Alessandra Stanley

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Alessandra Stanley
Born (1955-10-03) October 3, 1955 (age 66)
Boston, Massachusetts, United States
CitizenshipUnited States
Alma materHarvard University
SpouseMichael Specter (former)

Alessandra Stanley (born October 3, 1955 in Boston, Massachusetts) is an American journalist.[1] As of 2019, she is the co-founder of a weekly newsletter "for worldly cosmopolitans" called Air Mail, alongside former Vanity Fair editor-in-chief Graydon Carter.[2]


She was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and grew up in Washington, D.C., and Europe. She is the daughter of defense adviser to NATO Timothy W. Stanley.[3] She studied literature at Harvard University[4] and then became a correspondent for Time, working overseas as well as in Los Angeles and in Washington, D.C., where she covered the White House. Stanley then moved to The New York Times as a foreign correspondent, first as co-chief of their Moscow bureau,[3] and then Rome bureau chief. In 2003 she became the chief television critic for The New York Times. She has also written for The New York Times Magazine, The New Republic, GQ and Vogue. Stanley lives in New York City with her daughter.

In 1993, Alessandra Stanley received The Matrix Award from Women in Communications,[5] and in 1998, she received the Weintal Prize for Diplomatic Reporting.[6]

Among Stanley's notable columns are her critical take on the series finale of The Sopranos,[7] her assessment of Jerry Sandusky's denial of charges of pedophilia to NBC[8] and her coverage of Russian television on the eve of the 2012 Russian presidential election.[9]

In the fall of 2011, Stanley taught a class at Princeton University called "Investigative Viewing: The Art of Television Criticism", described as an "intensive introduction to criticism as it is undertaken at the highest level of a cultural institution".[10]

Several news and media organizations, including the Times, have criticized the accuracy of Stanley's reporting.[11][12][13][14][15] Among the articles that they have criticized are a September 5, 2005, piece on Hurricane Katrina,[16] a 2005 article that mistakenly called the sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond "All About Raymond,"[17] and a July 18, 2009, retrospective on the career of Walter Cronkite that contained errors.[18] In an August 2009 article examining the mistakes in the Cronkite piece, Clark Hoyt, the Times's public editor, described Stanley as "much admired by editors for the intellectual heft of her coverage of television" but "with a history of errors".[19] Then executive editor Bill Keller defended Stanley, saying "She is — in my opinion, among others — a brilliant critic".[20] In April 2012, Salon contributor Glenn Greenwald described her New York Times review of Julian Assange's television debut as "revealing, reckless snideness" and "cowardly".[21]

Stanley, who is Caucasian, wrote an article for The New York Times in September 2014 entitled "Wrought in Rhimes's Image: Viola Davis Plays Shonda Rhimes's Latest Tough Heroine" about television series How to Get Away with Murder and the career of its African-American producer, Shonda Rhimes.[22] Stanley wrote, "When Shonda Rhimes writes her autobiography, it should be called 'How to Get Away With Being an Angry Black Woman'" and made comments about African-Americans that were seen as offensive. Stanley's piece, wrote the Times's Public Editor, Margaret Sullivan, "struck many readers as completely off-base. Many called it offensive, while some went further, saying it was racist".[23] Stanley defended her piece, writing in an email message to Talking Points Memo, "[t]he whole point of the piece—once you read past the first 140 characters—is to praise Shonda Rhimes for pushing back so successfully on a tiresome but insidious stereotype".[24] The organization Color of Change called for a retraction from the Times.[25]

As of 2017, Stanley is no longer employed by the Times.[26]

Personal life[edit]

Stanley was previously married to Michael Specter.[27] She is friends with New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd.[28]


