WHO ARE THESE GUYS: Bob Dylan's pity!


Part 4—Who the Benny Hill is Gail Collins: “Who are those guys?”

Famously, Paul Newman once asked. Often, his question pops into our heads when we gaze of the ways of our “press corps.”

Who are these deeply puzzling people? For decades, they have complained when major pols bore them silly with substantive speeches. Last week, Ruth Marcus became the latest ranking scribe to offer this strange complaint.

Who are these guys? Plainly, modern homo journalisticus is the script-reading animal. This Monday, Joe Nocera was rattling script about the nation's public schools. These scribes always know which facts to omit when they rattle their Approved Standard Stories.

Who are these people? They seem to have few actual interests aside from status and career. In 2002, Mark Leibovich was shoveling shit about John Kerry’s loud and bossy, much-too-rich wife.

By the start of this month, little had changed in this journalist’s work. It’s little wonder he described himself as “completely depressed.” Anyone who lived this way would likely bring on that problem.

They have few concerns beyond themselves. They rebel when pols present real concerns; they live their lives reciting scripts. Setting one phrase from the song to one side, might they remind you, a small tiny tad, of Bob Dylan’s famous poor immigrant?
DYLAN (1968): I pity the poor immigrant
Who wishes he would've stayed home
Who uses all his power to do evil
But in the end is always left so alone
That man whom with his fingers cheats
And who lies with every breath
Who passionately hates his life
And likewise fears his death.

I pity the poor immigrant
Whose strength is spent in vain
Whose heaven is like Ironsides
Whose tears are like rain
Who eats but is not satisfied
Who hears but does not see
Who falls in love with wealth itself
And turns his back on me.
Let’s ignore the phrase about “do[ing] evil.” Sometimes, this punishing portrait comes to mind when we gaze on the work of our “press corps.”

We had planned to finish our current award-winning series with a look at Gail Collins’ recent alleged book, As Texas Goes. Last night, we reviewed the points we had planned to address.

We decided to hold this topic over for a fuller review.

Collins is a very high-ranking member of the upper-end press corps. In her new alleged book, she devotes a great deal of attention to the Texas public schools.

This summer, we said we would review her book as part of an award-winning back-to-school series. Last night, reviewing the things Collins wrote, we decided her work should not be reviewed in one post.

Who is this person? How could such a high-ranking “journalist” author such pitiful work about such a serious topic?

Next week, we’ll devote a week to Collins’ review of the Texas schools. For today, one more question comes to mind, along with one more part of Dylan’s famous portrait:

“I pity the poor immigrant,” Dylan wrote, “Who tramples through the mud/
Who fills his mouth with laughing/ And who builds his town with blood.”

Set aside the phrase about building towns with blood. Next week, we’ll do a very-special back-to-school-week report concerning what Collins wrote about the Texas schools—by extension, what she wrote about the children of Texas and about their teachers.

Here’s that one additional question:

You could argue that Collins fills her mouth with laughing as she turns her back on thee. While we’re talking about poor immigrants, how can it be that the “liberal world” tolerates work of this type?

Coming next week: Who are these guys? Gail Collins talks about schools!


  1. http://www.houstonpbs.org/shows/localproductions/rwb/1120-as-texas-goes.html

    Wherein our local (Houston) PBS political yokels
    talk to Collins about her "book". Hilarious.

  2. I hope we can have a review of Joan Walsh's "What's the Matter with White People?" I'd like to know something about the contents without having to read it, as it seems like a rather strained choice of topic.

    'S'matter wit' you, Joanie? Everybody else has a book coming out. What's your problem? "Hey, I got a book coming out...It's called ... It's called ...uhmmm ... What's the Matter With White People ... Yeah, that's it....

    Basically I'd be curious to know whether Thomas Frank has grounds for a lawsuit.

  3. Joan Walsh's piece is really terrible today. To bad, She has been worthwhile in the past. The book sounds pretty awful too...

  4. Joan Walsh's piece is really terrible today. To bad, She has been worthwhile in the past. The book sounds pretty awful too...