“In 2013, When I was 20, I briefly interned for Anthony Weiner’s mayoral campaign. I wrote about the experience for the New York Daily News. I didn’t think it would be a big deal, for some reason. My brain wasn’t fully developed.
“They ended up putting [my story] on the cover, which they said they would not do. The whole day, I was hiding in my dorm room. It looked like I’d sold my story and done an interview with them—it didn’t look like I’d written it. I remember pacing around the Upper West Side with my head down, freaking out.
“Then something amazing happened. Hunter Walker, a reporter for Talking Points Memo, called. He said he had called the Weiner campaign to talk about fundraising numbers or something, and the spokeswoman, Barbara Morgan, started ranting and calling me a ‘slutbag,’ which I had never heard before, a ‘f—ing twat,’ and a ‘little c—’ who ‘sucked’ at my job. Which was true—I did suck at my job. He wanted to publish [Morgan’s comments]. I was thrilled the campaign had attacked me on the record. I was so relieved. I thought (A) that’s the story now and (B) what she did is so obviously worse than what I did.
“What ensued was 72 hours of a crazy news cycle, with stories on every network and in every paper. There were all these think pieces about internships and ‘slutbags.’ [Morgan] apologized at the time. We ended up, a couple years later, patching things up. Now we’re good friends.
“It was a weird first foray into political media and being attacked by a campaign flack. It’s not something most journalists experience until they’re fairly established. It’s unusual that I experienced having pieces written about me before I had any work to speak of. It wasn’t like I had any kind of career—I was an intern.
“It desensitized me early on: If there are 300 comments about your boobs or saying your face is weird, it doesn’t have to ruin your day. Being publicly attacked [also helped me] empathize with people I’m writing about. I shudder to think how callous I would have been had I not been through that. ”