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The Strongest Political Commentary Is Coming From a Kids' Magazine

Photograph by Twenty20

One of the clearest, most honest and most unapologetic articles about the president-elect are coming from an unexpected source: a kids magazine.

This weekend's "Donald Trump Is Gaslighting America," which came out a day after the president-elect's team dismissed a CIA report that Russia influenced the 2016 presidental election results, was one of the most shared, most praised, most necessary articles to come out since election night. The piece isn't by a journalist for CNN or the New York Times, the Washington Post or Fox News (though it was tweeted by all but one of those news orgs).

Rather, all credit does to Lauren Duca, Teen Vogue's weekend editor.

Duca's scorched-earth, straightforward, unemotional and fact-based piece for Teen Vogue was a response to Trump's statements about the CIA. It was written in the context of his many tweets and comments (pre- and post-election), his cabinet picks and also his behavior. In short, Duca calls Donald Trump a liar, showing how he does it and how he gets away with it. She gives readers context, vocabulary and ideas for what to do in response.

The Los Angeles-based writer and editor starts by explaining where the term "gaslighting" comes from. This tool of manipulation is how many in the media, activists and commentators explain the way Trump can make verifiably false statements and, instead of calling them lies, the public tries to square up what he says as a truth and winds up question their own reality in the process.

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"We are collectively being treated like Bella Manningham in the 1938 Victorian thriller from which the term 'gaslight' takes its name," Duca writes. "In the play, Jack terrorizes his wife Bella into questioning her reality by blaming her for mischievously misplacing household items which he systematically hides. Doubting whether her perspective can be trusted, Bella clings to a single shred of evidence: the dimming of the gas lights that accompanies the late-night execution of Jack’s trickery. The wavering flame is the one thing that holds her conviction in place as she wriggles free of her captor’s control."

"To gaslight is to psychologically manipulate a person to the point where they question their own sanity, and that’s precisely what Trump is doing to this country," she explains.

Duca says that Trump won the presidency by gaslighting and the win has "awakened a force of bigotry by condoning and encouraging hatred, but also by normalizing deception."

Duca writes that before the nation can fight for equality, it must first regain control of the truth. "If that seems melodramatic, I would encourage you to dump a bucket of ice over your head while listening to 'Duel of the Fates.' Donald Trump is our president now; it’s time to wake up."

Duca's gaslighting piece popped up everywhere over the weekend and was shared on Twitter by journalists, columnists and media critics.

It's also reaching—and resonating—with Teen Vogue's intended audience: teen girls.

This weekend's piece isn't Teen Vogue's first step into politics, and it also won't be its last, apparently. Back in October, Duca wrote a piece for the magazine called, "The GOP Is to Blame for the #TrumpTapes — Not Just Donald." And today, they published a piece about Trump's explanation for skipping daily intelligence briefings now, as president-elect, and apparently even after he takes the oath of office.

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Even some of the pub's lifestyle stories connect to themes of the U.S.'s new reality—stories others cover as trends. For example, the one about Pantone's color of the year is described as "the antidote to racial tension impacting our world right now, in the wake of Donald Trump's successful presidential campaign, which employed divisive and bigoted rhetoric." (The color is "Greenery" by the way.)

The urgency of diving into politics may have something to do with the magazine's new editor, Elaine Welteroth. At 29, she is the youngest editor in chief of a Condé Nast publication (and the second African American to hold the title within the media juggernaut). Welteroth knows the generation of girls who make up her readership not only want this information, but that they can also handle it. They need it. This is their new reality.

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