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Read this: The shortcomings of Lauren Duca

Photo: Dave Kotinsky (Getty Images for Shorty Awards)

Teen Vogue columnist Lauren Duca has a new book about to drop on September 24: How to Start A Revolution: Young People And The Future Of American Politics. In it, says publisher Simon & Schuster, Duca “explores the post-Trump political awakening and lays the groundwork for a re-democratizing moment as it might be built out of the untapped potential of young people.”

On the eve of this career milestone, it’s not surprising that people would be looking at the writer famous for her viral Teen Vogue editorial, “Donald Trump Is Gaslighting America,” a bit more closely. Unfortunately for Duca, that process didn’t fare so well for her in a BuzzFeed article by Scaachi Koul titled, “How Did Lauren Duca’s Revolution Backfire?” (Full disclosure: Lauren Duca is a former contributor to The A.V. Club.)

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Koul describes Duca’s rapid ascent to the cultural zeitgeist: “She was profiled by the New York Times, gave commencement speeches, appeared on countless television shows, won awards for excellence in journalism, was profiled by the Today show, continued writing for Teen Vogue until 2018, and has since amassed nearly half a million Twitter followers.” On the other hand, says Koul, Duca has “been criticized for not practicing what she preaches, behaving like she’s above reproach, and for having the capacity to be quite cruel.” Only a few days ago, all 10 members of a New York University class on feminist journalism that Duca taught filed a complaint. The students complain that “There was a consistent lack of professionalism that persisted throughout every aspect of the course… We are disappointed at the department and NYU as an institution for hiring a professor without a syllabus and classroom management skills.” Also, the students “claim that Duca went out of her way to target one student in particular: an exchange student who was visiting New York for school.”

Koul also isn’t much of a fan of the new book, citing confusing factual errors, and a too simplistic message: “‘This moment is not about suddenly caring. It’s about finally doing,’ she writes… But by the end of the book it remains unclear what, exactly, she’s encouraging us to do.” She also cites a bizarre flurry of emails when Duca was at Huffington Post as well as her former fat-phobic tweets (for which Duca has since apologized), as outlined in a March 2019 Jezebel article, “We Should Probably Talk About Lauren Duca.”

At the end of the article, Duca reacts to Koul when she calls for a comment about the students’ complaint: “You’re being so fucking hard on me, Scaachi, and I really, really, really, really would ask you if you would be grilling a man in this same way… Congratulations, you thrillingly, thrillingly adept journalist, you have discovered that Lauren Duca is not perfect. Put it in the headline, baby.” Scaachi didn’t put it in the headline, but she does end the article with a hell of a zinger: “Since our first interview and my observation of her final NYU class, Duca has unfollowed me on Twitter.” Scaachi also has changed her Twitter bio to Duca’s description of her: “thrillingly, thrillingly adept journalist.” Read the whole story at BuzzFeed today.

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About the author

Gwen Ihnat

Gwen Ihnat is the Editorial Coordinator for The A.V. Club.