whitmer came out and was like, don't vote uncommitted, because if you vote uncommitted, it's a vote to support Trump, right?

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GRETCHEN WHITMER: At the end of the day, I am advocating that people cast an affirmative vote for Joe Biden because anything other than that makes it more likely we see a second Trump term, and that's bad for all the communities.

WOODLY: So it was trying to sort of like reframe this vote as a binary choice, right? Either you're voting for Biden or you're voting for Trump. But, of course, in the primary, it's not a binary choice, right? Like, in the primary, you're not actually supporting Trump. Instead, you're using voice within the Democratic Party to say, hello, you can't ignore this issue.

A hundred and one thousand Democrats turned out to vote uncommitted, which is specifically to send a message that they want a cease-fire, that they are not committed to supporting Biden in the general election if this policy doesn't change. The election will hang on fewer votes than that. And so, for the sake of his campaign, I think that it really matters for him to heed that, especially because, since this organizing tactic was so successful in Michigan, it will spread to other states.

LUSE: We can't draw causation, of course, from what happened on Sunday with Aaron Bushnell to what happened in Michigan with the primary. But such a large chunk of Democratic voters voting noncommitted, it does indicate where we are in this moment as a country and where the Democratic Party is right now in trying to figure out how to, through Joe Biden, navigate how the rest of this is going to play out. Well, professor Woodly, I really appreciate you coming on and talking with me about this today.

WOODLY: You're welcome.

LUSE: That was professor Deva Woodly, a political science professor at Brown University. If you or someone you know may be considering suicide or are in crisis, call or text 988 to reach the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.

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UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Hey, Brittany.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Hey, Brittany.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: Hey, Brittany.

JACKIE: Hey, Brittany. This is Jackie (ph) in Washington, D.C. I've been watching the Wendy Williams documentary, and it's just really shocking to me the way her paid team members around her view her overall health and her behavior compared to the way her family does. Is this just me, or do things seem off between the two? Are you watching? - because I'd love to hear your take. Thank you.

LUSE: Hey, Jackie. Thank you so much for calling in with this question. I actually have seen the new Wendy Williams documentary on Lifetime. It's called "Where Is Wendy Williams?" You bring up several very remarkable points from the documentary. There's tension between, as you mentioned, her paid staff like her publicist and her manager, and also tension within her family and also the people that work with her. And also, I mean, the documentary itself had some amount of trouble even getting to release. Shortly before the documentary was released, Wendy Williams announced through one of her spokespeople that she has been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia and aphasia. It's also been revealed that she's been living under legal guardianship. Also, right before the documentary was released, her guardian, Wendy Williams' legal guardian, sued to keep the project from coming out.

Going into watching this documentary, I had some trepidation. I was nervous for what I was going to see. I mean, if Wendy Williams' legal guardian didn't want it to be seen by the public, then I imagine that there was going to be something in there that maybe was going to deeply affect Wendy's public profile. And I suppose depending on how you look at it, that could be true. You see her very short with some of her staff members, family members, staff people. That, to me, doesn't necessarily reflect poorly upon her. I think a lot of people who are dealing with dementia or love somebody who has have seen similar behavior.

I was more so intrigued by the universe of people around her. Wendy Williams - she is like one planet that is being orbited by various handlers, employees, family members in some cases. Now that she is no longer doing "The Wendy Williams Show" Monday through Friday, now that she's no longer, you know, signing or cashing these big checks that some people earnestly depend on from her and other people may be opportunistically trying to extract from her, it's interesting to see how their relationships to her change.

It mostly just made me feel sad. I felt sad because even though Wendy technically did consent to the creation of this documentary - I mean, she's actually listed as an executive producer - even though she may be profiting from this, it's unclear with her mental condition currently that she was able to actually consent in any sort of meaningful way to it being made. I do think that this documentary raises questions about what documentary is really supposed to do, who it's meant to serve and how it can be produced in a way that is thoughtful, necessary, but also maintains the dignity of the most vulnerable people involved.

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LUSE: This episode of IT'S BEEN A MINUTE was produced by...

BARTON GIRDWOOD, BYLINE: Barton Girdwood.

ALEXIS WILLIAMS, BYLINE: Alexis Williams.

LIAM MCBAIN, BYLINE: Liam McBain.

COREY ANTONIO ROSE, BYLINE: Corey Antonio Rose.

LUSE: This episode was edited by...

JESSICA PLACZEK, BYLINE: Jessica Placzek.

BILAL QURESHI, BYLINE: Bilal Qureshi.

LUSE: Engineering support came from...

ROBERT RODRIGUEZ, BYLINE: Robert Rodriguez.

STACEY ABBOTT, BYLINE: Stacey Abbott.

LUSE: We had fact-checking help from...

BARCLAY WALSH, BYLINE: Barclay Walsh.

LUSE: Our executive producer is...

VERALYN WILLIAMS, BYLINE: Veralyn Williams.

LUSE: Our VP of programming is...

YOLANDA SANGWENI, BYLINE: Yolanda Sangweni.

LUSE: All right. That's all for this episode of IT'S BEEN A MINUTE from NPR. I'm Brittany Luse. Talk soon.

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