  1. ^ "Ask A Reporter: Alessandra Stanley". The New York Times. 2001. Archived from the original on November 3, 2002.
  2. ^ Williams, Alex (2019-02-01). "Graydon Carter Joins the Newsletter Brigade". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-02-02.
  3. ^ a b The New York Times, September 23, 1997, "Timothy W. Stanley, 69, Expert On Defense Policy and Strategies"
  4. ^ "" Speaker - Alessandra Stanley"". Archived from the original on 2009-11-03. Retrieved 2012-04-15.
  5. ^ Matrix Hall of Fame. Archived 2011-11-26 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ "Weintal Prize for Diplomatic Reporting - Previous Winners", Institute for the Study of Diplomacy, Georgetown University.
  7. ^ "One Last Family Gathering", The New York Times, June 11, 2007
  8. ^ "Sandusky Turns to TV to Break Silence", The New York Times, November 15, 2011
  9. ^ "TV in Putin’s Russia: Jesters, Strivers and a Longing for Normalcy", The New York Times, February 13, 2012
  10. ^ Council of the Humanities, Princeton University. Archived 2012-12-07 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ "ABC Totally Pissed At Alessandra Stanley," Archived December 3, 2009, at the Wayback Machine Gawker, 3/08/07.
  12. ^ "Why does NYT critic Alessandra Stanley get away with making so many errors?". Tampa Bay Times/St. Pete Times. 24 July 2009. Archived from the original on 6 May 2015. Retrieved 24 September 2014.
  13. ^ Silverman, Craig (July 24, 2009). "Wrong, Wrong, Wrong, Wrong, Wrong, Wrong". Columbia Journalism Review. Columbia University. Retrieved July 27, 2009.
  14. ^ [1] Archived August 6, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ Sklar, Rachel (28 March 2008). "Because The New York Times Never Does Anything Controversial, Bill Keller Thinks It Probably Doesn't Need A Public Editor". Huffington Post.
  16. ^ Stanley, Alessandra. "Reporters Turn From Deference to Outrage", Editors' note appended, The New York Times, September 5, 2005.
  17. ^ Stanley, Alessandra. The Unmarried and the Befuddled Are Still Good for Laughs, Correction appended, The New York Times, September 21, 2005.
  18. ^ Cronkite’s Signature: Approachable Authority, correction appended, The New York Times
  19. ^ Hoyt, Clark. "How Did This Happen?" The New York Times, August 1, 2009.
  20. ^ Jim Romenesko, "Keller: Stanley keeps her job because she’s 'a brilliant critic'" Archived 2012-07-25 at the Wayback Machine,, August 5, 2009.
  21. ^ Greenwald, Glenn (April 18, 2012). "Attacks on RT and Assange reveal much about the critics". Salon. Archived from the original on April 23, 2012. Retrieved April 23, 2012.
  22. ^ Stanley, Alessandra (September 14, 2014). "Wrought in Rhimes's Image". The New York Times. Retrieved February 7, 2019.
  23. ^ Sullivan, Margaret (22 September 2014). "An Article on Shonda Rhimes Rightly Causes a Furor". The New York Times | Public Editor's Journal. Retrieved 23 September 2014.
  24. ^ Kludt, Tom. "New York Times Television Critic Defends 'Angry Black Woman' Piece". TPM Livewire on the TPM website. The Talking Points Memo. Retrieved 23 September 2014.
  25. ^ Demand the New York Times retract "angry Black women" rant on Shonda Rhimes Archived 2014-10-01 at the Wayback Machine Color of Change Sep 19 2014
  26. ^ Stanley, Alessandra (9 February 2017). "The End of the Engagement Announcements". Committed: 165 Years of Love (and War) in The New York Times Wedding Announcements. Retrieved 10 February 2017. Alessandra Stanley, a former New York Times reporter, foreign correspondent and critic, is a writer based in New York.
  27. ^ "Michael Specter Is Wed To Alessandra Stanley". The New York Times. 24 April 1988. Retrieved 31 December 2019.
  28. ^ Levy, Ariel (28 October 2005). "The Redhead and the Gray Lady". New York. Retrieved 31 December 2019.