Slate’s Culture Gabfest on Jonah Lehrer, the Olympics, and Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry

Slate's weekly roundtable.
Aug. 1 2012 5:47 PM

The Culture Gabfest: Scary Mascot Edition

Slate's podcast about Jonah Lehrer’s fabrication and resignation, the London Olympics, and the documentary Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry.


Listen to Culture Gabfest No. 202 with Stephen Metcalf, Dana Stevens, Seth Stevenson, and Julia Turner by clicking the arrow on the audio player below:

And join the lively conversation on the Culturefest Facebook page here:


The sponsors of today’s show are and Go to and use the promo code “CULTUREFEST” for your no-risk free trial and bonus offer. Get a free audiobook from Audible’s collection of more than 100,000 titles and a subscription to a daily audio digest when you sign up for a 30-day free trial at

On this week’s Culture Gabfest, our critics consider Jonah Lehrer’s resignation from the New Yorker following the discovery that some of the quotes he attributed to Bob Dylan in his latest book were fabricated. The Gabfesters are then joined by Slate contributor Seth Stevenson to contemplate the 2012 London Olympics mascots, Wenlock and Mandeville, and their place in the Olympic mascot pantheon. To set the stage for a discussion of the opening ceremony, Julia provides a vivid recap of Danny Boyle’s witty, wacky, and distinctly British 2012 offering. Finally, the critics discuss the documentary Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry and the work of the Chinese artist, dissident, and provocateur Ai Weiwei.

Here are some links to the things we discussed this week:


Dana’s pick: Total Recall, the 1990 smart science fiction movie from director Paul Verhoeven, in advance of the reboot coming out this week.

Julia’s picks: The entirety of Slate’s coverage of the 2012 Olympic Games and diving into AMC’s dark-comedy hit series, Breaking Bad.

Stephen’s picks: La Jetée, the 1962 short sci-fi film by Chris Marker, the French filmmaker who died on Monday. And a brief reading from last week’s endorsement,Randall Jarrell’s Pictures From an Institution.

Outro: “Jerusalem” by Hubert Parry and performed by the Choir of Westminster Abbey from The Royal Wedding: The Official Album.

You can email us at

This podcast was produced by Jesse Baker. Our intern is Sally Tamarkin.

Follow us on the new Culturefest Twitter feed. And please Like the Culture Gabfest on Facebook.

Stephen Metcalf is Slate's critic at large. He is working on a book about the 1980s.

Dana Stevens is Slate's movie critic.

Seth Stevenson is a frequent contributor to Slate. He is the author of Grounded: A Down to Earth Journey Around the World.

Julia Turner is the editor in chief of Slate and a regular on Slate's Culture Gabfest podcast.



More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

What Charles Barkley Gets Wrong About Corporal Punishment and Black Culture

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows

Why Do Some People See the Virgin Mary in Grilled Cheese?

The science that explains the human need to find meaning in coincidences.


Happy Constitution Day!

Too bad it’s almost certainly unconstitutional.

Is It Worth Paying Full Price for the iPhone 6 to Keep Your Unlimited Data Plan? We Crunch the Numbers.

What to Do if You Literally Get a Bug in Your Ear

  News & Politics
Sept. 16 2014 7:03 PM Kansas Secretary of State Loses Battle to Protect Senator From Tough Race
Sept. 16 2014 4:16 PM The iPhone 6 Marks a Fresh Chance for Wireless Carriers to Kill Your Unlimited Data
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus Video
Sept. 16 2014 2:06 PM A Farewell From Emily Bazelon The former senior editor talks about her very first Slate pitch and says goodbye to the magazine.
Brow Beat
Sept. 16 2014 8:43 PM This 17-Minute Tribute to David Fincher Is the Perfect Preparation for Gone Girl
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 6:40 PM This iPhone 6 Feature Will Change Weather Forecasting
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 16 2014 11:46 PM The Scariest Campfire Story More horrifying than bears, snakes, or hook-handed killers.
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.